Most people, today, don't go anywhere without their cellphone. And by virtue of that fact, they don't go anywhere without their digital camera, since it's rare to see a cellphone without a camera installed. As such, these tips are geared towards those who wish to submit their photos to us, using their cellphone to take those photos.

Badges are one of the most popular items to make into plaques, based on the orders we receive for them. They also happen to be one of the most difficult items to photograph. As such, that's where we will begin our tips; on photographing badges.

Lighting - since badges tend to be "shiny" and therefore, reflective, lighting can play havoc in obtaining a quality shot.

If you have the luxury of using an external source of light (other than your cameras flash), something that you can move around, thus "experimenting" with different shots, so much the better. Now, bear in mind, this can be a lamp, either with the shade in place or not. In other words, just about anything that will provide "soft lighting." Also, two sources of such light will prove to be better in getting your shot just right. Play with it. You don't want too much "white reflection" or, just as bad, dark areas that can render portions of the badge unreadable.

Angles - you want to photograph the badge "front & center" or head on. You DO NOT want any angle shots as doing so will distort the end image of the badge, in the photo.

Edges - one of the primary errors we see, in receiving self-taken images, is the accidental "cropping" of the piece, leaving off edges, portions of the bottom and/or top, etc. Make sure you have the entire item in frame.

Backgrounds - a solid color background is preferred, with either black or white being optimum. Stay away from materials that can be shiny, like some of the polyesters. Cotton sheets or pillowcases to to work well. If you are photgraphing a gold badge, a black background tends to "bring it out" better.

Camera Zoom - try to avoid using your camers zoom feature. You want to move in as close to the item as possible, remaining cognizant of where your edges are.

Patches - patches can be pretty straight-foward as far as photographing them goes. One thing we have seen and feel it's worth mentioning is a shot of a patch with an obvious fold in it. A note accompanying such a photo asking us to remove the fold, well, simply put, that's just not the way it works. We can do some things with our graphics program; removing folds isn't one of them. If you find that you only have the one patch and it has been folded, you might try ironing it out or even better, steaming it.

Remember, we want you to receive a quality plaque; one that you will be proud to show off and display. Since we are effectively enlarging your badge, patch or heirloom, to "clone" it as far as appearance goes, know that the image you submit will be how your plaque looks. In the end, don't hesitate to contact us. Oftentimes, we can help you obtain the needed image.