Puppet Photography Tips
Horizontal or Vertical Layout
Before you begin to take photographs for submission to the contest, decide whether your photos will follow a horizontal or vertical layout. To help decide this, consider the potential content of your photos. If you plan to take pictures of your character in portrait fashion, then a vertical layout will probably be best. If you plan to show your character in action (playing a board game, climbing a tree, etc.) then a horizontal layout is the way to go. Choosing a layout will determine which way you hold the camera.
Ask a Friend to Help
It is always best to have some help when taking photos of your puppet character. Puppets depend on the puppeteer to give them "life". Photos of a puppet on the puppeteer's hand will turn out much better than photos of a puppet on a stand or lying on a table. By puppeteering the puppet during the photo session, you will be able to capture the character, the personality, the expressions of your puppet.
One thing that makes puppet characters so unique is their three-dimensional qualities. Using a flash when taking pictures of your puppets has the tendency to "flatten" the characters. A flash will also reflect off of certain types of fleece and/or foam and make it hard to distinguish features and colors of the puppet. For the best results, turn the flash off.
With the flash off, you'll need good lighting. Choose the best lit room in the house to take pictures of your puppet. Even then, the room is probably not bright enough. Pull table lamps, floor lamps, desk lamps, etc. from other parts of the house for your photo shoot. In general, it's a good idea to have the puppet well lit all around, with a concentrated light source to the upper right or left of the puppet and slightly in front. Having the puppet well lit from all angles will eliminate harsh shadows or dark areas in the photos. Having a concentrated light source near the puppet will cast shadows that will accentuate the puppet's features, capturing the three-dimensional quality mentioned earlier.
Sounds like too much work? Then go outside. Take pictures of your puppet outside on a sunny day. That'll do the trick almost every time.
Good composition is closely related to choosing your layout or the orientation of your photos. The basic principle to keep in mind is that the puppet character is the star of the photo shoot. Portrait shots should be up close and personal. Action shots (horizontal layouts) should focus attention on the puppet, not necessarily the action. A simple way to ensure this is to make sure the puppet takes up the most space in the photo. Composition can be an exhaustive subject, but keeping this basic principle in mind should help you compose shots that focus on the character.