How to Photograph Postage Stamps

By Brandon Getty
Create a visual inventory of your prized stamp collection.

Postage stamps have always been popular among collectors, mostly for their low cost and availability throughout the world. Though the main purpose of stamps is to ensure proper delivery of mail, they can also be appreciated for their artistic appeal or historic significance. Many stamp enthusiasts photograph their rare or highly collectible pieces to create a visual inventory, or to show fellow collectors.

Photographing Postage Stamps

Arrange the stamps as desired on a flat, firm surface. Orient them so the face of each one can be seen clearly.

Use an external light source to highlight detail on the face of the stamps. The light source does not have to be fancy; a soft desktop lamp will suffice.

Set your camera to macro mode if you are using a compact point-and-shoot camera. This mode allows for extreme close-up shooting and focuses the lens to preserve intricate detail. If you're using a single lens reflex camera, attach a macro lens to the body and turn the mode dial to macro mode.

Compose the shot by looking at the LCD display screen or through the camera's viewfinder. For best results, aim the camera at the stamps from 6 inches to 1 foot away.

Depress the shutter button halfway to focus on the stamps. If you are using a SLR camera, switch to manual focus mode for greater control.

Press the shutter button to take the picture. Check your results on your camera's LCD display screen and reshoot if desired. If you're using film, take several shots for guaranteed results.

Tip

On most cameras, macro mode is represented by a flower icon. This differentiates it from landscape or infinity mode, which is represented by a mountain icon.

Warning

Shooting too close to the stamps or in any other mode besides macro, may result in blurry photographs.

About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.