Tips for Your Product Photography
By Emily Quinton
It is more important than ever to have beautiful, inspiring images of your products. We live in amazing times where we are able to sell the things we make from our kitchen table. The online world is incredible and the tools we have at our fingertips are seriously amazing.
But, as a Maker, you need to be able to stand out and be noticed. One powerful and rewarding way you can do this is through beautiful imagery.
Below I have shared some top tips for creating great products images that also tell your story.
Shoot in Natural Light
Natural light is so important for your photography. There will no doubt be images that you take with studio lighting but for the type of product imagery that people can really engage with and tell more of a story, natural light is key.
To make the most of natural light indoors you need to move to a window. Take one item and photograph it in the middle of the room and then take it to the window and photograph is there. You will see a difference straight away, which will hopefully encourage you to make an effort to move to the window when you are taking your images. Having the window to one side of you works really well.
If the light is too strong then you can put up a white sheet at the window to diffuse the light. You might also want to use a reflector or sheet of white card to bounce the light back onto the products you are photographing.
Take some photographs next to different windows in your home or studio. This will help you to get to know which windows work best for you and which windows work at different times of the day.
It is also important to be mindful of how the light changes throughout the year. In the Winter you don’t have as much light but the light is not as harsh as Summer light, so it is often easier to shoot in than harsher Summer light. In the Summer I usually shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon/early evening. Spring and Autumn are my favourite times for outdoor photography.
Think about your Backgrounds
Paying attention to the backgrounds you are using for your product photography is really important. This is the case whether you are shooting jewellery or large pieces of furniture, or anything in between. The background of your photograph is like your canvas.
I love to use old wooden backgrounds, marble (I have a cheese board to use for photographing small items), wrapping paper and linen. For outdoor images I like to find great walls, old doors, gates and beautiful trees.
Try taking images of your products on different backgrounds to see how they look on different ones. Some backgrounds will suit your products more than others, so it’s great to experiment. Your backgrounds will also help you to develop a style and look for your product images that make them unique to you. Your backgrounds will help your images to stand out and be recognisable.
Composing Your Images
Practice your composition like crazy! Take photographs every day if you can, so that you are improving all the time.
Turn your grid on on your smartphone, so that you can think about straight lines and where you place your product in the shot. Using the rule of thirds will really help you and the grid will help you with this. Choose one point where the grid lines meet and place your product on this point. This simple but so effective technique will help your composition straight away.
Gather Your Props
Start to gather a selection of props that go with your products and tell your maker stories. Think about colours, textures, tools of your trade for example.
Don’t feel like you have to have lots and lots of props. People love to recognise your props. They feel like they are getting to know you, which I think is so lovely. Think of your props as part of your story telling. This will help you to choose things that are unique to you and the things that you make.
I love filling shoe boxes with props. I have some for seasons and some for topics. This makes it easier to find things when you are taking your photographs. It also helps with practising your photography. You can take out your prop box and practise your composition when the light is good and you’re near that window!
Telling Your Stories
I like to think of product photography in two ways. First, there are the white background images of your product. This is great for your online store and for magazines. There is no doubt that you need them but I think you also need product images that tell your story.
Product images that represent a lifestyle or tell me more about the maker and how the product has been made really draw me in. These images are wonderful to see not only in online stores and on sites like Etsy but also on social media.
Think about your ideal customer. How can you tell a story that they can relate to? How do you want people to feel when they see your products? How will your product enhance their life? Create a Pinterest board or moodboard of images that make you feel the same way. Use this has a great launchpad for creating product images of your things that could fit onto this same board of images and be part of this feeling or lifestyle.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The more you practice the better your images will get. Try to take images every day. If some days you can’t take images because you don’t have any time in natural light, then still spend a few minutes thinking about your photography. Research images you like, gather props or style something ready to shoot the next day when you can use the natural light.
Emily Quinton is the founder of Makelight, an online learning platform for creative entrepreneurs.
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