A couple days ago I was asked to provide some Product images for a Craft Magazine and I used it to light a fire under my bum and get my new Bunting Kit finally finished! It is something I have been illustrating ever since my Mini Bunting Kit’s started selling so well, and with the success of my Hand Made Christmas Bunting over Christmas I decided it was the first Kit to be released in 2014.
Running alongside this, I have started a Branding and Zine conversion which is fairly epic… all products are to be re-branded with my new logo (you may have noticed it above! I’m so super chuffed!!), and all Kits and Zines are to be available as a PDF Download… soon! So, having someone contact me for Product Images was as good excuse as any to finish the Kit, with the new Branding.
It’s been a little manic but… mission accomplished! The Kits will be released a little later in the week and today I thought I’d share a little about what goes on behind the scenes when I am organising Product Photos. Quite a bit goes in to the organization, the Pictures them selves and even more in Post-Production… especially when you are re-branding!!
The best piece of advise I have ever read on this subject is: you want to sell a ‘lifestyle’. In my case, I want customers to look at my Product Images and think ‘ooh, yummy’!
1. Think about your surface, backdrop or setting.
You may have noticed the trend for pure white backdrops recently, which is lovely if your products suit this. I happen to think that sewing needs a little bit more of a tactile backdrop so I compromise. I use a Vintage White Lace edged table cloth, which adds texture but will not look out of place or too different when placed next to other products from other shops on-line, or in a magazine. Don’t be scared to try different backgrounds, at this point you’ll only stand out!
2. To Prop, or not to Prop?
It’s funny, I used to think Props were too messy, that people would think they were included with the product or even just too distracting. I’m pretty sure I was wrong, I love my newer Product Photos, which sell the idea of gathering equipment and notions around you to get ready to use the Kit. The use of Props can also bring in carefully placed elements of colour which can lift the whole picture. They can also add in a Vintage feel, or suggest things to the buyer within a theme which can be a useful tool.
As you can see, I started with an image in mind that was very different from the final picture! All of the Props disappeared to make way for one glorious Prop- one of my Vintage Glass Dish Pincushions (which is a cheeky way of getting another Product in the Pic!). It’s less cluttered but I feel still sells the Kit well. The final Product Photo, ready for both the Magazine and Etsy! None of the complicated filters have been used, it’s clear, concise and looks great!
The most important thing about this whole process! I always make the best product I can, or select the nicest version to be photographed. They’re like peaches in a supermarket! I’ll freshly iron, check for threads, make sure none of the packaging is bent, anything to make sure everything is at its best.
4. Framing and lighting
This is personal taste, I prefer to show as much of the product as possible, photographed head on as simply as possible with nothing in front of it or obstructing the view! Of course, I also try to sell the ‘lifestyle’ with the aforementioned props however; the main focus should always be the product. Because I sell on Etsy and Folksy, I also need to take in to consideration the fact that my wonderful picture will probably be first viewed as a thumbnail. This means I will need to be able to crop it without loosing any of the detail, and intent. Lighting doesn’t need to be anything more complicated than an Anglepoise Lamp with a daylight bulb in (blue light rather than yellow as it’s easier to edit with). I used to tape a sheet of heavy tracing paper to my Anglepoise to diffuse the light so my shadows weren’t as hard too. Bright, white light will always make your Products look awesome because the colours will pop!
Same Product, different ways! In each photograph I have tried something a little different however; each displays the Kit, and the finished Kit. Because of my Re-Branding you may have noticed I am trying some filters however; my favourite layout is the far left. The snippet of Vintage cloth, the fact that you can see the reverse instructions (but not too much, have to pique their interest!), and the final made up Kit just really works for me. Clear lighting and close framing help to see this picture even when it is a thumbnail.
5. Photoshop or editing software.
I am incredibly lucky because Fella is a Film-maker and Photographer (which makes me feel like I am cheating a little bit) and means I have access to a couple things I probably wouldn’t have normally. Well, one thing at least: Photoshop. I know that there are many other Photo Editing programmes out there, many of which are either free or at least very cost effective (see a good list of available options here) however; Photoshop is just glorious! Also, and this is a very valuable lesson, stick with the software you like and can use efficiently, Photoshop works and makes sense to me but if it had felt tricky and awkward I would have tried another. I try not to follow ‘trends’ for things like this… just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work better than your tried and trusted programme!
On the left are the Photoshopped images, on the right the filtered images using a free downloaded Programme to my Phone called Repix which is kind of wonderful for a quick edit on the go! I still love the bright, clear imagery I get from Photoshop which I think works well for my on-line shop.
You may have noticed throughout this post I have been trying out some Instagram style filters. This is in response to my new Packaging. Because it is brown paper and string, Vintage style I felt it was important to try a more tactile photographic technique. I’m not sure I like it as it is a little too generic however; I shall continue to play with it as I continue this process.
Well, those are my top tips, I shall be taking many more photos over the next few days as I slowly work through the re-branding of all my products! Wish me luck.
What are your Top Tips for taking awesome droolworthy Photos? I’d love to hear!