If you run your own business, you will know, at one point or another, that you need photos. Photos of your product or images to represent your service (even if that means pictures of your own ugly mug!).
Although it is advisable to call in a professional photographer for images that are going to be printed, or if you have a tricky subject (no, I don’t mean your face!), there is no reason why you and your phone can’t do a perfectly good job of your own product photography with a little know-how.
And this is what I told a group of business-owning ladies last week at the Leicester branch meeting of Networking Mummies. Marian Stutley, who runs the branch, has worked with me previously gathering images for her Make-Up Artist portfolio, and she asked me to come along and give out some tips and tricks to our fellow entrepreneurs. That and drink hot chocolate. Don’t forget the hot chocolate.
Here are a few of the key pointers to consider if you’re going to DIY.
If at all possible you should be using natural light, by which I mean daylight. Every light source gives off a different colour and no camera is perfect at gauging this correctly. Stick with daylight to give your products the most natural colour.
If the sun is strong, you may need to diffuse this light. A simple net curtain across the window will suffice. And if the shadows on the side away from your window are too dark, a white sheet of paper or card can be used to reflect some light onto them.
If the colour of your product is important, don’t then whack a social media filter over your image. This will mislead your clients!
I’m assuming that most of you are using phones to take these photos in order to upload them straight to social media platforms. Make sure you know how to switch off your flash and how to choose which part of the photo you are focussing on (usually by tapping the area on your screen).
If however you are using slightly more sophisticated technology and have a bit of knowledge about what you’re doing, consider using depth of field (where one area of the image is in sharp focus and the rest, usually the background, is pleasantly blurred) to draw in the viewer’s eye exactly where you want them to look.
Make sure you look at what is in the background and what surface you are using. Rustic wood surfaces are fantastic for lifestyle products. Reflective surfaces like glass or steel are tricky and possibly best left to the professionals.
When talking about styling, my advice is more business advice than photography. Think about what your ideal client likes. What he or she has in their house or what they aspire to have in their house. That’s what to use as props. Make sure it’s still clear what your product is though by making it more prominent in the shot. And don’t forget that less is always more.
There are many things you could consider in order to make a good composition. But let’s just take the basics. Think about the angle you are shooting at. Check you can read the label if applicable. Look at the background and outer edges of the frame to make sure you haven’t got anything really inappropriate in shot. Think eBay and that reflective kettle being snapped by a seller in the nude.
Think about what you’re going to use the images for. Are these to go on your website? Facebook? Instagram or pinterest? Each social media platform has its own sizes and shapes that work best for your content. So bear that in mind. If they’re to go on your website, think about the final page layout and then photograph to fit the space. It’s also advisable to resize your file to be as small as possible whilst retaining the quality of the image. There are apps to help with this. Read on…
Product Photography Apps
As mentioned above, you made need some help to resize your images and there are a couple of great apps you can do this on. InShot includes preset options to crop images to the right size for each Social Media platform. Snapseed is like a mini photoshop for your phone.
Then there are the other apps worth taking a look at if you’re doing your own product photography.
- PicCollage for gathering a few images together into a collage
- Gimp.org can be used to retouch and manipulate your photos
- Facebook – don’t forget you can create slideshows/carousels and tag products within Facebook itself
- Canva.com is fantastic for adding graphics/text to your photos and has preset social media sizes
- Visme.co is another fantastic app for designing social graphics, infographics and way more
I hope that has been helpful and given you some inspiration. If you take some amazing product shots after reading this article, make sure you share your work with me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! I hope you get what you need and you know where I am if you have a particularly tricky subject or need photographs for print. Check out my corporate work here.