Do you struggle with your product photography? Professional photographer & founder of Photo Boards® photography backdrops & the Photocraft® School of Photography Lyndsey James has some great product photography tips for consistently taking professional-looking photos for your online craft shops.
You can also win a £50 voucher to spend on specialist backgrounds for your product photography at www.photoboards.org. Just add your details to the form at the end! We have two £50 vouchers to give away! Plus every reader will get a 10% discount off Photo Boards when they use the code FOLKSY10 at the checkout.
How to take better product shots
How do professional photographer’s photos always look so good? The key is in understanding the characteristics of a great photo and how they are achieved.
1. Start with the right background
The background of your photo sets the scene which is why it is always a good place to start when creating a winning shot, especially for small products such as jewellery where there is little room for props.
Choose a rustic farmhouse table and you are suggesting a homely scene to your viewer, opt for whitewashed wood and you could be suggesting a coastal theme, and so on. The right choice of background means that most of the styling effort is done for you and your props can then be minimal and simple.
So how you do decide on the right background? Think about the ideal photo shoot of your products, where would the location be and what would it look like? A cosy country kitchen? a grand wedding venue? Next, think about the furniture or textures that you might find in those dream settings and try to replicate them at home by finding small pieces of them.
Lyndsey is so passionate about the theory of background choice being a huge part of the success (or failure) of a product photo that she has created replicas of her own product photography backgrounds called Photo Boards®! Choose your background wisely and the whole scene will be so much easier to style. Read on to learn how you can win one of Lyndsey’s Photo Boards® backdrops!
2. Shoot from a direct angle and watch the scene grow
There is an increasing trend in photography for layered shots with a flat base background as a starting point. You will have seen this trend in desk scenes and flatlays. This kind of direct facing set-up makes styling your scenes so easy and they look great!
Imagine your scene to be like a theatre set with lots of layers from front to back. Start with your camera directly facing your background, whether that is looking forward for a room scene or looking directly down for flatlays, then one by one introduce props from the sides of your scene and build them in layers to add depth and interest.
Use a tripod so that you can watch the scene grow, and by taking the time to consider how each props looks through the camera as you add it, your final image will look more professionally styled.
3. Find your photo style
Think of your props and backgrounds choices as a route to achieving a consistent stylised look across your store and select them carefully, ensuring they won’t confuse your customer about what they are buying.
One way to achieve your own photo style is to use similar backgrounds or props in every photo. Don’t worry about it looking boring or repetitive, having a consistent style with a common theme across your images will mean that your customers can recognise your brand.
Perhaps you will decide on marble backgrounds across all of your shots and mix up your props, or maybe pressed flowers are your thing and all shots will include one even if the backgrounds change. Have a think about an image style that will work for your brand and try to stick with it.
4. Strive for clarity
Professional photos always look so crisp and clear but you don’t need a professional level of camera skills to achieve photos with clarity. A simple change of ISO will ensure the beautiful tones and colours are not lost.
Dig out your camera manual and switch your ISO from the AUTO setting to a low number. Controlling your digital ISO is like choosing which film type to put in your camera – higher numbers produce a grainier effect and lower numbers a smoother, cleaner effect.
Grain/noise as it is also known, can be a beautiful effect when controlled, but if left on AUTO ISO your camera/smartphone will often select a high ISO number by default, giving your photos a grainy appearance and dramatically reducing tonal detail. You might not even notice the difference until you download your photos and see them up close.
Manually setting your ISO to 400 or lower (I love to use 100 or 200) will ensure beautiful end results. You might need a tripod to stabilise your camera because a lower ISO setting means slower shutter speeds as the camera becomes less sensitive to light.
5. Search our the best light and rotate your set
Natural daylight is always better than artificial lighting because it looks more natural, your subjects appear true in colour and texture and the highlights and shadows really bring scenes to life.
By using a fake background (and this is where Photo Boards® are so useful) you can take small scenes to any window light without having to drag a heavy table to the window, just because you like the wooden surface of that particular table.
Once you have your scene set up near a window, being able to twist it left to right or adjust the distance from your window is key to getting the best possible lighting effect.
Watch the shadows completely change as you move the base of your scene around. When you have it just right, then shoot!
We hope you found all those product photography tips helpful… now how would you like to win vouchers to buy one of those brilliant back drops.