A couple off weeks ago I was helping out at a Pop Up event at Craft Central, and it was the perfect opportunity to test my recently repaired Canon EF 50 mm 1.8 STM Lens
Why? Because all the necessary elements for Good Product Photography were already in place! The place had lots of natural light, there were quite a few prints, ceramics and jewelry already styled for sale, and I was really inspired after meeting the makers the previous over drinks on the Friday late
But first, in case you are not familiar with the term, what is product photography?
Product Photography is about ‘accurately but attractactively representign a product’. Think about the pictures that you see on catalogs or online shops, where what really interests you is to see the product s clearly as posible. But it is also the pics that you see on Instagram and wish you would have on your profile!
And let me tell you, making that kind of pictures is not as easy as you would think, but is not that dificult either.
This are the 5 things (and this number keeps getting longer with every rewrite) you need to get started on Instagram worthy Product Photography (because, let’s be honest, if it is not on Instagram, it didn’t happen!)
Obviously the first thing you need to take pictures is a camera. Now, these days, for Instagram, your phone would serve you just fine (with a little help and some trick we will see down below). But in case you are curious, I’ve got a Oneplus One phone and a Canon EOS 1100D camera (which still is my first reflex camera I bought almost 5 years ago) These days I am looking into updating my reflex, but there are so many amazing cameras out there that it’s proven to be a little bit difficult to settle for just one!. Because there is not such a thing as a perfect camera, you just have to find one that works for you! For more information, you can check this article at Digital Photography School about how to choose a camera and this one on PetaPixel if you want to start learning about photography techniques (By the way, these are 2 of my go to sites with my photography consult and to keep up to day with the community)
02 NATURAL LIGHT
You can do great things with artificial lighting… but you would need to learn about photography techniques, so, natural light it is!
Seriously, on the photography world natural light is your friend! The colours are going to look like in real life with less work (Technical term: White balance), and the picture is going to be sharper (Technical term: Low ISO and noise levels)
So, pic a subject (a book, some shoes, a vase…) and your phone/camera and start testing all the windows in your place a different times of the day (in my case the best 2 places to takes pictures in my home are my west facing bedroom window in the early morning and under the entrance skylight mid-morning)
03 NEUTRAL BACKGROUND
Well, that’s not exactly true. White backgrounds work great to add more light to your pictures and to make whatever you are taking pictures of the center of the picture. If you don have a white surface at hand, you can always get some white cardboard (I have been known to use white A3 sheets). Or if you need something bigger you can always get a table counter from Ikea. Or a white sheet. Pinterest is full of ideas on how to set up your photography background.
But, just white can get pretty boring pretty fast. And sometimes the product you are photographing needs a little bit of help.
Paper is a good (and cheap) option to create colourful backgrounds, and then there are acrylic shapes. Acrylic. Never thought about it until Charlene’s Pop-Up. I really loved it! And the pictures I took from the jewelry and ceramic pieces, so nice! (I may sound cliche, but the camera loved it!). Now, I have only found it online, but I have yet to check my local craft stores and DIY warehouses for it
Depending on what you want to photograph, some subjects are a little ‘boring’. Or is a recurring shot and you want to make it a bit different each time (quote series). Now things start to get a bit tricky, because sourcing and choosing the right props is not easy. As a matter of fact, you would be amazed of how many shots that you can find on the internet are what they call mock-ups: pre-made Photoshop files where you insert your design and it magically gets integrated into a studio picture (creative market).
Almos anything can be used as a prop, but in reallity you should have into account the theme you want to follow
-PLANTS: to be more precise, Succulents, they look great on pictures taken from above! Also some fresh flover would look great on almots all situationtions, may it be agais a wall or in a vase. And when you are not using them they are great room decoration
-STATIONERY: Great when there is paper involved. In my case, I like to share my calligraphy/lettering practice, and one of the things I usually feature on my pics are the pens I use. You should use things related with the product at hand. For example, for embroidery/sewing, why do not use scissors, tread, thimbles…
-RAMDOM STUFF: Sometimes the props would help to contextualize the product. For example, one of my favorite pics of monokraum prints is the one on the pegboard shelf besides the teacup, the tread and the stars: They do not relate to the print but help you to imagine the print placed somewhere in you home.
05 POST PRODUCTION APPS
After you have gone through all the trouble of setting up, getting the light right and actually shooting the photo, there is still one last step: post-production, also called digital developing.
On the phone camera world you have quite a few photo editing apps to choose. Personally, I swear by Snapseed. One of the great things of this app is that it allows you to edit Raw files http://www.instructables.com/id/A-Complete-Beginners-Guide-to-Raw-Files-And-Raw-Pr/ (which is a kind of file option that my phone camera has)
(BONUS) SOMETHING TO PHOTOGRAPH!
In this case, the Cleckernwell Creative last Pop Up Store at Craft Central. I just love how Charlene set up her shops and the energy they have! So, before starting to help out with picking up the unsold items and moving the props and boards into storage, I spent some time playing around with the camera.
I like taking pictures in stores, markets, museum… Unless there is a ‘No Photos’ sign! But as a general rule people don’n mind of you taking pictures of their work as long as you then share them saying something nice! (When I have the luck of meeting the makers I try to chat a bit with them and, if I am happy with the result, later I email them the pictures for their use) It is a good way of exercising your photography muscles, even when you don´t have new products to photograph.