Hi Crafters! My name’s Sarah, I’m a freelance photographer and I work with lots of small businesses and Designer/Makers to help them showcase their products online www.photosbysarah.co.ukI offered to do a guest blog for CraftBlogUK offering some hints for your online shops and pass on the few pearls of wisdom that I’ve collected.
Snapshot taken during a location shoot for Strawberry Annie’s Boutique www.strawberryannies.co.uk(Sadly, I didn’t get a tutu, I’m the one on the right with the camera).
You might be wondering whether the quality of your photos is really that important, and of course I’m going to say that it is! But let me tell you why...
I’ve seen you crafty lot in your element in your boutiques and at craft fairs! I’ve watched you painstakingly creating displays, everything is presented and labelled carefully and you spend the whole day tweaking things. You get excited talking to people about what you make, take pride in your work and it shows (in fact it adds value)! The trick to a good online shop is giving your customers some of that experience.
So, here’s why photos are important. You know your designs are beautiful, the care you took in making your products, but people looking online don’t know that. This is your opportunity to show off your skills as a crafter, tell the story behind your products and create a brand. I’m not going to tell you how to display your product, you guys rule in that department, do what you do at the craft fairs. To get your products looking as good in photos as in real life, here are some pointers on how to photograph your products...
Photo: collage of product photography.
Where and when do you take your photos?
Natural daylight is best for bringing out colours so try to take your photos around mid day. You’ll get the best of the light outdoors or are near a window, but now you need to think about your background. This is just my humble opinion but household items in the garden just don’t make sense to me... jewellery on the kitchen counter confuses me too.
I like to think of product photos as either lifestyle photos or cut out photos. Lifestyle photos use props or models and set a scene. If you’ve made a cushion, you’d most likely show it on an armchair. If your product has a strong influence such as vintage or retro, use a prop that fits in with your style. Show your product in use or reflect your influences, double points if you can do both!
Photo: Collage of product lifestyle photography
Cut Out Photography
Cut out photography is the one most widely used for online shops. Traditionally cut out photography is a product on its own on a white background. The beauty of cut out photography is that all your photos are uniform (so your shop looks tidy), and if you decide to change the look of your website you won’t have to replace the photos.
Photo: Collage of product cut out photography on white background
Whether you use a light box, a sheet of card or a plain wall, the trick is to have a strong light source coming from behind the camera (try using desk lamps). Take time to play with the light and move lamps around, the idea is to cast as little shadow as possible. If you are a whiz with a computer, you can tweak the contrast to brighten the photo further. If shadows are causing you too much of a headache, try using a colour or patterned background instead! Hang a length of wrapping paper or fabric running behind and under your product to create your backdrop. The shadow will be less noticeable on a pattern.
Photo: product photography using different backgrounds
So, you’ve got your background, displayed your product and figured out your light source. Are you ready to take a photo? Not yet! Check for distractions. Labels, smudges, random bits of cotton and the torture of my existence... Fluff! The marvellous thing about distractions is that they come back, so you have to keep checking again and again before every photo!
Now you get to take the photo, Whoopee!
The most important thing in your photo is the product; fill up as much space as possible (people want to see what they are buying) and try not to have any dead space. Don’t fall into the ‘prettifying’ trap by filling your photo with irrelevant stuff, the most interesting and important thing is your product! Oh, and lastly... make sure your photo is in focus.