Tips For Product Photos

Hey people! So, as you might have already noticed (and if not, here's your chance to check it out) I launched my new range of illustration work this week, and leading up to it, one of my goals was to take super gorgeous product pictures compared to the previous range's.

At the time, I was proud of my old product photos, but my photography skills quickly improved (always, always learning!)  and I became kind of ashamed of them. I threw a lot of time and effort into these babies this time around (though as always there is room for improvement!) and I learnt a lot as these were really the first 'proper' product photos I took. Here's some tips for taking great product photos that I learned this time around.

1. Make them Portrait

Or at least, make the first image portrait. Your products are beautiful, and your business is online, yes? Do you know where beautiful-things-online go? That's right - Pinterest. Pinners like portrait pictures (they take up more screen space so catch the eye) meaning people who see and pin your beautiful things are more likely attract more people to your beautiful things.

2. Backdrops

They don't have to be fancy and expensive, but they are super helpful. Previously, for blog posts, I had been using an A2 piece of white mount board for 'backdrops'. When I realised how big the frames for my A3 prints would be, I realised that ideally I'd like to get a much bigger backdrop. For the pictures I used my white desk top (which can be lifted straight off the legs - ridiculously handy) on the floor, and a huge canvas we happened across in The Works. If you're familiar with the works you'll know it is cheap as hell - the canvas cost me £10 and I can't even explain how huge it is. Though it might not be the best quality as the base for your oil-paint masterpiece, it is crisp, white and has a little bit of nice texture - perfect as a backdrop.

What was great about getting such a huge backdrop was it gave me a lot more room for props and styling, letting me bring a little context to my work. Backdrops are also portable, walls are not. I simply moved my 'set' to get the best light.  I actually hang the blank canvas on my (also white) wall, so when not in use I can look like the biggest conceptual minimal arty mc artfreak eva and tell everyone it's a piece of modern art designed to challenge the economical socio political concept of the human condition. Or something.

3. Props and Styling I found it super helpful to add some props to the image to give it context. I wrote a post about target audience recently, and props and styling can make a huge difference in addressing them. For me, I wanted to create the same aesthetic and feeling that I get when I pin an image to the 'home' board. I wanted my pieces to be easy to imagine in your own home: just-so above the sideboard, or leant against the mantelpiece. Styling a few, simple leaves and props in this way helped me capture that feeling.

As well as that, I added a few of my 'signature' top-down "instagrammy" style shots, which keeps things a little more consistent across my brand image, and I know that people love images that I style in that way. It's also worth mentioning that lots of people don't style their actual product pictures and have great success. It's just something worth considering.

4. Lighting

I am one of those lucky bloggers who has a photographer-boyfriend (do we just attract eachother?) so I have the benefit of a person who is familiar with optimum lighting and creating flawless lighting. However, this is the part where you breathe a sigh of relief, because I'm not about to gloat about perfectly lit pictures, because, as you can see - they're not.

I actually chose to use all-natural light (not least due to having reflective frames and cellophane everywhere) but I wanted my pictures so seem at least a little realistic. I wanted a more homely feel, so I shot all the images near the window in my bedroom. There are shadows which make it seem a little closer to blog photos than super crisp product photos. It fits my target audience and has a bit more of a personal vibe, which suits the nature of my products. However, if you make super-luxe sleek products, you might find that you need a better lit, flash-photographed image.

5. Colour Themes

This depends a lot on your product, but for this range, I had chosen a colour scheme already - natural greens, lots of soft blues, a grey-pink and mustard. I made sure this translated into my props, choosing a blue vase, dusky pink chrysanthemums and pink birthday candles. I also opted for lots of bright, light props (plants in white pots, a white cocktail shaker, etc) to allow them to accompany the product, but not overly distract from the product and keep the colour palette in harmony. I feel too that I should mention that I had virtually all of these props to hand already - don't spend loads of money - you can create something beautiful without it.

6.Be Prepared

Ok, this may be the slightly obvious one, but be prepared! Charge your camera, choose a lense that won't crop out half of your carefully-styled pics. Experiment with a tripod for consistent images. Pick a bright, clear day.

Some brands that have great product pics (and, well, products too!):

So, what did you think? Who's product pictures do you admire? Let us know your tips in the comments.