During the Covid-19 pandemic and all of us being locked in I wanted to give some tips on how to photograph your own products at home.
Before you start I want you first to think about where and how you going to use your images as this decides if you need to take your photo in landscape or portrait format. For Facebook I recommend landscape and you can also crop it in to a square for Instagram. If you want to use the the images for Instagram stories use the portrait format. Let's get started.
Thank you to Christina from Goldfinch Marketing for giving me the idea. Please also read her blog on "Why good images matter?"
Find your best light source
Make the most of the daylight. I usually use the biggest window in our living room and set a table just right next to it or use the floor. Try and do all your photos when the light is the brightest which would be in my case early afternoon. We never get direct sunlight that means the light is bright but soft. If you do get direct sunlight and the light is too strong you can diffuse it with a thin white curtain or just step a bit away from the window. You can also get a 5in1 reflector from Amazon and use the translucent part to soften your light. Though depends on your product and brand you can make use of direct sun light and harsh shadows as an artistic effect in your images, you could even create some shadows with plants.
Turn off all artificial light as it will give you a colour cast in your pictures and it will be make your life harder trying to edit it out.
Choose your backdrop
For a clean product shot I prefer a simple white or a light backdrop so it makes it easier to cut the backdrop out in post. I use Photoshop for my cutouts but I heard you can get rid of your background in Canva too. You can use a white foam board from Hobbycraft, white tiles, scraps of wallpaper or vinyl backdrops. If your brand colours are moody and dark of course you can choose a darker backdrop. A lot of the jewellery brands decide to go for a darker look as it makes their product pop and creates a dramatic and luxurious look. Once you decided on your backdrop I would stick to one colour palette.
Experiment with the angles
Depends on the product you are photographing you might want to choose a lower camera angle or a birds eye perspective to show all the features of your product. Start with looking at your product carefully from all different angles and understand what features you want to highlight. Your clients want to see the material and texture of your product which means you might need an extra close up image to showcase this. You need to pay extra attention when photographing reflective materials. Use again white paper or reflector to bounce back diffused light onto your shinny objects. There are great youtube videos to get you started.
Use a reflector
To get the best out of your shot use a reflector to bounce light and fill in the shadows. You can order them online in different sizes but you can also just use a white sheet of paper or white foam board. If you want to experiment with different reflection you can build your own silver reflector by wrapping tin foil around cardboard or try using a mirror.
Invest in a tripod and shoot in manual Mode
style with props
I love the styled lifestyle images and flat lays. Start looking around and you probably have a lot of beautiful props at home already to make your product image to a lifestyle image. Look for different textures and similar colours. Scarfs, shawls, napkins, blankets and towels make a great backdrop, can fill in the gaps or simply use them to guide the viewers eye to the product. Bowles, mugs, stationary and plants are also wonderful accessories. When you use props for your product shots or flat lays just make sure they make sense and tell a story with your products. I also keep my eyes peeled on every walk I go for possible props I can use in my future shots; our flat is covered in rocks, shells and driftwood. And of course you can style your images with your own products like The Salvaged Woodshop.
Shoot more than you need
You did the work to set everything up so you should make the most of it and take as many images as possible. Take close ups, different angles and formats. You never know when you might need them.
Use an Editing App
Editing an image makes all the difference. There are lots of free editing apps for your phone you can try and experiment with but these are the most popular ones; VSCO, Snapseed and my favourite Lightroom.
When you have your shot you are happy with import it in your editing app of choice. I usually give my images a light and airy edit and this is how I achieve it: First I brighten up the shadows, then the whole image, depends on the photo you might have to reduce the highlights so they don't blow out. Then I increase the contrast and the saturation a bit to make the image pop. You have to be careful with certain colours though. When we take photos indoors most of the time the pictures can have a yellow cast. Phones and cameras have trouble capturing the exact colour (especially red) so you need to get as close as possible to the original colour in your editing process. In Lightroom I can reduce and change each colour individually. Don't be afraid to experiment you can always go back or start from the beginning.
My blog on how to use Lightroom might be of interest for you.
If you got enough on your mind and would rather concentrate on what you love, creating and designing your wonderful products then don't hesitate to ask for help and get in contact with a professional photographer. You don't need to be present at a shoot, you can just post your products and wait for your images to arrive in your inbox.