Perfecting Your Product Photography

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You may have mastered the art of using a torch, paintbrush, kiln or other tools to create fabulous works of art, but mastering the camera to feature those pieces in their best light is another …

You may have mastered the art of using a torch, paintbrush, kiln or other tools to create fabulous works of art, but mastering the camera to feature those pieces in their best light is another challenge altogether! Product photography is an art in and of itself. And if you are unable to hire a professional photographer to shoot your work or if you prefer to keep the creative process in house from start to finish, then we want to arm you with the right information to make your personal product photography shoots successful from the get-go!

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  • 1. Perfecting Your Product Photographyvolume 4Meylah’s eBook Series for ArtisansClick Here to Subscribe eBooks
  • 2. subscribe to thisTable of Contents free eBook series Perfecting Your What Ive Learned From Product Photography Taking Thousands of Introduction Product Shots Chapter 5 Photographing Your Products: Choose Your Style and Stick With It Chapter 1 Using Your Camera Chapter 2 Change the Way You See Your Work Chapter 3 Small Object Photography Chapter 4 share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 2
  • 3. Perfecting Your subscribe to thisProduct Photography free eBook seriesIntroduction by Courtney Dirks> art, but mastering the camera to feature those pieces in their best light is another challenge altogether! Product photography is an art in and of itself. And if you are unable to hire a professional photographer to shoot your work or if you prefer to keep the creative process in house from start to finish, then we want to arm you with the right information to make your personal product photography shoots successful from the get-go! In this eBook, we will cover topics ranging from lessons learned from taking thousands of product shots to becoming more familiar with your camera. If you’ve created fabulous products and are ready to take the plunge into product photography, the insights in this eBook will set you on the right path to capturing remarkable images of your work!Photo credit: AnnafurYou may have mastered the art of using a torch,paintbrush, kiln or other tools to create fabulous works of share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 3
  • 4. Share this eBook!> If you enjoy this eBook, please You Can: consider sending it to your – Download This eBook friends and network! – Share This eBook by Email – Post or Embed This eBook on Your Blog – Post to Twitter – Share on FacebookMeylah provides you with your ownecommerce website and powerfultools so you can sell your productsanytime, anyplace...easily. Pssssst! Go to next page for more content! > eBooks Pssssst! Go to next page for more content! 4 >
  • 5. Photographing Your Products: subscribe to thisChoose Your Style & Stick With It free eBook seriesChapter 1 by Courtney Dirks> get so wrapped up in taking the perfect product shot that it winds up pulling them away from where they should really be focusing, which is on creating the products that brought them into this industry in the first place. There is beauty in simplicity when it comes to mastering product shots. Here are a few valuable, simple tips that will improve your product photography: Focus on your Product If you’re exerting all your energy trying to find the perfect props, you may want to take a step back to really evaluate what those props are doing to improve the quality of your image. If the purpose of the prop(s) is to display the product in its’ best light or if it serves a purpose (such as holding your items in place) then it’s worthwhile. On the other hand, if your props are a distraction, remove them from your photo. YourPhoto credit: AForestFrolic concentration should be focused on making your items unique rather than their surroundings!Tackling product photography, especially as a beginnercan be an incredibly daunting task. Oftentimes artisans share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 5
  • 6. Photographing Your Products: subscribe to thisChoose Your Style & Stick With It free eBook seriesChapter 1 by Courtney Dirks>Be Consistent Related ResourcesTry to create a theme for your product shots through – Using Flickr To Share Your Workconsistent backgrounds and props. This doesn’t meanyou have to be boring! Again, as I mentioned above, – Online Printing Solutions: More Perks thanthe key is to avoid distractions and by using the same Price and Qualitybackgrounds and props, you’ll create a cohesive look – Best Face Forward: How to Get a Great Profile Shotwhen featuring multiple product images alongsideeach another.Start Slow and Build From ThereDon’t try to make every aspect of your pictures perfectfrom the get-go. When I started taking product shots,my biggest struggle was managing the lighting inmy shots. Once I figured out how to capture goodlighting for my products, I moved on to the props andbackgrounds I wanted to use, and so forth. Becominga good photographer doesn’t happen overnight, but ifyoure patient, you’ll develop the necessary skills to getgreat shots, and before you know it, other people willbe asking you for photography advice! share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 6
  • 7. Using Your subscribe to thisCamera free eBook seriesChapter 2 by Marlo Miyashiro> photos and limit the need for a lot of editing with photo software. During your practice photography sessions, you’ll want to be sure to take notes so you’ll learn what works best for your camera and lighting environment. Auto Focusing Using your camera’s auto focus is important for a clear image. Most point-and-shoot cameras focus in on the center of the frame when the shutter button is pressed down halfway. Use this to your advantage and point the middle of the frame to your focal point first, focus on it and while holding the button, swivel your camera up to create image to create the proper composition (using the rule of thirds) then take the shot. In macro mode, this will enhance the depth of field by making the closest focal point in focus and the background slightly blurry. Auto Focusing Tips:Today, let’s focus on some of the technical aspects of • Compose your shot first and then move the focalphotography. Experimenting with the following settings point to center of the frame to in on it before youin your camera will give you more control over your focus on it. share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 7
  • 8. Using Your subscribe to thisCamera free eBook seriesChapter 2 by Marlo Miyashiro >• When you have the focal point in focus, swivel your WB Tips: camera up into the right composition. • Point the camera at something that is pure white – like a sheet of printer paper.• Keep your camera lens on the same focal plane before you shoot (in other words, moving parallel to your • If this still doesn’t give you the best colors, you can try work is acceptable – moving closer or farther away adjusting the WB using an 18% gray card (available at from your work will ruin the sharpness of the image camera supply shops). and make it necessary to refocus your photo). • Hold the paper at the same distance from the lensWhite Balance (WB) as your objects will be for the best results.This is indicated on your manual mode screen with an Exposure Value Compensation (EV +/-):icon that looks like two triangles with a circle between This will instantly brighten or darken your photos withinthem. Refer to your camera’s manual to learn how to your camera and could further minimize the need foradjust the WB – each camera is different. photo editing later. Refer to your user’s manual learnWhen you adjust the WB, you are essentially telling how to use the in-camera EV adjustment.your camera, “This is what white looks like” within thelighting environment you are shooting in. This eliminates EV Tips:the need for expensive daylight balanced light bulbs • Some cameras have a built in EV +/- “bracketing”or using the camera’s guessing system (auto white system which allows the camera to take threebalance) that can easily be thrown off by anything from (or more) shots in a row. One set at a +1, onean overhead light to the color of your clothing. in the neutral position and one at the -1 setting. share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 8
  • 9. Using Your subscribe to thisCamera free eBook seriesChapter 2 by Marlo Miyashiro >• Take notes when you are taking these photos so you The more you know about how your camera operates know what looks best when you are reviewing the better your photos will be and then one day you’ll your shots. find yourself actually looking forward to taking more photos of your work!• Your camera’s LCD screen isn’t the most reliable gauge of brightness, so take lots of different photos Related Resources and then look at them on your computer. – Four Favorite Point and Shoot CamerasThe #1 Most Important ThingTo Remember – How to Get Started on Flickr: Registering!Never, ever use your camera’s flash to take photos – Flickr Groups: Crafting, Blogging, Promotingof small objects! Even with tissues covering the flash,the light emitted by your camera’s flash is too harshto evenly light small objects. Instead, make sure youhave plenty of ambient light and keep adjusting yourlighting set up until you can consistently take photoswithout that little “shaking hand” showing itself on yourcamera’s screen.Of courses, all of this is just the tip of the proverbialiceberg when it comes to small object photography.I encourage you to keep learning and experimentingwith your work, composition and camera settings. share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 9
  • 10. Free EcommerceWebsite & Personal Coaching.Get step by step instructions so you can sell yourproducts and manage your business...easily. Pssssst! Go to next page for more content! >
  • 11. Change The Way subscribe to thisYou See Your Work free eBook seriesChapter 3 by Marlo Miyashiro> Have you ever really looked at a great photo? Not just the featured object, but the way things are placed within the frame? The ones that really catch our eye generally have certain things in common: • The background doesnt compete with the item(s) • Objects are placed at an angle or off-center, not in the center of the frame • The main focal point is close to one of the corners of the photo • The object(s) fill the frame While there are definitely exceptions to these rules, one of the easiest ways to create interest in your photos is to simply place your object(s) at an angle or just off of center. By doing this you create visual “movement” and depth within the frame which allows the viewer’s eye to focus on the main subject after following an easy,To continue the improvement of your small object natural pattern around the image.photographs, let’s talk about taking a completelydifferent approach to the composition of your photos. share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 11
  • 12. Change The Way subscribe to thisYou See Your Work free eBook seriesChapter 3 by Marlo Miyashiro >Why does this work? Let’s look at the “Rule of Thirds”. You can also give these ideas a try:In the visual arts, the “Rule of Thirds” states: • Place your piece at a diagonal with an intersecting“An image should be imagined as divided into nine horizontal background line. This creates visual equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and movement and more points of interest within the image. two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important • Focus sharply on the main part of the object and compositional elements should be placed along these lines allow the depth of field to blur the outer edges. Using or their intersections. Proponents of the technique claim depth of field to your advantage, you can further that aligning a subject with these points creates more enhance your photo and draw your customer’s tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply attention to the main focal point of your piece centering the subject would.” (Source: Wiki Rule of Thirds) • If youre photographing jewelry, in particular, necklaces,In the photo above, you’ll see 3 lines x 3 lines layered swirl your necklace chains in an “S” pattern away fromover the top of the photo, stretched to the ends of the lens at an angle – curving lines are very pleasing tothe photo. The pendant is placed in the lower right the eye. Think of how wind and water are depicted inintersection of the grid. This creates a visual energy that a painting – these are the types of curves you want tois much more interesting to the eye than simply placing emulate. Use of depth of field is good to try here too.the pendant in the lower center of the frame. • If you are used to placing your piece in the veryThe next time you are taking your photos, imagine this center, try to see if you can angle the object or movegrid (some cameras actually have a setting that will your camera a little to one side. It’s amazing how aplace the grid on the screen) while you are composing tiny change can make all the difference between ayou photos and see what happens. stagnant photo and a dynamic one! share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 12
  • 13. Change The Way subscribe to thisYou See Your Work free eBook seriesChapter 3 by Marlo Miyashiro >The main point here is to experiment with yourcomposition. Be daring. Take photos that are *too* closeand take photos at *extreme* angles. Then comparethe visual interest in those shots to your standardphotos. You might be surprised to find that what youonce thought was “over the top” is actually the moreinteresting composition for your work! Related Resources– The Anatomy of A Great Product Shot– Lets Picnik: Photo Editing Made Easy!– How To Edit Your Photos using Picnik share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 13
  • 14. Small Object subscribe to thisPhotography free eBook seriesChapter 4 by Marlo Miyashiro> shop. You’ve read the tutorials, turned off the flash, set up near a window, purchased a fancy light-tent pop-up contraption and perhaps even upgraded your camera and still, your results have been less than spectacular. What more do you need to do to take an amazing photo? The difference between a good photo and a great photo, particularly with small objects, can be subtle. Composition, lighting and clarity all work together to create a visually appealing photo that gets the viewer up close and personal with the item – giving them a chance to emotionally connect, click and ultimately purchase it!If you’re like most people with online storefronts, takingbetter great photos of your small objects is number oneon the list of things you need to do to improve your share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 14
  • 15. Small Object subscribe to thisPhotography free eBook seriesChapter 4 by Marlo Miyashiro>To achieve this kind of “visually tactile” imagery, it is • Learn how to use your camera’s manual settings tonecessary to approach your photography from your manipulate your photos.customer’s point of view. For instance, they might wonder: • Play with the depth of field (sharp focus in front, soft focus toward the back) to create visual movement• What is the piece made out of? within the frame.• How big is it? • Be daring and let part of the piece fall off the edge of• How heavy is it? the photo.• How wide is it? • Take super close up (or crop your photos) to highlight the texture of the piece.• What does it feel like? Having trouble visually conveying the size of your piece?Now you might be thinking, “How in the world do I show Use one of your shots to:my customer what it *feels* like or how *heavy* it is ifit’s just a photograph?” • Take a photo of the piece in or on your (or a friend’s) handThis is where you start using that creative brain of yours!Yes, the same one that created that fantastic item you • Place it next to an everyday (internationallyare photographing – and start playing: recognized) object like a drinking glass, pencil, leaf, stapler, a pile of thumbtacks, a lemon…you• Try taking photos at lots of different angles. get the point.• Go extreme – get down to eye level with your work. share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 15
  • 16. Small Object subscribe to thisPhotography free eBook seriesChapter 4 by Marlo Miyashiro>• Important: Be sure the object you are using for comparison falls off the photo’s edge so it doesn’t compete with your item!The photographs we take are much more than a recordof what we make. They are quite literally the gatewayto a better understanding of you, your work and yourbusiness. Let’s make the most of them, shall we?Related Resources– How to Display and Present Your Products Effectively– How To Use A Lightbox For Your Product Shots– How to Create An Ad for Your Business share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 16
  • 17. Pssssst! Go to next page for more content! >
  • 18. What Ive Learned from Taking subscribe to thisThousands of Product Shots free eBook seriesChapter 5 by Courtney Dirks> me transition from completely dreading taking photos of my products to enjoying every second of it and now, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the most valuable lessons I’ve learned with you: 1. Take several shots of your product, but don’t get so caught up in capturing the ABSOLUTE perfect shot that your products never make it online. To give you a gauge, I take roughly 15-20 shots per product and narrow the final selection down to 3-5 of the best shots. 2. Identify the gear you want to use – I started out with a Canon Powershot Digital Elph, which is a simple point and shoot camera that I loved, but it broke so I had to move on. Now I’ve graduated to shooting with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel and I’ve really benefited from the perks of using an SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) camera. I alternate back and forth from using the lens that came with the camera and a separate macro lens that I purchased.After taking thousands upon thousands of product shotsin preparation for my online store launch, I’ve learnedcountless valuable lessons. These lessons have helped share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 18
  • 19. What Ive Learned from Taking subscribe to thisThousands of Product Shots free eBook seriesChapter 5 by Courtney Dirks>3. Create consistency with your product shots – At first covering your windows with a white sheet) and (2) I was just focused on capturing great shots, using all avoid direct sunlight. kinds of props, backgrounds, etc. trying to make them 6. Don’t use a flash – No matter what time of day you’ve look fun and artsy. What I realized is that although selected to shoot, turn off your flash! It will create the images looked great individually, they lacked nasty glare. cohesion as a group. Now I aim to take a few pictures against a flat background so people can really see 7. Look around – try to find inspiration in the things the workmanship without distractions, then I take 1-2 you are drawn to, such as the magazines you like, more creative shots using a fun background or a prop. the blogs you read, or the handmade shops you are interested in. What about their presentation draws4. Find a system that works for you – I’ve read many you in? Can you incorporate some of those ideas into articles on how to take great product shots, but your photography? it’s difficult (and sometimes even contradictory) to implement everyone’s strategies and advice. Take the 8. Find the right props & background supplies – I’ve tips that really resonate with you and put those to use, tried all sorts of props and I’ve finally settled on if other tips don’t strike you, move on! a few that actually aid me in photographing my images (for example, a metal jewelry display tree5. Decide if you prefer shooting in the Night or Day – for photographing jewelry to show how it hangs). From all the articles I poured through, I found that For backgrounds, I focus on using items (such as many people prefer to shoot during the day. If you scrapbook paper or tiles) that can easily be used are shooting during the day, the two greatest lessons behind or underneath products to create a clean I’ve learned are to (1) diffuse the light to prevent glare and consistent look. (a great way to do so if you’re shooting inside is by share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 19
  • 20. What Ive Learned from Taking subscribe to thisThousands of Product Shots free eBook seriesChapter 5 by Courtney Dirks>9. Find a great photo editing system – there are a Related Resources number of great (and even free) photo editing tools – Creating the Perfect Photo Setup For Your available on the market that will help you clean up Product Photography (edit) and tag your images. Find the one that works best for you. – Creative Commons: The What, Why and How10. Finally & most importantly, don’t get discouraged – Great Places for Continuing Education in Your Craft – I’ve dedicated hours upon hours and days upon days trying to figure out how to get my product photography just right and at times, I felt very discouraged, yet I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. If you feel like pulling your hair out, it always helps to walk away for a bit and come back once you’ve had a chance to recharge. share this post this on facebook on twitter eBooks 20
  • 21. subscribe to this free eBook series>Contributors Marlo Miyashiro, (a.k.a. Stay Tuned…Courtney Dirks, a recent escapee IMakeCuteStuff) has been in the We hope this eBook has helpedof the corporate world with a retail and wholesale handmade alleviate some of the challengesbackground in commercial real craft industries for more than 20 you’ve faced and eased your anxietyestate, communications, and sales. years. She is a jeweler, crafter, about product photography. We areShe began alleviating her stress at teacher, arts business consultant devoted to provide the best solutionswork through creating handmade for emerging artists and current for individuals to learn, share andjewelry for Courtney Rian Designs. organizer of etsyRAIN, an active support each other’s business growthAfter bouncing around the west coast community of over 1000 artists online and we wish you the best offor years, she settled in Seattle and who reside in western Washington. luck in your quest for online sellinghas found great joy traveling, playing Check out Marlos new photography success. Stay tuned for future eBookssports and interacting with the local blog at SmallObjectPhotography from Meylah!creative community. and learn more about her classes and consulting services at CreativeArtsConsulting. eBooks 21
  • 22. subscribe to this free eBook series> Benefits of Meylah Our Values 1. Build your brand and share the • Be Committed to Helping Each story of their work through a Other personalized blog • Live and Breathe Creativity 2. Sell your products and services • Smile and Have Fun with a customized storefront • Show Passion in All That You Do 3. Connect and build their community and customer base through • Give Before You Take integrated social media channels • Together We Create a Great 4. Share or sell your knowledge with ExperiencePhoto credit: Kalyan Kanuri an online tutorial creation tool • Foster Dynamic Learning called Byte-Syze LearningAbout Meylah • Be Humble and HonestMeylah provides artisans with 5. Effectively manage your businesstheir own ecommerce website and all-in-one-place with innovative • Do More with Lesspowerful tools so they can sell their administration tools • Embrace Changeproducts anytime, anyplace...easily. eBooks 22
  • 23. subscribe to this free eBook series>License Warning and DisclaimerThis work is licensed under the Every effort has been made toCreative Commons Attribution Non- make this book as complete and ascommercial No Derivative Works accurate as possible, but no warranty3.0 United States License. To view of fitness is implied. The informationa copy of this license, visit http:// provided is on an “as is” basis. Thecreativecommons.org/licenses/ authors shall have neither liability norbyncnd/3.0/us/ or send a letter responsibility to any person or entityto Creative Commons, 171 Second with respect to loss or damagesStreet, Suite 300, San Francisco, arising from the informationCalifornia, 94105, USA contained in this eBook.TrademarksAll terms mentioned in this bookthat are known to be trademarksor service marks have beenappropriately capitalized. Use ofa term in this book should not beregarded as affecting the validity ofany trademark or service mark. eBooks 23
  • 24. Share this eBook!> If you enjoy this eBook, please You Can: consider sending it to your – Download This eBook friends and network! – Share This eBook by Email – Post or Embed This eBook on Your Blog – Post to Twitter – Share on Facebook eBooks 24