At this time of year I'm always taking photographs of new stock in order to get my website up to date and looking beautiful, ready for the busy Christmas season ahead! So this week I thought I'd share my tips on how I take my photographs in case any of my tips help you guys when trying to shoot your products.
When I first started my business I realised quickly that one of the most important things to selling your wares online is good photography, it can mean the difference between a sale or a browse. It's important to show as much detail as possible in one shot from texture and colour to finish and pattern. Making sure the photographs are the most clear, clean and precise photos they can be will give customers trust and investment into your brand. It can also be a great way for your brand to get into magazines and blogs, if the photos are of great quality people will want to use them. As well as of course social media, if your photos are great, you are likely to get more likes, followers and engagement which can sometimes convert into sales.
I have many styles in which I photograph different products each for different platforms. Social media might be more lifestyle based or some behind the scenes footage from the studio whereas my wholesale look book needs to be more clear so customers can see the whole product in a relatively 'no fuss' way. Usually with a grey background and on a hanger for consistency and simplicity. And then there are the website photos where I like to show how things can be worn and paired with different outfits on people.
So here are the steps I take to ensure a good quality photo.
Make sure you have as good a camera as you can afford. One of the first things I invested in when I started my business was a digital SLR camera. I went for a Canon 700D about 4 years ago and although it was an investment at the time, I think around £500, it has lasted me so long. Even though I would now love to replace it I just can't justify it as it still does such a good job. These days you can buy some amazing cameras and at the moment the Olympus pen cameras seem to be some of the best around for bloggers and small businesses but for now I'll stick to my old digital SLR.
You will need a tripod to hold your camera whilst you take your shots. I find it so much easier, once you've set up your shot you can just keep on clicking away rather than looking through the lens to see if you have the right angle each time. My dad got me the one I have for my birthday so I'm not sure where it came from but I'm pretty sure you can get good alternatives on Amazon.
Any photography tips that you read will always mention how important lighting is when you take photographs. I did buy some lighting equipment off Amazon a few years back but I never really got on with it and have stuck to natural day light instead. Find the lightest room in your house and angle your shots either next to or opposite the biggest window you have to get the most amount of light you can in the shot. Make sure it's a bright sunny day, if the day that you planned to shoot is dark and raining then if you can do it another day when the sun is shining. The photos just won't be as vibrant and bad light can change everything including colour and texture and you'll just end up having to shoot half the products again anyway.
Before every shoot I like to get a Pinterest board going or start looking though old fashion magazines and start a mood board. I try to get as many ideas down of what I want to achieve as possible so when it comes to the day of the shoot I know exactly what I'm going to do. You want to get as much shot as possible in one day so make sure you're as prepared as possible and it will make the whole shoot so much more easier on the day. I'm a big fan of making a list of products I want to shoot and in which setting so I can tick off the list as I go along.
4. Background and props
If you are lucky enough to have a lovely house with beautiful walls then brilliant, you are all set. If like me you are living in a building site (!) or don't have the luxury of lovely sooth walls in just the right place in your light filled room then you might want to make your own. I buy large sheets of MDF, it took me a while to find B and Q just don't have big enough boards for the size of shoot I want so I had to look further a field. I get my boards from a builders merchants, I'm lucky enough to have a builder husband who gets them for me, but I'm led to believe anyone can shop there, even if you don't have an account. I think mine came from Travis Perkins. I then use different coloured paint in a variety of hues to match the products I am shooting that day. You could also think about other ways of covering your backgrounds such as fabric, fringing, anything that matches your brand, the list is endless!
Now is when you need to decide if you're comfortable in front of the camera or not. For me it's about ease, it so much easier when you don't need to rely on anyone else and you can plan a shoot whenever you need to. Cost can also be a factor, it does cost money to hire models, or sometimes it can be nice to ask your willing friends, but I just find it so much easier to do it myself. Also people like to know the person behind the brand so it's a nice opportunity for them to see you and your products. Plus you can wear the pieces how you would like, style it and be in total control and if I'm honest I'm a total control freak when it comes to my business! So go for it, get in front of that camera and get your stuff shown!
6. Self timer
If you don't have help and want to be in front of the camera you will need some sort of self timer. There is of course the timer delay on your camera however this will have you running from camera to position constantly which isn't very practical. I think there are some good apps out there to set your camera timer from your mobile phone however I found this remote control timer the best for me. It's small and discreet and will fit in your hand easily when taking the photos, so you can keep it out of shot. I picked it up from Amazon here and is under £6! I would google it if this one won't be compatible with your camera to find something suitable.
8. Setting up your shot
By now you should have all the equipment you need to create that perfect shot. You should have your background set up near a large window in the lightest room you have. Your camera should be set on a tripod. If you have a viewing screen on your camera turn that on and flip it towards you so you can see where you are in the shot when taking the photograph. You can see if you are in the centre of the shot and if your head is cropped out of not! I haven't shown this in the photographs above and below but hopefully you get the picture! Get the light settings right and start clicking away! I also find it really useful to have a large full length mirror behind the camera angled towards you so you can see what you look like and if the scarf/ clothing you have on is in the right position.
8. Time to take a photo!
By now you should be all set up. The background and camera should be angled by a large window for maximum light. Take a few test photos first to work out your camera settings and light readings, then get in front of the camera and start clicking away! The remote control will give you a few seconds to get in the right position and go!
Take a few photos and check back rather than going ahead and just taking lots and lots of photos without checking along the way. Otherwise you could end up with lots of photos you can't use.
So that's it! I hope that has helped you get an idea of how you could set up a photography studio in your living room like myself! The main thing is you get to display your goods in a creative way that suits your brand. Maybe think outside the box, could you decorate the background, use drapes of fabric, paint patterned backgrounds, are there props you could incorporate that will make your products pop? The list is endless and the rest is up to you! Have fun and let me know how you get on! Sorry this week is a bit of a long read but I wanted to get it all in there as I've found other blogs so handy for when I'm trying out new ways to photograph my products.
My photoshoot checklist
2. Camera battery charged.
4. Remote control timer.
5. Inspiration/ mood boards.
6. Lists of what you need shot and ideas you have to prompt you when you're getting weary.
7. Background/ s (sometimes it's good to have more than one for variety.)
8. Props. Are there any props that can help enhance your photographs?
9. Model- if you are not modelling yourself, find one. Or think about props- hangers, rails, hooks etc.
10. Outfits- think about hair, make up, nails, outfit choices, jewellery that will compliment your products. Make sure all outfits are ironed!
Thanks for reading! Have a lovely week all!