If I'm being completely honest the title of this post should be:
'3 simple tips for better product photography from someone who isn't very good at taking product shots, really doesn't enjoy doing it, is filled with dread even at the thought of it, and would much rather not bother apart from the small detail of great photography being the most important resource for an online product based business.'
Too dramatic? Or maybe you're thinking 'Finally! Someone else who hates it as much as I do!'
No matter if you love it or loathe it, having decent photographs of your work is non-negotiable.
Having a bank of great photographs of your work makes everything else easier. Creating engaging social media posts, making irresistible product listings, sending captivating newsletters, applying to trade at the dream craft fair, getting featured in an editorial, all of these come easy if first you have great photos to hand.
So assuming you don't have a bottomless budget for photography, how are you going to up your photography game?
These 3 simple tips have meant I spend less time stressing over taking new photos and have more time free to do the things I actually enjoy...
1. Invest in the best you can afford
This one has been a complete game changer for me. I hate the phrase 'game changer' by the way, but I've got to use it where credit's due.
When my phone contract was ready for renewal I opted for a plan that got me the phone with the best camera within my budget. I took a big downgrade on data but a HUGE upgrade in photo quality which was well worth the compromise.
I know that some people swear by using proper cameras for their product photography, but having both options available to me at home (my boyfriend has a really great Sony DSLR that I'm free to use) using my phone wins hands down for the convenience of being able to shoot, edit and upload all in one.
I've listed some apps I find useful at the end of this post.
Me taking a product shot on my Huawei P10
An example product shot taken on my Huawei P10
2. Use what you already have
OK so after saying invest in a good camera phone this might seen a bit ironic but hear me out.
You don't need a fancy lightbox, lights or reflectors to take a decent product shot. If you have a camera that takes decent photos, the only other thing you need is a spot in your home with good natural light.
The spare room that I work from at home luckily is on the side of the house than gets good light and to begin with I used to just use a bent piece of paper on the windowsill as a backdrop.
Use pieces of white paper propped up to act as both a backdrop and a reflector to get the most out of what light you have.
An example of a product photo shot in this exact way.
I've now added to my 'professional' set-up by placing a chest of drawers in front of the window, and my angle poise lamp is the perfect phone stand for taking flat-lays! I have to cellotape the phone to the light to keep it in place by the way, but it works a treat and cost me £0.
I'm lucky if I get a chance to use the chest of drawers for photos when Olive is around.
3. Keep it simple
Find a simple set-up that works for you, and use it over and over again.
I've found that knowing I have a 'go-to' that I can quickly set-up means I'm much less lost when I know I need new photos.
You'd be surprised how versatile a super simple set-up is!
My go-to set-up is an old piece of cotton fabric I used to use as a table cloth at craft fairs, slightly bunched up to hide the wrinkles and a plant cutting if I have one.
Saturn Earrings and my old packaging from when I used to trade under my own name!
I hope you find these 3 very simple tips useful and that the next time you feel the stress rising at the thought of taking some new product photographs you find some comfort in knowing you're not the only one who's blood boils at the thought but YOU CAN DO!
I've been extremely lucky along the way to have three amazing photographers borrow some pieces to create three beautiful lookbooks and there is NO denying that their photos are out of this world compared to my own. So my take away is this...
Do the best you can with what you have. You'll be surprised at the results. If all else fails, outsource to a pro and save your sanity ;)
Useful phone apps:
- VSCO - for editing photos
- A Colour Story - for seeing how your photos will look in your Instagram grid
- Stop Motion Studio - for making stop motions
- Google Drive - for saving photos to to access of another device
Photographers I'm extremely lucky to have worked with: