When you run a small business, letting your products shine becomes key to the success or possible failure of it. In 2010 I opened my first shop using Etsy as my platform. I was selling cards, prints and mirrors, and I had a few sales. Over the next couple of years I added to, and edited my product line and their photos. Last year, I decided to hire the help of a product photographer. A decision I had been mulling over for quite a while.
Sales had not been progressing as much as I would have hoped and I wanted to maximise the potential of each product. Holly Booth, a product photographer based in Derby, took my direction to fulfil my very simple vision. To make my products shine, to show them styled and to allow my customers to experience the qualities and colours of each product.
We achieved this with some basic things. Simple props were used to pick up on moods and colours. For example, Christmas cards were photographed with small festive decorations, and mugs were photographed on books that enhanced the colours and offered interesting angles to be created.
I asked a few fellow small business owners about their thoughts on photography. Joanne Hawker, who runs a small business which has flourished under a discerning eye, says her two top tips would be to use natural light, which she believes is better than any kind of artificial light, and recommends manual mode when using a digital camera. She says that this allows for more photo editing options later on.
She also swears by the use of a tripod, which doesn’t have to be a huge expense. She says, “It can eliminate shaky, blurry pictures on a badly lit day”.
Harriet Gray, who has seen as vast amount of success with her online shop, believes that the use of props and textures can really make a photo work, “Textures, wood, shiny surfaces or plants are always a good choice”. Keep these items consistent and try not to over complicate these items either.
One thing Harriet does particularly well is to show her products in use. I am referring in particular to her pictures of nail transfers and tattoos. It shows the scale and quality of these products really well, and it definitely adds to a lifestyle that she is creating so well around her brand.
Some key things for you to absolutely consider, particularly if you are thinking of doing your own product photographs are:
- Natural light
- A good digital camera. This will probably be your biggest expense but don’t be put off, because a good camera will last a very long time.
- A tripod
- Collect appropriate props. Keep them simple and think of colours, textures and scale.
- Good photo editing software. You will always have to resize your images for various platforms and you may need to do some basic and simple changes at the end of the day.
Another thing I think is important to remember is to always save high resolution pictures for press. You never know when a journalist may want to use your images. If you can cut them out on white that may be better.
One thing to remember is that your product photography is a reflection of you and your brand. Try to remember this consistently as you prepare and take you photos.
Strong photography may make a big difference to how your shop succeeds so take some time to really consider all the things mentioned above, and lastly, don’t forget to enjoy.