Craft Venture: Photo makeover, part IV

By phydeaux • Updated on 01/19/2011

Welcome back to Craft Venture! Im Brenda from Phydeaux Designs, with another post about product photography! Last week, we talked about what to avoid with your photos. Today, we’re talking about some styling ideas to make your photos come to life.

A little ditty has been running through my head for the past few weeks as I think about how I want my own online shop to look. “Are these the photos I want Martha Stewart or insert-other-big-celebrity-name-with-the-power-to-affect-my-business-in-an-unbelievable-way-here?”

What if you knew for certain that Martha Stewart’s staff would be looking at your shop tomorrow? Are your photos up to snuff? You’ll get a 20 to 30 second chance if this were to actually happen; if your photos aren’t immediately engaging, your chance is shot.

Until computers are equipped with smell-o-vision or virtual reality becomes available to all, your photos are absolutely crucial to the success of your business. Your photos are the first thing that potential customers see – or don’t see! You want your photos to be those that stand out in a sea of other photos and draw customers into your virtual shop.

Because you can’t smell or feel the items in your photo, you need to bring your photos to life for your customers. Turn two dimensional into three dimensional! Show your items in use! Create movement! Taking a snapshot of your secret recipe brownies on a napkin on your floor is flat, unengaging, and unappetizing. But style your brownies so that they’re on a clean white plate with a frosty cold glass of milk with a red gingham napkin … and you’re showing someone brownies about to be devoured.

You can create depth in your photos via layering of objects and/or use of depth of field. How do you layer objects? if your item is a handbound journal, you could artfully pose it on a stack of books, with something a bit taller on top (say a cappuccino or an antique inkwell). Shooting from above and using your camera’s focus on your journal, the items below and above it become a bit blurry. You’ve created depth in your photo! And I didn’t use any big, fancy photography words to do so!

Take closeups of your items using your camera’s macro lens/feature! You should have a button or setting on your camera that looks like a flower. Use that setting and focus on the closest edge of your item. This is ideal for jewelry, allowing extreme closeups  in beautiful detail.

If you make adorable infant clothing, your best photos are going to be of adorable infants wearing your clothing. Don’t have adorable infants? Talk with local photographers – see who’s willing to trade or work out some kind of deal for their photos of your items on their models.

Think about how to tie your branding into your photos. If the logo for your canine collar business is your super cute chihuahua, I hope you’re using your chihuahua as your collar model! If you design modern stationary and papergoods, a clean and simple background may be all that you need.

I think styling is really important; however, I also think it’s easy to overstyle your photos. If you have so many geegaws and props in your photo that you can’t tell what is for sell, you’ve probably overstyled. If you sell vintage toy tops, styling against a floral curtain and fresh flowers and crystal vase and pearl necklace is not only overstyling, it also doesn’t make much sense. Don’t overstyle, but be sure to style with items and in a manner fitting to your item. A vintage toy top could be perfect with a well loved vintage teddy or just a couple of worn toy blocks!

Have some fun with your photos! How can you create movement in a way that is unique, intriguing and visually engaging? If you use live models, have them move around! Dance! Leap! Work it! Take a photo of your fresh from the oven brownies, showing rising steam. Show your handmade curtains fluttering in the breeze.

Styling is where very well meaning sellers slip up and start copying other sellers’ style of photos, rather than draw inspiration from their particular style. I often encourage new sellers to look at top sellers’ shops, studying their photos, and then do something completely different. It’s tempting to take photos just like the number one vintage seller, when you sell vintage toy tops; however, you want to establish your own unique brand and look, right? Martha Stewart’s people are very likely already aware of the top sellers – don’t lose out on an opportunity the day they happen to peek into your online shop, simply due to unoriginality.

Draw people into your shop with your photos. Keep them looking because of your photos. Most important, convince them to buy from you because of your photos. Your photos are key! Make yours uniquely you, engaging, three dimensional, and immediately recognizable.

Think about your very best photos. What makes them so good? Did you consciously do any of the above? Or was it subconscious?

Put yourself into the shoes of the editor of your very favorite magazine. Now imagine visiting your online shop from that perspective. What would you change?

Image credits:  Recycled Wood Bracelet by Pretty Birdie: Bright Sunshiny Day by Farouche

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[…] from Phydeaux Designs, with another post about product photography!  Last week, we talked about styling ideas for your photos.  Today, I wanted to share with you some online resources to help you improve your photography […]

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