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Entries in behind-the-scenes (8)

Wednesday
May232012

Creative Business Tips: Taking Great Product Photos

Hello blog friends! I am finally back. I had such a long absence and sadly I have not shared anything here since last Thursday. May is turning out to be quite the busy month. Has it been for you? It has felt nonstop and I am shocked to look at the calendar and see that the month is almost over! Where did the time go?

I have always been very open about my photography setup and tried to offer tips and advice to you readers here on the blog. Pictures are so important, especially for handmade artists, crafters and creative bloggers. And even with some basic equipment, a novice can capture great moments. I am always trying to improve my own photography, so I am far from an expert, but I have learned a thing or two about setting up shots. I have shared some of my advice in these posts here:

Behind the Scenes: White Backdrops for Product Photography

Behind the Scenes: Mini Studio Setup 

I recently compiled my top five tips for taking great product photos and shared them with the Houzz community. Some of the advice I've touched on here but there are new tips as well and a lot of picture comparisons like this one:

Photography is all about practice and over time I have figured out optimum settings and conditions for taking photos that I love. But these five tips are the backbone to great shots and I follow this advice myself. If you are struggling with product photos, these tips will get you moving in the right direction and hopefully inspire you to experiment and practice with lighting and props and backgrounds too.

What are some of your favorite tips for capturing great shots? What have you learned as you practice your photography more and more? 

Also is there anything in particular you are struggling with? I am always looking for new ideas for posts and maybe there is a question I could answer here on the blog in my behind the scenes series. 

Thursday
Apr052012

Behind the Scenes: White Backdrops for Product Photography

Hello Thursday, April 5th! May I ask how you got here so quickly? Well this week is zooming by for me. I still have so much to accomplish before the weekend when I get to see my brother, go out and take pictures with him and his girlfriend, and have a big Easter feast. I'm really looking forward to the family time but oh, so much has to get done beforehand. Feeling slightly overwhelmed this morning but hopefully after crossing off some big things on the to-do list today, I'll feel better.

Today I want to share a Behind the Scenes post and let you in on a few of my tips for using white backdrops in product photography. This is the setup I used for my Ombré Pennant Flags DIY last week. 

Sometimes I like shooting products on textured surfaces, like this weathered bench you see above, and other times I like simple, white surfaces. Choosing your backdrop and surfaces is up to you and a lot of it has to do with your own style and the mood you are trying to capture in the pictures. You also want to take into account what compliments the product best. Your product should stand out and be the focus. Sometimes with textures, your product can get lost in all the visual detail which is something you should watch out for.

For these product shots, I placed two white foamcore boards outside and photographed my product on them. The boards are texture free so all of the focus was on the bright colors of my flags...which is exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Not only are the boards functioning as backdrops but since they are white, light is bouncing off of them, eliminating shadows and making the entire scene brighter. I 100% recommend working in natural light like I did here. Pictures always look better (in my opinion). I shot this when there was a lot of ambient light. It was in the later afternoon so the sun wasn't direct (which causes harsh shadows) but there was still a lot of available light. A few hours before sunset is always a good time to take pictures. It is known as the "golden hours."

Again I'll stress the worth-it investment of a few pieces of foamcore. I use mine all the time and it is an easy and cheap way to improve your pictures. Sometimes I just prop them up on the sides to use as light reflectors, like I did here, and other times I use them as backdrops like I did for this project. They are handy and flexible tools. Better product photography doesn't necessarily have to break the bank. A few simple changes can make a big difference.

Do you take product photos for your blog or your handmade business? What are your favorite techniques for better pictures?  

Tuesday
Mar272012

Pink Ombré Watercolor Placecards

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today I am sharing a few behind-the-scenes shots of some placecards I'm making for an upcoming wedding. I did a lot of work on them this weekend and took a few pictures thinking you might all like to see what I have going on in my studio. This is step one of the process for these placecards. I am doing a light pink wash, an ombré effect over the entire card. The pink is super light and sometimes hard to see in these pictures. But it looks beautiful in person and I'm happy with how the color turned out.

I completed a bunch but I still have more to finish up this week (it's a big wedding). It is actually a peaceful activity and I'm looking forward to spending an afternoon washing away. The next step in the process will be for me to do the names and table numbers in calligraphy script. The lettering will be written in a darker pink and I'll share more of that when I get to that step. The final result, with all of these cards together, will be really lovely I think. It feels so ethereal and feminine already.

Here is a bunch of them laying out to dry on my studio floor.

All dry and stacked together. Each card is different and I love the subtle hue variations.

What projects do you have going on right now? Anyone else doing any watercoloring?

Thursday
Feb162012

Behind the Scenes: Mini Studio Setup

Happy Thursday friends! Yesterday I was shooting pictures for my February Whisker Graphics DIY (which I will share soon). It was cloudy and rainy all day and trying to find good natural light to shoot in was a challenge. I had to create a make-shift studio on the fly to capture my images. I decided to snap a few images of my setup and then share them here so that you could see how I deal with challenging light situations. As you will see, my setup is very primitive, nothing professional and I use whatever materials I can find on hand. 

I find that natural light is really the key. I always want to shoot in it. Pictures just look better (in my opinion). Like I said, it was very dark yesterday and all the ambient light was streaming in through this large window. I knew I wanted to shoot on this desk because it was near the light. In my experience light-colored surfaces photograph better too so that was another reason for picking the desk. Finally, I propped up two foamcore boards to bounce light from the window back onto the subject, my craft I was styling. Without the foamcore to reflect light, the subject would have a really bright side (the side closest to the window) and a heavily shadowed side. Sometimes you want a moody picture with that harsh contrast between light and dark but that was not my vision for this shot. The foamcore boards bounce the light and eliminate shadow.

The Key to Better Product Shots:

{1} natural light

{2} white foamcore to bounce light & eliminate shadow -

could also use a white sheet or large white posterboard, anything large & white

{3} light-colored surface - helps in bouncing the light

These are the three keys to my product photography and I implement each one in every shoot. I am still learning and with each picture I take I learn a bit more about lighting and styling and photography. I find these work the best for me. They are also cheap options. Foamcore is super inexpensive and you can use the same boards over and over again. Natural light is free! And light colored surfaces aren't too hard to find either. I have a few favorite go-tos in my home.

Do you setup mini studios for your product shots? What are some of your techniques for capturing light and making your subject look great? I would love to hear tricks of the trade that other photographers have picked up. 

Tuesday
Aug232011

Behind the Scenes for Emmaline Bride

A few weeks ago I posted this bunting favors DIY that I shared over on Emmaline Bride.  Today I wanted to show a few behind the scenes pictures of my setup for capturing that particular project.  For the most part, I try and put a lot of effort into styling my work in order to present it in the best possible light.  The outcome doesn't always match the original vision but I am proud of what I put together and I learn new things from each and every shoot (it's a huge learning process).  Because I am always fascinated in how other people create their images, I would like to feature what I did today in hopes that someone else might find it interesting.  I am far from any kind of styling, photographing expert but I do the best with the materials that I have.  

For this DIY, I wanted to really highlight the favor itself and have a pretty zoomed-in perspective on those little details.  I also wanted to place the muslin bag on some interesting textures to coordinate with my creation.  Looking for something rustic and made of wood, I ultimately settled on this old drawer which I turned upside down.  I also found this vintage tablecloth and used it because of the bright pop of blue and yellow color.  Everything was shot on the concrete floor in my studio.

As is typical, Scout found it necessary to wander through my setup and investigate everything.  She found the baby succulent particularly intriguing and since she has a history of destroying innocent plants, I made sure to watch her carefully.  With each set of pictures I take there seem to be a handful of Scout shots.  Maybe she likes getting her picture taken after all?

I envisioned this shot of me standing in the confetti (why are shoe shots so fun?) in heels but before capturing a good one, I took a few duds like the picture above.  And because Scout was around, I tried her out with a foot shot of her own...

She was squirming a bit so I couldn't really get her paws in focus.

You would never know from the final pictures (thank goodness) but I looked like a mess that day too.  I guess that is the beauty of photo shoots.  Behind the scenes can be chaos but as long as you don't know from the final result, everything is good.  I was basically in pajamas but then teetering along on my very high heels.  A hilarious sight to be seen I'm sure.  But despite the above non-beauty, the final pictures were pretty lovely...

Although I must say that my muslin favor bags kind of blended in with the vintage tablecloth...so if I could go back I would change that a bit and make the favors stand out more on their own.  So another lesson learned with another set of great DIY pictures of my projects.  

So there is a little sneak peek into the magic of my pictures...or complete non-magic as these pictures clearly point out.  Do you enjoy styling and putting together little photo shoots?  The term photo shoot implies something so glamorous but I am afraid mine are far from it.  But maybe this is the norm.  Do your glamorous photo shoots include pajamas and plant-hungry dogs?  Jealous?