Whether you have an online store, do hand-lettering, or simply blog just because you enjoy it, you'll surely know the immense importance of high quality images. In this crazy age of social media, images are everywhere, all the time....and everyone is getting better at taking, styling, and editing photos to work for them in their personal AND professional life.
As a hand-lettering blogger and Etsy store owner, high-quality photographs are, I would dare to say, THE KEY to success in any capacity. Since I don't have visitors dropping by my home every day to take a look at what I've been working on, and I don't have a brick and mortar store to display my handmade prints (yet!), I rely on images to show off my art work. Of course, if I'm showing off my art work in hopes of attracting clients and customers, I must have photographs that exhibit not only the small details, but display the overall vibe and feel of what I sell and the things I create just for fun. SO, I've kind of had a crash course in the making of product and blog photos, and I want to share what I've learned through the process of doing it myself!
Before we get started, let me show you where I take my photos!
Yep! A chair in front of a window in my bedroom, with two foam boards propped on top of it! This is the base for every last product photo I have in my Etsy Store, and most, if not all, of the photos I take for my blog. The white foam boards are super cheap (Wal-Mart Craft Supply Section) and they are excellent light reflectors. I get as close as possible to the window in my room, which gets wonderful natural light throughout the day, and the chair is a great height for me to not break my back while snapping pics. I used to do this exact same thing on the floor, but then I got smart and pulled out the chair!
SO! First, let's talk about product photos! As you may or may not know, I make and sell hand-lettered and foiled prints. The prints are a fun, decorative purchase, so I want to showcase that same vibe in my product photos for Etsy. Here are some of my go-to items that I would include in any given product photo.
In the photo, I have:
1. Fun, frivolous item: glittery candles, and letter candles
2. Trendy Item: my Instax polaroid camera (you see those everywhere now)
3. Decorative element: I chose this cute and simple ribbon from May Arts -- they have the cutest ribbons---you'll see another style later in the post!
4. Art Supply: today, I'm using my Tombow Irojiten Colored Pencils because I'm obsessed with the colors....but, I am a huge fan of using actual art supplies from my collection (and ones that I use regularly) to give a little "realness" to the photo.
5. Relatable item: my cell phone. To me, a cell phone is something most everyone has in common, and it also serves as a "size reference" when positioned near the product.
For the sake of this blog post, I am going to style up a product photo using all 5 of these elements, but I normally wouldn't use all of them in order to keep things simple and not distract from the product itself.
I chose my "Get It Gurl" 8x10 Gold Foil Print to display, because of the nature of the items I'm showing in this tutorial. I feel like every single item positioned around the product has the same feel as the written message of the actual product itself.
I placed my two largest items (the camera and the cell phone) on opposite ends and sides of the product, positioning them so that they complement one another and provide balance.
The ribbon is flattened out to give a little interest, with the candles placed on top to give a pop of color and draw the eye down to the written message on the product. The three colored pencils are similar colors to the candles, so they provide a balanced pop of color on the opposite end of the product.
Once again, for my actual product photos on Etsy, I would not use so many items, BUT for any just-for-fun hand-lettering projects, I would totally style this up in the same way!
I'm very much about less-is-more, and I just made a purchase that has already made the BIGGEST difference in my product/blog photos: 16x20 colored cardstock.
Such a simple idea, but such a HUGE GAME-CHANGER. These large pieces of paper come in the prettiest pastel shades, and can be found in any craft store for a few bucks. I purchased a book of pastel sheets for about $15 from Joann's.
Here is one of my prints displayed on top of the pink cardstock:
That second photo is a little blurry -- oops! -- but you can see how much it amps up the product display. By putting this colored paper beneath the product, I am able to eliminate "styling" the photo with a bunch of other items (like the first example), which saves a lot of time and mess!
Here's another example of how simple you can go with this colored cardstock:
Not another thing is needed here, except for the frame!
Here's one more example (probably my favorite)...using this beautiful floral ribbon from May Arts:
This print isn't in the shop yet, but HELLO, how cute is this ribbon tied around the top? I didn't do an amazing job at capturing the reflective, metallic nature of the rose gold foil, but I would make sure to capture that for Etsy!
Ok, so we talked a little about product photos. Let's talk about plain ol' BLOG PHOTOS:
I have a few rules for taking blog photos.
1. Leave a majority of blank space open to make room for text and hand-lettering. I use these photos for title photos (like the very first one in this post).
2. Don't distract people with stuff strewn about everywhere. For me, it's overwhelming to see a photo full of things (like, edge to edge covered in glitter and macarons and a mug and an iPad and nail polish and what have you). I like to keep it simple.
Bam. It doesn't get more simple than that.
If I had a third rule, I would also say: Use props relevant to your post. But, I think that's pretty obvious, right?
Now, there are other things that go into taking great photos: camera, editing software, etc. I am lucky to live with a professional photographer who has so graciously shown me how to use her camera and her editing software, but I know we aren't all so lucky! If you have any questions about the camera/editing software I use, just shoot me an email!
But, really, I can tell the BIGGEST difference in the amount of feedback I get on my blog posts when they're full of high-quality photos. And, although I am very new to Etsy, it's not hard to know that good photos are a major component in the formula for success.....I haven't quite gotten there, but I'll keep you posted! ;)
That's it for today, folks! Last week, my newsletter peeps got an inside scoop on my Etsy Store stats and an extra sneak peak at styling my product photos. If you'd like to join, look below:
See you next week!