The Essential Product Photography Props
And then as far as propping goes, I'm just always looking for the colors. I always have that in mind of what I want to get, what pieces do I have in the future that I want to market and what the season is, and I just kinda keep that. And I actually keep a list with me in my purse, so that when I'm out shopping, I try and limit myself to only buying things on that list. Otherwise, it gets really easy to be like, but I love it, and I'll make it work, right? And, it's a business expense. So, I try to be really careful to stay on task and on brand all the time. When I want little props for top downs, one of my favorite sources is the doll house section of the craft stores. So, like these little bunnies we are gonna use with an Alice in Wonderland print, and they just work perfectly, but it's a section of the store you wouldn't even think to go in or to look in. But, they have really great little props when you're doing little tiny sets. Like, if you were photographing cards, and you want s...
omething that's sort of in proportion so the card is the biggest thing, it's a fun place to look. Paper clips, little dishes, thing I always invest in. And then, again, the frogs. So these are my very, very best friends when I am alone at home shooting and I need to hold up a fake wall, even when it's wrapped in fabric, I can still push it right down in there and these guys will hold it in place, and then they also work as stands. I've also used cards, and them to hold them, so they're really, really handy, and just a worthwhile investment. You can also find them on Amazon if you don't even wanna leave your house, you can order them. Okay, the other thing that I like to do is keep things in sets at home. So that I know if, today, I'm styling a desk set, and I want it to have a vintage feel, I have everything together that I need to do that. So, I had some vintage journals and some cool pens, and a little dish with paper clips. And, it's just easy for me to grab and go wherever I need to go, whatever window works, and shoot it that way. And then, just extra items. So, for me, for party, this isn't a party item, but it makes sense that people are gonna be taking photos at a party, and we love pink, so I invested in a pink Instax. I have never even used except for styling photos, so think of things like that, so think of what you're selling. And then, what would people be using at the same time as your item, and then surround your item with those types of objects, and you'll be able to use them over and over again. So, every time I do a party set, if I threw this camera in, it makes sense, just because people love taking pictures at parties. Alright, do we have any questions? Yes.
I'm just wondering, the small props made me think of it, when you use your DSLR, do you use different lenses? I was wondering if I need to invest in a macro lens to try to get really close up, or those kind of things.
Yeah, so your photograph jewelry, so I would recommend a macro lens,
Okay. and we'll definitely talk about that tomorrow. But, I actually shoot a great majority of my product shots with a macro lens, even though I'm not getting super tight. I just love the focal quality of it, so we'll talk about that tomorrow.
Yeah, good question.
Anyone else in the studio? Alright, well we have some questions online, or some suggestions of what people are using. We've got snowfall1127 who says, "I also use Christmas wrapping paper as a background for a Christmas mug that I was photographing. Question from Sophia A., is, "Any thoughts for photographers "to add some special setups and props ideas "to balance out the imageS on Instagram." So, I guess, is there a need to do something different, what you're doing on Instagram, versus maybe in your product shots for your Etsy shop, or what have you.
I don't think so. I think of Instagram as a supporter to our actual blog and our product photos. And so, I will put our product photos into Instagram, but then I also do more lifestyle aspect in Instagram. It's a little bit more fun, it's a little bit more loose, and it's letting people sort of see into. . . a more relaxed side of our company, then a very posed side. And so, my props work across all of our platforms. So, definitely if I'm gonna invest in something, I want it to work everywhere. I like to do things as inexpensively as possible, but I want to make them look as expensive as possible. And actually, I'm glad this came up because I was talking to a really good friend who is a really big blogger. Does very well blogging, that's her entire living. And, she started the blog like ten years ago, when she was just young, college-aged and had no money right? And so, everything in her styling was the cheapest things she could find, and it was usually WalMart or Target. And, I will put this out there, if you're using WalMart or Target, and it's not a basic item, people are going to know, they know. At least my customer knows 'cause they're like me, they go to Target and walk around (chuckles) for an hour or two in the afternoon. And so, what she was saying is the hard part as they have grown as a business, and made more and more money and they're able to spend more and more money, their audience doesn't want that from them. Because they started out with an inexpensive audience, who wanted the cheapest DIY's possible, now that they can do higher-end DIY's, there's this disconnect and it's really hard, 'cause they feel stuck here, and they can't get here. So, she actually recommended to me when we started Handmade Mood, is to high-low, right? Invest in a few key pieces that are expensive, and that look expensive, that are expensive, but those are your key pieces that you your know gonna use over and over again, and you really invest in that. And then, get the basics, that are not really recognizable in an inexpensive way, right? And so, that high-low mix is really important as you grow as a business so that your audience can grow with you, and they're not stuck in one place or another. That's just a little personal tip, and that probably is more for bloggers than for businesses, but if you're a blogger and you're watching this, there you go. (chuckles) Hopefully that will help you save you some pains in the future. But yeah, even though all this stuff is handmade, I never want it to look handmade, I want it to look expensive, right? I'm okay with my product looking handmade, if it's handmade, but I don't wanna surround it by craftiness, because I want it to be the craft. And I want my craft to be perfect, so I want everything else around it look that way, too. So, yes, I'm hacking a lot, but I feel like my images never show that, you would never know where I am or what I was using, and that's important to me.
Yeah, it's very important, but you're showing us exactly how easy it is to do it when you know what to do. I have some more good questions for you.
This one is related to what you're talking about. "How do you know when your staging is done? "I have a tendency to put in too much in an attempt for it to look lush and expensive for my targeted customer."
Okay, if it starts to become visually cluttered, that is a problem, right? And I think it comes back to what we were talking about this morning. If you start to notice that the items around your supporting characters are now becoming main characters, then that's a problem, and you need to start pulling. Because, everything in your image should be telling the person where to look and it should all point to the main character. And if it doesn't, then you have too much going on, and that's how you know it's time to pull away. And again, just like this morning, sometimes I have to take the photo first, and really look at it to know. 'Cause at the time when you're involved in the process, and you guys know this as creators, when you're making something for the first time, you're kind of like, is this good or not? I don't know if it's there yet. But maybe it is? Maybe if I add one more thing, it's not gonna be good, you know? So, you kind of have to step away from it and then come back to be able to really see. At least for me, that's how it is.
That's great advice. Anyone else in here? Alright, so this is a question that came in earlier from MAO Photo. You're talking about the different setups that you do, and the backstories and creating that for the product shots. If you have more than one audience for a product that you sell on a venue like Etsy, do you create multiple listings of the same item to appeal to that person and make a connection with that person?
That's tricky, because I would almost do what we talked about with Instagram, where you kind of keep it separate. Because, it gets visually muddled when you have multiple styles in one store. And, for me, if I go to somewhere and I'm looking at thumbnails on the page, which is what we all see first when we go to an online store, and I can't tell what they're selling, or who they're selling it to, then I generally won't even click on it. I'm gonna move onto the next seller. And so, I do think that you're going to do better by picking a brand and going with that, even if you feel like it's limiting you in the beginning, it actually widens your opportunity because you have a strong visual appeal. So, I would almost do two separate shops, if that's the case, instead of mixing them, one's on dark, one's on light, one is vintage, one is modern, it's hard. That's hard to tell what they're trying to tell you.