Hello to all of the girl bosses out there! This post is for you! I have been wanting to write a post recently that goes behind the scenes of how I style my shop products, since so many of you have asked about that on social media! I will share all of my pretty little secrets with you in this post.
I also want to be up front and let you know that I frequently use SC Stockshop styled stock photos for my business, because I just adore how she styles and photographs everything! Her photography is very in line with my brand, and I appreciate the ease of being able to overlay product images onto already stunning photos. I'll have to write a post in 2015 explaining how I style them with her photos as well. In the mean time, make sure to check out her shop here!
However, I will say that it is also extremely exciting to be able to play with my products in my office, and showcase how I use them in real life! There is something so personal about that, and something that I know my customers really like seeing. Luckily, I have made such a good friend out of Zipporah from Zipporah Photography, and she took all of these beautiful photos you will see in this post! Which brings me to my first tip.
Tip 1: Invest in a good photographer!! Ask other creatives in your area if they know of any product photographers, and if there aren't any that specialize in product styling and photography, ask one of the local lifestyle or wedding photographers if they feel comfortable shooting your products!
For the longest time, I tried styling and photographing all of my own products. It was so stressful for me because I am not a trained photographer, and did not know the basics of how to best capture the photos I was styling. Even if they had the most wonderful composition, it would all be lost if the photo quality was sub par! A professional who knows what they are doing is the only way to go, in my opinion!
Tip 2: Shoot your products either on a white desk, or invest in a white foam board (found at any of your local craft stores) to photograph on for styling. While I appreciate how photos look against patterned and textured backgrounds, I personally prefer shooting 90% of my photos against a crisp white background. Other blogs, magazines, and shops (if you are looking to have wholesale deals) typically prefer clean photos shot against white backgrounds so that everything on their site or in their magazine is cohesive.
Photographing against a white background doesn't mean that you are going to have boring photos! Introduce pops of color through styling props, such as envelopes, ribbon, pens, scissors, etc.
There is a time and a place for photographing against a colored or textured background. If that is what you adore, and what fits in line with your brand aesthetic, then by all means do so! However, I'd suggest shooting at least two photos against a solid white background: one horizontal and one vertical.
Tip 3: Have your photographer take some photos of you interacting with your products! What will your customers be doing when they receive your products? Will they be putting the cards in envelopes? Will they be writing on them? Show yourself doing those exact things, so they can appreciate how they will really be using them in their own lives.
Note: You can be creative with this, and not everything has to be 100% realistic. Would you be putting your greeting card in your envelope in this orientation? No, of course not, it wouldn't fit! But, it showcases my artwork on the cards better than if I were to have them placed in the correct orientation, so I went with it and love the look!
Note 2: Please remember to paint your nails, it makes the world of a difference and makes you look professional!
Tip 4: Position your table/foam board in front of a window so that you get the best natural light possible. Turn off all of your overhead lights, because those will cast a yellow shadow and no one wants that! Make sure to talk with your photographer to see what time of day would be best to shoot, typically in the morning/early afternoon or right before the sun starts to set, so the light isn't too strong and you are still able to capture the details of your photos.
The light source for this photo above was from windows directly in front of my desk (at the top portion of this photo). You can see that the top portion of the photo has a pretty, airy quality to it, and the bottom portion of the photo is still nicely lit while retaining more of the details of my greeting cards and styling props. I personally love this composition, but if you would like your photo to have one consistent level of light, I would recommend moving your desk/foam board slightly farther back from the light source so there isn't as much natural light hitting the photo and giving it the airy quality.
Tip 5: Not everything has to be styled flat on a desktop! Would you have your calendar sitting flat on your desk? No, you would probably either have it sitting on a stand, or framed. So make sure to photograph it as such, so that your customers will be able to envision how they would have that product in their work space.
As mentioned earlier, it is great to have photographs of you interacting with your products, especially if they are products that are as interactive as a calendar. My 2015 Cocktail Calendar works in a manner that allows people to switch out the art print each month, so I knew I wanted to have some action shots of me doing just that!
Tip 6: Think carefully about your styling props for each picture. What actually makes sense for the product you are shooting? What would you naturally have near you in real life white using that product? Incorporate those items.
For instance, while styling my Wish List Notepad, I chose to incorporate some of my Stella & Dot jewelry and some pretty gold office supplies. The jewelry serves as inspiration for what a customer might be putting on their wish list, and the gold paper clips and tape would be what my customer would use to clip or tape this sheet from their notepad to other lists they are making to bring with them to the store.
For the greeting card styling photos above, I chose to incorporate some of the same office supplies, as well as gift wrapping supplies my customers might use. They might choose to gift the cards to their friends, so they would wrap them up with a pretty bow and put a friendly reminder of "do not bend" in gold ink on the shipping box so the cards are handled with care. Or, they might choose to write inside the cards and use them to wish their friends a very Merry Christmas, and would do so with a pretty pink pen and seal the envelope with gold striped washi tape. I wanted to be able to show both options, so I included all of those styling props in one photo.
Interested in where I find all of these styling props? I have accumulated them throughout the years, and my favorite places to find them include Anthropologie, Target, Paper Source, and Hobby Lobby. And PS girl boss- these are totally a tax write off!
Tip 7: Think about where you will be using your photos. Will they be used primarily in your shop? If so, make sure that your product is the main focus, and try to have a tight shot of the photo in addition to ones a bit more zoomed out showing how your customer will use them in their life.
Will your photo be used primarily on your website, maybe in a slideshow or banner? If so, make sure to get a wide horizontal shot with lots of pretty styling props surrounding your product from all angles (like these two art print photos).
Will your photo be used primarily for social media purposes? If so, I'd recommend taking a vertical photo as those are best for Pinterest, and are also best for cropping into square photos for Instagram and Facebook. For instance, these horizontal photos would not look good cropped into a square if my goal is to showcase the entire art print, I might be able to do so in a square but I won't have hardly any of the gorgeous styling props showing in the image. That isn't very interesting! So rather, I'd like to use a vertical photo (like one of the notepad or calendar photos above) that is already composed in a way that leaves room for both the product and the styling pieces.
A hint if you do prefer horizontal photos- have your photographer take one that does have more white space with the styling props closer to the photo (like the wish list notepad styled shot above that has both of my hands) that will look good cropped into a square! However, as a general rule of thumb, I'd suggest taking vertical photos for social media purposes.
The most important tip? Have fun with it! It should not be a stressful process, rather something that is full of creativity and laughter between you and your photographer.
PS- are these tips helpful but you would still rather have someone else style your photos for you? I would be happy to help you style your photos (especially if you live in the Nashville area), so send me a message here and we'll chat!