Continuing on with my photography series – this post is about one of my tricks that I used to use frequently while shooting products for my shop – using fabric as a backdrop. I adore fabric because it adds a warmth you can’t get in other ways. However it is tricky to work with. To give you an idea of how it is done well, the folks over at BHLDN utilize fabric throughout their website.
Fabric won’t be for everyone – but it’s a great think to consider if you’re looking for some creativity in your photography. Below are some photos that were in my shop. The backdrop below is actually my bulletin board from my office. I used to take it off the wall, bring it upstairs to where there was great sunlight and shoot product. Then, I would lug it back down.. The fabric? Painters tarp from Home Depot. It worked well because the fabric was stapled tight to the board and had little creasing. The fabric doesn’t stand out as fabric at first glance (you don’t want people looking at the fabric, but instead, your product) but adds a warmth that I wasn’t getting with a painted board.
In an effort to show some alternative looks to what I normally do, I hit up Fabricland for some of these burlap fabrics in gorgeous jewel tones (shown below).
As you can see below, the fabric creases, and you can see imperfections like pulls in the fabric or, other inconsistencies. Granted, this is how it looked straight out of the bag when I got home from buying the fabric and little to no prep work was done.
Again, one way to combat the messy look is to staple the fabric to a board. You can pull the fabric taut and it will stretch out those wrinkles. You could also potentially steam the wrinkles them out. Last but not least you could photoshop out some inconsistencies
Just another idea to consider when you’re shooting products for your shop or, blog posts! Enjoy!
So far I’ve written two other posts on some of my photography tricks – Part 1 | Learning from Successful Retailers and Part 2 | Custom backdrops for under $10. Seriously folks, this is what I go bananas for. On to this posts topic – it’s a little shorter, but still pretty fun. Wrapping paper. Wheeee! Wrapping paper is a great backdrop for photos. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t take up a lot of room or storage.I picked up this roll from Party City for a few dollars but you can find great patterns on Etsy. If you see a colour or, pattern on sale in your travels, grab a roll. It’s great to have a bunch on hand. You never know when you may come to need a certain colour.
In terms of creativity, consider colour pallets that work well together. Getting nerdy for a moment. Remember your intro to art in school and where they talked about the colour wheel and, complimentary colours? Where the opposite colours on the wheel is naturally the complimentary colour? It actually goes further than that –
There is some science to why colours work well together. Which is why pink and yellow, as I’ve shown above – really look pretty spectacular. Not that you need to pull out your colour wheel every time you want to create a photoshoot, but it’s just interesting that certain colours just work really well together.
If you want patterns, I would think that the smaller the pattern the better if you’re shooting something straight on, so not to distract from the product you’re shooting. I shoot primarily small things, but if you were
Take this gorgeous pink striped paper that I picked up – and I put my favourite pink teacup with it. I’m showing this because I don’t think it’s actually working. The stripes are competing with the cup.
if I layered more in the photo – a napkin, a cookie, and maybe some tea in the cup then it could work. But overall it’s truthfully not my favourite look. I much prefer the solid colour paper. You also have to be a little weary of the sheen of paper, because really you don’t want it to l
ook like you’re using wrapping paper.
The key is to create a nice backdrop for what you want to showcase. Which again is why the solid colours likely are better.
Hopefully some of these posts will give even the most newbie photographer some confidence in trying out some new things. And grab that roll of wrapping paper when it’s on sale, because it may be the ticket to a great shot down the road.
Don’t freak out. I know Halloween was just this past Friday, and Costco has had Christmas stuff in their aisles since August. I’m personally pretty cautious at when I start getting into the Holiday mode, for fear that once Christmas comes, I’ll be sick of it. And who wants to be feeling that way on the 25th? Not I. But the other side of me is a retailer and I have to start thinking about the Holiday Season in the Summer. You get press kits together, you send them out for hopes that a magazine will feature your wares. And for the first time in 10 years, I didn’t do it this Summer. It was so weird! I took a year off, I didn’t freak out. Instead, I enjoyed my time at the cottage with Oscar and focused on my retailers and my art line. Even though I didn’t get out my yearly press kits, I still have to prep my shop – and so, on the heels of the last two Photography posts, I thought I’d share with you my Holiday 2014 mood board for the shop that I finished photographing and editing.
It’s a totally different look and feel from last years mood board (below) which I still love, love, love. But sometimes it’s fun to shake things up a little. I’m still ridiculously proud of the shots below.
I have such a ridiculous amount of fun putting together the “mood board” for the season. I just felt inspired to do reds, pinks, blues and greens. Anyhow, as always, just some inspiration for you, for your Holiday season. (That isn’t here yet, I totally get, but will be in a few short weeks)
This is my go-to trick for 99% of my styling – I buy wood boards from Home Depot and buy sample pots of paint. Easy, inexpensive, and the results are crazy good.
The sample pots at Home Depot are $5.00 and a board is also $5.00 – so for $10, I’m looking at a great backdrop for whatever I’m shooting. While waiting for the paint, I also tend to stock up on great colour chips, for you never know when you need that perfect shade for a project. And I hate picking colours in a store, so if you have a great collection of paint chips at home, you’re saving yourself a step.
When you have your paint colour picked, just paint a board and, you’re good to go.
Here are some more examples of boards that I’ve painted in custom colours….
The photo below is shot in the kitchen, and that is indeed my wall colour, however instead of my wood kitchen table, I placed a white board on the bottom.
Although all of the above look different they were all shot in the same spot. Crazy right? Work space is small, but man oh man, you can get great shots with the right light and, the right backdrop.
The other thing you can do is paint things like kraft paper. It gives you a little more texture…. like one of my favourite shots below
It isn’t uncommon that you find me, at least once a day, doing a photoshoot in my house. Not the elaborate kind, with editors and stylists. But instead – me in the kitchen mid afternoon, my hair in top knot bun, coffee on the kitchen table, when the sun is at its best – standing on a chair, cranking my neck over a board, or holding a reflector with my chin as I try to get close to a product. Over the last ten years of business I’ve explored photography …. what makes a great shot, how to achieve that great shot and how to do it without a lot of money.
I’ve decided to write a series of posts sharing some photography tips, in what is simply going to be called my “Photography Series”. I’ve broken the tips into a series of posts that I’ll roll out over the upcoming weeks,. months or, perhaps year – as new ideas or, tricks come up. It’s a little series that I hope inspires you, either for your own blog, or, business.
Because my journey at perfecting my photography was (and is) rooted in product photography, it’s fitting and, perhaps necessary to start the series talking about photography for business owners – e-commerce ventures. That being said, I think as a blogger looking to improve your own art / styling, this post may still prove to be interesting.
Before I can dive into the tricks, I think it’s important to talk about the inspiration process. Because one must be inspired, and have a feeling of what one wants a photo to look like, before one can actually take a photo. This particular post has a main focus on the business / entrepreneurial reader because for me, the process of photography and, taking better photos, was as a result of taking product shots for my store, and my art. But I think should you have a blog, or, want to try “styling” photos for fun, this post will be perhaps of interest.
With it being easier than ever to actually open an online store, setting yourself apart from the rest is really, really important. Success lies in many factors, but how you present yourself to the world – just like how you would style a bricks and mortar store, is something you should focus on. And that’s where photography comes in.
But before I can even touch on how to style a great photo (that is in an upcoming post), it’s really important to familiarize yourself with
a great photo
This process is really quite similar to interior decorating. Before you can decorate your home, you have to get a feeling for what YOUR style is, and, how you want to put your stamp on the process. The same is true for photography styling in my opinion.
The first thing I tend to do, and, do often, is study other people’s photography. What do I like? What makes it a great photo? How did they achieve that look? Some examples are found on sites like Etsy, where sellers have seen the value in finding a “look” for their store. Great examples are found at
website (fig. 1), everything is shot on the same coloured background, same lighting – it looks like it could have all been shot on the same day, but likely were shot over the the course of a few months as new products were added to the lineup.
(fig. 2) and although their product photography look is TOTALLY different – they also have a consistent look. You know which site your on, without having to look at the logo.
Branding is in the photography
. Although these are owned by the same Mother company, they have different looks to their photos, reflective of the brand.For an e-commerce shop, consistency is the key.
Blogger Tip – we can also gain amazing insight from studying the photographs and taking inspiration on how to style things when say, we want to show a tutorial on a craft project, or, say, show a “reveal” of something we made. We can learn a lot from studying retailers, as much as we can gain insight from fellow bloggers.
So we’ve narrowed down why we want to take great photos for our shops (or, our blogs) and, given some references to the shops that are really the pros at how to style. But then you and I, what can we take away? I love studying how people take photos.
What I love is the soft pale pink background of the shots. It adds warmth and, is definitely applicable to telling a story of a wedding. It looks like a pale pink linen. This shot inspires some photos, which I’ll go into later on in the series.
To kick off this series I wanted to really emphasize that it’s ok to learn by studying other people’s work. Head over to Pinterest and look at photos that are styled really nicely.
Although at first glance they may not look like product photography ideas, you can apply a look to your own brand.
Blogger tip: As a blogger, you’re less likely to stick with one look for your photos as you’re touching on a variety of topics (most likely) so, styling in different ways will be part of the fun. The same tricks apply – to browse Pinterest and emmerse yourself in admmiring other peoples great photos and see if you can deconstruct how they may have done it, and, how you can achieve the look.
Next up: Part II, Creating interesting looks with inexpensive props