Hey makers! In this blog post, we’re going to be talking about the three different arrangements you can use for your product photography flat lays. Let’s get started.
Style #1 – Linear
Arrangement style number one is linear.
This is a very purposefully arranged style in which all of the items in your flat lay are arranged in a parallel or perpendicular way with one another. Everything is placed in straight lines and looks very neat and organized. This style is great for brands that really focus on things like minimalism and clean style.
It’s really great for products that tend to be structured and geometrical anyway, like a stationery or notebooks for example. Another example is garments that are very simple. Maybe you’re a big proponent of the capsule wardrobe. It would make sense for your brand to maintain kind of a minimalistic, simplified arrangement for you product photography flat lay.
Style #2 – Logically placed
Flat lay arrangement number two is logically placed.
For this style you want to place things in a flat lay the way that they may actually occur in real life.
Let’s say you sell journals. You can set up your shot so that there’s a coffee mug within arm’s reach, some cute pens, and so on. If you sell lip balm the lip balm could be spilling out of a clutch handbag with some other commonly found things in a handbag (sunglasses, cell phone, etc). So, you set up the shot to look almost like lifestyle photo, almost like it occurs in a real-life situation.
Style #3 – Random
Arrangement style number three is random.
This is where you’re going to place your props randomly around your product. For this strategy, you want to make sure that your product remains front and center. It should be more or less the largest thing in the shot. It needs to really stand out. It should be right in the center, and other props can be scattered around the edges. They can even be peeking in from the edge of the photo frame. You don’t need to capture the entire prop in the photo, but you need to make sure that your product is entirely captured in the photo.
You should place the props in a strategic way to lead the eye toward your product by pointing them in angles towards your product creating lines that lead the eye towards your product.
The important thing to keep in mind when it comes random placement is that you need to make sure that your product is the most obvious thing in the photo. You don’t want anyone to look at those kinds of photos and think, “What’s really for sale here? It’s not really clear what this person is selling.” You definitely want to avoid that for all of your flat lays, but especially for the randomly placed strategy. This placement can look really great, but you do need to be careful about planning where you’re going to put your props and how you’re going to make your product the star of the show.
If you arrange your flat lay so that your product is front and center, it’s the largest thing in the photo, have the props be peeking in from the sides, and have them be pointing towards your product leading the eye towards your product, your product will undoubtedly be the focal point.
And that is the three styles of arranging your product photography flat lays that you need to know!
If you’re stuck for ideas when it comes to props for your flat lays, be sure to grab my free 90+ prop ideas download. I have listed over 90 ideas for props which will inspire new ideas that are a great fit for your brand and your styled product photos.
In this blog post we’re talking about the 2019 product photography trends that you should be watching for as a handmade seller.
First up, big this year, is the outdoors. This goes for product photography and photography in general. But, basically, think about how you can take your products and show them off in the great outdoors. Nothing is bigger right now than being eco-friendly and in tune with environment, it’s a big trend this year. So think about how your product might fit out in the outdoors, if it does, and how you might be able to start taking some really cool photos of it outside. Which leads into the next trend of 2019, lifestyle photos.
Okay, so I’ve always loved lifestyle photos. This isn’t a 2019 thing for me. This is an always thing. But it is definitely big in 2019 overall, so it is something that I want you to think about. Lifestyle photos are those photos that you take of your products actually being used. If you make things that people wear, like watches, or jewelry, or garments, or hats, or scarves or whatever it is, you want to show them on people in context.
So if you sell scarves, I photograph them outside, bringing in that first trend I talk about. Have people wearing them outdoors, actually putting it to use, because that kind of connection that you can make with potential customers is really valuable. When people actually see your product being used in action, it helps them see your product in their own life, which makes them more likely to want to buy it.
Trend number three: ditch the white background, folks. Get rid of it, it’s out of here, no more white backgrounds. Okay, so that’s not entirely true. White backgrounds are fine if you sell on Amazon, not Handmade at Amazon, but regular Amazon, or if you are submitting to magazines or publications that require you to have that white background. Sometimes you just need to embrace a white background.
However, if that’s not you, time to let the white background go. Now, it’s okay to use a white background if it fits with your brand, if it really shows off your products well, but what I want you to really think about avoiding is that super white, digitally pure white background. Because what happens is it looks sterile. It doesn’t look very friendly. It doesn’t make people feel connected to your product. It looks catalog-y. It looks like something you might see on eBay. It doesn’t make people feel that warm fuzzy feeling that they should feel when they’re shopping handmade.
So think about some other options. What is in style this year is light-coloured neutrals, so we’re talking a nice light-coloured marble, not with tons of veining, but with just some subtle light-gray veining. Or perhaps a subtle whitewashed wood. When I’m talking whitewashed wood, I mean shiplap, or old barn style wood with the whitewash on it. Be careful to make sure that there isn’t a ton of wood grain coming through, or really severe lines in your whitewash wood background. We’re looking at subtle textures this year. You can also incorporate things like linen textures and so on and so forth. So light-colored textures in, and white coloured background out.
The fourth big trend this year is including eco-friendly props in your product listing photos and on your social media. We’re talking about that eco-friendly piece that I mentioned in the beginning with photographing your products outdoors, but in terms how you can really make sure that you are embracing an eco-friendly message with your product photos. If you are using things like fake flowers, that’s an example of something that’s not so good for the environment. Fake flowers are created with plastics and chemicals, so definitely not eco-friendly. Instead go outside, pick a real flower. Or pick some up at your local florist. Bonus, it really amps up the quality of your product photos and the message that you’re sending about the value of your products. Because if you’re using cheap fake flowers, you know that doesn’t make people feel like you’ve got a really awesome expensive product. It makes people think “she’s using fake flowers, I now question the quality of her products”. Which is no good, because I’m sure your product is great quality.
As another example, perhaps you sell children’s products so you’re including some children’s props. Try to avoid those plastic toys. Get some wooden toys instead. Those are more eco-friendly and will communicate a really great message about your product, the quality, and that you take the environment seriously. A lot of people are into that this year, embrace it.
Last but not least, the number five trend this year is actually – video. Okay, so you’re just getting used to the product photography idea, and now I’m saying video so you’re freaking out. I understand. But I don’t want you to panic about the fact that you need to be doing video. I’m just making you aware that this is a trend that is coming in, in a big way. You can even keep it really simple. You can shoot a really short video clip with your phone and put it on Instagram. Same rules apply as product photography, in terms of lighting, background, and set up. It’s just a matter of using a little bit of video technique instead of photography.
I’m going to be including some of that information in my tutorials and in my courses throughout the year, because I think it’s a really cool trend. Especially on social media, because videos are getting a lot more reach than just photos. It’s a really great opportunity to reach more people, grow your social media, and grow your customer base. Because that’s what it’s all about, folks.
Those are the five trends in product photography coming up in 2019!
If you have any questions, drop them in the comments.
The holidays are fast approaching, and you could have some awesome DIY product photography equipment under your tree this year.
If you’re anything like me, you might be stumped when it comes to things you want for Christmas. When my husband asks me what I want for Christmas, it’s usually met with an “uhhhh…” because I have no idea what to say.
I don’t need another scarf. I have way too many books to read already. And jewelry just isn’t my thing.
But something that will further my business? Heck yes. Sign me up.
You can forward this list directly to your spouse for easy holiday shopping. They’ll thank you.
Note: The following gift guide contains affiliate links and when purchases are made from my list, I get a small percentage of the sale. Most are listed on Amazon.com and are in USD with the pricing current at the time of this posting. If you are outside of the US, you can use the examples here to find something local in your area.
These beauties have become so much more obtainable over the years. They are more affordable than they’ve ever been before, and you can set them to “auto” until you learn more about how they work.
There are two major brands for DSLR cameras, Canon and Nikon. Both are great and you can’t go wrong with either. Their entry level cameras (ie, the cheapest and most basic) are still exceptional and perfect for anyone who’s not a professional photographer.
Once you have the DSLR camera, you’ll need to learn how to use it. These cameras are extremely powerful tools for your product photography, but they come with a learning curve. Without learning how to properly use it, you may very well find yourself frustrated and wondering why you got the thing in the first place.
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. I have a course that I made just for handmade sellers, to help you learn how to use your camera quickly, and with confidence.
SDHC stands for Secure Digital High Capacity (4 – 32 GB), whereas SDXC (more than 32GB) stands for Secure Digital eXtended Capacity. It’s the card you put in your camera to store the photos you take. When it comes to product photography, you want to select a card that’s fairly sizable (32 or 64GB) and Class 10. Class 10 refers to the “write speed”, which is how quickly it records an image on the card. Most memory cards will show the class number on the label and it’ll look like a number with an incomplete circle around it.
You always want to go brand name when it comes to memory cards. Generic brand memory cards risk issues like the cards becoming corrupted (and you losing all your photos), the plastic chipping off inside your camera, and so on.
Here are two great options for SDHC/XC memory cards:
Tripods are fantastic tools when it comes to product photography, and are loads of them out there. But what about when you want to shoot a flat lay? Most tripods just don’t support that.
But this one does.
This tripod has loads of options, but the one I like the most is that it has an extendable arm and a ball head attachment for your camera so that you can have your camera face the ground. Perfect for flay lays!
Ever wonder how to achieve proper colour in your photos? Grey cards are a great tool for that. They let you set a custom white balance with your camera and/or give you a neutral point to set the white balance when you’re editing your photos.
You can’t just use any old grey card either, it has to be the exact percentage of grey. So that grey piece of cardstock you have probably won’t do. This one is super affordable and comes with white and black options as well.
Using a lightbox with tabletop lighting is great for smaller products, especially if they’re reflective. The white surroundings of a lightbox goes a long way in eliminating those harsh reflections that drive you nuts.
Natural light is awesome, but it’s not always a fit for you. If you don’t have a lot of access to natural light, or you have reflective products, these are for you.
Maybe your products aren’t really right for a lightbox, but you still need extra lighting because your natural light situation just isn’t that great.
Softbox studio light might be just the thing for you! Softboxes are great for medium-sized products, and for creating a lighting situation that mimics natural lighting. They are more versatile and you can manipulate the lighting more than with other kinds of artificial lighting.
Some softbox studio lighting kits don’t have enough lighting power to be effective, so it’s important to get lights that have a strong enough wattage.
This week’s post is all about creating and sharing images on social media that make people want to buy. Creating images that connect with your ideal customer, and making them feel connected to your products and to you, is how to grow a fan following that will buy from you year after year.
One of the reasons I love buying handmade is because it’s made by an actual human. It has a story. My purchase helps someone’s dreams come true. That’s why people buy handmade. If they didn’t care about the maker, they’d probably just go to Target.
So just how do you create and share these images?
Creating connections with your customers is all about quality images and storytelling.
With social media (Facebook and Instagram) and your Etsy shop updates, you have the opportunity to connect and share images above and beyond your product listing photos. Product listing images should be fairly simple and show off the qualities of your product. Social media images offer the chance for you to tell a story – about your products and about you, the maker.
Connect with your customers on social media and in your shop updates by telling the story of your brand/business through photos. This can include:
1. Your beginnings.
How did you start out in your business? When? What season was it? What are your business’s roots? What was your first product? Share photos of your first product and reflect on how far you’ve come. Share your first rave review and reflect on how good it felt to receive it. Celebrate your business’s “birthday”.
2. Your “why”.
Why do you do what you do? Is it to fund your travel addiction? So you can stay home with your kids? So you can have the freedom to go where you want, when you want? So your spouse can retire? Because you just can’t stop creating? Any time you feel yourself grateful for your biz and life, take a photo and share it with your following.
3. Your inspiration.
Are you inspired by nature? Architecture? Fabrics? Patterns? Other creatives? Music? The weather? Books you’ve read? The ocean? Think about what inspires you and photograph it. Carry your camera (or smartphone) with you wherever you go and take a snap any time you feel inspired by something. Look for inspiration everywhere you go. Not only will it enhance your social media feeds, but also your creativity in general.– If using artificial light, ensure your bulbs are somewhere around 5200k-5500K. 4. Your creative process.
What do you need to start creating? A mug of coffee? Your favourite Spotify playlist? What is the evolution your product goes through from materials to shipment? Document and share the life cycle of your product, each step of your creative process, and everything you need to bring your products to life and ship them off to their new homes.
5. Your creative process.
What and where is your haven for creativity? Where does the magic happen? What are your favourite tools? How do you adorn the walls of your creative cave? Are you perfectly organized or functionally chaotic? Do you share your space with anyone? A furry friend perhaps? Share images of your creative space with your following so they can see where your products (and soon to be their’s) come to life.
6. Your product in-action.
Lifestyle photos show your product in use. They provide real-world context and help customers see your product in their life. They evoke a desire to have your products. Lifestyle photos are images that turn customers into buyers – and fans. Add a living touch to your lifestyle photos by including an actual human being, or stage a photo so that it looks like a human has just stepped away. You can recruit friends, family members, or even use yourself to model. You don’t even need to show your face. A well placed hand, a shot from the neck down, etc can go a long way.
Sharing these special behind-the-scenes glimpses and lifestyle photos help you resonate and strike a chord with customers. Even though these photos may be more casual in nature than product listing photos, the same rules apply. Your photo must be clean, well-lit, properly edited, well composed and staged tastefully.
Note: Your Facebook and Instagram feeds should not read like a catalogue. That’s what your shop is for. People won’t follow you or engage with your posts if you just post your product images. Social media is a chance for you to interact with your ideal audience, grow them into fans, and convert them into loyal customers.
Today’s post is all about developing your own aesthetic for your handmade product photos so that you stand out from crowd, look unique, and so that your images embrace your branding and attract your ideal customer.
No big deal, right?
Naw, it’s totally a huge deal. Because creating a cohesive, branded look for your product photos makes your shop and social media feeds like a magnet for the people you want to take notice (like oh I dunno, paying customers for example).
Having a strong brand is a huge step towards serious growth. More social media followers, more features, more SALES. Your branded look and rapidly growing fan following could even catch the attention of big box stores and make all your handmade dreams come true.
And they are…
Why does having a branded photo aesthetic even matter?
Because having a strong brand message that comes through in your images will attract your ideal customers and make them want to buy your stuff.
Not only will they buy your stuff but they’ll talk to their friends about you, share your posts on social media, and drive traffic to your shop.
The central quality of a strong photo aesthetic is to develop cohesiveness across your images. All of the images in your online shop and on social media should exude your aesthetic.
Here are some ways you can achieve cohesiveness: 1. Always stay true to your branding.
Knowing your brand is paramount to attracting the right customers and being consistent in your images and your overall vibe. Is your brand kind of boho? Preppy? Rustic? Vintage? Flirty? Minimalistic? You images should stay true to that vibe.
2. Your backgrounds should all look like they’re part of the same collection.
They don’t necessary all need to be the exact same, but they should belong to the same tonal family (eg, lights OR darks, not a mix of both) and you really should stick with just one or two backgrounds. Too many different backgrounds makes your shop and social media feeds looks chaotic and people won’t want to stick around and browse for long. Having a cohesive look across your images will convey quality, professionalism, and give customers the confidence to make purchases.
3. Choose props that are a fit for your brand and appeal to your ideal customers.
Always choose high quality props that don’t overwhelm your product or confuse buyers as to what’s for sale. Select props that embrace the vibe of your brand and don’t contradict your brand messaging. For example, if your brand is big on being eco-friendly, you wouldn’t want to incorporate props that are bad for the environment. To read more about choosing props for your handmade product photos, check out this post. This is probably the #1 most important thing you need order to get the most of out your equipment:
4.Whenever possible, pick a colour palette and stick with it. Strong brand messaging is huge on colours. Choosing a colour palette can help guide your prop selection, backgrounds, and maybe even your product materials. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to two colours. A colour palette can have six, or eight colours even. They just need to fit together. Not sure where to start? Check out Design Seeds. They have hundreds (maybe thousands) of colour palettes to drool over. I apologize in advance for the heaps of time you’ll waste on that website. (sorry not sorry, because it’s awesome)
5. Stick with similar tones.
Along the same lines as stick with a colour palette, you should also stick within a similar tonal range. For example, if your brand vibe is light and airy, all of your photos should be light and airy. If your brand vibe is dark and moody, they should all be dark and moody. If your brand is bright and cheerful, they should all be bright and cheerful. You see where I’m going with this.
And there you have it! That’s how to develop and maintain a consistent brand aesthetic in your handmade product photos.
What’s your brand aesthetic like? How do you convey it in your photos?Drop it in the comments!
I am a small-town East Coast girl living and working in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. Fuelled by coffee and inspiration from other creatives, I’ve been a photographer, educator, and proud member of the creative community since 2010. There’s not much I love more than teaching creative entrepreneurs how to rock their own product photography.