With lockdowns happening all around Australia and delays with snail mail, it can be pretty tricky to get your products shipped out and shot by professional photographers in a timely manner. If you're running a home business selling products, chances are that you're not fully set up with a studio or the most amazing camera. But the good news is that you don't need the latest camera on the market to keep the content machine running! Here are three simple guidelines to follow that will help you get by when outsourcing shoots isn't an option.
1. Shoot close to a window or outside Did you know many, many photographers don't actually know how to use studio lighting? That's right! Which means you don't have to know either. All you need to do is become familiar with the Top Dog of all lighting... the SUN. I want you to find an area of your house that gets amazing light and do your set up there. You might notice that the light changes drastically throughout the day. Observe this area of the house to see when it gets direct light (when the sun is coming straight through and casting harsh shadows) or when it gets filtered light (the sun is not direct and not casting harsh shadows. This is referred to as "soft" lighting in photography). Now think about how you want your products to look. Do you want harsh or soft lighting?
(The above is soft lighting. No hard lines with the shadows.)
(This is harsh lighting. See how it casts defined/harsh shadows?)
Now, if you notice that there isn't any area in your house that gets decent lighting at all, the next step is to take your setup outside. Obviously dealing with the elements makes it a bit harder (dealing with wind can be a major pain), BUT you can get really great results just stepping outside. Depending on the lighting you want, you might have to seek shade or wait for the sun to pop out. Ok, now that you know what type of lighting you want and where in the house you can get it, it's time to create your set!
2. Create your own mini studio This part can be super fun and relatively simple. Think about what colour backdrop you want or what shapes you want to create, and then simply head to an Officeworks or Bunnings or order online. The main thing is that you need a background to shoot your products on unless your flooring and/or walls are already in the style you're after. Most of the time that's not the case, so start brainstorming what type of background you're envisioning and if you'll need any additional props. For instance, if you're shooting skincare it might be nice to get fresh flowers to dress up the shot. Make sure you use something big enough where you'll have space to try different angles and rearrange your product. Fabric can look super nice depending on what you're shooting but the sky's the limit, really. I suggest creating an inspo board on Pinterest to help you get more clear on your vision.
3. Edit your photos
This might be the one area you're most uncomfortable with but it's a must. No photo that's been taken by a professional has ever been handed to a client without some kind of touch-up and basic colour correction. Now, I'm not expecting you to be a Photoshop wiz so don't stress. What I'm simply going to suggest is that you take your final photos into any one of the editing apps I'm going to list so that your photos have some kind of basic colour correction done to them; you don't want to be sharing photos straight out of camera. The main thing with colour correction is to not go crazy with it. Go easy on the contrast, stay away from saturation and avoid crazy filters, pls. That is all very Instagram circa 2012 and I don't want that for you. You don't want that for you. My top three recommendations are:
All these apps offer similar editing solutions. However, your phone probably offers pretty good ones too. The main areas you want to focus on are exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows. Feel free to fiddle around in other areas but my main piece of advice is to go easy with it. I find that less is more with editing, especially if you're a beginner with an untrained eye.
If you want further coaching to help you apply these steps or have more questions you'd like to ask, you can book in a Zoom coaching session with me below. It's usually a more structured class but we can use the time to go over these steps instead.
P.S. I'm aware I didn't mention a camera in this list but that's because having a great camera to make any of this happen is not necessary. If you've got a spare DSLR at home then by all means use it, but you can take good enough photos on your phone these days just fine. These guidelines aren't a permanent solution, but steps to get you through a hump if your ability to outsource photography has been affected by Covid in any way. This list can also be helpful to businesses that are low on funds or starting out. Good luck with your photo shoot!!