Sunday, 1 May 2011

How do you get your photographs to look like that?

I get asked that quite a bit, so I thought I'd do a post.  I am trying to do more blogging, I'm slowly trying to get back into things, they are far from normal but I do enjoy my work.

So in the 'overhaul' of my business I wanted to 'upgrade' my photos.  Now taking a photo is easy isn't it? Well no its not esp if you are doing it for a business, its not just 'playing photographer' you are actually combing many roles when you just 'take a photo' of your product and you really have to get your head around that. This is what I have learned this is from my experience and my research. I’m not claiming to be an expert in photography I think I am a bit crap with lots of the technical stuff but that really hasn’t stopped me.  I was given my first SLR when I was 17 by my father, he & a family friend got me into photography.  I have had quite a few of my shots of my work used in magazines, I have been featured/interviewed in online magazines for other photography work I have done and I have been asked to do photography for people, I have worked with professional photographers & I have modelled for pros. I am a bit passionate about photography and I have really enjoyed learning more from so many angles I use my camera a lot it all helps! 

this ones a biggy what camera do you get?  I did have a fuji finpix s9500 its definition is a 'bridge' camera its nearly an SLR It is a great camera with macro. She is great I got her back in 2006 and there are numerous cameras like this now.

Camera, this ones a biggy what camera do you get?  I did have a fuji finpix s9500 its definition is a 'bridge' camera its nearly an SLR It is a great camera with macro.  I decided in 2009 it was time to upgrade to a DSLR having has a film SLR I knew one day I would get one.  So I researched and I saved and I got a Nikon D300s its a storming camera that a lot of pros use.  I have 2 lenses for it a 18mm-200mm nikon & my newest lens a nikon 105mm macro.  Now this may sound very geeky and technical but I've had to learn this stuff and I spent the time learning and researching it because its important for my business.   I really can’t tell you which camera to get but I am in love with my DSLR and there are a whole load of affordable amazing DSLRS out there, check out the Nikon or cannon selection.  Myself personally I think its worth the investment because photographs are a huge part of getting your work out there, creating your identity.  Images are so important humans respond to images! If you have small products you need macro, if you want close up detail shots you also need macro, macro is either a setting on your camera or if you are buying a DSLR it’s a lens.

(taken with my phone!) Nikon with my 105mm lens.

I used to have a small light box and 2 lights but then the bulbs in the lights died & I couldn’t get new ones so I bought 2 new lights.

I then got the new camera and I have found that if is a fairly bright day I don’t need to use the lights I just use them at night.  I never use flash for products, its harsh and produces hard shadows which is not the look I want. I don’t use my light box any more either.

One of my new lights

Styling/ props
I never used to use these, I used just a plain white back ground.

The 3 above were taken in a lightbox with my fuji finpix

.  I recently decided it was more ‘me’ and more ‘my product’ to style the photos.  Now styling is an entire skill set its not just ‘adding some props’ and hoping for the best, its creating a style an aesthetic for your product, its like setting up a still life but the skill comes in keeping your product the main focus, ‘props’ must just compliment what you make and not over power.  For years now I have been looking reading style blogs, magazines, photography etc.  I have been saturated in this world of visuals, I have had stylist use my work in photoshoots for magazines and I have picked up a lot.   So this is where you might really have to think and be creative and practise, practise, practise.  You work hard on making your products don’t expect to be able to snap a few pics in 20 mins! Spend a day get props think, what is the inspiration for your product would it be good to incorporate an element of that? Think about where you could photograph your products.  On the dining table? On the mantel piece? Hanging off a great door? Outside on the deck? In the fireplace? You might have to make things, boxes etc.  I bought a room divider painted it and made ornate hooks to hang things from. Then try every angle practice, you need to find what works for you and your product. Take 500 pictures of a few products with props, angles, lights.  Once you start you will have more ideas and you will get into it.

And these are my new photographs, styled, Nikon D300S and macro 105mm.


So you took 500 pictures? And they could do with a bit of tweaking, its quite rare you can use a photo raw out of the camera, they usually need a tweak.  So you need editing software.  I have used Corel and I have used photoshop, I have both & I use them for different things, I’m a bit nuts when it comes to using both apparently, like trying to eat cake with 2 forks because they are pretty in different ways, but don’t judge! I do graphics, drawing etc so its worth my while having these packages. I have spent so much time learning how to use especially photoshop.  There are free packages like picassa but I have never used that.  I can show you the very basics using adobe bridge. Step by step:

Go into your adobe package and open adobe bridge it should look something like this when you get it open:

So these are the main things I use in raw.  Mostly I use exposure, temperature can help warm or cool you photos down if the lighting hasn't quite given you what you are after. Black can offer some depth if your photos are lacking that. Go easy on saturation, I use it only if  bumping the exposure up has faded out my colours a little, we trying to give a realistic image of your product you don't want people to think they are buying day glow orange socks when really they are delicate peach!
Here is a before shot of something: before

I haven't mentioned cropping but that is something else that can make picture. Ok now you should go off and play!


Ionwen Charlesworth... said...

Hey shug. Loving your blog so far. Very very helpful post n all chicka. This is definitely an area that I need to buck up on! Shall get there I'm sure it's just a long/slow process. Hope you are doing "OK" ?!? Much loves twinkle, Ionwen XXX

Laura said...

Hello thank you for your comment, I'm hoping to blog more, I think it will be good. I am still all over the place, my fathers death is like a big elephant who sits in the corner I'm always aware its there and every so often the elephant comes over & sits on me & can't breath. So I continue on but its not really ok, wont be for a long while =) xx


Thank you for the advice! Love your blog.

The Fashion Robot said...

This is a great tutorial

Laura said...

thank you!

Clara Turbay said...

incredibles ideas and this blog is full of style!