Product Photography Basics for Your Handmade Business | Kristina Turner | Skillshare

Product Photography Basics for Your Handmade Business

Kristina Turner, Crochet Designer • Tiny Curl

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8 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:04
    • 2. What You'll Need

      2:57
    • 3. Photo Studio Set-up

      1:13
    • 4. Seamless Photography

      2:16
    • 5. Flatlay Photography

      1:57
    • 6. Styling Basics

      2:30
    • 7. Photo Editing

      7:26
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      0:50
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About This Class

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Learn the basics of product photography to take your handmade business to the next level! Crochet designer and photography enthusiast Kristina Turner of Tiny Curl covers everything beginners need to know to set up a DIY home photo studio and shoot seamless and flatlay photography to showcase their handmade products. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn a simple and easy way to take their own product photography.

In this class, Kristina shows you how to take your own high-quality product photography. Over the course of 8 short video lessons, you'll learn:

  • Home photo studio set-up with things you can find around your house
  • Seamless background and flatlay photography techniques
  • Styling basics
  • Photo editing

For the class project, you’ll be taking seamless and flatlay photos of your products with and without styling. Grab your camera and let’s take some pictures!

Click here to check out my Amazon shopfront for the photography supplies I use and love.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi. I'm Christina, and I'm the crochet designer behind Tiny Curl. Tiny Curl is all that happy and fun crochet patterns and designs. Since I started Tiny Curl, I've had to learn how to do everything for my small business including branding, marketing, and even accounting. If you're a fellow handmade business owner, I'm sure you can relate to doing everything yourself. The best skill I've learned is how to take my own product photography. If you're here, you'd probably already know how important photography is to your small business. If you sell online, a picture is the first impression that customers get of your brand and product. A good picture is sometimes the determining factor between whether they buy or not. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the key tools for upping their photography game. In this class, I'm going to teach you the basics of product photography so you have the confidence to take your own product photos and showcase your products in the best possible way. You'll be able to use these photos on your website, in your online shop, or on your social media accounts. Specifically, I'll teach you how to set up a simple home studio and shoot both seamless backdrop and flat lay photography with only a few materials you can find around the house or at the dollar store. I'll also cover some styling basics for adding personality to your photos and walk you through my photo editing process for beautiful final shots. You don't need to know how to shoot on a DSLR camera but it is a big plus. The skills learned in this class can be applied to phone photography or shooting an automatic mode. For the class project, you'll be taking seamless backdrop and flat lay photos of your products with and without styling and editing them for beautiful final shots. With the skills you learn from this class, you'll be well on your way to professional looking product photography that will take your handmade business to the next level. 2. What You'll Need: Most of the materials you'll need for shooting product photos at home can be found around the house or purchased very inexpensively. For this class, you can use any camera you feel comfortable with from a DSLR camera to a phone camera or a point and shoot. For my photography, I use a NIKON DS5600 DSLR camera. DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex. I don't really know the technical aspect of it but I do know that it takes great pictures. I highly recommend owning and learning how to use a DSLR camera because it will dramatically increase the quality of your photos and learning the basics isn't too hard. There are many entry level DSLR cameras that are suitable for beginner photographers. If you want to learn how to use a DSLR camera try a Skillshare class on DSLR basics. Your phone is another great camera option. Most phones now have a really high quality cameras and can take excellent photos. When I'm in a rush, I'll use my iPhone to take and edit pictures on the go. You'll also need any product or item that you'll be shooting. For both seamless and flat lay photography, you'll need a backdrop. What you use will depend on the size of your items and products. For your seamless backdrop which is also called a sweep, you'll need something that can curve from behind to under your product. Because my products are small, I love using plain white posters. They cost less than $1 and are really convenient to store. You can also use a piece of fabric if you want it to be thick and wrinkle resistant like canvas or heavy cotton. For flat lay photography, backdrops can be anything big enough for your item to fit on. I usually use the same poster or paper that I used with my seamless backdrop for any flat lay photos. You can get creative with your backdrops using wooden planks, marble cutting boards, or different colored paper. We'll be discussing more creative styling options in the styling basics video. You'll need natural light to shoot so set up your photo studio near a window or a doorway that lets a lot of natural light in. This is the most important element. You'll need a light reflector to bounce the natural light back onto your product. I like using a white poster board. You'll need a table or a surface to shoot on. I like to use an inexpensive forefoot fold up table that I can store in a closet. But you can use whatever table you can move around and that can fit your photo setup. You'll need something that can stand up on its own to hold your backdrops for seamless photography. I just use an empty PlayStation 4 box and some blue painters tape. It makes it really easy to remove the poster board. Some things that are optional but helpful are a tripod, a step stool for shooting flat lays from above, styling props to add some personality to your photos and some sheer curtains or a sheet to diffuse the natural light if the sun is too strong. Now that we have all the things we need in the next video, I'll be showing you how to setup your home studio. 3. Photo Studio Set-up: In this video, I'll be showing you a simple studio setup that will work for both seamless and flat lay photos. I use the word 'studio' very loosely because my setup requires the bare minimum for taking awesome photos. To start, make a space to position your table near the biggest and brightest window in your house. For me, it requires a bit of redecorating, but it still only takes about five minutes to set up. Natural light is the best light source for beginner photographers. Why? Because it's free, so there is no expensive equipment to buy, and most importantly, it looks natural. If the sun is too bright, use a sheer curtain or sheet to diffuse the light. If it's an overcast day, it shouldn't be necessary. Alternatively, you can move your photo setup farther away from the window to avoid bright light. I won't be using a sheet today because it isn't too bright in my room, but this is how i hang it when I need it. Gather all of your supplies, so they're within arm's reach. I've got my white poster backdrop, white poster for a light reflector, my camera, a backdrop stand and tape, and my product. From her, e you're only a few steps away from taking beautiful seamless or flat lay photos. In the next video, I'll show you how to set up for a seamless backdrop photo, and we'll start taking some pictures. 4. Seamless Photography: Seamless photography uses a seamless backdrop also called a sweep, to create a large and smooth surface that goes behind and under the product. It keeps all eyes on the product and know what's happening in the background. A seamless backdrop is perfect for online shot photos where the product is hero. I'll be demonstrating how to set up an evenly lit shot. It's a simple and natural looking lighting setup where light comes in from the front and side of the product with the light reflector reducing the shadow. Set up your sweep by taping the top to the box or wall so you get a good curve and have enough space for your product to sit on. I use blue painters tape to tape my poster board so that I can easily remove the tape and reuse the poster. Then, position your product in the center of the sweep. Because the sun moves throughout the day, you may find that you need to adjust the angle of your table to get more light on your product. Using your light reflector, eliminate shadows on the product by bouncing light from the window back onto your product. Create a crease in your poster so it can stand up on its own or try leaning it against your sweep. Keep your eye on the bird while I move the light reflector. You can really see how much light bounces back onto the product. Framing refers to the composition of the photo. With product photography, the composition usually includes the product in the center of the shot with balanced white space around it. When framing, knowing what your photos are intended for will help determine how close you should get to your product and how much white space to include around it. This is the frame I used for the shot in the title slide of this video. To shoot, hold your camera directly in front of and at the same level as your product. Take multiple shots to ensure that your product is in focus, the lighting is good, and the framing is right. Be aware that if you're using a DSLR camera, the preview screen will brighten your image so you can see it better but the actual image will be darker than it appears in the camera. Adjust your settings to compensate for this. Take photos in multiple angles and distances so you have lots of options to choose from. In the next video, I'll show you how to setup and shoot flatly photos. 5. Flatlay Photography: In flatlay photography, you're shooting your subject from directly above. Flatlay photography can be your primary form of product photography if your product is flat or it doesn't stand up on its own like a shirt or an art print. flatlay photography also lets you easily add personality into the photo using props, which we'll be discussing in the next video. Just like with the seamless photos, I'll be using an even lighting set-up. The only difference here is that I'll be shooting from directly above the product using a flat backdrop. Decide which backdrop you want to use for your shot. I'm keeping it simple and using the same white poster that I used for our seamless shots. Then, arrange your product in the center of the backdrop. Adjust the angle of your table until you capture the best light for your product. For flatlay photography, you may also need to adjust the height of your table. Position your bounce to reflect the natural light back onto your product. If you're not happy with your lighting, you can try opening your door and position the set-up on the floor. Compose your image with its intended use in mind. Will you crop it into a square? Do you need extra white space to include a logo? All of these elements will impact how you frame the photo. You may want to add something under your product to make it more level from above. Here, I'm using a ball of painter's tape to elevate the bird's head. Hold your camera directly above your product with the lens parallel to the table. Here is where a step stool comes in handy. With a step stool, you gain more height above your product and can see what you're shooting a bit better. Make sure to take a lot of shots from different angles and heights to have more options when you're editing. In the next video, we'll cover some styling basics to make your photos even better. 6. Styling Basics: For product photography, it's generally best to keep your photos simple. This let's your product be the hero of the shot and limits distraction. But it's also nice to let some personality shine through in your images, especially when using them for social media and marketing. In this video, I'll be covering styling basics to inspire you and get those creative wheels turning. My top tip is to make sure your styling is aligned with your brand. When selecting props and backdrops for images, you want everything in the shot to tell a story about your brand. If you're not sure what your brand is, do this simple exercise. Write down three keywords that describe your brand, products or small business. For example, tiny curls three words are bright, fun and friendly. So, when selecting props and backdrops, I make sure they hit all of my keywords. I like using props like colored construction paper, googly eyes, confetti, bright backdrops and quirky items. I make sure each prop and final shot are bright, fun and friendly. Whatever your brand's key words are, let them guide your styling and photographic choices. Here are a few examples with different keywords. Is your brand bold, graphic and cool? Try layered colored paper for a bold and graphic statement. Is your brand natural, airy and light? Try using muted colors, textures like velvet or marble and raw edges. Is your brand elegant, feminine and classic? Try classic flowers like roses or lilies and elegant lighting. You can also select props from tools or materials rules you use in your creative process. If you're a crocheter like me, you can style with yarn, scissors or stitch markers. If you're an illustrator, try styling with colored pencils, erasers, paper or pencil shavings. A backdrop is an easy styling element to experiment with. Simply changing your backdrop to a colored paper or fabric can greatly change the feel of your images. I really like using pink. Using wood is another great option. Here, I've turned my sweep into a wood base with a white backdrop. Marble is a beautiful option that adds instant elegance to your shots. There is no end to what you can use as styling props and backdrops. Have a look on Pinterest for styling ideas and inspiration. Of course, the more you practice, the easier it will get. Shoot lots of options with different props and backdrops. 7. Photo Editing: I'm going to walk you through how I added a simple product image from start to finish, taking it from this to this. I typically edit all of my photos with an Adobe Photoshop. Steps one through five of my workflow will be simple for a beginner Photoshop user. So, feel free to stop there. But if you're up for the challenge, step six will rock your world. It also may seem like a lot of steps, but I promise the process gets easier the more you do it. It usually takes me less than two minutes per photo. I'll also show you my process for editing on my iPhone. First, I unlock my background layer by double clicking on it and renaming it to original. Now I'm going to crop it. Decide what you'd like to use your photo for. For Instagram, square is king. But if you're using it in an online shop or on your website, determine what dimensions you'd like to use. I select the crop tool and make my image a square here. Levels is the next thing I do. Levels is a tool in Photoshop which can move and stretch the brightness levels of an image histogram. The histogram is the mountain-looking thing. The super simple thing I do with levels is pull the white tab to touch the histogram. This simple step brightens the image without losing any detail. The next step I do is curves. I use this to fix the white balance of my image if it's a little bit too yellow or blue. First, I select the layer thumbnail, double-click on the white eyedropper, and then select a part of my image that is supposed to be a white or a neutral color. You can see in the color picker window that the RGB numbers are changing every time I click. RGB stands for red green blue. These are the values of red, green, and blue in my image. Then keeping my mouse in the same spot that I clicked, I update the RGB numbers to the highest value. I press tab to navigate between the numbers, not moving my mouse. Once I made the RGB numbers the same, I click enter, click enter again for No, and then press the left mouse button in the same spot. The white will now be a neutral color. The next step I do is to adjust the brightness. I select the brightness contrast, adjustment layer, and adjust the brightness until I'm happy with the result. You can always go back and adjust any of your settings when you're done. Now, I'm going to adjust the shadows. I duplicate my background layer and rename it shadows. Then, go to the image drop down menu, select adjustments, then select shadows highlights. Adjust the shadow amount to eliminate any additional shadows. You may want to keep your shadows if you're going for a moodier look. But I like to keep it bright. If you're happy with your photo now, you can stop here. But I want to make the background even brighter. To do that, I use replace color. Duplicate the shadow layer, name it replace color, go to the image drop down menu, select adjustments, then select replace color. With the color picker, select part of the background. Then, using the lightness slider, I lighten the image. The fuzziness slider will change how much of your image is affected by your adjustment. I bring the slider to a point where it covers most of the background. Then I select OK. As you can see, it's also lightened my bird. So I'm going to mask out the bird from this layer, which means that it won't be affected by the adjustment adjusted. To do that, select the layer and click the mask button at the bottom of the window. Then select the layer mask, and select your brush tool, picking a brush with 30 percent hardness. You want to be using black with the brush. So, change your color to black. Then using the brush, paint all of the elements of the product that are too bright. You can see that the parts I brush are getting darker. If you press shift plus alt, and click the layer mask, everywhere that you have painted with black, will show up as red. So, you can see what areas you're missing. Continue using the brush to paint all of the areas that are too bright. When you're done, click the layer thumbnail and the red will disappear. Then I do my final touches to the shot looking at all of my previous adjustment layers, and tweaking them until I'm happy. Now, to show you the before and after, I've just grouped all of my edits, and there you have it, a beautiful shot. I use my iPhone to edit photos if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to edit in Photoshop. I just use the iPhone photo editor, but you can apply these techniques in any editing app. I open my photo, and click edit. First, I crop my image. I'm cropping it into a square here. Then I open the adjustments tab and click the light menu. I adjust the brightness first. Then I reduce the shadows with the shadow adjustment. I add a touch of contrast to make the image pop. If this photo still isn't bright enough, I'll adjust the exposure. I add a tiny touch of brilliance to make the fine details clearer and add more vibrance. Then I check my before and after, by pressing and holding on the image, and tweak any adjustments. Finally, I click done, and voila, a beautified final image. 8. Final Thoughts: Product photography is definitely a skill that you'll get better out with practice, so try different camera settings, a new camera, different lighting techniques, and different props. As you grow your new skill, get ready for people to start asking you, "Did you take that picture? Because it looks amazing." So, keep practicing. As you grow your photography skills, you'll want to develop a consistent and cohesive style, so that when someone sees one of your photos, they'll know instantly that it came from you. This could mean using consistent color scheme, using the same kind of lighting like bright and white, or shadowy and moody, or you could use recurring backdrops and props. I hope you've learned some new and useful techniques for shooting your own product photography. I can't wait to see the pictures you take. Thanks so much for watching.