Product Photography: Creating Images that Sell | Olena Hassell | Skillshare

Product Photography: Creating Images that Sell

Olena Hassell, Photographer, Stylist, Content Creator

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13 Lessons (1h 35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class & Project Overview

    • 3. Shoot Prep

    • 4. Studio Setup

    • 5. Shooting Angles

    • 6. What is Composition?

    • 7. Achieving Balanced Compositions

    • 8. Creating Engaging Content

    • 9. Finding Your Style

    • 10. Styling Step by Step

    • 11. Editing on Your Smartphone

    • 12. Promoting Your Work

    • 13. Conclusion

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About This Class

Are you interested in taking photographs of small crafts and products around your home, but don't know where to start? This class is for you!

In this class, you will learn how to create high-quality product photography that will get seen on social media and help make you money through e-commerce.

Whether you are a small business owner looking to upgrade your photography skills, or new to this and hoping to start selling your goods online, my easy to follow guide will get you started, noted, and promoted. 

You will learn how to master and manipulate natural light to capture amazing product photos using a smartphone or DSLR. Together, we'll make professional product grade images in Lightroom and VSCO apps. Your whites will be whiter, your colors brighter, more appealing leading to more sales. 

I will share a simple way to style compelling vignettes, give hot tips to improve your photography and how to showcase your product through smarter composition.

 You will learn how to:

  • Set-up a simple home studio
  • Create light and air in product photography

We'll do this at low-cost using:

  • Minimal equipment (basic DSLR or smartphone, white poster paper, and a foam board)
  • Natural lighting (window)
  • Things that you already have at home (small ceramics, vintage finds, and tabletop accessories) 

I will show you how to edit your images to make them pop, and how to wow your customers!


1. Introduction: Two accounts to over 100,000 followers each. My name is Olena Hassel and I am an Instagram photographer of seven years. I have done multiple collaborations with big brands, I've done photoshoots for magazines, and I have grown two accounts on Instagram to 100,000 followers each. In this class, I'm going to share all of my tricks and secrets on how to enhance your product photography. I'm going to show you how to shoot and edit on your phone, how to edit using Lightroom mobile application, as well as VSCO with its wonderful filters that are famous on Instagram. Things that have been hard to understand are going to become easy for you. You're going to learn to understand composition, why is a particular product placed in that particular spot. You're going to gain new appreciation for photography, how to read photography, how to use props, what props to use in your photography, how to shop for props, and what rules to follow when you're building your own prop collection. I'm going to explain to you how to use color wheel to enhance photography, to balance out, to compose so the colors match, they go well together. We're going to go over Instagram, how to use it for success, which tools to consider, which tools to pay most attention to, how to analyze, how to view and learn from your own analytics. This class is going to be useful for anyone who is a beginning photographer or somebody who is a photographer that's been shooting for years but has been stuck with the Instagram growth. Thank you so much for joining, and I can't wait to see what you create. 2. Class & Project Overview: Hello and welcome to my class, Product Photography, basics from start to finish. From not knowing anything to knowing everything about selling and promoting on Instagram. I'm going to teach you in this class, how to set up your own home studio using resources you already own, using freely available natural light, and things you have at home. As a project for this class, we are going to shoot a small project such as vase or anything you want, maybe something handmade. We are going to shoot it from three angles that we are going to cover in class: from low angle, from three-quarters, and from above. We are going to layer our scenes using the step-by-step method I'm covering in the class, and we are going to edit it on our Lightroom on our phone, or on the Lightroom of a VSCO app. We are going to apply filter and we are going to share it with the class. 3. Shoot Prep: Shoot Prep is the most important step you're going to take in order to take full advantage of natural light, invest minimal time and create the best results with whatever product you have to shoot. Shoot Prep, can be made much easier with using certain handouts and a bit of thinking ahead of time. You will have to keep in mind, which woods to take what props you need, and what do you need to set up that particular scene. When building your prop collection, there are three important rules to follow: size, color, and charm. With size, smaller is better than bigger. Small saucer or a side plate is much better than a dinner plate. It takes a lot of ingredients to fill a dinner plate. It takes a lot of space within a frame if you place a dinner plate there. Think about side plate, saucer, or a cute little plate that you use for bread rather than the big salad bowl. Think about coconut shape rather than a shape of a balloon. Color. It's best to build the basics first and then add some color to it. I would say start with white, creamy beige, gray, and black as basic colors because those will be the most practical. Those will not distract from the element you are trying to highlight and advertise. Basically, they won't distract from your hero. They are going to be very fluttering props to display things on them or together with them. If it has a bit of texture is very good. If you're thinking of plates, think about hand-made, something that has pockmarks or ridges or something like that. Lastly, charm. Props are just like old friends. The new interesting, exciting things might be more charming and intriguing, but the old reliable ones are always the ones that have a bit of nostalgia about them. They always are the ones that have a story, that have some meaning and they're likely to have meaning for your viewer as well. Always think about handmade items that have natural texture that are imperfect. Something that's a bit worn, something that's a bit tarnished, something that has natural patina layered there by time. Some essential props for layering, I would say you should always have maybe a cork table or something like that, or a cork mat. It's a wonderful prop for flat lays. A white sheet of paper, a white poster paper, white sheet. If you have linen tablecloths, is fabulous and it's fabulous in lovely colors. It's never too bright. It's just wonderful, wrinkled style. It's just what photography needs. When you have something like that, don't iron it. Just have it slightly crumbled, slightly just out of the dryer look. Old napkins, knits. Sometimes a scarf does really well as the background prop. Sometimes a nice white sweater with cable knit also acts as a wonderful prop. The idea with the props is to provide some extra texture within the frame so it doesn't just look flat. It adds some interest and depth into your image. This is one of my favorite props. It can be easily obtained from a craft store or you could make your own. It's just basically a cross section of a birch branch, birch tree. It is wonderful texture on the side and that's the sides you're going to see. But it's also nice and round and it's smooth enough to accommodate a cup. It has that, when you touch wood, you feel that softness, you feel like it's part of nature surrounding you. It's very organic, it goes in. The colors are not distracting. The colors are very neutral. If you build up your scene with neutral props, you just layer them on top of the other. You will start seeing texture and depth without being distracted from the major element, which is your hero. Good props to have are white things. White things are like your basic t-shirts. You need them to build the rest of your outfit on. For example, I have here very basic white flat mat ornaments which are fabulous because if you put them on a wooden backdrop, they stand out being white. Also, they don't distract attention, but they give you a bit of shape and they don't shine, they don't reflect the light. They look fabulous in the photo. Always when you're thinking about props, don't think of some exquisite fancy things, although those sometimes are really nice. You want them to support your hero, not to distract attention from it. Teal is a very attractive color in any photography. Teal clothing will stand out really well especially if it's against a yellow or something like this. This one is handmade mug and it has that quality of being a bit scratched, being a bit used. It's perfect, but it's also an imperfect, perfectly imperfect wabi-sabi elements are fabulous in your photos. If you can get hold of them, you could find them on Etsy, you could find them on eBay. You can find them in thrift stores. Thrift stores are my go-to stores for prop sourcing. Something like this looks fabulous in something like this. If you have something like this to sell, people want to buy it. If you're arranging flowers, thread like this, very neutral hemp jute, just a regular Joe or something that's a bit older and a bit more charming and has a bit wear in it. These are fabulous props, especially when you are wrapping presents for Christmas for example. I have some brass things like candle holders or this old sand clock, which I love, or this brass tea pot. It's a bit used, but it's fine. It's a bit tarnished and patina is great in the photos. It adds to it's charm. It tells you a story of its own. Somebody used it in the past and maybe somebody passed it on to their grandchildren, and therefore it makes it much more valuable. I found both of this in thrift store, and I cherish them. A simple white teapot. Oh well, actually there's nothing simple about this one, although it's white and a little bit shiny reflective. This is gorgeous detailing and you see there are some highlights in there at some shadow. You want to see a bit of detail with the color being neutral. The color does not take away from your hero. Backgrounds. What are good backgrounds or backdrops? A white roll of paper, it's fantastic, it goes with everything. Particularly good for modern compositions, modern and minimal. But if you want something that's a bit more rustic, something that's a bit more romantic perhaps, something that has a bit of nostalgia about it, think of planks. For example, those pallets that people are using for delivering items are wonderful and you can usually see them on streets. Pick one up, take it apart, and create a nice background. The background size should be approximately like a poster paper. Not too big, not too small. Rectangular is better than the square. The linen napkins or something a bit bigger. Linen tablecloth looks fabulous, absolutely fabulous as a backdrop. No need to iron it, just use as is, and it comes in this wonderful area of colors. Think of neutral colors, but also dark colors could look great as well. Old wooden planks which you would stain, it's stained. It look fabulous and usually I like to keep them in plank form rather than connecting them together just for easy storage and easy transportation. I have those planks and each plank has two sides, so I'll usually stain one side, one color, something darker, then other side, another color. Something light. Maybe I'll paint it white or pink. I like experimenting. Of course, giant cutting boards are fabulous for that as well. If you can find one on the flea market or on eBay. Last prop, I forgot to mention. It's kraft paper. Kraft paper is one of those wonderful universal props that everyone of us has to have in their household. I use it all the time. I use it just as background, but I use it to wrap things in it. All of my Christmas gifts are usually wrapped in kraft paper and it's great because it takes white color. You could draw with white on it, you could paint this white on it, it looks really great. You could stamp something dark on it. You could glue something to it and it gives a wonderful neutral backdrop to everything that you put on it. You really need to think about the style you want to portray when shooting this product. Is your product super modern? Then you would probably want to shoot it on stone, on marble or on white, and this will dictate what props to pull. Is your scene cozy? Is it, for example, autumn or Christmas scene? Then you think of candles and metals and things that make you feel warm, some knits. Hope you found my handout useful and I'm certain it will come in handy when you start shooting. Also, let's go into setting up the actual home studio in the next lesson. 4. Studio Setup: Hello and welcome to my home studio. In this space, I usually photograph most of my products for home, for sale on Etsy or eBay, or for my clients. I do not have a different dedicated space, but I do have this lovely natural window which has lot of natural light coming through, which is wonderful because a, it's free and b, the colors are the truest when you use natural light. Without further ado, I'm going to show you how to set up a mini studio kit, studio at home, using minimal investment on your equipment and using things that you are likely to already have. I'm going to shoot today this lovely vintage camera, and we're going to use white continuous sweep background to shoot it. As you can see, I'm only using one source of light and it's natural light. All of my indoor lighting is off because I don't want to have any competing color casts, so one single source light is key. Get as close to the window as possible, and then you can make judgment whether to manipulate it any further. But let's set it up first. What we will need is the chair I'm sitting on. It's old and rickety, but it's perfect for an in home studio. The only problem with the chair is that it's soft, so we need to make this surface stable and hard. For that, I'm going to use old canvas, doesn't matter what color it is, whether it's used or not. If I don't have a canvas, I could use a form board or maybe a large cardboard box, anything would work. Doesn't matter what color it is because we are going to cover it up. To cover it up, I'm using regular wide poster paper and I'm going to place it here just so and maybe I'm going to use a tape to secure it to the chair. Nothing special, just a tape, and wollah, our home studio is ready. You can see a natural sweep, which will ensure there is no distractions in the background, just one white continuous sweep. We are going to place this lovely vintage camera in the middle, arrange the belt nicely, and maybe we're going to place a few seasonal accessories, for example, pumpkins. We'll place a pumpkin here, one here, and one at the back. Wollah. Let's take a shot, and we could shoot it either vertically or in portrait mode, and we're going to assess the picture. Right from the start, I can see that while one side is very nicely illuminated, the other side has deep shadows caused by the object because our subject, our hero, is actually dark and it's casting the shadow this way. To counteract this, to fill this shadow with light, what we are going to need is something that's called a reflector. Reflector is something that will reflect the light back from the window and typically, you place it on the opposite side from the window, wherever the shade is located. Place the reflector on the side of the shade, not on the side of the window, because if you place it on the window, it's going to block the light. If you place it on the side of the shade against the window, opposite the window, it's going to reflect light, fill in these shadows. We can place it on an angle and then it's going to stabilize itself. Let's take a shot, check what we've got. I can see it's already better, and the shots we're going to need are straight on three-quarters slightly from above and also one from above, directly from above, which is the flatly. When we're shooting with DSLR camera, it naturally has levels. But when we're shooting with our iPhone or smartphone, any other phone, we need some help in setting up the levels. I suggest using a grid turning it on and once the grid is on, you can see where to place your objects. The grid is also following the compositional rule of thirds, which says, we need to place our important elements along the lines and on the intersections. Here we see we have our camera along the lines and it's intersecting on its edges. Now, to make it slightly more interesting, and to maybe cast the shadow not directly this way perpendicular, but a bit diagonally, we could turn this chair towards the window. You see how direction of the shadow is changing? It's much more flattering, and also we could maybe change direction of our camera a little bit, and this way we expose the side of it as well, the one that we can't see because it's a cube. Go ahead and shoot. When we're shooting, we want camera to stand out and everything else to fall into background. Let's imagine a different situation. Imagine that outdoors, the sun is shining and on one hand, we have very, very bright light coming in, washing out some of the elements of our hero. On the other side, it casts very, very deep sharp shadows, which is very distracting when we are doing product photography. Unless we intentionally wanted when we're shooting colored glass, for example. But when we're shooting something like this, and we want all focus to be on just our camera, what we need is an even soft light with white background. To manipulate that bright light, what we can do is we could diffuse it. Basically, we will create what in nature clouds do to the sun. We are going to not block it, but diffuse it. We're going to let in some soft light, take away some sharp shadows with one easy sure element. This is a diffuser. This is a commercially available one, which is all part of that reflector combo, and we could just place it on the side of the window close to our subject, and it's going to make sure that our light is no longer harsh, it just passes through and gets diffused by this surface. If we don't have the diffuser, what we can do is we can use a curtain that's as sure as this and maybe cover our window with it. Or we can use something as simple as wax paper or parchment paper, and we can just attach it to the window and diffuse our light coming through to our subject. You need to be mindful of what clothing you're wearing. Right now, my dress is a reflector. Because my dress is neutral, it's white and black, it doesn't really cost any weird color onto my scene. But if my dress was red, or yellow, or green, or blue or any of the bright colors, it would reflect a color cast onto the scene and that's really hard to take care post-processing. The best thing to do is not to create a problem in the first place. Wear neutrals when you're shooting, use a reflector, and use a diffuser if needed. That's it for the reflector-diffuser. 5. Shooting Angles: Let's start by jumping in and discussing the different shooting angles, where to start, where to go, and how many shots to take. It's going to depend on the height and the size of your product, obviously. These shooting angles will apply to any style of photography, food photography, lifestyle photography, or still life. They are as follows. There's straight on, which is from about 25 degrees to 45. So it's the lowest angle. There are three quadrangle or the eye view of the viewer. It's at about from 45-degree angle to 75. The last and most popular style is the flatlay, which is an angle directly from above. There, what you want to employ is grids on your phone if you're shooting with your phone and level on your phone or the camera because that's really helpful to keep perspectives and to prevent the distortion. Let's jump right in into each one of them and discuss the merits of each one separately. Speaking of the shooting angles and shooting stacks of things, for example, stacks of pancakes, stacks of cookies, layered cakes, something where there is more detail on the side of the object than on the top, and we want to show all of those layers of it. We want to shoot from as low angle as possible. I'm going to demonstrate an example of stack of books. I'm going to place it here. Basically, what we want is a really nice, an up-close picture. Let's focus on the side only. I'm going to take a photo here, making sure that only the sides are in focus. But sometimes, it's not impressive enough, not imposing enough. What I do sometimes with the phone, I invert the camera and shoot from here. This way, it's only the side that's in focus. The photo is more imposing, and I'm going to focus on the middle. I have my grid turned on, and I'm going to shoot. If I were to shoot with the camera, I would take the same shot straight on. But perhaps, I might even tilt my camera a bit up so that I could still see a bit of better foreground here, but I wouldn't see any of the top. Let's say you want to see the side of the binding, but also you want to see the top, maybe the name of the author. Then you start with tilting the angle a little bit and go up to about 45 degrees. Take a test shot. Then maybe you want to see a bit more of what's on the cover. We're going to angle a little bit more and shoot. This is about three-quarters view or the viewer's eye view. But sometimes we don't really want to see much of the side at all. This way we are going to shoot from the top and this is going to be a flatlay position. Now that we went through the shooting angles and how to use them and where to apply each angle, I would like to go through things that are common mistakes, things that are easily avoided. Three major things that you should never do and you should keep them in mind before shooting. First is horizon lines of slanting. If anything is slanting within the shot and the horizon line is not actually within the frame, does not go along the horizon line, so it could be pointing up, it could be on a bit of a curve, it could be going down. It will make your cup of tea look like it's about to spill. The tea will probably look like it's taking a tumble, and your viewer is going to be worried and upset about what's going on within the frame. It also makes the photo look a bit unprofessional. Slanting horizon lines are okay if you are taking artsy selfies, but if you're taking photos of the product, you should never have your lines slanting. You want your product to appear the way it should be. It should be straight on a table. It helps when the background that you're using is actually solid. Setting up a grid on your phone is really helpful in this case. So set up the grid, measure it nicely, make sure it's straight. Second mistake is when your depth of field is a bit too narrow, too shallow, which means that parts of your major element could be in focus, whereas other parts could not be in focus. If you're thinking about it, think about the portraiture, and for example, let's say the tip of your nose would be in focus and the eyes would be in focus. That would be a bit unprofessional. That would be very unfortunate because in your face you want to highlight all your best features. If you don't want it to be selective, you want all your face to be in focus. Your face is your hero. The setting in your camera that's responsible for selective focus is aperture. When you're shooting with your phone, make sure it's farther enough from the frame. You can see all surrounding elements within. You can see a bit more background, which is fine. You can always zoom in and crop in. If with your phone you come a bit too close, it will start selecting the things to focus on, and some of those things, the things that are closest to the lens, to the camera are going to be in-focus, whereas the background is going to drop out of focus and it's going to be blurry. If you're shooting with DSLR, make sure you're setting your camera. If you're shooting in manual or if you are shooting an aperture priority, make sure the aperture number is larger. Last but not least is zooming in way too close when you want to show off some texture of your product or something like that. You need to zoom in enough for a person to know what it actually is. It's nice to strove to the texture, but don't go way too close. That's it for the shooting angles and for the mistakes to avoid when shooting with your phone or when you're shooting with DSLR. In the next class, we are going to learn all about composition and basically, what it means is how we space out our elements in the frame, where exactly we put them, and what relationship there should exist between them in the frame, because you want your viewer to travel to the frame and to come back to your hero over and over again. 6. What is Composition?: Have you ever wondered why some images are able to capture your imagination and make you look for them for a few seconds at a time, whereas others, you just swipe away without spending any time at all. I believe the answer lies in composition. Composition is arrangement of objects in the space in a pleasing way. Usually images that do well on Instagram, on social media in general, and anywhere on stock photography are the ones that are well balanced, that they're memorable, that they're easy to relate to, they tell the story. Those images pull the scene, they engage us, and therefore, we show much more engagement on those photos. Usually compositions that look natural and effortless take a lot of skill and effort to produce. Some people have an innate talent for naturally balancing compositions, whereas others can learn. You can learn through discipline practice of this skill. Let's go over some key elements in composition. First and foremost, there is no story without a hero, so we need a hero. Every time we style, we need a main element, something that's attracting your attention right away, so when you do a squint test and look at the picture with your eyes squinted, that's the first thing that pops in. That's the first thing that you think okay, I see this story is about a cup of tea or about the street or something of that sort, something that catches your eye right away. If the composition is cleverly arranged, was in a frame, it's going to pull you in and it's going to send you all the way around the frame and bring you back to admire it some more. If you're shooting a still life, the center of the vase with flowers will be our hero. If you're shooting a composition about a tea time, you may surround the teacup with all the seasonal elements, but your hero has to stand out and all the rest would be supporting cast that's assisting and highlighting the hero. If you are shooting people. For example, in still life, if you include a human hand, that's where the eye is going to go immediately. If you include a pet, the pet is the hero of the story. If the pet is sniffing and the tea, that's fantastic because it draws attention straight onto your cup of tea. Immediately you start thinking, that's a cup of tea, and I want a sip of that as well. If you include people in the composition, so human eyes, lips, the face would immediately come to the center of attention. You know how there is always a face recognition software whenever you shoot, that's because faces are the most important. In any composition, you want face to be in sharp focus. Think of a hero as the face of your entire image. That's the one element that always has to be in sharp focus. Others could be blurred out and use colors that are not as saturated, not as bright, but that are complementing and supporting. Whereas your hero has to be the star of the show. The way you style their composition, and we're going to go over it in later class where I'll take you step by step of styling a scene, is you start layering and building, and then you have to decide where to put your main element, and you start building your story around that main element. Knowing that your main element is right in the intersection of the rule of thirds grid, it has to be in a prominent point, somewhere where your eye goes straight away. If we have a story about the tea, and in this story, I have it set up on folded blankets, on layers of folded blankets, I have a cup of tea set on a little coaster on a stack of books, and I'm pouring the tea out of the tea pot, and it's very important because my hand would be included and it would provide a natural line to follow through the frame, through the teapot and straight into the cup of tea. On the side there will be a window which is a bit of an L composition, which you often see with artists. By the window there are this fresh, beautiful seasonal flowers. That's a complete scene. There are three main elements, our hero, which is a cup of tea, our teapot and a hand pouring the tea into the cup, and the flowers. Three main elements composing a triangle. Triangle is a geometric figure which our eyes are naturally trained to look at and to recognize. Why is geometry important within your frame, within your composition? It's because once you spot that geometric figure, it's very key. It will give you a key on where to place your main elements in the frame. For example, if there is a triangle, then you want to place your main elements on the vertex of the triangle, and then thus your eye will travel from one to the other in that formation. Things that will work really well in photos is framing. For example, cup of tea is around, so already have your circle, a saucer plate is round as well, so you have a repeating pattern. For example, sometimes there is a book, book is rectangular or sometimes it's at square, and it provides a bit of a frame within a frame, which is very effective when composing. Diagonals are part of geometry as well that create movement within a frame. Naturally within each frame, if you're composing and there are layers of elements, and your thinking, oh, I'm not quite sure which element I'm drawn to. You start reading your photos from the top left, just as you were to start reading a new book page. You come in, and ideally, it would be designed for you to come in on a diagonal. That diagonal, you'll be following it with your eyes straight to the main element, and then from the main element there will be another leading line. But in an ideal world, you want to place your hero not too far from the entry point, with many lines pointing towards it. Naturally, you won't see the arrows pointing towards it, but for example, you could just angle the book towards your cup. You could point that teapot into your cup and naturally you have a curve to follow, and maybe it would be from your hand through the top of the teapot, through the spout and into the cup. Those leading lines are very important and they should always be leading towards your hero. Sometimes they are less obvious, for example, an S-curve, we don't necessarily always know that it's an S-curve, but sometimes if you squint, you could just see where it's going. If you spot that, you won't spot it 100 percent of the time, but when you do spot it, it gives a certain je ne sais quoi to you photo. It's very sexy, it adds interest and you naturally want to follow that path. It's like the road with a winding path that you want to follow. But it doesn't have to be that literal. Imagine a teapot, and then the spout, and then the tea pouring into a cup, and naturally already you see an S-curve. 7. Achieving Balanced Compositions: Of course, right now it seems rather abstract, the geometric figures. One shouldn't overdo with geometric figures. For example, within a tray, you could place carbs and you could visualize it as a big rectangle with circles repeating inside, which would be very effective. But you don't want to place it with triangles and such strong elements like this. You could fill the frame completely with similar occurring objects without the dominating object or you could fill the frame, for example, with flowers where one flower would be just bent in a different direction, and it's really nice to have that little point of interest within the frame of repeating elements. You want a pattern which looks very harmonious and attractive, but you also want to look for a little outlier. You want some rascal to twist your imagination, and that's where your eye is going to naturally go. To help us understand the composition further and to apply it within our own frame when we are composing, it's important to think of the rules. Rules are guidelines. They're not to be followed strictly, they could be broken, and it's actually a fun thing to do. The easiest rule and the most common rule is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is one of the easiest rules to understand. It's the most ubiquitous one, and it's the most famous one. It looks like hashtag or tic-tac-toe, where you would want to place your main elements and the horizon lines and the lines within your frame along the lines and along the intersection. Put your main elements on the intersections, and everything else that helps it to lead towards it, put it on the lines going up and across. If you are shooting at table scape or something like that, put your table where the horizon line is. When you're using the rule of thirds while shooting outside in the natural landscape, just place the horizon line along the lowest line on the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds, to give you a bit more background about it, you could read about it online. There is a wealth of information, but the major point to remember is that it's one of the most ubiquitous tools, and everyone else is going to be using as well. There are others that I think are even better, and they all stem from the same golden ratio. It's a mathematical formula. It's rather complicated, but basically, it's an arrangement of elements in space like they do occur in nature. So when you see fiddle leaves, when you see some ferns, for example, they all follow that natural pattern, and that's how it's being calculated. The rule of thirds, it's one of the easiest grids that come out of that rule. There's another one which is called a golden ratio as well, and there is one that looks like a snail. It looks like a snail's house, and basically, you'd want your photo to sweep through all the way down to your hero, and sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. The tool that I really like to use in post-processing is Lightroom Desktop version. If you go into the crop, it has all of these overlays for golden ratio. You could apply it to your composition and see which one of them works best. There are golden triangles, there is a golden ratio, and there is a golden grid, and there are those golden diagonals, there are so many of them. You don't have to use them all at once, but if one works, chances are all others will work as well. If you haven't composed it ahead of time, don't worry, you can compose it in post-processing by cropping it within the grid and seeing which element you want to highlight the most. By shifting that crop, a different element can be highlighted within the same frame. Other important things to note when composing is pyramid composition, which is basically a triangle, and you see it in nature, you see it in Egyptian pyramids, you see it in Mexico, you see it in some arches, or you see it in compositions where there is a cup of tea on the top and the flower spreading from it. In leaf composition, you see it on Instagram all the time. It utilizes symmetry, a line of symmetry going through the middle of the frame. Of course, to achieve harmony within the frame is to achieve balance; and balance, there is more to balance than just composition. There is also color. There is use of space, and there is also a use of negative space. When you load your frame with all of the supportive probes that you have, and they are wonderful I know, and you spend a lot of time selecting them, and they will fit within this frame. But sometimes, it's important to start taking things out of the frame, and right away, you'll realize when you're giving a bit of space around your hue, it will stand up and it will unfurl its wings because there's suddenly space to do it, and it will attract even more attention from the viewer. Here we are again, looking at our scene from above. My phone is just securely fassened over the top of the scene and my hands are free to style and change everything I want. Let's look at this scene and see that the viewer is usually looking at the scene as if they were reading a book. We're going to look at it from the top, from left to right. As soon as you're coming to the frame, you'll see you're coming on a diagonal because this envelope is sending us that way into the main element, which is in the middle, but also up top in a prominent position. This is our hue. We can see it very closely. We see every detail of it. It's enhanced by the objects around it. The objects around it make sense within the story. The story is about my friend has a birthday, and I'm going to sign a card to my friend, and this is going to be a gift for her. While I'm signing, I'm sitting at the table and I'm drinking a cup of tea. Let's look at the colors used here and the number of objects. The colors we're using here, everything that supports this main element, which is blue and white. I've got the books of treasures and books of vintage cards. They're all different colors, and I thought this would probably work really well as well, but this one would take away from the actual Razer hue. Therefore, it won't work. I thought of this one because this one matches it perfectly. It's still very cute but it has an exact blue and white as we see here. But it's a bit smaller, but it is fun and it is moving and it adds interest to the frame. But it supports our hue. The cup of tea, of course makes sense because you could be having a cup of tea, relaxing and writing letters, and the cup of tea is blue and white. It's important to have actually a drink put into the tea. If your cup is empty, this story is less believable. You could have a hand in the frame if your frame is big enough. In this case, it's not, and you could always add a teapot. In this case, I chose white teapot, so it doesn't take any visual weight away from the story. It's lovely and it adds extra texture and extra detail, but it doesn't attract attention away from the main element. The teapot does not attract attention away from the main element because it's white. But it does add interest to the frame because it has all of this intricate detailing, and let's see the number of objects that we see, 1, 2, 3. It's important because here we see we have a visual triangle, and we're going to go from here, to here, to here. They're coming to the frame on the diagonal, and it send us through the circle, and then we land here just looking at this detail, which points us back to the hue. Notice that nothing points out of the frame, everything comes in. The worst thing to have is when something points out directly out of a corner. If that happens, our eye just travels along with it. 8. Creating Engaging Content: So far in this class, we spoke about getting inspired, analyzing your photos, creating a mood board, and planning your compositions. As I mentioned, it's best to plan it ahead of time, on paper. Just drawing it out on the grid of rule of thirds, or applying a grid to your photo or you do your bounded grid, turning on the grid on your phone before you shoot. This way, you can pinpoint the location of the main elements and it just makes it a lot easier. You'll see that everything is within the frame, nothing is cut off and that your hero stands out. Now, let's talk about color and how to use a color theory in your compositions. The favorite color combinations that I use are complementary which are located on the opposite sides of the color wheel, analogous which are the colors next to each other on the color wheel, and triadic which is every fourth color on the wheel. Let's go into each one of them in more detail. We are talking about one dominant color and one supporting color. For example, if we are shooting food and the food tends to be on the warmer side, it needs to be balanced off with something that's a bit cooler. Something that's a bit orange looks wonderful with something that's a bit gray, blue. In this photo, you see the food is slightly orangey yellow and my dress is also a bit orangey yellow to support it. Whereas my apron and the tablecloth is blue and you need a lot of blue to balance out the yellow. Notice that the yellow is quite desaturated, it doesn't really stand out, it's enough to draw attention to it but not enough to take away all of the attention from the main hero. As a rule of thumb or an easy styling tip, if your product, something that you're shooting, your hero is in one color scheme, one solid color for example, orangey, brown, yellowey, think about complementing it with opposite color in a background or in your props. Also, you need to make your product stand out by saturating the color. We're deepening it, whereas everything else should be desaturated and not as loud as the main element. Next, color combination is analogous and here in this photo you see that there is this very light soft pink nail polish. That's our product, that's the product that we're shooting here. So soft peachy pink goes well with other peachy colors. Something slightly orange, something, IT rolls for example. Something that catches attention would be hands with nails with that nail polish painted. If you're shooting a pastel scene, think about soft flowy fabrics to add to the whole scheme, do not add anything that's too rigid. You have to be very careful that the sharp focus is where your main element is. In this photo our main element is in the middle and supported by the hand coming in from the side on a diagonal, and it's placed on the intersection of the rule of third grid lines. You'll notice that there is a bit of green as well on the rows. Green color typically goes with everything because it's color of nature, it's natural and you see, for example, a red rose will go with green even if maybe it doesn't make particular sense on the color wheel. Green as long as it doesn't take over and it's not overly saturated, it goes well was everything. Lastly, triadic color combination could be very successfully used in an example here. When your product is transparent, there is some text on the product and it has to be in sharp focus but the actual product, doesn't strike immediately when you look at the frame especially if you put it on a white. If you put something that's white on white, you have to make sure that the color background is a shade darker for this white to stand out and to look as if it's closer to the viewer. But sometimes you want it fun and it will depend on your client and on your preference, and it will depend on the season. But you could just up that transparent product and pairing it up with a bright color background. In this case, it's blue and you see the blue on the color wheel that goes well with pink and with a touch of yellow. Yellow is usually a very loud color in any composition. You want it completely and quite heavily desaturated. You want it not too bright, you want it perhaps a bit deeper not lemony yellow, but more towards the orange and calm. And lastly, to see if your photo looks well-balanced in the frame and the colors makes sense, perform a squint test on a thumbnail size of the photo. Just wrinkle your nose, squint your eyes and see what's the first thing that pops into your eyes. If it's something that's not the main element, you have to go back and maybe do a lot of post-processing work, but maybe just take away some props that distract the attention. Your hero has to be the first element that catches your eyes when you perform a squint test. 9. Finding Your Style: So first and foremost, you need to prepare. I don't just mean you need to pull your props, you need to start with defining your voice and style. I usually suggest starting with Pinterest, using Pinterest as your visual search engine. So instead of Google, you would go to Pinterest and type in products styling photography. Once you've done that, you can determine what do you want to shoot, it's going to be category. So it could be jewelry, beauty, or home or anything else. You could select it in the categories. You can further define it by holiday and season. This way, for example, if you're shooting Christmas, you can see that many people are using craft paper and certain ornaments and wood and candles and rustic elements like this, all of those things are going to give you an idea of what props to pull, what props to prepare given the particular product you're going to shoot. Also further, you can refine your search by thinking of keywords. So would flowers makes sense? Would adding books make sense? You could just refine your search by adding those keywords. Sometimes it pays to just review things that are similar to the posts that you like and pin them all to a new board. So once you've pinned all of inspiration to new board, now is the time to analyze it. This new board becomes your mood board. This is your starting point. This is your inspiration for a particular product. This is a mood board that you further refine and maybe select your favorite 10 or your favorite five, and if you have a client that's been engaged or that's engaged you, you could share this mood board with the client and see what they like as well, and see whether you're on the same page. So this is a way to make yourself look more professional, prepared, and passionate about the product you're going to use. So all of this gives you leverage, all of this makes sure that the client's work becomes much easier, they know exactly what to expect from you, but also you know exactly what to give them, and this will eliminate reshoots. This will save you time in the future, and just make you appear prepared and provide visual direction to the client. So if you make your client's brands, PR, clients work easier, chances are they're going to want to engage you as well. You have to make them look good. They have to report to their bosses or to their brands they're representing and say look, this is the mood board we came up with. Do you want to engage this particular stylist or photographer? They will most likely say yes, because they go for a few choices, and you can ask for more if you are prepared in this way. So once you've got your mood board worked out, time to analyze it, and analyzing it I mean, you really need to look at it, you need to look at it. Are you drawn to light and bright or dark moody photography? Are you drawn to something that's ultramodern and streamlined and minimal? Or are you drawn to something that's rustic, cozy and that has those nostalgic, warm elements in it? Are you drawn to texture or are you drawn to romantic, flowy, silky things? Are you drawn to linen that's soft or are you drawn to stone that's marble and granite or something like this? Are your photos taken inside or outside? All of this, you can get from analyzing your mood board. Once you've selected the favorite, lets say 10 to five, and shared it with the client, and you've narrowed it down to the favorite two or three, this is going to be your shooting list. So your mood board is your visual strategy. If you make your client look good to their boss and make their job so much easier with suggesting the strategy beforehand, it will establish communication and commitment from client to you and vice versa. They'll know that you're that serious and they'll know that you're going to put a lot of work into it, and it just makes you look like you know what you're doing, even if you don't, it still makes it look like you do. So once you've analyzed your mood board, you are going to analyze those photos one by one. You're going to see where the light is hitting. The easiest way to see where the light is hitting is, where does the shadow fall? The shadow usually falls on the opposite side of the light. You can always flip your photo and always just keep in mind that the light is a sidelight, usually from the window, and you need to then keep in mind that composition, think, okay, a cup of tea, or this is my product. My product is my hero, and I am going to place it in this spot. I find that it helps just sketching it out on paper. In the course, I included a handout which will help you prepare for the first shoot or for every shoot thereafter. This is what I use, this is what I use almost every time I shoot. So it's going to let you choose what light you're going to use, light or dark? What props are you going to use? List them. Also, to sketch out your composition beforehand. You are going to be able to place your major element on the intersection of those lines, you're going to use a grid as a template of the rule of thirds grid or the golden ratio grid. Once you know where to place the hero, everything just flows from there because hero is your stage and everything else is the audience, is a supporting cast, and you need to make your hero stand out. Sketching it out on paper, I just can't stress it enough how quick and easy this step is, but how important it is in making your job, making your life easier, saving time in the future, and you know exactly what you're going to do. It could make a difference between a five-minute shoot to three-hour shoot. Now that we have all of our tools needed to prepare for the shoot, we are going to go step-by-step into styling a scene. 10. Styling Step by Step: Now that we know what tools to use to prepare for a shoot, let's go into the shoot step-by-step, as I demonstrate how I styled a specific scene, that's gets most reviews usually and lots of engagement on my Instagram account. First and foremost, you have to decide where you're going to shoot. If you have a bay window, that's a good place to shoot. If you have any window, you just make sure you get your scene as close to the window is possible. Especially if you're shooting in the winter or in the autumn time. There are tables that are adjustable in height. There are tables that you already have in use, just bring it as close to the window as possible. Put a background on it. It could be some fabric, it could be background plywood board, it could be some planks, or it could be just a background that you already have. You don't have to show off the background. You can style or start styling with establishing layers, adding layers. As you can see on the slides, I started with blank canvas right next to the window and to create a cozy atmosphere of being on the inside. It might be windy and cold outside. I'm designing a scene around a cup of tea. If I have a product that's specific and would make sense in that setting, I am going to place it in a prominent position. For right now, my cup of tea, it's going to be my hero. I'm going to start with layering. I'm going to start with neutral colors. This is, as you can see, it's just a sweater. You don't need a specific niche blanket or something that's Instagram famous or whatever. You could just take your niche sweater and it has wonderful texture in detail. A cable knit, it's appropriate for the season. It's neutral, light in color, and it's a wonderful basic layering piece as a foundation for your scene. Think about it as if a layering piece a basic t-shirt that you would wear to start building your outfit. Then on the outskirts, along the perimeter of this sweater, I put this scarf. This is just a regular scarf and it's in a tonal colors and it works really well just around. Now that you've established your foundation and placed those living pieces in, you're going to determine where to place a hero. With that you could just assess this scene. You can take your phone and turn on the grid and see where the grid falls in terms of where the grid falls was the intersections. Because that's approximately the angle you're going to shoot at and that's where you're going to place your hero. It really helps to sketch it out with a grid. Place your hero on the intersection or in the center of the scene. I'm placing mine in-between the two intersections in the center and it's the support base for my cup. Now that we have groundwork established and we know exactly where to place our hero. We're going to place a cup of tea there. The cup is going to be filled with tea which is hot and makes sense in this specific scene because you're creating a cozy scene in the cold months. It's autumn so pumpkins make sense. Note that I put pumpkin so they're colorful around the perimeter where there is some color on the scarf. It put white little pumpkins. I sort of congregated them on the whiter or creamy sweater. It doesn't actually act as an additional color pop, but it acts as an additional layer. It adds a bit of texture. Usually a good rule of thumb is to congregate like elements. Colorful pumpkins in one end, or you put them in threes, according to the rule of odds. Was the orange cup, two orange pumpkins worked really well, because then you have three elements. Then the white pumpkins, they just blend in with the background, but also give a bit more texture and interests. Then you start with alternating the cups. I have a green cup, I have a green pumpkin. Usually when they start shooting, I prepare a tray full of cups of tea. Some are lighter, some are darker, some are just mugs, some are old vintage tea cups, and they're all in different colors. Then I just work by substituting one with the other and see which one works the best. Sometimes it's more than one. Then I just go deeper and really zoom in on those props that I use to support it, to make it stand out even more. Next, because it's a winter or because it's an autumn cold scene, its a cozy scene, I'm going to get fairly light. Also because my light was going outside, it becomes a bit darker. Perfect set-up for the fairy lights to shine or for the candles to be added. I also went to the park and foraged some Virginia creeper, and I've woven it into a race. I placed it against the wall and I put those fairy lights around it as well along with the pumpkin. I've also altered the base. Initially the base was that a beautiful green plate, but now I have layered a few wooden blocks to support my cup, just like this. Then basically you just start putting things around. But there is a thought process that has to go in. You don't just put everything that you have around. You have to make sure it's a specific number. It's all odd number rather than the even number. The white blends in with white, the colors stay where the colors are, there is some contrast as well. Sometimes if you want to make something stand out, you could do it by surrounding it with texture. Or you could place it on a color that's darker. If it's a light cup, light cup would work really well on a dark board, for example. Dark tea looks really well when milk is poured into it. But whenever you add a human element to it just make sure it makes sense. If you're photographing cup, your hand could be reaching out to take that the cup, or it could be pouring milk or it could be a pouring tea out of the teapot so that human element immediately brings the still life to another level. It becomes even more relatable. A person who's looking at it, they can imagine themselves in that scene, or they can imagine themselves being the recipient of that cup that's being put there. There's always just think up of what props to add and what props to take away and really be meticulous about not overwhelming your scene. In this last photo, that's one of my favorites. After we've added some milk to the tea, I added some anise star flowers on top, which makes sense with masala tea in the winter or in the autumn time in the colder months. I also added some berries that they foraged off the trees and I made sure that the thread is not overly saturated. I desaturated it and I deepened the color by decreasing the luminance. The cup still stands out. As I was talking about the contrast, you'll notice that the tea inside the cup is sort of light, milky creamy. I put those anise star seeds on top and they're darker. Already you're taking advantage of the contrast. Dark goes well with light, light goes well with dark. It makes sense, it's the way logic works for our eyes. Here is another shot of action as well. It's where I pour the tea out of the teapot. I particularly like that whenever there is something transparent, if there is some direct light or something that's shining through the transparent object or transparent stream of water. It creates for the extra cozy moment, it creates some magic. If I placed, like in here, I placed my fairy lights behind this scene. They shine through the tea that's being poured into the cup. All of those little nuances, little elements, they all add up. As they say, the devil is in the detail, it makes you want to be part of that scene. Now that I have identified my favorite shot or shots, I'm going to edit it. Editing something is very important because a photo that comes out straight out of the camera is sort of unfinished. Think about it is as a cake or a cupcake. You've baked it and it's delicious. But without frosting, it's sort of unfinished. Something is missing. By editing it, you're adding a bit of a frosting or a bit of a glaze on top to really make it shine and to make it absolutely irresistible. This is what we are going to do in the next lesson. I'm going to take you through how to edit on your phone using Lightroom Mobile app. I'm going to share some of my favorite VSCO filters with you as well to make your photos stand out and be engaging on Instagram. 11. Editing on Your Smartphone: Editing, is it necessary? Is it absolutely needed? Yes, yes, and yes. When your photo comes out of camera, it's still raw, it's mendable, it's bendable. It has a lot of potential, but it's not finished. It's like a cupcake that comes out of the oven. Yes, it smells delicious, it looks beautiful, but it's not as good as when it is being covered by frosting. Think of editing as adding the cherry on top, that frosting that elevates your baked good to the next level. Think of editing as a necessary part of delivering the photo, of attracting clients. To demonstrate, you can see the difference between something that's right out of the camera to something that's been already presented and edited. I'm going to share my cozy edit formula utilizing Lightroom and VSCO. This formula is specific for warm, cozy, autumnal edit. Prepare to take your screenshot here. Then I'm going to go in depth of how I've done it and I'm going to demonstrate it in the video. Now that we covered step-by-step styling, let's go step by step through editing process. I like to start in Lightroom and then I switch to VSCO to apply the filter. In Lightroom, once you open the mobile app on your phone, this is what it looks like. First and foremost, I look at the crop tool. I need to make sure it's the right size for Instagram. For Instagram, if I'm going to use it there, I'm going to select four by five. I'm going to make sure the grid is on and I'm selecting it. Either the cup is in the middle, in between the two grid lines, or the cup is on the corner. I think I like it more in the middle. It's going to be here. Look at the intersections of the grid. The pumpkin is in focus there on the intersection that's on the top right. Then on the top left intersection, there are the lights that come together. On the bottom, there is the wooden block that comes in focus on one side, and on the other side, there are the spices. There. I think I'm happy here. Select. Then I'm going to go to Profiles, which is right next to crop. Profiles, there are many ways to use profiles. There is basic, artistic, black and white, modern, and vintage. My go-to are usually modern and vintage. In modern, for a warm, cozy look, I would use modern 02. But today, I want to use vintage. Vintage 04 is your best friend if you're thinking of something that's slightly faded, something that's very nice autumnal. You'll notice that it's slightly brighter than the modern one. Vintage 04 is the one I go for today. I'm going to reduce the strength a little bit. Next, I'm going to Auto. I think this is the easiest way to do things. Then I'm going to adjust and tweak every one of the light settings and color. This is auto, so you see, it became slightly warmer. Let's look what it did to the light. The contrast has been boosted, the highlights are slightly removed, shadows have been lifted, so shadows have been taken away. I quite like shadows. So I'm going to add them in a bit. Whites, I like to boost because if you boost whites, it creates an impression of sunshine and brightness shining through your feed. Blacks, I like to reduce because then all the blacks will become blacker. With whites boosted, all the whites will become whiter. Thus we are adding artificial contrast to the photo. Then I'm going to go into curves. I'm going to just pull one corner up for a bit of fading that's consistent with film. Then I'm going to go in here because right now, I have this image slightly flattened and a bit blur. I'm going to pull it down to sharpen the focus and to increase contrast in the middle like that. I think I'm quite happy with that. Yes, done. I'm going to go into curves again, and I'm going to select this one. Here, the shadows are represented on the left. I'm going to reduce them a bit and make them darker. The lights, I'm going to make even lighter. The midtones, I'm quite happy with. Done. Next, let's go into Color. The vibrance needs to be boosted. I always boost vibrance a little bit more. Sometimes, it's plus 10; sometimes, it's plus 16; sometimes, they go all the way to 30, like I'm going to do it right now. Then 28, 30, so boost it to 30, 31. Then we're going to go into individual colors and I'm going to particularly pay attention to yellow. Mix yellow to select and then look at the hue. If you go towards left on the hues, it goes towards orange. If you go towards right, it goes towards green. I want to go towards orange because it's autumn. Autumn is all about orange leaves. I'm going to go about minus 18, minus 20. Then I'm going to desaturate things a bit, about minus 20 as well, minus 22, just a little bit, minus 19 perhaps. Then I'm going to go into orange and I'm going to lift the orange just a bit in terms of luminance. I'm going to make them slightly brighter, just like that. I'm going to keep reds as they are and greens as they are as well. Then I'm going to go into Effects. I'm going to boost clarity a little bit. Dehaze it a little bit so it's not as faded and it's more in sharp focus and it's more concrete, there is more clarity, more contrast. I'm going to increase texture because I really like texture and there are wonderful knits here to highlight and texture on the leaves. Texture goes way up for me. I'm going to create a vignette. I usually don't go too deeply into it, so minus five to minus 12 would be my ideal. Then I'm going to go into Detail. I'm sharpening it quite a bit, about one-third of the way or one-fourth. I'm going to boost the radius to 1.5. I'm going to mask it. If I mask it, then only the main elements are going to be sharpened. The outlines of objects will be sharpened, but not the insides. If you're sharpening something that is skin, for example, somebody's face, you don't necessarily want to see all the fine lines. You only want the outlines sharpened, so this is the tool to remember. I'm going to reduce the noise a little bit. I'm going to go noise reduction about 20. I'll leave contrast intact and I'm going to go with color noise reduction to about 50. Now, I'm going to do some selective editing. I go all the way to the start. I press on selective and then I tap on top here on the brush. I select the size and I want to reduce it by dragging my finger down. What I'm going to do is to brush on a little bit of highlights. I'm going to go into light. I'm going to increase highlights. Wherever the highlights naturally fall, I'm going to color them in with my finger. Just natural highlights a bit on the pumpkin, a bit on the cup, a bit here on the board, a bit on the pumpkin here, a bit on the pumpkin on the side of the window, pumpkin here as well. I'm going to highlight all of the lights as well to make them shine even brighter. I'll highlight a little bit for the flowers as well and inside of the cup. I want my highlights to shine. This is before, and this is after. I'm quite happy with the snap the way it is. As you see, the difference is quite subtle. But suddenly, this photo became quite a lot warmer. Perhaps I'm going to slightly go back into the Crop and may straighten it just a little bit so that the window frame is straight and that the cup is not tilted. Just like that. I'm going to select one more time and I'm going to try radio selection now. I'm going to just drag it along here. My main element, of course, here is my cup and my pumpkin here. Everything around the cup, everything that's been highlighted by this round shape is going to be edited. You see it in red. If I want everything outside of this circle to be edited, I'm going to click "Invert" and the outsides will be edited, but I want to stay inside. What I'm going to do, I'm going to do boost the saturation a little bit, just like that. I'm going to increase the sharpness. I'm going to add a bit of dehazing and clarity. I'm going to boost the whites a little bit and decrease the blacks to add more sharpness, more pizazz to the photo. Let's have a look. This is before, this is after. Quite a lot more pronounced, quite a lot more attractive, and it pulls you in. You can see this cup, you can see the tea in the cup, and you want to reach out and grab it. I'm going to export this into my camera roll and I'm going to open up VSCO to apply filter. Here, I opened up VSCO application and I'm going to go through my favorite filters to see what needs to be done. My favorite one is A6. It works quite well here, but I think it's slightly too strong, so I'm going to reduce it to about half of its intensity. Going to ease. The ease will have more of the vintage feels. This, or this, perhaps this one, it's even warmer, even nicely. It's quite intense. Without it, this is what we had. With it, all the way, it's quite warm and fiery. It's as if you are by the fireplace. It's very hygge. I'm going to stop at about 7.4. That's it. If I want to boost anything at all, I can crop in here. I can boost the exposure up and down. I can sharpen. I could add contrast. Contrast is a wonderful tool to use. Clarity is nice to use as well. Saturation, I think we are quite warm here. Tone, I could lift up the shadows if I want, but I did the opposite. In fact, the white balance is where you could make it warmer, make it greener, and more pinkie or cooler. Skin tones, I like to reduce the skin tones a little bit. There are less yellows and more oranges. Vignette, since I already applied vignette, well, I might imply it a little bit more here. You could apply green, you could fade it, you could do the split toning with tinting, shadows and highlights different colors. If you're paying for the version of VSCO, if you're a monthly subscriber, you could even tweak individual colors just like in Lightroom. 12. Promoting Your Work: So far we spoke about setting up a scene, setting up a shoot at home, preparing for it, engaging a client, communicating with them, shooting your scene, editing your photo, and choosing your best shot yet. What you do with it next is, the best thing to do is to promote it on Instagram or any social media. But for purposes of this class, we're going to focus on Instagram only. At the beginning, there is a lot of freedom and you tend to experiment and everyone is very forgiving because initially everyone support each other and you don't have to be limited to a specific niche. But then once you start settling into a certain routine and working out your voice and esthetic, it's a little bit self limiting, and it creates certain rules for you to create within a dimensions to follow. You will tend to use certain filters that are the same in order to create a consistent look. You are going to start to curate your gallery. You're going to make sure every object within your feed actually relates to each other. Now is the time to really focus on quality over quantity. If you read online they say, you should post two, three times a day if you really want to grow. If you were to post two, three times a day and you were only going to post your best shots, that's a lot of shooting to do. If you're posting a few times a week, post on the same days. Example Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or whatever works best for you. Or if you're only able to post on the weekends, create all of your content on the weekend, and you can spread it out over the week or you could just post on Saturdays or something like that. Because then your followers will know consistently to come back to you on that particular time during the day that you're likely to post. It's very important that you put out only the best photos. You need to be confident that you've done your best, and if it didn't work today, it's not your fault. It's because it depends on where you are on the wheel of fortune with Instagram. I've noticed with all of my friends, sometimes they're up on the top, sometimes they're down on the bottom. But I've noticed that new accounts, the ones that have under 10,000 followers, are actually much more engaging than the accounts that have been long established and that have over 100,000 followers. Don't despair, come back tomorrow, keep trying, and post again. If Instagram realizes that you are here to stay and that you are here to engage with other people, it will bring other people to engage with you. Curate your feed as if you would curate a gallery. Don't create a jumble of things in your feed which don't belong together. You have to treat it as a puzzle where every piece goes well together with the other in order to create a bigger picture. Also it's important to use analytics. In order to have access to analytics, you need to become a business account. Anyone could become a business account. As soon as you start getting more followers and you have more than 10,000 followers, you're able to add links to your stories, and it's very important particularly when brands want to engage you. They want you to link to their particular sales page, and they want people to shop through you, and they're going to give you a specific link so they could track it. All the marketing tools are very important. Lastly, engage with other people and have fun. If Instagram or any social media outlet is not fun, it's not worth doing. Try to take another lens, if you have a creative block there are many ways to come out of the creative block and I could discuss it in the next class if you want. But if it's not fun, it's not worth doing. Make it fun. Don't spend too much time for it, limit your time on Instagram, and enjoy. Look at it as a creative process and a social platform rather than I'm only there to sell. There are some really good apps for Instagram for that particular feed curation. The one that I use myself and that I suggest to others is Unum, and I'll have it in the resources. It's something that could be used for free. It's basically a grid into which you pre-populated with some photos, and it lets you reshuffle them in order that you want to see them and to post them on Instagram. It's a third party app, but it helps you just manage your time a bit better. It's worthwhile sitting down for 15-20 minutes at the end of the week or on the weekend when you have time and arranging into pre-populating your future feed for the next week. Lets go in a bit more detail what goes into a successful post. A successful post is going to be a post that was in most engagement on it in the first 30-45 minutes. If that happens, congratulations. There is a chance that it's going to end up on Explore page. There is a chance that it might go viral. There is a chance that it might attract attention of friends of your friends. For this, your post has to be really best quality. People need to save it. People need to share it with other accounts. People need to comment on it and like on it. This is what determines how the algorithm works. This is how to crack the algorithm. If your post is important enough, funny enough or entertaining enough or educational enough, people are going to save it. They will save inspiration. Like if you were to save Pinterest, this is the future of savings. They will want to refer to it for the future, so it's like a super like and it's the most important feature determined by algorithm, whether to show it to other people or not. This is where your value of the post is represented, is whether people save it. You could always see it in analytics, in your insights, how many people saved your post. Then how many people shared your post with others. If you share a post with three people and those three people are going to share it with other three people, it's going to be a huge network of people that are going to share your post. Also, hashtags. People are asking, should I use hashtags? Absolutely, yes. How many hashtags to use? The opinion is divided on that. But I suggest using all 30 hashtags, it doesn't hinder your Instagram engagement in any way. If anything it actually helps because your photo might appear in all of those hashtags, and people are bound to look at the hashtags. There is a possibility of following a hashtag, so people are doing it and they are going to see it right away as it appears. When choosing the hashtags, I would suggest being more niche, more localized, going small rather than large. You could use a few of the large ones, but the chances of being seen there are very miniscule, so think about hashtags that have maybe 1,000 tags to them or 10,000 or under 100,000 tags. This way, there is enough engagement there. It is popular, but it's not overcrowded. That could be 50 posts today, and if people are following hashtags, they're going to see all 50. If there is only one post today, not enough engagement. I wouldn't bother with that one. Also geotag your post because sometimes people want to travel to a particular destination and they want to see what the destination is about. This way, you can get people coming to your account from just that tag, which is very important. Hashtags, geotagging, tagging brands in your posts very important if you are posting their product, very important for them to notice you. Make sure it's engaging for your new followers and have fun. Because what's not fun, it's not worth doing. 13. Conclusion: They've covered such a lot in this class. We went all the way from the start, from shooting irregular product on continuous wide background to using natural light and manipulating it, whether we need to diffuse it or reflect it. How to think in terms of space and equipment you have available, how to create your own backgrounds, how to use props you already have in your own home, and how to shop for new props, what things to look for, and what would be a great prop cast for your own little home studio. We demystified composition and learned how to understand it, how to assemble elements within the frame, for a more balanced and harmonized. Look how to use color theory and color wheel to balance colors successfully to make sure they match and go together well and don't conflict with each other. How to highlight your product and how to edit those photos on your mobile device using Lightroom and Instagram. We also learned how to use those photos on Instagram to Lightroom and VSCO. We also learned how to use those photos on Instagram, when to post, how to post, how to engage, and how to take advantage of multiple tools available for engagement. I hope you enjoyed my class. I hope you understood a bit more about Instagram algorithm and the value of creating value and sharing with other people. I can't wait to see the class project. I can't wait to see the product that you shoot on the white continuous backdrop. I can't wait to see what you do with it to edit it, and how you're going to use it on Instagram. So don't forget, you need to shoot a product you already have in your own home using natural light only, using continuous white background or any background of your choice, and to edit it for Instagram and write a caption. Please share your work with the class and me, and I can't wait to see what you create. Thank you very much.