Product Photography: Capturing Photos to Sell Your Prints | Faye Brown | Skillshare

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Product Photography: Capturing Photos to Sell Your Prints

teacher avatar Faye Brown, Faye Brown Designs

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction to class


    • 2.

      The importance of good photography


    • 3.

      Using clean plain backgrounds


    • 4.

      Creative backgrounds


    • 5.

      Using mock up photography


    • 6.

      Post production tips in Photoshop


    • 7.

      Recap - do's and don'ts


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About This Class


You've created a wonderful greeting card, wedding invite or wall print and now you need to photograph it to show it off in all it's glory... but where do you start? and what sort of background should you use? and how can you tweak your photo in photoshop after? And what about using ready made mock up photography?! 

This class will take you through all your options for creating that perfect product shot whilst keeping in mind your brand message. We will look at a few techniques and lots of examples of product photography. 

If you have products to sell but have always found the photography bit tricky then this class is for you! 

Meet Your Teacher

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Faye Brown

Faye Brown Designs

Top Teacher


Hey Everyone! Thank you for checking out my classes here on Skillshare. I’m a designer and animator living in the English countryside with my young family. After completing a Graphic Design degree in Bournemouth, I started my career working in London in motion graphics designing and art directing title sequences for TV and film. 10 years later I decided it was time to go freelance, shortly before we started our family. 

These days I work on a variety of projects focusing on my passions of typography and branding. Following the success of my first Skillshare class - The Art of Typography I’ve created a range of classes all aimed to help you guys in different areas of design, typography, branding, creativity, photography and freelancin... See full profile

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1. Introduction to class: So you designed an awesome greeting card, or maybe a wonderful wedding invitation, or a stunning print. But now you'd like to photograph in the best way possible to show off in all its glory. Welcome to this class, all about photograph in your print products. In this class, we will look at the various techniques you could use, along with some creative approaches to making your products and photos really stand out and enhance your brand message. For any of those who haven't taken any of my previous classes, my name is Faye Brown and I'm a designer and Animator based in the UK. I have many classes on Skillshare now on subjects such as branding, typography, and creativity. Over the years, I photographed many of my print products, and I've also done wedding photography, product photography, and landscapes alongside my design work. I've never had any formal photography training. So I want you to know that you too can photograph your products without spending a fortune on a professional photographer. In this class, we will talk about photographing our products using digital SLR, cameras, and also using smartphones. We will briefly talk about using ready to go mockups and placing your artwork in [inaudible] I will show you some post production tips in Photoshop to bring out the best of your images too. There will be plenty of examples and tips shared throughout this fun class. Although a lot of the advice can be applied to other products and this class is mostly aimed at photographing print products, such as greeting cards, writing stationary, and prints. If you do sell products such as jewelry or crafts, you will still gain quite a lot from this class, although we don't specifically talk about those items. So please join me in this class and take your product photos to the next level. 2. The importance of good photography: You've designed your awesome card or invite or print, and now you want to promote it and sell it. A great photo can help. It will make people see the design in action and let them visualize a real thing. A bad photo can have the opposite effect, even if the design is really good. A good photo will make your product more desirable for magazines or blogs to feature. It can help you look professional. It can also help communicate part of your brand message and help with brand recognition. Think back to this stylized silhouettes for the Apple iPod. Seeing an image like that made it instantly recognizable and we all thought about the iPod. Or simply doing a Google search for Dior photography, you can see how all the imagery becomes part of the brand. It all has a similar classic high-end look. So take some time to research businesses that you admire and ones that are similar to you and your line of business. How are people photographing their products? Do they all look like part of the same family? Do the products lift the design or distract from the product and not show it off in the best light? It's okay to be a little critical, as that's how you can learn. Think about how you might want to do your photography different. Try not to copy anyone else's style. You don't want to look like someone else, but be inspired by photos you like, make notes, and write down, let's say five objectives that you really want to achieve from your photography. I'll give you a few pointers, but you can get more specific depending on your line of business. They might be along the lines of tell your brand story of eco-friendly materials. Look high-end and expensive. Look feminine. Show the fun quirky side of my brand. Communicate the handmade elements of my cards. Keep it clean and simple, be edgy or grungy. Now if you need a little help with your brand, I've got quite a few classes on the subject on here, but I'll point you to two. One is branding your creative business, part 1 about defining your brand, and the second class is a shorter class, all about defining your brand personality. The links are in the notes below and I'll also post them in the discussions panel. So hope they will help if you're having trouble thinking about how to create a brand around your design work. So once you have a good idea of what you really want to achieve from your photography, we can move on to the various ways to photograph your products. If you watch the videos all the way through, you might start to get a good idea of what approach will work best for you and your products. 3. Using clean plain backgrounds: Here's my general setup for what I use when photographing clean product shots. I also take photos of various plumbing parts for a company, and using this photography tent is great for getting clean white backgrounds. It's also good for getting the same look for clean shot of a greeting card with a few props. You can buy these tents relatively cheaply and here's a few on Amazon. You can also make your own. There is a post on these go share blog giving you instructions so the link is below in the notes here. Love talk was use extra lamps to provide more lights. I tried to photograph in daylight in a well lit room. So most of the time I get away with simply using the tent and my DSLR camera with external flash. The great thing about an external flash is that you can direct the flash in different angles. So you can avoid getting harsh shadows and bright burn out areas where maybe the flash it bounced off a glossy card for example. For these photos I directed the flash up towards the ceiling. Also, most of the time I just leave the camera setting on pay which with an automatic setups for the ISO and shutter speeds. Here is a photo I took within the tent using my iPhone. It's certainly not as clean as using DSLR, but if I had additional lamps I might have been able to get that background a bit cleaner. But sometimes just using a white piece of card can work as well. Here's a couple of photos I've taken just with my iPhone on a white piece of card. So decent daylight and a few props to add interest. The background is simple and doesn't take away anything from the card design. Trying a few alternative angles can add little bit of interest. This can be useful for photos you might want to take instantly and post on say Instagram for example. If you are sending professional photos for a potential feature in a magazine, I would try to take photos with a decent SLR camera wherever possible. Let's think of good reasons to use simple plane white backgrounds. Certainly for these card designs, I wanted the intricate nature of the topography to be the main focus. I didn't want background imagery destructing the viewer from the main focus point. A couple of extra props can help add a little warmth and feeling to an otherwise standard photo image. If you're selling your cards online you would need to state clearly that the card doesn't come with the added props as some people might assume that they do. Just like if you took a photo of a print in a frame for illustration purposes to make people visualize it on their wall, just make sure you state clearly the frame isn't included. That is of course presuming, you don't supply the frame you might. Simple clean white backgrounds are preferred by a lot of magazines where you might want to be featured. If you look at my product pages in certain magazines, the layout is clean and the products or look cut out on background. If you want your product to be featured, this makes the job easier for the magazine editors. You can always send two options, one on a background and one on a white background. Just make sure that the background fits with the overall aesthetic of any publications you might be sending your products to. In the next video, we will talk about using more creative backgrounds. 4. Creative backgrounds: Simple, clean white backgrounds just might not be your cup of tea. Although I do think it's worth you getting a few shots in case you need them, specifically, for magazine features, but let's chat now about photographing your products on a range of backgrounds. Quite a few years back, I designed these soccer kick cards. They were very simple in the design and I felt that the product photo could allow for a little more interest, so I tried shooting them on grass like a soccer field. I think it works well for this particular card. If I shot my typography cards on grass, there would be no link, there's no context. It would just look odd. Think about your designs, whether that's a greeting card or print, and think about creative backgrounds that can help bring your design to life. I designed this save the date card for a wedding and wanted a sky background. I'm not sure this works completely. Firstly, the red wire looks odd against the colors used in the design, and secondly, I think a nice hand holding the card might have worked better. I could change the red wire in Photoshop to fit the design better, but still, I think it looks a little bit odd. Here's a thank you card I did just as a personal project after my son's first birthday. I took a photo of a selection of the toys that he was given as presents to create a thank you card. Then I tried a few different variations of taking the card with different backgrounds. I'm not sure they work all that well. The backgrounds are too busy for the card, as the card is quite a busy photograph. Try to bear those factors in mind too. Another card range I did, I used a brown texture paper within the design, and I felt that this could work on a more textured background. So just for Instagram, I took this using my smartphone. Creative backgrounds can come into their own on social media, as they can give your product a story and warmth, and help the viewer connect emotionally with your product. A great place to start looking for inspiration is Instagram, and looking at Instagram accounts of some of your favorite brands. Let's take a look at Paperchase, which is full of lovely setup product shots showing off their range of stationery and products, but think about getting inspired by these; like this photo of hot cards with some cool background accessories. Also using blank colored paper is a good technique to break up a solid color background. Think about your brand. Maybe you have a brand color palette that you could try and stick to, so that would add continuity to your brand photography and your brand recognition. On the other hand, let's look at the Instagram account of the design studio Tom Pigeon. They mix up photos of their prints and products with some behind the scenes and the odd photo of outside shots of geometric shapes or sunsets they still link to their work, and their general ascetic. They use clean backgrounds for their products, which reflect the very graphic nature of their design work and keep the focus purely on the design. There's a few photos of their prints in situ in a bedroom and dining room, which gives the viewer an idea of how they might look in their house. Their brand message is clearly reflected through the style of their photos. Now let's look at a great case study, some wedding stationary by Katy Clemmans. Some of you, who have taken my previous classes, will be familiar with Katy's design work. She recently launched a wedding stationary range and was happy to share with us her process for taking the promotional photos. In her own words, Katy says she doesn't have a fancy photographic studio. She uses her garden room as it's got great natural daylight, and as you can see in this photo with her daughter, this is her general setup. Katy has a small lighting kit with reflectors that she also might use to soften the light and shadows. She bought a large piece of chip board and painted it white for her background texture. This works well for her design as it adds that little bit of interest and helps lift her designs, especially the ones that will have a lot of white space, it'll help it lift off the background. Katy likes to add a few relevant prompts to give a sense of scale and add some interest. She also says she takes photos without props for sending off to press and other publicity. For the large items, Katy uses her mantelpiece and has clean white walls to carry on the style of that photography. If we now skip over to Katy's Not On The High Street shop, you'll see that she has a similar set-up for other prints she designs, adding some props to give it scale and a story. She would take her photos through a color grading process, after she's taken them, to make sure that the whites are white and all the colors accurate, the original designs, as sometimes a photo can adjust the colors and make the whites a little bit gray. We will talk more about the post-production in a later video. I hope by taking a detailed look into Katy's technique, this will help you figure out what will work for you. Simple and clean, quirky and creative, or can you combine the two? Why not try photographing one of your products using different styles of backgrounds, and see what might work best for you. Try using your smart phone versus your SLR camera, if you do have both. I've been out and about before and taken photos with both, and sometimes preferred the smartphone camera, so don't be discouraged if you don't have an SLR. Just perfect the way you take photos with your smartphone and share your findings in the project gallery. It would be great to see the same card or the same print with a variety of backgrounds, and let's see what is working for you. 5. Using mock up photography: Now you might decide to go down the route of using mock up photography that you place your designs into, whether that's a mock up for a card or some frame mock ups, or whole rooms where you can then place your designs on walls. There is nothing wrong with doing this, I do it quite often for my Miss Printables shop. I have a shop on Etsy selling printable waller and other products. Now whilst I take photos of some of the products to show how they work like this food packaging template set, for my waller I will use stock photography. Let's take this print as an example, I wanted a black painted brick wall. I don't have one of those at home. Now sure, I could have taken a photo of a brick wall and spent some time in Photo shop to make it look like this, or I could spend a few dollars and download it straight away. This is not being lazy, it's being productive. The end result would have been the same but I saved myself a lot of time to get on with something else. You can buy mock-up photography and stock photography of almost anything these days. is a place to get some really good quality artwork, and then you would use Photoshop to comp your designs into place, and I will show you very quickly how to do this in Photoshop in the next video with a car design. Now I want to run through the downside of using mock-up photos. One, you won't be truly original. Using the image like this will look great, but there's nothing stopping someone else using the same image for one of their designs. Two, some online shops aren't keen on using them. For instance, the shop not on the high street states that their main photo of your product must be an original. Three, sometimes mock-up photos look like mock up photos. Am sure if I spent more time on this I could make it look less Compton. The light on the print doesn't look like it's part of the scene, so just be aware that you still might need to do some post-production work in Photoshop. If you're going to go down the mock up route, I'd take some time to really search for imagery that reflects your brand and support your style. Try to get a plank of options so you can easily mix and match. 6. Post production tips in Photoshop: I just want to show you some quick post-production tips within Photoshop just to get your images looking exactly how you want them. I'm going to use this image that I've taken of a Santa letter. This image has come straight from the camera card, I haven't done anything with it yet. Now, my first problem I have with this is that it's quite yellow and I need to lower down some of that yellow tones. To do this, there's two ways you can do it. By selecting on your first layer, you could go to image adjustments, hue saturation, and get your hue saturation controls up that way, or you could do as an adjustment layer and go down to this little pointer here within your layers palette and select hue saturation in that way. That way you can turn on and off this layer if you decide that you don't want that layer affected in the same way that you've just applied. So it just gives you a little bit more flexibility. In my hue and saturation controls, you can see that it says Master here. I'm just going to lower that down to yellows, and I'm going to totally desaturate the yellows. You can see that that background's getting whiter. Now, this is great for this design, because it's mostly a red design. It doesn't really need desaturating, the yellows doesn't really affect anything on the design. Now, if your design might have yellows, what you'll probably have to do is select original layer and use the pen tool to draw a path around your product. So I'm just going to do this very quickly just to show you what you might have to do. Because what we're going to end up doing is putting this on two separate layers, so then you can adjust each accordingly. Then in my Paths window up here, I can select my work path, and then just highlight it here with that button there, and then I'm just going to simply copy and paste, so Apple C, Apple V. As you can see, we now have a new layer here, which is the top Santa layer. What I could then do is move my hue and saturation layer in between, and as you can see, that means that the top card now hasn't been affected by that hue and saturation control. I can turn that off and you can see what it looks like with that. Then you can do whatever you need to do with that top layer. So effectively, it's just been cut out and you can edit it more easily. Now, because this one doesn't really need that, I'm just going to delete that top layer now. I'm going to keep this hue and saturation layer because it's taken out that yellow, as you can see if I turn off and on again. But now I want to up my levels a little bit. So again, I'm going to go to adjustment layers and levels. Now, when you open up your levels control, you can see that there's this graph, this histogram here, and basically this is showing you your areas of white and black. When there is nothing in the graph like this area here, that means there's no pixels within that white range. So you're white range goes up to 255. That's a good indicator just to bring down that white range here, now it should brighten up your whites. Again with the blacks, if there's no pixels that are actually that color, bring that in here. As you could see, that has adjusted the shadows around that Santa tummy a little bit there. Then you get this midtone pointer here, and that affects your midtones. So the grays and all the collision between. Then you can just fiddle around with that until you're happy. That's pretty good. I'd be quite happy with that personally on this design. But I'm just going to turn off levels now. As you can see that that make quite a big difference. But let's just turn off levels because the other one you can try is curves. Curves just gives you that little bit more control. So up here, the upper right area of the graph represents the highlights, and the lower left area represents the shadows. Now, we can still adjust the white and black points if I just bring in these bits here and here, so that's doing effectively what we've just done in levels. But curves allows us to play a lot more with the midtones. So curves gives us more options to play with the colors within the image. Now in this image, the levels did a pretty good job as it's a simple design with flat colors. But if you're photographing a more detailed illustration or painting, you might want the option to get those colors exactly right. Within curves, you can just highlight this line and then that makes a point. If I just take this to the extreme, you can see what that's doing by bringing up the whites. If I take it down, you can see what's doing there. I'm just going to adjust it slightly, and then I'm also going to bring the shadows down a little bit there. You can be very subtle within curves. You don't need to do much. Then we can just compare the differences here. This one's using curves. Now, I'm just going to turn off and I'm going to turn on the levels. So with the curves, you can just see that there's a little bit more interest in the color around the Santa belly here, and that they are on the levels. When the level 1 that looks a little bit flatter. So the curves just gives us the option to edit a little bit more within the tonal ranges. I will post a link in the notes which goes into this in much more depth. But as a general rule, and for a quick post-production process, I just bring in the white and black points on the curves. If I just bring it up again, you can click on this quite easily and adjust. So that's quite a good thing. So I can just adjust that again. As a general rule, I will bring in my white and black points on levels, slightly adjust the midtone, and if I don't get the desired result from that, I will then go into the Curves Adjustment level and work with those midtone is a little it more until I'm happy with the final result. Let's just quickly compare that to the original photo that we took. I'll just turn off those layers. As you can see, just by doing those few very simple little things, we've really lifted that photo, made it look crisper, cleaner, and brighter. Let us know how you get on with your post-production techniques. These are quite simple, basic ones, but obviously there's a lot you can do in Photoshop. But I just wanted to keep this simple because sometimes you might be photographing a lot of things and you just want to quickly or process to get those images looking like the real product. Hopefully that helps. One more thing I wanted to show you was how to use mockup artwork that you might have bought from places like Creative Market that we spoke about earlier. I'm just going to use this file from Tomodachi and just show you how to use something like this within Photoshop. Here we have an image. Now, if we look into how this has been set up, all of these mockup artworks really been subs slightly differently, but this one should be quite a good example of what you can expect. We've got various folders within the card folders. We've got your first card here. You can turn on and off. That's really useful that it gives us the pixels that we got to work with so we can set up our artwork properly. That's also an option with the white frame, and then underneath you can see this card base layer, which includes the shadows. Let's just turn that back on. Then we've got this envelope pattern folder. That will give us the options to edit if we want to add our own pattern in there. For the purposes of this, I'm just going to turn off that. Then we've got our envelope layer. Within that, we've got an effect supplied, which is a color overlay. Now this is really useful because all we have to do is double-click on that, then we can change the color of this envelope really easily without affecting any of these shadows and shapes. That's really useful to edit. I'm going to go with a deep red on this envelope. Then in the background folder, this is quite helpful, it's just broken down this marble effect a little bit, so we can turn off the intensity of that if we want to. We can also turn off the background layer completely, so we're on a clean white background. You might even want to put your own backgrounds in there. Now let's start bringing in some artwork. So far I just need to pivot this other file. I've set this artwork up so it's the correct image size, which is this. Do be careful with this thing if you're selling a card, if you want it to be true to the shape and the dimensions of your card. So be careful with that. But let's just copy and paste that into this file. Now, because this design is very like you're just looking down on it, this would be really simple to just place there and then go into my Edit, Transform, Rotate settings, and simply rotate into place. It is that simple. Now, I'm not going to apply that just yet, because a lot of the designs you get, there might be a little bit perspective to the photo that you have to place your artwork into. Your other option you can use is Edit, Transform, Distort, and that gives you the option to actually play with all the outer corners and just get them exactly how you need them within your artwork. That's really helpful if your mockup has a slight bit perspective to it. Then you can just double-click that into place and delete layer behind. Just going to move that one up slightly. So then you have this, your mockup artwork is almost ready. Now, what do I feel sometimes as we do mockup artwork is it can look quite flat. So adding a little bit of a gradient over the top can help. Just select New Layer, and now let's just do a gradient all the way over this artwork. Now, this is my gradient layout. I'm just going to call it grad, so you can see what I'm doing. I now want to create a mask of the card layer behind, let's call that one card. By selecting on the grad, I'm just now going to drag the card layer into this layer here, which is the rectangle with a dark circle in the middle, and that will create a mat of that top layer. So that is exactly my card shape now. Now that just gives me some ways to be able to edit this one, obviously that's too much. I'll just put them onto a linear burn and then I'll drop the opacity down lots, and I can turn that on and off just so you can see the difference. It's very subtle. It just gives it a little bit more interest and doesn't make it quite so flat. I'm also going to try just turning off that background. So I've got it on a clean white background now. That's just one example of how you can use mockups. Obviously you can get mockups with a lot more detail, and that might be objects even placed over the top of your artwork. But this is just basic, like what you can expect with a mockup file. I hope that helps you going forward, if you do go down that route. 7. Recap - do's and don'ts: So as we approach the end of this class, let's just go over a few pointers for do's and don'ts when it comes to photographing your products. Do figure out your brand message and make your photography reflect your brand. Do get a setup which suits you. You might need to experiment a little and you might not crack it straight away, so take some time to experiment and have some fun. Do use good light to show off your products. Do take your images into Photoshop for little bit of post-production, grading, and adjustments before finalizing your image. Do get creative where you can but also bear in mind the simple white background shots for press and publicity. Don't let the backgrounds take over the original design or product. You want your design to be the focus. Everything else should be supporting that, not distracting from it. Don't copy someone else's style. If you find someone who has a really unique creative way of showing off their products, don't just copy them. A lot of setups are pretty standard and we can all start with a standard set up and make it our own. But be inspired by people but do your own thing. Don't get discouraged. It might take you a while to define your style. Experiment, make mistakes. Sometimes you'll have happy accidents. Do have fun with it. I hope you enjoyed this class and you're feeling inspired to create some fantastic product photography for your designs. Please do post your photos and links in the project gallery for us all to see. I'll do my best to comment on every single project uploaded in my classes. If you enjoyed this class then please do check out some of the other classes I teach here on Skillshare. I'd love to see you in another class soon. Bye.