Having great pictures of your products is a huge part of successfully selling. With this in mind, many of us face the decision, do we try our hand at photography or do we pay for a professional? We thought we’d find out exactly what goes into being a photographer and get some expert advice on taking great pictures for retail from Holly from Holly Cade Photography.
About Product Photography:
Holly: Think about when you’re scrolling through Facebook or on a social media feed, reading a magazine or out and about and you see a billboard or a poster. I bet you are more likely to take interest if there is a great, eye-catching image, rather than a lot of text. Imagery is very important in advertisement; it can make or break an ad. According to jeffbullas.com, in an ecommerce site, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product.
Shinys: How can I make my products stand out?
Holly: Show them off the best that you can. This might be shooting them on a white or plain coloured backdrop so no one is distracted from what you want them to look at. Putting your product in a situation you might find them in and making them look good works too; so for example putting a kitchen appliance in a great looking kitchen with artificial or natural light.
Holly: You then really have two options. The first being to try and set up a studio as best you can at home. Daylight bulbs in lamps are much better than ordinary light bulbs as the light they give off is much less yellow. Try and defuse and soften the light too for a more even coverage with things such as slightly see-through fabrics and papers. (You could also use natural light, which is much more temperamental but if it’s sunny or slightly overcast this could work too) This can all be very confusing, frustrating and time consuming, so the second option is and that I would recommend going to a decent Photographer. Obviously I would say this right? But they (should) know what they’re doing and this is their job! They can take pictures; you can concentrate on making more products!
Shinys: Should you use props or a model?
Holly: It can’t hurt to have images of both. You then have the choice when you upload them to your online shop for example, or when you make some promotional material such as brochures and adverts.
Shinys: What’s the difference in artificial light and natural light?
Holly: In my experience artificial light is much more reliable and is a lot easier to control and give the effect you want. Often, I think you can tell when something has been photographed in a studio environment as opposed to on location and usually it looks more professional. Of course if you want to have a more natural look to your images, natural light allows you to achieve this easier, but so many times I’ve planned a shoot and the weather has not been on my side. You can go with the change of weather on some shoots and have a successful one anyway, but more often than not it puts a rather large cloudy, rain filled spanner in the works.
Holly: The short answer is no, but it helps a lot. Better cameras allow you (amongst many things) to have higher resolution of images so they can be used on all types of things and not look pixelated. A better camera doesn’t automatically equal a better photographer though; you have to know how to use them or be prepared to put in a lot of hours to learn to do so. If you have no interest in learning photography, no knowledge about it and still want to get an expensive SLR camera, I would strongly recommend not doing so. There are such a range of powerful cameras on the market these days that are much easier to use and designed for people who have no photographic knowledge. They allow you to use them in more automatic modes and still get good results, which I think means you’re more likely to use them for everyday and personal things. You get your money’s worth and better quality images all round.
Shinys: What’s it like working as a full time photographer?
Holly: For me, at the moment it’s a mixture of hard work and keeping myself going. It takes a long time for you to reap the rewards and contrary to popular belief; it’s often not a very glamorous job, lots of lugging around equipment, hours spent on the computer and Photoshop. Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining! I love my job dearly and I couldn’t imagine myself in any other profession, but I think many people misunderstand and think it’s an easy way to make money and a lot of it is sat around doing nothing and still getting lots of money coming in. Hoh hoh, if only!
Holly: I think I market myself as a laid back but professional friendly neighbourhood Photo-girl!
Shinys: Do you do big events like weddings too?
Holly: Yes, I love weddings! I love being such a huge part of someone’s big day and it’s an honour to be asked to take on such a role. I think as a photographer weddings are either ‘for you’ or your worst nightmare, fortunately I fall into the ‘definitely for me’ category! Yes there can be pressure, but I’ve done a fair few now and I think the pressure, rather than stressing me out just spurs me on to work hard and do a great job.
Holly: Both are very different. Models are use to a photo shoot environment, they know what will look good and need a lot less confidence boosting and direction. I really enjoy working with both though. The general public often give you more off the cuff genuine reactions and expressions, which is more what my style of photography is about.
Shinys: How important is social media to your business?
Holly: I don’t know how I would have got all the work I have done and continue to without it. Social media is a free and often very visual platform that most people use every single day. I do sometimes find it weird though when I get talking to someone in the ‘real world’ and they talk to me about things I’ve put up on my Facebook or Instagram, sometimes from months ago. It’s a reminder that real people actually look at the stuff you put out into the interwebs! Somehow a little thumbs up or written comments don’t have the same kind of impact!
Holly: Lot’s of fun! The products themselves are so happy and fun for a start, you can’t help but have a smile on your face and think of cool ideas to shoot with them and show them off. It does help when the owner is one of your best friends of course! Helen puts in so much time, care and love into her work and she is such a talent and an all-round amazing human!
Shinys: Well, now we feel loved! Thank you. Lastly, where can we find your work and how can we contact you?
Holly: www.hollycade.co.uk is my main hub on the internet if you like. There are portfolios of my work, my blog and ways to get in touch including links to my social media accounts. But hey, I’ll put some here too:
Holly has been our main campaign photographer since we launched Shiny Creations. She has been a close personal friend of mine since high school and any shoot we have together is full of laughing, dancing to music and experimenting with poses and props. Be sure to check out her website and follow her on social media.