Tuesday 22 November 2016

#DifferenceMakesUs - Product Photography

   You never truly appreciate how important good product photographs are until you put together gift guides or using Etsy's old 'treasury' feature - visual lists of up to 16 products arranged in a four by four square. You can find all kinds of nice products across the internet, but those with cluttered or even just coloured backgrounds can be difficult to incorporate into a curation and often get left out, unless the backgrounds work with the overall collection, but that is rarely the case.
   Of course, when you get into the technical and psychological side of it, white backgrounds are used in the vast majority of product photography for a few simple reasons:
1. White backgrounds keep focus on the product - where you really want people to be looking.
2. It makes online shops as a whole more cohesive, and means that, if you do add a background to a picture or photograph a product in use, it's much more obvious rather than a chaotic mess.
3. It makes online shops as a whole easier to navigate. You can clearly see each product rather than a tangle of colours and shapes.
4. It works with every single product.
   It didn't take me long to realise this, but it makes me quite sad when I'm on Etsy and see some amazing products with terrible pictures because I'm not at all likely to share them, and I don't usually pin things. If I share Etsy products, I do it on my blog and then share that post on twitter, facebook and pinterest.

   To get clean, crisp white backgrounds can be a challenge. Fortunately my products are small since it's just jewellery, so I have many options. Generally a lightbox is advised - a small box white on all sides with a white light shining from above. You can buy them, or you can make them out of some cereal boxes, white paper and a diffused desk light with a white bulb. The white sides reflect the light back all around and a soft or diffused white light softens shadows.
   But I don't use them. Once again, I work more spartan. Instead I just use a plain A4 sheet of white paper and my conservatory. It's built at the back of the house, which means direct sunlight doesn't get in until the afternoon, and because this is England, there's an awful lot of cloud. The cloud acts as a natural diffuser, softening the light and preventing anything direct, giving me soft shadows and, subsequently, softer colours in my images which are easier to edit back to their true colours. It also means that the 'cloudy' setting on my camera is pretty reliable.

   I use GIMP to edit my pictures, which is entirely free. No Photoshop to be found here! And because English weather and my camera's 'cloudy' setting is so reliable, very little editing needs to be done. Generally it's just rotating the image if it isn't straight, improving the light, removing any specks from the background I may not have noticed at the time, and, of course, ensuring that the colours are as accurate as they can be.
   It can be difficult to get a perfectly white background every time, though. Sometimes the cloud is thicker than usual and pictures turn out darker, and to get a white background, I end up over-exposing the colours and increasing contrast, or alternatively washing the colours out. So sometimes I just make do with a very light grey. You'll probably notice that snowy pieces are less likely to have perfectly white backgrounds, and that's because the post-processing affects the snow more than I want it to. Rather than have an over-white and subsequently invisible jar, I settle, once again, for a very light grey.

Previously: Jars    ♥    Next Up: Listing

And don't forget about my final Christmas order dates for domestic and international purchases!

NaBloPoMo November 2016


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