Monday, November 14, 2011

Stationery Staging and Photographing

 I'm spending a lot of time lately trying to take better pictures of all of my designs. Pictures are a huge part of selling your product - if what you're selling doesn't look good in a picture, who's to say it'll look good in real life? It's mind boggling to me when I browse through "successful" websites and see the crappy pictures they have of their products. I'd like to think they are the exception to the rule, because I do genuinely believe good pictures sell better than bad ones.

So, with that, let me first say I am still learning the art of photographic my products. I've come a long way since I first started designing, both in my design skills and in my photography skills. Lately I've been photographing cards for the Believe Notes Holiday Line - I don't have an arsenal of props, so I have to try to make the pictures look good without much prop-age (is that a word? It is now!). I've been using a simple ribbon as my prop, and I think the cards have come out nice. But really, I give most of the credit to my camera for taking nice pictures. Although, the camera doesn't just take pictures without any futsting around on my end. So, here are a few things I've learned about taking pictures of stationery:

1- Use a decent camera. I have a Canon Rebel DSLR
2- Adjust your white balance. This allows the pictures to come out truer to life. Take a picture of something pure white, under the same lighting you'll be using to photograph your stationery, and then use that solid white to adjust your white balance.
3- Have a solid background that isn't white. Some designers can pull off white backgrounds, I can't. I use a slightly textured cream linen fabric and it adds just enough to the pictures without taking away from the designs.
4- Simple props are good. I use ribbon, candle holders, pens etc. My fellow Minted designer, Kimberly of Daily Sip Studios has a great blog post about how to use props. Check it out, learn it, live it. I'm working on it, too!
5- Make sure your lighting is good. I take pictures during the day, next to a nice big window, with three extra lighting sources, all covered in tracing paper to help make things all nice and soft. I try to minimize the shadows, since I want all the focus on my product and not on other contrasty things.
6- Take lots of pictures. I take on average 20 pictures of each design, from all angles.
7- Don't be afraid to digitally enhance. I'll brighten up some pictures, correct warmth and smudge out address information. Who cares? Do you? I don't. In fact, I'm glad I do it!
8- Oh, and lastly, make sure to take plenty of close up detail shots along with some shots of your entire suite/product. Don't be afraid to have things going off the screen, it looks nice and adds interest!

Here are some pictures I've taken recently:

Business Cards using tacks as props
thank you cards using a rock, antique spoons and a candle holder with pens

holiday card with simple red ribbon

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