Friday, May 31, 2013

Product Photography Lesson

I am NOT a photographer.  I like to think that I have a pretty good eye for composition, but I've long forgotten everything I ever learned in junior high about f-stops and aperture.  Actually, I'm not sure that I ever really knew much of that.

For my first pattern, the Zipitt Car Seat Canopy, I started with a photo that I took in my yard with the cheapo camera we had.  It was too close up and well - just didn't really show the design well at all.  The worn car seat that I borrowed from a friend did not help either.

I showed it to the owner of Mama Said Sew (fantastic shop in Fort Collins) and she told me honestly (and kindly) that I should get a better photo and that I should go to a professional.  Eep!  The cost!  After some thought, I decided that if I really wanted to do this pattern thing, I'd better do it right.  How would people know that I had created a great pattern if the photo wasn't any good?

I hired a professional product photographer to take the photos.  He was fantastic.  He made sure that I purchased a brand new car seat for the photo shoot.  Not only did he get great shots of the canopy, he also gave me lots of great advice on my logo design and the arrangement of the photos on the pattern cover.  This man is a true gem.  Doesn't this photo look great?

I also learned that it is important to include some close up shots to show the details.

 As great as this first shoot was, scheduling a professional photo shoot for a single product is not very cost efficient in general.  When it was time for photos for the Little Man Tool Belt pattern,  I didn't want to (OK - well, I really couldn't) take on the expense of a photo shoot for a single product again.   Being a "one woman band" I knew it would take a little while before I had multiple products ready to shoot.  I didn't want to wait.  I thought I'd try my hand at doing the photography myself for the Little Man Tool Belt pattern.  I figured that worst case, I'd have a bunch of crumby photos and I schedule a professional shoot again, right?

Thank goodness for the internet.  I found a great article on how to take product photos.  It explains in very simple terms exactly what settings to use on the camera and where to set up to get the best lighting.  I read it about 10 times and then kept referring to it while I was shooting.  Here is the set-up that the author uses to shoot a picture of a camera.

And this is the end result:

Impressive, eh?

I combined the info from the article with little tricks I picked up during the professional shoot (it's amazing how much tape photographers use to get things to sit just right!).  After lots of painter's tape and toting a piece of foam board around the front yard to try various locations, I finally got the shots I wanted.  Some quick work with Gimp to adjust the white background and I was in business.  What a great feeling to have taken them myself

I wish I had thought about this blog post at the time, because I would have taken pictures showing you more of the process.  Next time - promise!

Hard to tell that this tool belt and all the play tools are stuck down to a piece of foam board from the dollar store with painter's tape all sitting in the garden in  front of my house.

Obviously not good as what the professional photographer would do, but it looks pretty good if I do say so myself.