My own love of photography actually came about in a really slow, organic way. Years back, I painted and sold my work + stationery on Instagram and Etsy. Because online shopping is all about the images (you can't touch it, feel it or try it on), I was always looking for new ways to arrange + style things, and tips to make my photos better. I would spend hours a day shooting the same things over and over, trying to get the photo to match the vision in my head. Obsessive, yes, but slowly, that obsession turned into a full-on love affair and eventually, my full-time job. Learning things the self-taught/trial-and-error route has it's downsides, but I think one of the upsides is really learning what works (and why), and what doesn't work (and why). It's like the difference between reading a recipe and cooking the dish yourself.
When I had the chance to speak at Craftcation a few months back, this was one of the topics I was most excited to talk about because I GET IT. It's hard to stand out on Instagram (or Etsy or Facebook or wherever you share your photos). It's hard to constantly think of compelling ways to share your work or products and to know how exactly, they can be better, especially when photography isn't your full-time job! Whether your work is as an artist, a blogger, a maker, or an influencer, we all want better photos (I'm still obsessively learning, guys.) So below, I've listed some of my own top tips for taking better brand photos and a link to the presentation from Craftcation (it's geared towards small business owners) if you want to see more. (And if you have other questions, email me or leave them in the comments below!)
1. HONE YOUR STYLE- The best way for anyone- brand, person, or business- to stand out online is to have a clear, distinct style. You can't and won't appeal to everyone so trying to create photos that appeal to everyone actually just waters down any unique perspective you have. Do you like clean, minimal shots? Moody, dark colors? Lots of pink? Whatever it is that feels the most "you", let that shine. It doesn't mean every. single. shot. has to be in one narrow theme (although it can!), it just means you want to have an overall vibe that your followers/customers/fans can recognize as your own.
2. WHAT'S THE FOCUS?- If you're taking a photo with an end goal of selling something (products, services, brand awareness... basically anything besides just sharing to share, ha.), you probably want to consider what the focus of the photo is. Too many props can make it too busy and unclear what to look at, too few can feel uninteresting. One of the things I've come to realize through working with different brands, is that photos that feel TOO sales-y or highlight the product without also telling a story or showing something engaging, don't perform as well. When I'm working on product photos, one of the questions I always ask myself is "would this photo be interesting without the specific product?" If not, I try to play around to tell more of a story with it.
3. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX- It's easy to get into a rut with what you shoot + share online. And while some consistency is good (see point 1. above), if it's TOO consistent, you run the risk of it feeling stale. Think of ways you can share your content in new light, while still keeping the brand's core identity-if it's jewelry, can you show it in a new or unexpected setting (i.e. outdoors)? If you share travel pics, can you show yourself in a signature pose in unique or unusual locations? Or a bunch of different poses in front of similar locations? If it's makeup, can you show it in a new setting (i.e. spilling out of a purse, on a vanity) or create "makeup art" on a canvas besides a face? The goal is not to go so far that it feels weird or out-of-place, but just to experiment with new ways of showing the same thing. Part of creating engaging content is keeping people engaged!
4. DETAILS MATTER- So cliche but so true. You know when you see something great and you can't quite articulate why it's so good but you just know it is? It's all in the details. Shadows, background colors, stray crumbs, loose hair... whatever it is, they do matter! Your eye craves symmetry and order (or perfect asymmetry... which is still a kind of order) and even when you can't pinpoint it, it registers it as "yessss this looks good." Over time, I've found that my very favorite photos (both ones I've taken and ones by others) are ones that leave no detail overlooked. And on the flip side, the photos that have a really cool concept but just aren't executed as well (whether because I was lazy or just didn't catch something) always make me cringe a little. Take the time to find the best lighting you can, clean up little details, and spend a few minutes editing those details in Photoshop or an app if you need to. I promise it will make the whole image that much better.