Product Photography Workshop in July

A big thank you to all the makers that attended our Product Photography Workshop in July! 

The aim was to show Sydney creators how to take gorgeous photos and flatlays of their products using their smartphone. We asked each maker to bring in some props that suited their branding, and edited the images taken using simple editing software on their phones. 


If you missed out on our workshop, here are some tips from the day on how you can improve your product photography to make them pop for social media. 

Maximise content by shooting a flatlay

There’s a reason why flatlays are so popular. It’s not only a beautiful mesh-up of your products, inspiration and creative process all in one spot, it also offers many ways to shoot a layout. Get creative and tell a story about your brand from the objects you are inspired by, the sketches you draw, the equipment and tools that you use to make your products. In the case of Pressed Flower Art by Rachel @thefloralmerchant, she was inspired by botanical illustrations when creating her floral dishes and frames. We styled it using tools like her scissors to show her design process, pressed flowers from her collection mixed with objets d’art and vintage apothecary. It’s all about playing with different shapes and sizes, heights and textures, colours and shades until you find a mix that is just right for you. 


Once you have the flatlay, take multiple stills and videos from different angles and perspectives. Stand on a chair and shoot the flatlay as a whole from the top. Go down low and shoot it from the left or right. Zoom in on a product to feature it. It’s all about maximising the content you can get, and a flatlay offers endless possibilities. You can get so many different shots from one flatlay, and it’s a great way of spreading that content on social media over a period of time so your feed is never empty. 


Use props to tell a story

Candles and homewares brand Balmoral Living uses simple props to make their products come to life. Coral, straw hats and linen tell a story about living by the sea, evoking scents of the ocean like driftwood and sea salt. Plants (we used fake ones) and wood chips conjure up images of crackling fireplaces in a forest cabin, the air warm with the scent of tobacco and sandalwood. When it comes to props, start with something simple. Choose 2-3 objects that complement your product. Stick to one narrative, whether it is showcasing the rustic-ness of a design or how your product can transport someone to a different part of the world, and choose props that tell that story. It’s all about building an emotional connection to your customers, and filling their imaginations with wonder. 


Stick to a colour palette

When you are shooting multiple products, the photo can sometimes look a bit messy and cluttered. One way to make the photo look cohesive is to stick to a colour palette. Group your products into warm or cool colour tones. Lime and Lilac @lime_and_lilac showcases her beautiful earrings against vivid coloured backdrops to make them pop. For her statement gold and leather earrings, she pairs them back with warm earthy tones of ochre, mustards and saffron. Gold trinkets and leopard complement the safari colour scheme, adding a touch of glam to the layout. 


For backdrops that have a complicated print, keep your products simple. Display them on a plain card (that has your logo) so it pops against the patterned background. It’s all about showcasing your product, not your prop. Don’t let complicated prints take over from what truly matters. Keep your product as the main focus so it doesn’t get lost in the photo. 


Think outside the box

When it comes to displaying your product, it helps to think outside the box. Every product is different, and it can take a bit of time to figure out what’s the best way to display it. In the case of suzARTe Creations @suzarte_creations, we wanted to showcase her intricate necklace and earring set. Our first attempt with the jewellery box facing the right way featured the necklace, but not the earrings. This tends to happen with earrings that need to be hung, as it’s all about the angle from which they drop from. We thought outside the box by turning it back to front, and re-positioned her earrings on the box cover. It now looks elevated and striking, and adds dimension to the photo. This is a great way to showcase jewellery sets so customers can see how the pieces look together side by side. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so get creative and play around with your display and angles until you find something that suits you. 


Fill up the empty spaces 

When you style a photo, it’s all about the little details. A food set-up that looks fine in real life can look flat and uninspired through the lens of a phone. Contrast big and small plates to add a sense of depth. Move your biggest platter to the foreground so its size is exaggerated and it fills up the frame. This creates a focal point for your viewer to draw their eye, before it travels to the background where your smaller plates are. Fill up the empty spaces with petite props like cookies, fruit and foliage. You’ll need more than you think, so double the amount of props to make the spread look abundant and plentiful. Add texture by scattering cookie crumbs, salt and pepper flakes or dried herbs across the linen. Lay your cutlery in a slightly messy manner; you want it to look authentic, not perfect. All these little touches will help to fill out an empty space and make your photo look full, vibrant and inspired.  


Make it fun

If you have products that feature colourful prints and patterns, more can be more. Nurgul Eren @nush_handmade creates gorgeous kitschy prints on swimwear that make a splash. To highlight her product, we displayed it against a vibrant green cardboard that matched the broccoli print within her swimsuit. To add some spontaneity to the look, we styled it back with gorgeous little crochet hair clips from her collection. These colourful emoji-style knickknacks really up the ante on her playful aesthetic, making it look bright and cheery. Shooting a few products together help in cross-promotion, so customers can imagine accessorising her swimsuit back with those cute little hair clips.  We used props like colourful sunnies to double down on the beachy vibe of the shoot, resulting in a look that’s made for a day of play out in the sun. 


Edit your photos using phone apps

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to produce good looking photos. There are so many apps on the phone that help you add polish to your shots. For this elegant engraved clip from Annaig’s Gemstudio @agemstudio, we used VSCO to make the photo pop. This can be done by increasing the exposure to make it brighter, increasing the contrast and saturation for more colour, adjusting the temperature for more warmth, and sharpening the image to highlight the details. 


You can also use the Retouch app to remove small blemishes like dust and particles which might not be visible to the eye when shooting. Phone apps are a godsend to the small business owner. Most of us shoot at home on our smartphones (without studio lights or expensive equipment) and apps really help to transform an ordinary photo into one that looks good enough to be posted on the website or social media.


A chair is all you need

A couple of makers asked us if there was a way to shoot glass products (such as photo frames and candles) without showing your reflection, and we discovered that a grey chair provided the perfect solution. When shooting glass, it’s all about the position of your overhead lights which can cause reflections to show up in the photo. Since lights are a lot harder to move (especially if they are situated on the ceiling), a portable chair can be used to shoot from different angles. Simply rotate the chair (with your product on it) in 90º angles until you find a position where the reflection is less obvious. Once you find the right position with the least reflection, move your body slightly to the side until your reflection disappears off the glass. 


This is also an affordable way to shoot commercial-style photos that feature your products against a clean background for the website. Choose a chair in white or light grey with a slightly warm tone (so your background doesn’t look too clinical and cold). A chair with a curved back is great if you want the foreground and background colours to blend well together. 



There you go, I hope these tips help you with your photography. It can be a little scary to start shooting when you are a newbie, but know that you are not alone in this. Start with a simple product and use props to tell a story. Stick to a colour scheme. Shoot from different angles and perspectives. Use apps to edit and polish up your photos. Just like anything, photography is a skill that anyone can pick up, all it takes is a little practice. So have fun on the day and experiment until you find something that suits you. 

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to your photography? Share it below, we’ll love to know.


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