How I Do My Product Photography

Showcasing products visually is one of the first ways to sell just about anything. I’ve had to experiment over the years of selling my own work on Etsy. For a while my product photos weren’t the best, but I’ve improved with time. I can share with you here examples of my first attempts, and more recent ones having used better skills and materials.

Materials

  • LightBox – This is the one I use here. This is a box with either internal lighting, or windows for directional lights.
  • Mini Tripod – This is a great tool for getting stable shots at different angles, without any blur. Any of the other focusing features on your camera won’t be disrupted. There are many sizes and types of tripods, so search around.
  • Backdrop – In my case, my backdrops came with my lightbox kit. However, you can also choose your backdrops whether they are physical places, or an artificial setup you make yourself.
  • Accents – Seashells, decorative rocks, or floral pieces are great additions to spruce up product images. You can even use themed items for specific holidays or seasons depending on what you can find. I have been using seashells and sea stars recently. You can pick up these accents at places like Michael’s, or any craft related stores.
  • Smartphone or Digital Camera – You can use either of these. Make sure the capture resolution is 12 megapixels or more. I often use my camera phone, but also have a digital camera, too.
  • Photo Editing Software – I personally use Adobe Photoshop for my photo editing after the shoot is done. However, there are other free photo editing apps you can utilize for this purpose. You may also be able to edit the camera settings, and even images on your phone.
lightbox setup

Step 1: Setting Up The Lightbox

I first arrange my accents, and product position. My products are typically centered with specifically chosen accent pieces. I also switch on the LED lights inside my lightbox, and choose between cool and warm light tones.

lightbox 1
lightbox3

Step 2: Prepping Camera/Tripod

I usually make sure my phone, or camera is charged, then start adjusting settings. Some things you may want to check are white balance, turn off flash, and set quality settings to the higher end. The tripod is pretty straightforward, and you should position it at the right height to get the shots you want. You can adjust this for different angle shots.

Step 3: Shooting

Take several different product photos and then evaluate them. This can involve showing the items in context (ie; in use), in packaging, and with a basic white backdrop. You will need to be the judge of what works for your brand. I tend to prefer the more basic of the three types, but I have some product photos showing packaging.

Step 4: Photo Editing

Using Photoshop, I usually go in and crop images, do some color correction if needed, and removing any unwanted objects. There are some other great photo editing sites such as Canva, Fotor, Pxlr, and Snapseed.

Examples of my First and Most Recent Product Images

Progression from 2021 to a year later using a lightbox instead of using natural light and busy backgrounds. Artificial light has allowed me to develop cleaner, more professional looking product images.

Conclusion: Why Product Images Matter

Product images are the first focal point for your customers, and they need to succeed in drawing them in. Keep consistent with shoot style, branding, and quality, as these will boost your online presence. Each of these skills takes time, and won’t develop overnight. As long as you utilize the toolkit mentioned here, you can experiment over the months and years to develop branding and style for your products. I’m always continuing my own journey with this and other aspects of selling my work. Hope this helps others learn to photograph their own work, too.

Artworks & Photo References

Most of the time, I prefer to use photo references to do my work. It helps me get accurate shadows, light, and overall color scheme of the animals or landscape. There are things I’ve drawn from mental memory or fantasy, but they do require a bit of knowledge in terms of anatomy, and lighting.

 

gotort-fingt2-4

 

 

Pelican Trio 14" x 17" on bristol boardpclose1pclose3

 

 

"Baranoff Oak"baranoffoak4

 

pair seaturtlesgreen_sea_turtle_1pc325686

Now, when I have used photos/images from online sources such as Google search, I may use the pose of the animal, but change the background and/or colors of the animal to avoid full on copying. Remember, if you want a reference for an entire image, I suggest getting either royalty free stock images, or taking photos yourself.

You don’t need a high end camera in order to get decent shots to work from. I personally use a Sony Cyber-shot(DSC-W20) which does a fine job of getting me the images I need. I can’t zoom in from far away and get fine details, but if I can get close enough, I can get what I need.

That’s it for this week.

~ Angela

 

 

Neighborhood Gopher Tortoise Colony

The first tortoise I ever got a good photo of.
The first tortoise I ever got a good photo of.

Turtles and tortoises are found in the fossil record going back as far as 250+ million years. That’s a very long history in terms of a species’ time in existence on this planet. Obviously, something about the way they are built has allowed them to survive and be molded into many kinds of turtle or tortoise over such a long span of time. Turtles are often aquatic in nature, with a handful of species being terrestrial, and tortoises are the largest of the land dwellers. Some of which become hulking giants who eat a diet not much different than a horse.

The gopher tortoise (gopherus polyphemus) belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago, thus making it one of the oldest living species. This species typically grows to about one foot in straight carapace length, and an average weight of 29 pounds. There have been some found to be as big as 16 inches in length.

Same individual out foraging.
Same individual out foraging.

The 2nd individual I got photos of. This one had a slight reddish tint to the shell, along with some sand left from the burrow.
The 2nd individual I got photos of. This one had a slight reddish tint to the shell, along with some sand left from the burrow.

Gopher Tortoises are specifically built for digging and living in burrows, as you can see from the shape of their shell. Their strong front legs aid them in digging burrows that can be up to 50 feet in length underground. At the end of their burrow lies a larger chamber where the tortoise sleeps or takes shelter. They also immediately bolt to the burrow entrance when they spot danger, and to this day many of them do this to me when I come bearing my camera.

These tortoises are an ecologically important species, consider that many other animals use the burrows as shelter both abandoned and inhabited by tortoises. Other reptiles, small mammals, and amphibians all may use the burrows for shelter during a forest fire, freezing weather, drought, etc., which often saves many lives otherwise. If these tortoises were to disappear, so to do their burrows, which then take away potential shelter for a multitude of species.

Not only do Gopher Tortoises benefit other animal species, but they also help stimulate new healthy growth in the plants and vegetation they eat. Rarely are they see drinking water, since they get most of the moisture they need from the vegetation they consume. They have only ever been observed drinking standing water during droughts.

Another colony member, possibly female because of size.
Another colony member, possibly female because of size.

This has to be the largest tortoise I've seen. For size comparison, that tree is no more than 5-6 feet away from the individual. Big.
This has to be the largest tortoise I’ve seen. For size comparison, that tree is no more than 5-6 feet away from the individual. Big.

Gophers are thought to exceed a lifespan of 60 years, and become sexually mature at 10 to 15 years of age. I can only wonder how old some of the individuals in the colony I visit are. Females are typically larger then males, hence they have to carry the eggs of the species. The males are smaller, with a concavity on the plastron which aids in mating.

The colors of this particular tortoise aren’t very vibrant, but still give them earthy-toned charm. Younger tortoises usually have brighter coloring for the first few years, with the hues fading as they gain size and age. Their colors range from dark gray, black, light gray, brown, and a slightly red clay color. A very young individual I’ve seen has blackish skin, with a brown shell with light orange patches on top. He or she booked it back to the burrow before I could get a good photo. They’re faster than they look.

Youngest gopher tortoise I've seen yet. He/she may only be a few years old.
Youngest gopher tortoise I’ve seen yet. He/she may only be a few years old.

The tortoises live near each other, and some of them must interact on a daily basis. I have not seen enough of them out at one time to really say just how they interact, but I imagine they may have some sort of hierarchy amongst themselves. They may also have individual preferences on which time of day to forage, like different work shifts. Males are known to visit the burrows of females during the months in which they mate, and generally, the ladies will let him know if they’re interested or not.

Possibly a male visiting a female burrow just a few yards from his.
Possibly a male visiting a female burrow just a few yards from his.

For the most part, I believe Gophers live in a somewhat solitary state, even while living in a colony. I commented on the social interactions because there are tortoises who display some herding behavior, such as the Pancake Tortoise. In other cases, both in captivity and in the wild, other species have been observed to behave similarly either when kept with other animals or in wild settings.  An awful lot of people give reptiles little credit for any intelligence, but they do have it. It’s just not what they’re expecting.

I love going out and seeing these tortoises in the wild as they should be. They are charming, and though skittish, well worth the patience getting photos of.

The best shot I've gotten of one of these tortoises, taken just recently.
The best shot I’ve gotten of one of these tortoises, taken just recently.

Information resource links for the Gopher Tortoise:

http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/gopher-tortoise/

http://www.gophertortoisecouncil.org/

Stay tuned for next week’s post!