Well… you can just point and click with the camera, but I’m talking about making the pictures as clear and “professional” as you can make them. A lot of it is your own personal choice as to what you think looks best, but here are some tips.
Think about how best you can show off your product. Think about what kind of message your photos are giving. Think about how other professional product pictures are taken, what sort of background they have. Generally it’s either a plain white or coloured background (so no background), or something that helps convey the message they are trying to achieve or to try and help the customer visualise that product in their surroundings or in a way that is likely to make them think positively about that product.
Remember that we’re talking about pads here, a fabric product that is for a personal/intimate use – your customers will probably expect the pads to be made in a clean environment and photographing your pads on the floor is going to show that’s not the case. (yes, I have seen pads photographed on the floor). That might sound overboard, but I have seen people commenting on how they would never buy a pad that has been photographed on the floor. It is worth noting however that you can lay down a piece of paper or something the same shape as the pad, under it, so that the pad doesn’t actually touch the floor or other potentially dirty surface – but your potential customers will probably assume it’s just sitting on a dirty old floor.
Take the pictures outside or in natural light if possible. It gives a better result in the photo – it’s brighter and feels more alive. If you can’t go outside, in front of a window or open door would be the next best thing. See these pictures below for example. The same pad photographed inside, inside near a window and outside.
If you can’t take it outside, then put all the lights on, but normal household globes tend to set off a yellowish glow…. which will affect the look of the fabric (You can later correct that with a graphics program however). Filtered light is better – not direct sunlight…. as direct light can be too bright and wash out the colours. It also depends on if you are photographing something shiny or not. Fabric won’t reflect light, so it’s a bit easier to photograph.
More than one view
Sometimes you might like to include more than one picture of the pad. Because customers can’t pick the product up and have a look at it from all angles, they can only see how the pad looks from the photos you offer. It’s therefore a good idea to have photos showing the back (underneath) of the pad, how it snaps closed as well as the top.
This is very important. This will show off, or disguise your product, depending on what you choose. It can also set the tone. Personally I like plain white, so the background is invisible – you see only the product, but that’s virtually impossible to achieve straight from the camera without fiddling with it in a graphics program… Second to that I tend to like natural settings – since I like to promote the eco-friendly aspect of pads, I feel it helps tie that in. So we’ll explore some other background types that don’t require editing in a graphics program. Think about something fairly plain itself (so it won’t detract from your product), but is interesting enough not to look boring.
Think about things like stones, twigs, bamboo mats, pebbles, plants, fence pailings, hanging up on a clothesline, anything in nature…. But be aware that some backgrounds work with a pad, some do not – you might have to use different backgrounds for different pads.
More on using different backgrounds below.
Don’t forget to crop out the irrelevant stuff!
Again remembering that most people will be seeing the “thumbnail” picture only, So the whole photo will be reduced in size. So if your photo has a lot of background in it, then the actual pad becomes just a small part of the overall photo. Just like when you’re looking at someone’s happy snaps “That black speck that you can’t really see…. that’s the eagle….” It’s frustrating in a holiday photo, but more annoying when a customer just wants to see your pad, not half your yard too 🙂 plus it ruins the mystique…. the “ohh that’s in interesting speckled background” then becomes “ohh, it’s taken on someone’s ugly concrete stairs”
One of the main ways I see people photographing pads that I feel doesn’t show them off to their full potential, is by using fabric as a background. It seems an obvious choice – if you’re a pad maker, chances are you’ve got a fair bit lying around… and the pad is made from fabric, so it’s keeping with the theme….. but the problem is finding the right fabric.
Plain white fabric seldom looks good. This is because it’s usually photographed indoors, which results in the “white” fabric looking grey, washed out and uninspiring. Black fabric can work sometimes, giving a striking effect that doesn’t detract from the product itself, but black can also look too dark or too bold – it really depends on what your product is. Highly patterned fabrics can be too “busy”, particularly if the pad you are photographing is also patterned.. but could be ok for a plain fabric pad.
If you’re going to go with fabrics, then take some sample shots and find the fabric that works best for your photos…. Also experiment with laying the fabric out smooth or scrunching it up. Sometimes a fabric will look better flat and another might look better crinkled. If the fabric is smooth, it needs to be SMOOTH! an errant wrinkle will ruin the effect. Be aware of shiny fabrics reflecting the light, and textured fabrics looking too “scruffy”. Make sure the lighting is right, if you are taking it indoors, perhaps move it close to a window or open door for more natural light.
Some examples of how different fabrics can look:
(Black Fabric, Bamboo Velour Flat, Bamboo Velour Wrinkled)
(Patterned cotton, Microfleece flat, Microfleece Wrinkled)
(Dyed BV Wrinkled, Grey patterned fabric, Plain white fabric)
Stuff lying around the house
Don’t forget about everyday stuff as a photographing background… If you’ve got an interesting basket or something, try using those things and see if they work as a background. Floorboards are a popular background, and these can look good depending on your particular floorboards and how you use them… Experiment with having the floorboards on different angles, and beware of the camera flash! But, when using household stuff, be aware of the fact that you wouldn’t find professional photographers photographing stuff on the floor, so if you are after a professional look, try to stick with things that have a little more class…. quirky and interesting can be good, but “ratty old dishcloth” might not be the effect you’re after.
And again, different things will work well for different pads. I think the balls look good with this particular pad – the sun is smiling, it’s a cute, happy and whimsical design, so balls work well… however if you had an elegant gold swirl pad, then a background of colourful balls is going to look completely out of place.
Some examples of how different stuff around the home can look:
(Coloured balls (outside), Bamboo placemat (inside), Book inside (near window))
I like photos done outside. For a couple of reasons, but mostly because it reinforces to me the environmental benefits of going with cloth pads… and I just find nature pretty. Lighting is usually better outside, the fabrics seem to come “alive” and look more vibrant (though avoid full sun as it can be too bright), and you have lots of earthy and interesting potential backgrounds to choose from. Even things that in reality are grungy and falling apart (like an old fence) can look interesting as a background for a photo because you are only seeing part of it. Be careful of draping pads over things that will make the pad appear misshapen though. You may know that the pad looks funny because it’s wing is curved up on a leaf or something, but a customer might just think you cut the pad out weirdly… Make sure your environment doesn’t diminish the product too – it’s not a “Where’s wally” among the tulip garden we’re after, it’s just a bit of nature as a subtle background in your photo.
Also, I imagine it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – you don’t want to get your products dirty … so if you are going to be photographing them in unconventional places, it might be worth while making a plastic/cardboard protector a fraction smaller than the pad, which the pad can sit on to prevent it actually touching anything that might be dirty (but not being seen in the photo), and be careful photographing them among flowers that can drop pollen (both because people can be allergic, and because pollen can stain badly)
Some examples of different outdoor backgrounds:
See how different the same pad can look!
Just changing the background and with different lighting
So…. Think about ways to photograph your pads! What is going to bring out the best in that particular pad? Don’t be caught photographing everything against the same background either – light coloured pads can disappear into a while background, and a dark pad can disappear into a dark one…. a heavily patterned background may be ok for a plain pad, but could be too “busy” if you are photographing a patterned pad on it.