Our product photographers guide to taking the perfect picture.
First let me start by saying I know that a lot of our Creators are better photographers than me and I don’t want to patronise anyone, so apologies if any of this is teaching you to suck eggs!
I’m writing this from my own experiences of things that have helped my photography, maybe it’ll help yours, maybe you’ll just enjoy hearing someone else’s learning curve! Anyway, here goes….
Thing 1 - Rule of thirds
After saying I don’t want to patronise anyone, I’m starting with one of the first things you get taught about photography - the rule of thirds. This guideline for composing photographs (the rule that says the main focus should not be in the exact centre of your image but instead off to one side) changed the way I took photos more than anything else. I didn’t learn this rule until my 20s and when I look back at photos from my teens it’s embarrassing, I basically just documented things I saw with everything right in the centre of the image. Changing that one thing about how I composed photos changed everything. If you weren’t already aware of this little trick, go try it…
Take a photo of something exactly in the middle of the frame and then again slightly off to one side or slightly above of below the middle of the image.
Scroll down to the end of this blog to see the same image cropped differently - worlds apart!
(The Personalised Family Tree Necklace)
Thing 2 - Tell a story
I always loved taking pictures but I always found my own photos really boring. I put in more and more effort into learning everything I could about how to use a camera, how to measure the light correctly, how to adjust the aperture, what focal length I should be using, and every other detail you can think of. After that I had better exposed, better focused, boring photos.
Then one day I read a book about photos that changed the world - these photos were brilliant and filled with emotion and feeling...and some of them were technically not great photos!! That’s when I started to take more inspiration from photo journalists who have to capture a whole story with one image. That’s something I wish I’d understood when I first started learning photography - it’s not about the camera or the settings.
The image below has no jewellery to see and isn't technically that great but hopefully it starts to show customers what it's like to receive a piece of jewellery from us. I know it won't ever rank as one of those photos that changed the world but you get the idea!
(Lucent Studios Summer '22 Packaging)
Thing 3 - Delete 99% of the photos you take
Great photographers aren’t revered because they took more photos than anyone else. Seems obvious but that was another learning curve for me! I took lots of photos and kept them all - all my good photos were lost in the hundreds of bad ones. About 5 years ago I took a collection of 6,000 photos and set a goal of keeping 100 and by the end I was convinced I was a world class photographer! There was no rubbish left and nothing to dilute or distract from the good photos.
You don’t need to literally delete 99 out of every 100 you take but I’d encourage you to be strict with yourself about what you keep. This is far more important if you’re printing a book and each photo is permanent, I know social media is a bit different and posts can be quite transient, but everything you post is a representation of what you can do so always show your best.
Thing 4 - Break the rules
How I take photos for product photography is technically “wrong” and deliberately breaks the first two things I talked about. People want to see the detail of the jewellery before they buy it so you put the jewellery directly in the centre of your image and crop in close to show all the patterns and colours as best possible. I’m not suggesting anyone does that for their instagram photos but I am saying it’s important to be conscious of what each photo is for and to deliberately choose to alter your style if you need to
Don’t let arbitrary rules get in the way of a creative idea you have!
(The Personalised Family Tree Necklace)
Thanks for taking the time to read my top tips for the perfect photos, I hope they might help to give you the confidence to experiment with your own photography, if nothing else.
All the best,