Photography Series | Part 1, Learning from Successful Retailers

It isn't uncommon that you find me, at least once a day, doing a photoshoot in my house. Not the elaborate kind, with editors and stylists. But instead - me in the kitchen mid afternoon, my hair in top knot bun, coffee on the kitchen table, when the sun is at its best - standing on a chair, cranking my neck over a board, or holding a reflector with my chin as I try to get close to a product. Over the last ten years of business I've explored photography .... what makes a great shot, how to achieve that great shot and how to do it without a lot of money.

I've decided to write a series of posts sharing some photography tips, in what is simply going to be called my "Photography Series". I've broken the tips into a series of posts that I'll roll out over the upcoming weeks,. months or, perhaps year - as new ideas or, tricks come up. It's a little series that I hope inspires you, either for your own blog, or, business.

Because my journey at perfecting my photography was (and is) rooted in product photography, it's fitting and, perhaps necessary to start the series talking about photography for business owners - e-commerce ventures. That being said, I think as a blogger looking to improve your own art / styling, this post may still prove to be interesting.

Before I can dive into the tricks, I think it's important to talk about the inspiration process. Because one must be inspired, and have a feeling of what one wants a photo to look like, before one can actually take a photo. This particular post has a main focus on the business / entrepreneurial reader because for me, the process of photography and, taking better photos, was as a result of taking product shots for my store, and my art. But I think should you have a blog, or, want to try "styling" photos for fun, this post will be perhaps of interest.

With it being easier than ever to actually open an online store, setting yourself apart from the rest is really, really important. Success lies in many factors, but how you present yourself to the world - just like how you would style a bricks and mortar store, is something you should focus on. And that's where photography comes in.

But before I can even touch on how to style a great photo (that is in an upcoming post), it's really important to familiarize yourself with

what makes

a great photo

.

 This process is really quite similar to interior decorating. Before you can decorate your home, you have to get a feeling for what YOUR style is, and, how you want to put your stamp on the process. The same is true for photography styling in my opinion.

The first thing I tend to do, and, do often, is study other people's photography. What do I like? What makes it a great photo? How did they achieve that look?  Some examples are found on sites like Etsy, where sellers have seen the value in finding a "look" for their store. Great examples are found at

LoveLane

(photo above)- you'll see that red stool repeated throughout the photos.

If you look at 

Anthropologie's 

website (fig. 1), everything is shot on the same coloured background, same lighting - it looks like it could have all been shot on the same day, but likely were shot over the the course of a few months as new products were added to the lineup.

Hop over to 

Bhldn 

(fig. 2) and although their product photography look is TOTALLY different - they also have a consistent look. You know which site your on, without having to look at the logo.

Branding is in the photography

. Although these are owned by the same Mother company, they have different looks to their photos, reflective of the brand.For an e-commerce shop, consistency is the key.

Blogger Tip - we can also gain amazing insight from studying the photographs and taking inspiration on how to style things when say, we want to show a tutorial on a craft project, or, say, show a "reveal" of something we made. We can learn a lot from studying retailers, as much as we can gain insight from fellow bloggers.

So we've narrowed down why we want to take great photos for our shops (or, our blogs) and, given some references to the shops that are really the pros at how to style. But then you and I, what can we take away? I love studying how people take photos.

What I love is the soft pale pink background of the shots. It adds warmth and, is definitely applicable to telling a story of a wedding. It looks like a pale pink linen. This shot inspires some photos, which I'll go into later on in the series.

To kick off this series I wanted to really emphasize that it's ok to learn by studying other people's work. Head over to Pinterest and look at photos that are styled really nicely.

I have a board on Pinterest of photographs that are styled really well.

Although at first glance they may not look like product photography ideas, you can apply a look to your own brand.

Blogger tip: As a blogger, you're less likely to stick with one look for your photos as you're touching on a variety of topics (most likely) so, styling in different ways will be part of the fun. The same tricks apply - to browse Pinterest and emmerse yourself in admmiring other peoples great photos and see if you can deconstruct how they may have done it, and, how you can achieve the look. 

Next up: Part II, Creating interesting looks with inexpensive props

Lindsayphotography