When people click onto your page the first thing they will see is your home page which will probably have photos of your products, things of interest and maybe customer photos. This is the first chance for potential customers to actually see what you do so they should be of the best quality that you can manage. I love bright airy photos of gorgeous products and I see many of these on Facebook. For this blog I have asked 5 such pages to contribute their tips to taking better photos and I have included their feedback in its entirety as well as links to their pages. If you’ve time please do pop over to the pages and the others I’ve mentioned as they are outstanding examples and also run by lovely people too!
Let’s get started!
How do you organise your photos?
Your visitors like what they see so they click on your ‘photos’ icon to find out more. What do they see then? Are your photo albums a mish mash of gorgeous things that your customers have to search through to find the loveliness? If so after a few clicks, if they haven’t found what they want, they could give up and go to another page. To keep them on your page and help them, make sure your albums have clear headings that detail what the albums contain. Little Chalk houses‘ albums are a really good example of organising albums by room headings. Click on her page and you will find ‘kitchen’ ‘living room’, ‘bathroom’ etc. Her wooden blocks suit this labelling as these are the rooms they would go in. Isobel from Bella’s crafts uses a slightly different headings system in that she uses her products as headings. This again suits her business as she has a vast and varied product range and her customers can see what’s on offer before opening a specific photo album. Emma at Nayworth Cottage Crafts has lots of albums but they are easy to search through her clear headings whereas Michelle from Isobella’s Tutu only has a few but her customers are easily directed to view what she’s made or they can go straight to her ‘buy it now’ album of tutus. Either way clear headings are key and you don’t need to worry about having too many or only a few photo albums as long as you have gorgeous photos that catch your customer’s eyes.
Once you’ve got your headings sorted make sure the photo you have on the front of your album is the best one you have to represent what’s inside it. To do this go into ‘edit photos’ scroll down to the photo you like and click on ‘make this the album cover’ remember to click ‘save’ and then your chosen photos will be the one your customers see when they first click onto your photos.
Do you give your customers all the information they need to make a purchase?
You have your headings and the best photo sorted to make sure your customers will click onto your albums. When they do they will look through and maybe see something they like. They will be excited or curious and want to know more and it’s important that you give them everything they need to make a decision as to buy or not to buy. With a facebook business you always need to remember that your visitors and customers can’t feel the product they are looking at so you need to give them all the product information you can. What’s its size? What fabrics/materials is it made from? Has there been a special process used in order to make it? Why is it different to other business? How much is it? Does this include postage, if not how much is postage? And lastly, but most importantly, how do they buy it? Do they email you? If so have you put your email address under the photo? If they don’t buy through email is your website or online shop detailed? These should go on every photo you have of something you want to sell. Unlike in a ‘real’ shop you don’t get to make conversation, find out what your customers are after and point them in the right direction they are on their own being only 1 click away from leaving your page…
So, you’ve organised your photos, labelled the headings and made sure everyone has all the information they need but what happens if you notice other people’s photos seem a bit better than yours?
How can you improve your photos?
I asked 5 pages who I particularly like if they would consider sharing a few tips as to how they take their photos. Luckily they didn’t mind my cheekiness and all of them were happy to share their experience. At first I was just going to take a few pointers from what they said but after reading their excellent advice I have decided to publish their responses in full to give you the chance to get as much information on this subject as possible. I also didn’t want to assume what you would find helpful; we all have different opinions, different businesses and different photographic needs. This decision has made this blog long but as you will see each of the 5 businesses have so much good advice to give…
Little Chalk House hand make and paint wooden blocks adding letting to make signs. Off the peg and bespoke items are available we have a beautiful sign in our kitchen that I really love of LCH’s. I like this pages photos because they are simple, consistent and high quality. To go to their page click on the picture.
This is what they say about taking photos:
‘Top tips for taking good pictures
Firstly I would say my inspiration for my photos comes from looking through home magazines and online shops as to how they show their products. What you have to remember when you are trying to sell/show your work off online is that unlike a high street shop a potential customer cannot pick your product up and take a really good look at it, so the picture has to sell it for you instantly as this is the first thing your customer will see, get this wrong and they will simply move on (rightly or wrongly I know I do, presentation is everything). When it comes to taking the photos don’t rush it, wait for the right light and think about the surroundings and what props you could use to make your subject more interesting. I take a number of photos of the same subject at different angles and using different props. Once I have done this I then crop, straighten and adjust the light etc. I do this using a couple of different programmes on my computer. Don’t get me wrong this does take time but what is the point in spending time in making and creating something lovely and then just snapping a quick picture with bad light etc. I am certainly no expert in taking photos, this is just simply what I think and an area I continue to work on. Little Chalk House, Tasha x’
Kirsty is an artist whose work spans many different media. Her collages are just stunning but she paints, sews, and makes beautiful sculptures out of driftwood. I have a piece of her artwork hanging in the cottage and we get many comments about it. I like Kirsty’s photos as her use of background really brings out her products. To go to her page click on the picture.
This is what she says about taking photos:
‘The most important thing I would say is good, natural light.
Though many people take shots of their products in situ, I prefer to shoot mine on a plain white background. It suits my work better to keep it simple. Don’t be afraid of white space!
Good close-ups are essential. Use the macro setting on your camera.
That’s about it! I know Folksy and Craft Blog have done posts on this subject – maybe worth having a look. Ask Hilary at Craftblog Uk (FB) I expect she will find the link for you!’
Mary Jane’s tearoom is the destination for vintage inspired knitting patterns. Her toys are to die for and make me wish I could knit! I like her photos as her use of light I am envious of! To go to her page click on the picture.
This is what she said about taking photos:
I often receive enquiries asking who takes my photographs and I have to say that although I take my own, I have no in depth technical knowledge on the subject. My experience has been gathered purely from taking photos for my blog and for those included in my knitting patterns and so my tips are very practical..
Here are my (practical) tips!
Firstly, you don’t need an expensive camera. My early knitting pattern photographs were all taken using an inexpensive SONY Cybershot compact digital camera which I still use at times and it produces excellent photographs.
I now also use a Panasonic Lumix G3 camera with interchangeable lenses and although it has more capability and advanced settings it is very easy to use when set on the auto function, requiring very little technical knowledge and working very much like a small compact camera. I can highly recommend it!
Before you begin, think carefully about the subject and the qualities you would most like to enhance. Gather some props together which may help to make the photograph a more overall interesting composition but avoid detracting from your main focus.
Look through magazines for photographic inspiration and look closely at their composition…save photographs that spark your imagination in a box file…you really can learn so much from them…
Choose a place with good natural light wherever possible. It is always worth waiting for a good day if you have time to spare. A dark, colourless and therefore lifeless photograph will not catch anyone’s attention.
Try a few test shots first to help you get a feel for the subject and then think carefully about how they could be improved. Maybe you need to take a closer shot of your subject or take it from a slightly different angle?
Take lots of photographs from different angles and move both your subject and the props around. Do the props you have included add to the overall effect, should you remove any or maybe add something different?
Build on your ideas and be patient…it will definitely be worth the extra time. I never end up using the first photographs that I take!
Be brave and make sure you fill the frame… This is so important as you need to make an instant impact. A small object surrounded by lots of empty space is completely uninspiring and will just be overlooked.
If you are taking a clean, high impact photograph of a product alone (a hero shot) then add a more styled shot alongside. If you have made an item to sell then maybe include inspiring objects such as your craft tools/materials/sketches ect. (tell your story) and always be on the lookout for interesting pieces that identify with your style for future projects.
Look through the lens and view the image in the frame as though you were painting a picture… I do this all the time!…Think about the added colours of the props too…. Is it an overall balanced colour palette? Use your imagination and be creative…It will always arouse more interest.
Always load your photographs onto your laptop before making choices. Don’t rely on a small camera screen…you may miss something with potential. On the other hand, you may think you have a good shot on a small screen but it may look completely disappointing when viewed on a much larger one later!
Sometimes cropping a seemingly uninteresting shot transforms it into something much more pleasing….once your images are on the computer try zooming in and moving the image around to see what you find….you may be surprised.
Once you find a personal style which suits you try to carry certain characteristics through all your photographs. This will give your work a strong identity.
You don’t need expensive software. Although I have PAINTSHOP, my photos are most often simply loaded onto FLICKR and then edited using PICNIK which is a free service, very easy to use and does the job required. I find the exposure setting really useful on dull days when I need to take a photograph. Experiment with one of your images and try all the options available. It’s the best way to learn and you will definitely find that this a useful tool.
Supercutetilly is also an artist who works in different media. I absolutely love her papercuts but she’s equally talented using fabrics too. I like Supercutetilly’s photos as they are quirky but contemporary and fit her business image perfectly. To go to her page click on the picture.
This is what she says about taking photos:
‘I use a normal compact camera 8mp, 4x optical zoom and my iphone.
* I try to take them in good natural light and try not to use the flash.
* I use the iso setting in low light to reduce blur.
* I don’t use the digital zoom and use the Macro setting for close ups.
* I like to take my product images on a white background.
* I think about the composition of the things I’m photographing….the main point of interest being in the middle of the shot. I do the same for close-ups. If it’s a whole shot I try to think of it like a picture I would be drawing….trying not to cut anything off the product. If it’s a close up shot I try to get into focus the most detailed part of the product. I also sometimes like to use some of my own decorative household objects for some of my photo’s…..using objects in colours that bring out the colours in the item I’m photographing.
* I take full advantage of free apps on my iphone like Instagram, Photo shop express and Frametastic.
* I like to crop most of my images to square which I do on Windows Live Photo Gallery or Adobe Photo Shop.
* Sometimes I adjust the exposure windows live photo gallery to bring out the colours more. Cropping can also cut out things I don’t want in the photo.
* I also sometime auto straighten image if needs be.’
And finally I asked an expert in Paul Dale Photographer as some of you will be at the beginnings of a business and are wanting advice on backgrounds and light but I am aware some of you are wanting a bit more in terms of cameras, settings and the more technical end of product photography. I like his photos as they are natural and fun and make me want to have mine and Hubbie’s photo taken! To go to his page click on the picture.
Here is what he says about taking photos:
‘Why do my photos have that colour cast?’
‘As someone who lives and breathes photography, I have to admit that I’m always looking at the quality of the light around me, its sources, intensity and colour- that’s right, colour! Did you know that light presents as a spectrum of different wavelengths, most not visible to our human eyes?
Throw open the curtains one mid-winter morning and you’ll be immersed in blue tinged light, (watch the latest ‘Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’ movie, to see that gorgeous blue North Swedish light- Daniel Craig’s not bad in it, too…. ). Close the curtains at sunset and the warmth of the yellow glow from the sun hits you. Sit in your living room, fire crackling, old fashioned tungsten lamps blazing and illuminating the space, and you feel comforted by their warm, orange light. Go to the kitchen for a cuppa, switch on the fluorescent light and find yourself bathed in a harsh, greenish glow. ….. And all the time, we don’t notice, because our vision adapts to each tint and tone. But it’s there, if you look. And it shows in your images!
Cameras, however, can’t adapt so easily, and the very act of taking a photograph throws the image into a state where we’re able to scrutinise it with more care, so you notice the alien tints and tones.. Take a picture of your kids in the living room, for example: A couple of table lamps in the corner, your new LED reading light on the desk, curtains open on a North facing window…. No wonder your camera is confused and your kids look half Avatar character, half jaundiced plague victim!
Product photography faces the same problems. If you make a beautifully colourful product, why doesn’t that colour show in your photos? Here’s a few reasons, and solutions!
Use a more neutral light, such as daylight, an LED light, or a halogen bulb, which all emit a ‘whiter’ light, or play with the ‘white balance’ setting on your camera to see which is closest to what you desire. Different cameras have different menus and buttons- if in doubt, get out the manual or go online!
I love- and prefer- using daylight when I photograph, (not sunlight- too harsh and intense!), whether it’s people or products, and I turn off all internal lighting, where possible, positioning my subject near the window or doorway and ‘bouncing’ light back into any shadows with anything that I can put my hands on, such as a sheet of white paper, fabric, etc. I like the more contrasty effect this gives, with stronger shadows giving the subject more depth and contrast. If the outside light is too strong, filter it through a translucent fabric such as a net curtain or cotton gauze. And remember that direct sunlight is very yellow, so try to work with indirect daylight.
If you wish, you can buy special collapsible ‘light tents’ that diffuse the light and bounce it around the subject, especially if you make lots of small items and need a quick desktop solution. For me, though, it produces a flat image that doesn’t really do justice to the product unless you spend lots of time experimenting. Personal preference!
OK, there are other considerations that you should think about, too, such as positioning, depth of focus, angles and groupings, but they all depend on what kind of image you need and its purpose, and would take up more space than I’m allowed here!
Whatever you do, please remember that digital photography costs nothing until you print, so play, play, play with that camera!’
Paul also put this advice on his own blog which can be found here http://pauldalephotography.blogspot.com/
…and back to me!
I hope this blog has been of some help. I will be off to take all my own advice (and those of our brilliant contributors) first thing Monday morning and rearrange photos, make sure they are the best they can be and adding all the information customers need to make decisions to buy. I am also going to concentrate on taking my photos in a more consistently styled way in order to present a more uniform image on my page. I think working out backgrounds and composition is fabulous advice and using natural light is a must though we are all too often a little excited to share what we’ve made and we take a less than perfect photo that doesn’t really do our product justice –or is that just me? Paul’s more technical post will help those of you who are more advanced along the photography path so this really is a blog that every facebook page owner can get something out of.
Thank you so much to Natasha, Kirsty, Susan, Nic and Paul you have all been so approachable and giving of your expertise; I really couldn’t have written this blog without you all.