Product Photography for Notonthehighstreet.com, Part 2 : Prints and Artwork
Last week, we gave some tips on successful food and drink photography for NOTHS (Notonthehighstreet.com), an e commerce site which has absolutely thrived through its mission to bring creative, beautifully-designed, original and high-quality products to your doorstep at the click of a button. Unlike the signature white background approach favoured by online behemoth Amazon, NOTHS encourage styled product photography, use of props and backdrops and natural light. Their accessible, light, naturally soft aesthetic is consistent across their site, in part due to their stringent vetting of potential sellers. An acceptance rate hinted to be just 10% of all applicants means those without the goods or images to back them up need not apply. We get frequent enquiries from individuals and businesses looking to use the selling platform and we’ve already helped a vast array of clients present their wares. Ultimately, we want to help sellers sell so today we’ll be covering another popular field of product photography, Prints and Artwork.
We won’t mention yet again our standard tips for all product photography – you can find some most recently here – but will concentrate on what NOTHS are after specifically….
If possible, use bright natural light from a large window, diffused with tracing paper if necessary. It adds a pleasing directionality to the light so images don’t appear flat and suits a natural look that best represents the reality of where these products are heading. If weather, location or time is not on your side, a large diffused light source such as a strobe and softbox placed at a high(ish), sidewards angle will replicate this nicely. Adjust your white balance to get true colours so potential customers know what they’re getting and avoid strong, contrasty shadows. If you’re getting them, move your light source further back if possible, diffuse it more or bounce in a little fill light with a large white piece of card, reflector or foam board. Naturally-soft and easy on the eye is the NOTHS name of the game.
When shooting art or prints with reflective or metallic surfaces, tweak your light to show off the materials’ qualities. You may need to experiment with reflectors and light flags to effectively pick out these surfaces. Shoot pictures without glass to avoid distracting reflections but always frame prints if possible (even if you don’t sell the frames) as research suggests this has a markedly positive effect on sales.
The most effective shots involve placing products in situ, whether that’s on a wall, mantle-piece or shelf. If the format of your subject is very dissimilar to that of the camera frame, try angling the products so they better fill the image or dress the frame with props. Never angle a subject so much that it becomes distorted or difficult for a customer to understand. Use real world props in neutral tones or complimentary colours and materials. Not only can they enhance the aesthetic appeal of your images but they allow potential buyers to visualise how your products might look in their homes. In terms of backdrops, it’s recommended you use neutral, light, “fresh and contemporary” tones, free of overly distracting patterns or textures. If possible, directly compliment the colour of the hanging wall or surface to aspects of the piece of art.
Although the product itself should always be the prominent subject, accessorising with props not only gives buyers a more tangible grasp of the intended style or “feel” of the product but helps determine scale. Don’t over-complicate your set dressing and don’t obscure the item itself with a prop. Provide a variety of shots including close-ups to reveal texture and detail and if you provide different sized versions of the same art piece, try to include them all in one shot, so their relative dimensions are clear.
Ultimately, answering customers’ questions with your images will give them confidence in you and your brand.
Thanks for reading.