Monday, 26 May 2014

Blog Photography | PROPS



I love photography set design! The best thing about product photography is that your subject keeps perfectly still and does whatever you say. It's patient enough to wait around for hours whilst you set up the rest of the scene and it's perfectly willing to have 100+ photos taken, each from a ever so slightly different angle.

Blogging gives me the opportunity to be creative with my product photos. I try to keep to a standard theme throughout my blog (which usually involves a white table top and a birds-eye-view) but I enjoy trying out new things and testing items together. There's a tendency for bloggers to use the same familiar items and some things have turned into a bit of a cliche these days (candle burning in the background?) but I enjoy reading the blogs that take care over their imagery and there's a lot to be said for having a format.

Today I'm going to share some of my favourite blog photo props and give you a behind-the-scenes glance at how I craft an image.


MY FAVOURITE PROPS TO USE

Flowers - I prefer real flowers but sometimes cutting them up and throwing them around can be such a waste of a freshly bought bunch. I'll wait until the flowers are almost ready for the bin but still acceptable and then use them. Fake flowers are a useful alternative but some can look very fake so be careful. Scroll down to see an example of me using real flowers and fake flowers. 

Magazines and Books - Finding some a beautiful photograph in a magazine can make the perfect backdrop for your product. It can be a little over-done in the blogging community but I think as long as it's relevant (i.e. a festival mag feature for a blog article on festival fashion) it works well. Books are also a very simple classy way to display a product. Open or closed, plain covers work the best, stack them up! Also a quick mention of ruled notebooks, these make a great surface to digitally add text on top of, use post-its or paperclip a memo to the top. See my 5 Tips for Blogging Everyday post for an example of this. 

Jewellery/Makeup - As long as it makes sense to use these items I like using necklaces or bracelets to create a theme. My ray ban sunglasses are worn in the summer, with lots of layered bead bracelets and maybe a bright coral lipstick. Scattering your jewellery or makeup on a surface in a care free way gives your photos the lived-in lifestyle feel as if you just paused to take a photo of objects lying around.

My White Table - ok so every blogger and their mother photographs on a white background, but there is a very valid reason that not only bloggers but product photographers and online shopping websites shoot on white. It's a neutral base that allows the product to stand out. It shows off the colours and details in an item and it's clear, fresh and easy on the eye. These days I don't aim to produce a bright-white clinical style backdrop, a soft pale grey suits me just fine. I use my £5 IKEA white glossy table all the time, the shiny surface produces a nice reflection but it is also available in matte white. (They also have tons of other colours including one in mint green which I might need to pick up soon!)


HOW TO | SET DESIGN

The props you choose to use need to make sense. Whatever is the subject of your blog article needs to be center of attention and not overwhelmed by the props around it. Sometimes less is more, you don't need a dozen different items to make a strong image. Keep your images relative to the content being talked about but also to the time or year, for example you might want to post about your favourite books to curl up with on a cold winter's night. So a shot of your books piled high next to a mug of hot chocolate and a pretty bookmark makes sense. A vodka tonic and glow sticks do not.
You might be shooting a larger object such as a cake or new shoes. Think about the background, what surface are you going to place them on, is there a colour scheme? What comes to mind when you think 'cake' (plate, fork, knife, napkin, crumbs, candles).

The following photographs are all taken from recent blog posts. I've linked to the post underneath each photo so you can see the full set of images and I've listed the props used...

PROPS | Real Peonies, Jewellery Packaging 

PROPS | Headphones, iPad Mini, Instagram Photos

PROPS | Magazine, Headphones, Beaded Bracelets

POST | Ray Ban Giveaway (now closed)
PROPS | Sunglasses cases, Converse, Bracelet Selection

PROPS | Lined Notebook, Vintage Film Camera


PROPS YOU ALREADY HAVE AT HOME

Makeup and Jewellery
Colourful Card and Paper
Fabrics
Candles
Lined Notebook
Wooden Chopping Board
Books and Magazines
Jars and Bottles
Photographs

THE BEST PLACES TO FIND PROPS

I like to use what I already have but sometimes I'm persuaded to part with cash for a new prop. I recently found a polished hollowed-out coconut bowl in TK Maxx for a few pounds which will be great for displaying jewellery. Pound shops always have bits and bobs. I'll also pick things up wherever I go, like a take out Starbucks cup. Re-use glass milk bottles and jam jars. I even remove cute tags or crafty bits from birthday cards (yes I'm that cheap!) You can cut flowers from your garden rather than pay for bunches - but please only take from your own garden don't cut wild flowers and always ask permission if you're unsure.

There are so many things that can be used to enhance your blog photography. Remember not to go overboard and stick to using two-three items at a time, always keeping main attention on the subject your writing about. I like to show the items I've bought, clothes, jewellery, electronics as I would use them in life. It adds some personality. You can get involved of course, photographing your hand holding an object gives it some proportion (and can be a nice way to show off a new nail polish!) I'm interested in exploring food photography next, it's something that can be quite tricky but I'm always in admiration of the food blogs that get there images spot on every time.


I hope these tips were useful and you've been able to take something from seeing my favourite props. I don't always shoot with props, sometimes the object alone is enough but I'm always thinking about the background, the surface it's on and the way the light falls. Let me know if you always shoot in the same way for your blog or if you've never even thought about set design until now!

Have a look here to see more posts about blog photography and my best tips and tricks...


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18 comments

  1. Love your tips, I always find it hard to photograph products well, so this is really helpful! x
    Maddy from UNSTITCHEDD | ASOS or Feelunique £25 Voucher Giveaway

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  2. I swear by my IKEA £5 table, best bargain ever! x

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  3. Love your tips, they are really helpful for a beginer!
    http://inspirationstealer.blogspot.hu/

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  4. love this. so simple!

    charlotte x
    www.thestylearchive.co.uk

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  5. Super useful tips, thank you!!

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  6. This is a useful post... I've only recently started to actually notice how well some bloggers do this and I'd like to start trying to do this too. I notice pieces (particularly in Next/TK Maxx) now and think how perfect it would be to photograph on for my blog lol!

    Dayner x // mozzypop.blogspot.co.uk

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  7. Some great tips! I I might need to invest in that ikea table. I don't really have any white surfaces for when I need that kind of background. I just picked up some great plates etc for food photography from ikea, wish I'd seen the table!

    Honey Go-Lightly

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  8. I love your tips! They are really helpful.

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  9. Great post. This is now bookmarked under useful things for my blog! :)

    Haaappy Spring!
    Hailes<3
    Hailes Hearts Fashion.

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  10. Lovely tips Gwen! thanks for sharing them. I have always admired your talent for the most striking photographs. No wonder!

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  11. These are amazing tips - thank you! Your photos are always stunning

    ellenunderwater.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. Great ideas! Thanks... Would you be able to pass on some more info about how you get the right lighting (particularly for clear objects) I find my lighting always let's my photos down...
    Thanks! Emma

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  13. These are great tips, thank you for the help!
    Two Hearts One Roof

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  14. Thanks for the tips. I don't have a set design, and I'm experimenting. I mainly use a white cardboard on a coffee table, as we don't have a lot of whites in my house. The reason also why I use white is that when I edit , it's easier to adjust the white balance. So if the light was crappy that day, I can still do something about it.

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  15. Love your tips! This is so useful, since I only started my blog (:
    Thanks so much for sharing :)

    http://blonde-stuff.blogspot.de
    xx

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  16. This is a great and clear description and gave me some great ideas! I'm patiently waiting on my background to finally create my own style of photos as I've only been blogging a short time! Thank you!

    http://plusalittlemoreme.blogspot.co.uk

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  17. I'm so glad I found this post :) I'm trying to develop my photos this year an make them look more professional! There are some amazing tips, thanks :) x

    Holly ∣ Closingwinter

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