Many of my blog readers know me for my sewing and crafting, but my “real job” is making soaps and shampoos for my home based business Ballyhoo Bath.
Last week I needed some product shots of my soaps for a sampler box I’m participating in. I liked how these turned out so I decided to share a few. I feel good about how my photography skills have evolved over the years.
A selection of soaps from Ballyhoo Bath.
Calliope scented soap, shampoo bar, and lotion stick.
Selection of soaps. Clockwise from top left: Calliope, Carnival Twilight, Circus Monkey, Ginger Ale, Moonlight Pomegranate.
People compliment me on my photos, but photography has been hard for me. I was not an overnight success by any means. I think this photo below is from 2010 when I first started taking pictures of soap and had already been practicing product photography for a couple of years by then. Not only has my photography gotten better in the last 2 years, but I like to think my soaps are much prettier now.
So what made the biggest difference in photography for me? I’m going to tell you the opposite of what most people say.
I say your camera makes ALL the difference. There are others who say you can take perfectly good photos with a point-and-shoot. I never could. I needed the full control that only a digital SLR camera could give me. I bought a used Canon D20 from ebay last year after researching them for a few weeks. Then I bought a fixed 50mm lens from Amazon. That camera combo took my photos to new levels. The high-end point-and-shoot I was using before could never come close. (BTW – I sold that camera on ebay for more than I bought the used DSLR for, so it’s not always about price!)
And then of course, it’s all the usual things you hear like natural lighting, get in close, etc. I would also add that your angles make a big difference in how dynamic your photos look. And choosing a background that works with your brand is also important.
I also read lots of books and web pages on photography. The books that helped me the most are linked below – the same place I bought them. These are all digital books, BTW, because that’s how I prefer to read, but the 1st two books are available in old-fashioned real book style.
Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
It seems weird, but this book on food photography was the most helpful for shooting soaps. Both food and soap must appeal to the viewer as luxurious or appetizing, so all the advice was relevant. This is the book that steered me well in choosing my camaera and lens, and my favorite photography book ever.
Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light (Voices That Matter)
This book helped me “see” the light before taking a photo. Not exactly a beginner book, but very useful if you want to use natural light to enhance your photos.
This $5 ebook is worth every penny if you need to photograph little things like lip balm or even things like bugs or flowers. It was very helpful in helping me choose cheap lens filters. You don’t need a $600 lens to do macro photography if you read this book. And all the photos in this pdf book are stunning, so it’s worth it for the pretty pictures alone.
I was planning on just sharing some pretty soap pictures but I rambled off into photography. Sorry. But if it helps just one person improve their photos, then it’s all worth it to me.
If you have photography tips for handmade items – feel free to share them in the comments section.