When I have a design idea I tend to think very broadly. There is no structured method or series of steps I follow, I just let the thoughts flow. Too many times I have discovered that if I "over think" an idea and it quickly becomes insurmountable or just plain frustrating. One idea leads to another, which leads to another, and so on. A whirling mental mess.
I have carved out time this weekend to spend time in the studio, photographing the debut Blue Cupboard collection. By collection I mean the initial pieces which introduce you to the brand. This is an ideal opportunity to set the tone for current and upcoming pieces.
In several earlier posts shared HERE and HERE I explained the beginnings and intentions of the Blue Cupboard collection and business structure. These ideas are the foundation for the physical and visual components and need to be translated into the product photography...
But how do you begin such a daunting task when you want your photos to tell the brand story? For me, it is like this...
These are my tools of choice: 1.) A Composition Notebook, and 2). Pencils. Yes, pencils. Mechanical pencils with 9mm lead preferred but any pencil will do in a pinch. I love to write lists and jot down idea notes constantly. The old-fashioned black and white Composition Notebooks are my favorite. No metal spiral loops, no little paper bits when removing pages, and they are the perfect size to tote around. I tend to write large so the little 5x7 type planner/notebook thingys do not work for me. Nor does taking electronic notes with an app such as EverNote. Awesome application, but not for me in this part of the process. I am a pencil and paper girl.
I actually hoard these notebooks. I mean hoard! During Back To School time, I really stock up and they have to be the old style black and white. That is one of my quirks....I LOVE them. Besides when they are full, they act as a journal of sorts and its fun to revisit them and try to remember what on earth I was thinking!
On to the process....
I begin by researching many forms of online marketing, including Etsy and Pinterest. These are my favorite sources of inspiration. So many amazing artists and designers to be found and the fact that Pinterest is so visual, that is my favorite and only form of social media.
I will capture a few inspiration ideas and then move directly to my prop area.in the studio, notebook and pencil in hand...
The old bakeware is perfect for my vision so I begin by pulling a few pieces. Again, remember, no specific rules just yet. Just grabbing at whatever grabs me.
Since product photography uses both full size and close-up shots, I look at the back drops and decide whether wood, or tin, or perhaps rusty steel would look best. Maybe it is an old linen piece that would look best. Back drops are especially nice when photographing a small area up close. Some back drops bring out the color and textures in the piece better than others. So I begin pulling from this area too.
Larger pieces can be helpful for "fillers" or to do a faux room. Large baskets, buckets, or even an old army cot made up with several fluffy ticking pillows and an old blue and white quilt might be the ticket, if so, they are pulled as well.
Now you may be thinking that I have pile of stuff for the photograph but where is the product going to fit it? Keeping in mind that "less is more" and to keep the item center stage in the photo is key. The props I have gathered inspire a theme which develops the color scheme which adds to the whole image. More often than not, I will use only one or two of the props I pull.
I begin with a blank canvas for both the larger shots and close-ups. I check my camera's settings for the light balance and the best exposure possible. I make adjustments with extra light or reflectors as needed.
Let's say my vision speaks to an old Mercantile type environment, by using only one or two props, or maybe even none at all, my mind is in the Mercantile and that transfers to my photograph.
The props I pulled may have moved me into a completely different direction such as an old-fashioned farmhouse dinner...
Are you seeing what happens? By not following any rules, I gravitate to what my head and heart are feeling in that moment. No boundaries, no restrictions, and no frustrations. I just let it all come together..simply.
Of course the correct lighting is vital and in our beautiful spring sunshine, the natural light is perfect for both indoor and outdoor shots.
With this particular shoot, I am venturing into a photography area I have never worked with before. A Real Live Person to help show off the products!! Up to now, my photography has been in the still life world but for the Blue Cupboard collection, I am planning many new wonderful images to share.
Throughout this process, I constantly remind myself to just let the thoughts flow. Worst case scenario, the prop goes back on the shelf, I make another cup of coffee, and wait for the next set or scene idea to evolve. If the strength of the coffee I drink is any indication as to how long that wait it is? Typically 1.6 seconds...(smile).
Hopefully you found these tips helpful and will try them out for your next photo shoot!
The Blue Cupboard online shop is opening on May 26th!!
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Enjoy the weekend and I will wish for the sunshine wherever you are.