Many times we go about our lives doing the same routine and expecting or hoping for better results. Eventually when we don’t get those better results, we need to step back and re-evaluate. This is where I am at right now.
I realize with my product photography that everything I have tried, all the ticks and trips, all the pro-advice, and all the creativity I could muster have not been giving me the kind of photographs I would like to achieve. My photos have improved somewhat over time, but not nearly as much as I would like.
While my blog post picture is purposefully poorly exposed, color corrected and blurred, it is an extreme example of all the things I need to work on: Color correction, lighting, exposure, white balance, composition, and image clarity.
So this tells me:
a) I need to re-evaluate my process. It’s not working.
b) I need to take a look at my tools – are they the right ones? Are they the best ones?
c) Sadly, I need to spend more time on the photography and less time on the soap making until get things on the road to improvement.
I have another book in the works and, while the pictures I used in my first 3 e-books were acceptable, they aren’t professional quality. They are better than some books out there, sure, but they could be much better in my next book. So I am going to delay my next book until I can get better pictures. That is disappointing to me because the content is about 80% done now, but I feel it is necessary to have excellent photography in this one since it will have SO many recipes in it.
Things I am now working on:
I have up to now been using my iPhone 6s Plus for my photography. My husband says it is not the right tool for the job, so I am researching DSLR cameras. I am a total newbie to photography, so I am looking in the entry-level range.
So far in my research, the Canon EOS Rebel t6i and the Nikon D5500 are the top contenders. I am leaning more toward the Canon since it allows you to have live previews of the image when you change the aperture, ISO, and other settings. I feel this is probably important for me since I have no clue what I am doing.
The Canon also allows you to use your iPhone to remote control the shot including the settings (not just a remote trigger, but also a settings control). The Nikon seems to have a slightly better image quality (warmth) but I am not sure it is THAT much better to give up the live preview and remote control. I think the difference in warmth in the pictures can be obtained with software correction or with changing the camera settings (the example pictures I looked at were all taken with “default” lenses and settings).
I also bought a lens set for my iPhone too just for fun. It is supposed to have 4 different lenses that snap onto the iPhone so you can take wide-angle, telephoto, fish eye and macro shots. I am hoping this can tide me over until I save up the money for the DSLR camera.
Lighting is a constant struggle for me. My house is very dark and my work space is horrible for lighting. We had to put up 2 LED strip lights under the cabinets to have any light at all, and now the lighting is harsh and directly overhead. It creates all kinds of issues with glare, reflection, and shadows. It also tends to wash out the colors.
To help mitigate this, (at least for my shots of the finished soaps) I bought a photo light cube from Amazon. I bought this one. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I am hoping that between the light cube and the lighting kit it will help me with achieving better lighting in my photos.
I will have to continue to struggle with that for my pictures which involve the soap making steps (as you really don’t want to have to make your soap inside of a light cube). However, maybe I can add some side lighting to help, or maybe put up a backdrop behind the cabinets to help reflect the light better.
I am a shaky photographer. I usually take 2 to 3 shots of every picture just so if 2 of the them turn out blurry, at least maybe one will be good. Usually all 3 are blurry and I need to do it again. A tripod is supposed to help with that to keep the camera steady. So I bought this one.
As my husband is an artist, I am well aware of the concepts of composition. However, I am usually in a hurry to get my soaps and other products photographed and just don’t pay attention to it. So this is something that I just need to pay more attention to and make sure to utilize it in my shots.
Staging and Mood:
Up until now, I have been using a cutting board and wicker basket to do most of my pictures. While it works “OK”, it gets a little boring, and sometimes the wood and wicker colors don’t do any favors for my soaps (too little or too much contrast or “tone on tone”).
I need to collect some interesting props and backdrops so I can change the variation and use backgrounds that compliment or contrast my soaps. Interesting props will also help amp up the drama and produce more interesting pictures. I am thinking I should go buy some rolls of interesting paper, some textural fabrics, and so forth. For props, I have all kinds of curios lying around my house that I can probably employ (if I give them a good dusting first).
Again, I understand this concept about staging and mood, but never take the time to actually get out the props and stage the shot. I do need to start doing this.
Hopefully some or all of these things will show great improvement in my photography and allow me to finish my next book to my satisfaction. The bad news is that I am going to have to make a significant time and money investment to get there.
I might not be posting very much for a little while as I undertake this new approach (with a huge learning curve). Please wish me luck!