In this blog post, learn the step-by-step on how to do product photography styling for blog flat lays and for your client’s photography needs. Find what are the best props to use for product photography styling and where to buy them for a cheap price.
You’ve probably heard that one of the key elements of blogging is the visual aspect of it. Of course, not all blog niches focus on it so heavily but, in general, photography alongside well-written articles can set your blog apart from others and give it more personality, thus attracting more readers (and clients).
Since the quarantine started, I took this as a chance to dive right into product photography.
Lately more than ever, I love getting creative with creating my very own blog photography (before I heavily depended on Cris to take my pictures for me).
I’ve been posting a lot of the behind-the-scenes on Instagram and been having a lot of positive responses from my audience. With that in mind, I thought I would share my own tips and tricks on how to style and shoot your blog images like a pro from the convenience of your own house.
Product Photography Styling: The Basics
As we are starting from the basics, we need to talk about backgrounds.
The most popular choice for bloggers (myself included) is a plain white matte background or faux marble. Both of these work well as they don’t overpower the subject matter and are visually pleasing.
However, don’t limit yourself to this. Taking inspiration from editorial images can help broaden your creativity.
Matte pastel backgrounds (bought from craft stores) work well even by using more than one color (i.e. by overlaying them). For richer images, try out more detailed backgrounds, such as aged wood or slate. Reflective surfaces also have their place in product photography and render amazing results. I especially like acrylic sheets, which are inexpensive and can be bought in any color.
Having a Props Box
Having a large variety of props at hand for your photography is essential.
The sky is the limit when thinking of props. These can be anything from notebooks and stationery items, to plates, ribbons and dried flowers.
In fact, flowers and even food can also work well to vamp up a shoot into something much more appealing.
Though my personal favorite props are satin ribbons, dried rose petals, and books/magazines. Additionally, if you are looking to achieve more editorial-style images, then thinking outside the box with unique props is key.
READ: Amazing Props for Product Photography
Choose a Color Palette for your product photography styling
Color is not something to be overlooked when dealing with product photography.
For styled images, sticking to a concise palette of 3-4 colors usually works well. However, there may be times you want to stick to a single color to add impact, or maybe you wish to go all out to create a vibrant image with an unlimited color palette.
Alternatively, all monochrome or pastel images can also work really well. Here, it is not about limiting yourself, but more about being aware of colors and how they can help create (or destroy) a visual mood.
To Flat Lay or not to Flat Lay?
Deciding to shoot in a flat lay style (directly from above0, or taking the picture from a different angle is a personal preference. In all honesty, I often like to mix it up to make sure my images don’t appear to same (and thus also guarantee more options in post-editing).
When shooting a flat lay from above, I like to use a tripod (to guarantee stability), and zoom in as necessary.
As for shots taken from angles, the main benefit is that it allows for a depth of field to be created (i.e. that cool blurry background effect, such as the picture below). This effect gives a stronger focal point to the product and is pleasing on the eye (making the photo look super pro).
I personally prefer to shoot in this way simply because I believe it is more interesting. Additionally, it also allows soft shadows to be created, thus giving the image more personality.
Example post with a mix of flat-lay and traditional angle shots below.
Most Popular Flat Lay
The main type of flat lay in the blogging world is one that sets the scene/tells a story. These generally include one Hero item, with other supporting objects staged around it in a natural way.
Side note: The lens on a phone is greatly different from an actual camera, often distorting the perspective and shape of products when shooting from an angle, thus making it pretty obvious the image has been taken by a phone camera.
Tip: If you don’t own a DSLR but you want to take beautiful product photography, shoot directly from above and that problem disappears!
Related: how to take stunning flat lays with your iPhone
Product Photography Styling: How to Tell a Story?
As I explained many times, telling a story is the most appealing type of flat lay for bloggers. Anything goes here really, as long as it makes sense and sets the scene.
As an example, when writing a blog post that’s about blogging, I often photograph the keyboard of my laptop, a notebook with a pen, and even a few extras such as a few plants or flowers (and why not a cup of coffee?).
This is not only a relatable scene, but it goes perfectly with the blog topic I will be writing about.
Talking about summer products? Photograph them with colorful props; fruits (such as watermelons, lemons); accessories such as sunglasses, flip flops, etc. Give summer wanderlust vibes. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Want to go one step further? Try an “action” shot by including your hands into the image to really help your story come alive. For this, you will need a tripod and your camera on the timer setting (or a willing helper)!
The Main Elements of Photography Styling
The main element that can make an image shine is placement. Depending on the type of image, you may want to give products equidistant space and lay them mostly flat (good for flat lays), or mix this up with overlapping items (when certain objects stand on top of others).
Another good idea is to open up products, such as a makeup compact, lipstick lid, etc. Magazines and books can also give a more realistic, yet editorial look to your images.
Lighting is a super, duper important element to be aware of when talking about photography of any type. Natural lighting is preferred, so shoot in front of a large window if you can and avoid using flash at all costs.
Additionally, shadows may actually be your friend and often play a large part in editorial-style shoots, so don’t get too annoyed if there are shadows in the shot.
Hopefully I’ve covered the basics of flat lay photography and have given some creative ideas when it comes to creating your own product photography styling.
Let me know your favorite types of photography for your own blog and to see on others? I have a feeling it may be flat lays!