Change the Way You Think About Small Object Photography - Part 1 of 3

My guess is that you found my blog via part 3 of my guest author posts over at the fabulous community and e-commerce site: Meylah (Haven't heard about it? Well, if you like reading blogs, buying /selling handmade work direct from the artist and/or maybe even an artist yourself, you should do yourself a huge favor and check it out!)

With permission from the awesome folks over at Meylah, I'm going to jump start the party by reposting those three blog entries here! (Thanks Meylah! You're the awesome-sauce!!)

Small Object Product Photography for Your Online Shop
Part 1 of 3: Change the Way You Think About Small Object Photography

If you’re like most people with online storefronts, taking better great photos of your small objects is number one on the list of things you need to do to improve your shop. You’ve read the tutorials, turned off the flash, set up near a window, purchased a fancy light-tent pop-up contraption and perhaps even upgraded your camera and still, your results have been less than spectacular.

What more do you need to do to take an amazing photo?

The difference between a good photo and a great photo, particularly with small objects, can be subtle. Composition, lighting and clarity all work together to create a visually appealing photo that gets the viewer up close and personal with the item – giving them a chance to emotionally connect, click and ultimately purchase it!

To achieve this kind of “visually tactile” imagery, it is necessary to approach your photography from your customer’s point of view. For instance, they might wonder:
  • ·         What is the piece made out of?
  • ·         How big is it?
  • ·         How heavy is it?
  • ·         How wide is it?
  • ·         What does it feel like?

Now you might be thinking, “How in the world do I show my customer what it *feels* like or how *heavy* it is if it’s just a photograph?”

This is where you start using that creative brain of yours! Yes, the same one that created that fantastic item you are photographing – and start playing:
  • ·         Try taking photos at lots of different angles.
  • ·         Go extreme – get down to eye level with your work.
  • ·         Learn how to use your camera’s manual settings to manipulate your photos.
  • ·         Play with the depth of field (sharp focus in front, soft focus toward the back) to create visual movement within the frame.
  • ·         Be daring and let part of the piece fall off the edge of the photo.
  • ·         Take super close up (or crop your photos) to highlight the texture of the piece.
Having trouble visually conveying the size of your piece? Use one of your shots to:
  • ·         Take a photo of the piece in or on your (or a friend’s) hand
  • ·         Place it next to an everyday (internationally recognized) object like a drinking glass, pencil, leaf, stapler, a pile of thumbtacks, a lemon…you get the point.
  • ·         Important: Be sure the object you are using for comparison falls off the photo’s edge so it doesn’t compete with your item!
The photographs we take are much more than a record of what we make. They are quite literally the gateway to a better understanding of you, your work and your business. Make the most of them!

Next up:
Part 2: Change the Way You See Your Work (Composition)
Part 3: Change the Way You Use Your Camera (Technical)

More about Meylah:
Meylah is devoted to building an online creative community for individuals to learn, share and support each others business growth online. We know how hard and time consuming being an entrepreneur can be, but with the proper skills at hand, we believe anyone can succeed!

Learn more at

4 Response to "Change the Way You Think About Small Object Photography - Part 1 of 3"

Orese Jewelry said...

Hey Marlo,

Okay, so after stalking your blog the other day, I put some of the tips I learned to work. I used the grid, adjusted the settings on the white balance, and took the rule of thirds & Fibonacci curve into consideration. And, I did away with my beloved flash lol What do you think?

I also desaturated the pictures a bit in Photoshop. It seems more refined-looking to me. Bad idea?

Unknown said...

"Play with the depth of field (sharp focus in front, soft focus toward the back) to create visual movement within the frame."

I have a point and shoot camera - no depth of field settings.

IMakeCuteStuff (aka Marlo M.) said...

Depth of field is the area of a photo that is in sharp focus, not a setting in your camera.

By using your macro setting (indicated by a small tulip icon) in your point and shoot camera and using your auto focus (hold down your button 1/2 way) to focus in on one area of your photo and while holding down the button, re-framing your shot, you will create a sharp area of focus in one area and the rest will be slightly out of focus - resulting in a photo that looks like it has some depth to it.

If you do a Google image search for "depth of field" you'll see some great examples of the term. Hope that helps!

mammamiaeme said...

Great information; but better than the content i really loved the way of describing your thoughts, very direct, fluent,attractive and clear, which i always had like to signify mythoughts but can't as i have no talent!

Thank you.



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