We take most of our own photographs here at Pacific Merchants HQ. As a result, we’ve learned how to prepare for a photoshoot, as well as how to have a photoshoot at home, which keeps our budget reasonable and our photos really relevant. We recently took some new lifestyle shots, and want to share some behind the scenes pics with you as well as some advice for any of you taking photos for your own blog and/or business.
Here are some tips on how to get ready for a product or lifestyle photoshoot and how to style a photoshoot:
1. Make an inventory list of all the items you’ll need. This includes any products you want to shoot, and additional props you’ll incorporate into any lifestyle shots. It’s also helpful to have a shot list, so at least you go into the shoot with an idea of what needs to get done. Even if you don’t do exactly what’s on that list, it gives you a great starting point to organize your time with. It can be as simple as “I want to shoot placemats, mixing bowls and a flower arrangement” or as in depth as drawing out concepts for each shot. Do what works best for you.
2. If you use items from your own home or someone else’s home, make sure to take note of where you borrowed items from so they return where they started. Always ask permission first.
3. If you’re using any food items/perishables, make sure you buy, prep and wash everything before the shoot. It’s really draining to do all the prep work as well as shooting in one day, and doing things like washing fruit or slicing cheese cuts out of valuable shooting time. Of course there will always be prep to do no matter what, but this helps get a large errand out of the way so you have more time to shoot.
4. Be resourceful! Shop for items you need at thrift stores, flea markets, or even off of Craigslist.We’ve used a mixture of our own products and others to really set a scene and create an image of how our products can be used.
5. Try and stay consistent with your background colors/textures, and general aesthetic. For this past photoshoot, we stained a piece of wood that we would use for many of our photos. We tried to make it a color that would showcase our products well, not compete with them for attention.
6. Use your cell phone as a framing tool. Sometimes you can get a better view of what will look good on a page when you’re not looking through the actual lens of your camera. Some cameras have live view screens, but if yours doesn’t, it can get tiring leaning/standing over your setup.
7. Get used to trial and error. A lot of people ask me how I started styling photos and how to shoot food photography; there are so many artistic approaches to styling both food and product photographs. The best advice I can give is to start taking photographs. Look for photos in both digital and analog sources for inspiration, then try to emulate them. Even professionals have to try out different arrangements, angles and approaches; that’s one of the most fun parts of the job!
Hopefully these tips answer some of your questions on how to set up a photoshoot. Here are some more behind the scenes photos from our shoot last week at Pacific Merchants.