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Photography is an incredible skill for small business owners, especially in a market that has become highly visual! You can save yourself a notable amount of money if you are able to produce high-quality images for use on your website, social media, and promotional materials.
Thankfully you can hire someone to handle this for you if it’s in your budget (check out my portfolio here), but for many small business owners, a full-time social media manager + content creator is too large of an investment. So what then? I’ve spent almost a decade as a content creator + social media management for brands, and currently, you can find my product photography in Target and Whole Foods stores across the US (What?!), so I have more than just a few tips to share with you.
My eBook, Learning to Master iPhone Photography, is a great resource for business owners who need to improve their photography skills on a budget. It will walk you through the basics of a smartphone camera, how to get high-quality shots without an expensive camera, how to set up a $10 home studio, and provide you with all of my favorite supplies, editing apps, and styling tips!
To help set the mood I thought I’d dive into some of the random tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years, starting with some of the supplies I keep on hand for styling product photos.
The first step in a home studio is to purchase 2-3 pieces of foam board! I walk you through setting up and using your $10 home studio in my eBook, so please reference that if you are unfamiliar with how to do this. You can get a pack of 10 sheets delivered right to your door through Amazon.
Foamboard – $24 for a pack of 10
Contact paper is an incredible way to create fast backgrounds that are cheap and easy to move/store. Having a few of these on hand provides you with new options to change up your home studio and add texture to your photos. Contact paper is an adhesive paper that comes in a roll, I simply adhere it to a piece of Foam Board to create a DIY backdrop. Here’s an example where I used a faux brick contact paper as a background. Below are my favorite contact papers.
PAINT FOAM BOARD OR TAGBOARD
A simple coat of paint on a sheet of tagboard or foam board creates a custom background. I’ve done this to create branded backgrounds for several clients. It’s a fast and easy way to get the exact color you want or need for a specific project.
ENLARGE A PRINT AT OFFICEMAX
Another one of my favorite tricks is to create a pattern or design in photoshop, and then have it enlarged and printed on plotter paper at your local office supply store. They can usually print them out at 36″ x 36″ inches and they can easily be rolled for storage.
RANDOMLY USEFUL THINGS
Mounting Putty – great for getting your flatlay items in the perfect spot or elevating them slightly off the background.
Selfie Stick – for more than selfies! You’d be surprised how often one of these can help you get the perfect instagram shot. Try holding it above the shot with the timer on in order to get your hands into the frame.
Bottle Caps – Call me crazy, I always have a bag of bottle caps handy during a shoot! Once you have them, you’ll find dozens of ways to use them. They’re great for positioning bottles so they don’t roll away, while lifting them off the background just slightly. You can also stack them to create a little raiser for positioning plates, drinks or products.
iPhone Lens Kit – Can be great for getting close-up or wide-angle photos without needing a fancy camera. I don’t personally use one of these very often, but it’s handy if you’re photographing something like jewelry (use a macro lens) or a realtor trying to fit an entire room in one frame (use a fish-eye lens).
BROWSE YOUR LOCAL GOODWILL OR HOME STORE
Your local GOODWILL or SAVERS are great places to find old cutting boards, serving trays, or tables with interesting tops! The fact that they are used and aged adds some character. Flea markets and garage sales are another great place to look — although sometimes the best ones so beat up that people don’t even think to put them out for sale. Make sure your grandma, aunts, and all their friends know that you might be interested in taking these things off their hands. Your local home supply store can also be a great place to find countertop remnants or oversized tiles that make great photo props.
Be sure to check out my Resources Page for a full list of the lighting, equipment, and supplies I use and recommend! If you want to learn more about using your iPhone to promote your business, check out my eBook, Learning to Master iPhone Photography as well as Episode 004 of the Plan Podcast where I share more of my tips.