In this guest post Howling Moon, a PR agency who work with unique brands and small business, introduce themselves and explain how they’ve been supporting businesses throughout Covid and beyond. We have a number of clients in common including Driftwood Designs, Helen Russell Creations,and Jin Designs. I’ve worked with Helen extensively throughout the past few years and she says “Howling Moon aren’t just a public relations agency. This is an agency that wants to work with small businesses as partners to help them grow and flourish. Howling Moon are supporters of small businesses – definitely not the usual run of the mill agency where it’s based on time versus money.” Read on for more detail on how they can help you succeed, and for other support that’s out there.
Continuing to Support throughout the Pandemic.
At Howling Moon PR we’ve been trying to keep calm and carry on and fortunately for us, our clients and the media, journalists and influencers carried on working – albeit some printed publications chose to temporarily switch to producing only online content. Time will tell whether that switch will be permanent.
As well as continuing to push products out to the press, we’ve been helping clients who’ve used their lockdown time to re-evaluate and refresh their business. Having someone from the outside take a look at your business, or your website, can often help you to see things that you may be missing. We’ve worked with several clients who decided to use their quieter trading time constructively to help re-develop their websites, branding, photography and product ranges to ensure they can be better placed to move forward once things start to open up again.
In trying to find positives from the last year, lots of smaller, local businesses have seen people turning to them and supporting them – let’s hope that this continues and we see a brave new ‘normal’ for the retail sector that sees independents at the forefront. There’s still a way to go and it’s a time of change for everyone – but that doesn’t have to be a negative – the important thing is we all try and support each other.
Small businesses make the world a more interesting place!
There’s lots being said about the decline of the high street with the focus being on the big names that made town centres look much like duplicate copies of each other – and then in some cases moved to bland out of town retail parks – adding further to the problems.
But are things changing? Take a look around the corner and you’ll discover pop-up shops, farmers markets, makers markets, art and craft fairs all showcasing small business and local producers all of whom are passionate about their products.
The supermarkets and large chains have their place and certainly contribute to the economy – but nothing compares to a specialist designer, artist or retailer – someone who not only knows their stuff inside out and is passionate about it but who also has an exciting and unique array of products on offer. It’s far more interesting stepping into a lovely craft gallery, delicatessen or cheese shop or craft gallery and discovering things in there that you’ve never seen before! There’s also something very satisfying about finding something for a gift for someone – or yourself – that you know hasn’t been mass-produced.
Design is now much more accessible than it was just a couple of decades ago with the rise of the TV makeover programme bringing aesthetics into everyone’s living room and there seems to be a real demand for ‘experiences’ as people look to fill their leisure time.
The internet has also enabled people to get creative and set up their own business – a hobby or interest can easily be capitalised on with a small beginning and little investment. Growing organically by first selling online, then progressing to local fairs can allow designers and makers to establish themselves and their brand first whilst still being supported by regular full or part-time employment.
We were able to use some of the cutout images to help feature Driftwood Designs in this Mother’s Day gift guide produced by DB reviews, just one of the ways we’re able to increase a business’s exposure.
Where do you want to be?
You need to decide what’s right for your brand and how do you see it developing – with increased competition for every centimetre of shelf space the glory of seeing your products stocked by a high-street name can be short-lived.
There’s also the “all your eggs in one basket” syndrome – it may be great to have a mahoosive order from one of the big boys, but should anything go wrong (as in the case of BHS, House of Fraser, and more recently Debenhams) then where does that leave you?
Not everyone wants to be supplying products on that level – it may not fit with your business plan – and even though expanding the business is one of your goals, you may want to keep your distribution to a smaller scale. If you’re hand-making products, then that may be one of your main USP’s that you want to continue to capitalise upon.
There’s lots of support out there…
One of the biggest problems for small businesses – and it is stating the obvious – but they all need sales to survive and for many that’s an uphill struggle. That’s why awareness initiatives – be they days, weeks or year-round campaigns – are important to highlight the plight of the smaller business.
The Just a Card campaign is an initiative run by volunteers (including a little help from Howling Moon Public Relations!) from the creative community that runs all year and encourages everyone to get involved – designers, artists, galleries, craft shops and independent retailers alike. Then there’s March Meet the Maker, started by Joanne Hawker, a campaign using Instagram to let your followers and the wider community know all about you and what you make.
Designed to get everyone shopping in their local independent stores, there’s also Independents Day – aptly named to coincide with the big American holiday on the 4th July!
There’s been a Small Business Saturday in the UK for a number of years and they are now more active at ‘making a noise’ throughout the year.
Experts in business, The Federation of Small Business offers members a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government. Their mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.
There are also lots of ways to get involved on social media too – worth a look at are the regular chats on Twitter including #handmadehour, #justacard hour (every Thursday evening) and some really interesting Instagram challenges for designers and artists which encourage month-long participation and help to build a real sense of community and support.
It’s vital to support small businesses – they really do make the world go around!
Written by Roy Mouncey, from Howling Moon PR
With over 25 years of experience in Public Relations, Roy has worked with a diverse range of brands and products; from a Royal Milliner to hiking socks, designer fragrance to haemorrhoid cream and everything in between!
Once described by a tutor at college as a “Renaissance man” (being able to turn his hand to most things!), Roy contributes constructively to each project. As well as PR campaigns he has been creatively involved in helping businesses to develop and grow – even going as far as to design and make tea pot and hotbox covers for one client to supply to a major London hotel.
Roy enjoys working with niche brands that have a great story to tell and that have been developed through a passion rather than because of a big budget.
Working in the UK greeting card industry is the aim of lots of designers and creatives, and Adriana Lovesy is one such designer who has had a number of successes with her greeting card business including recognition within the industry’s Henries awards. Read on to find out more about Adriana’s journey and how we have helped with unique styling starting with a small sample shoot and continuing to this day with regular photoshoots.
Greeting cards are by their very nature a very emotive product, having lots of different meanings, themes and covering lots of different topics. The UK is a world leader in the field, and it is a deep-rooted part of our culture to send and receive cards. This way of transmitting a feeling is even bucking the trend for moving to digital products, as discussed in this Guardian article ‘How Gen Z Saved the Greetings Card’. Quite aside from the primary reason that people love to receive a physical product with a loved one’s handwriting in, the article discusses aspects such as low volume print runs that have been enabling smaller publishers to succeed. Designers, illustrators and artists contribute to the creativity seen within the field and we aim to do our part by putting our thinking cap on when creating settings, styling and using props to create unique imagery.
The Business and The Brand
Adriana Lovesy is the founder of this greeting card business creating luxurious cards. Named after the designer herself, Mrs Lovesy continues to have success which all started when Adriana enrolled on a degree course in Fine Art with the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London. From there, while on maternity leave, she continued to develop her skills and introduced us to her new brand in 2015. Adriana also received her first Henries finalist nomination that same year before going on to receive further nominations in both 2016 and 2020.
“It has been an important part of my business growth to have good product photographs that not only gives a true and accurate representation of my product but also my brand. My first sample shoot with Richard at Forever Creative Photography really opened my eyes to what was possible and helped me put together a clear visual representation of my brand. I think one of the most important elements about having a successful business is having a clear and recognisable brand. “
Mrs Lovesy’s cards sell all across the UK through independent retail channels and also export across the channel to France. Online she sells from her Not on the High Street store, Etsy shop and direct from her own website. As a mother herself, Adriana understands the pressures of combining motherhood with employment and so actively seeks to employ other local mothers to help with the hand-finishing of her products. She offers flexible working hours to suit their schedules and the option for them to work from home ensuring that they are not excluded from work due to time pressures.
All the detailed elements of the product are sourced from the UK, making this an original British greeting card brand!
The Greeting Card Industries’ own Association (the GCA)
The Greeting Card Association, commonly referred to as the GCA has been the voice of the industry since 1919and is an independent not for profit organisation and works with members large and small to help them succeed through their various initiatives. Adriana was promoted to a council member of the Greeting Card Association in 2020 with an aim of bringing some perspective and views from an under-represented group. The GCA also have other members including retailers, suppliers, trade fair organisers, and agents. Because of their knowledge, this makes them a real hub to seek out information for any designer or artist wishing to enter the field.
We are also a member of the GCA, an associate member and have previously written various guides on the subject of photography of cards. Check out our Greeting Card gallery page to see more about those and also a discount offer for GCA members. After requiring images for their recently relaunched website we were happy to supply various images such as web banners and product images taken for our clients.
The Brief and the Sample Shoot
The client brief explained that the products were to be pitched as a sophisticated choice in the greetings card market. Many of the cards, which are handmade, feature contemporary floral illustrations. They are then finished with glass crystals which really adds a touch of decadence to the products. Adriana also draws inspiration from her Ghanian heritage and adds colours of the countries flag into her designs. This inspiration brings about pops of colour with a touch of African flair. The brand’s logo is often reflected through the use of jewels as props in the imagery.
“It was amazing to see Richard’s interpretation of my brand from the brief that I gave him – the results far exceeded my expectations. Even though I am creative and have an eye for design I think having someone like Richard work on my product photography greatly helped as he brought a fresh prospective and vision. I have been working with Richard for several years now and he completely understands my brand. Every shoot he always captures the essence of the Mrs Lovesy brand but adds a lovely twist making each shoot slightly different from the last – I still get excited viewing the images from new shoots.”
When photographing this greeting card brand, there are elements of the cards we wanted to capture to ensure that these unique points are communicated visually. Including the card’s texture and of course the gems incorporated within the design. “Having never paid for a professional product shoot before I was a bit nervous and unsure.” This is why we suggested a small sample shoot to start with. During this ‘introductory’ shoot, which is something that is offered to all new clients, we produced the following shots. Read more about our introductory sample shoot service which includes the pricing which for this particular service is a fixed cost. It really does help you visualise how your work may appear when professionally photographed without committing to a larger shoot.
We have a large selection of backgrounds and surfaces to choose from to make the perfect greeting card shoot. These include a variety of surfaces, backgrounds, and props. With top-notch professional lighting equipment, we can illuminate the cards and show off the textures and colours to make them look as luxurious as possible.
We start by unpacking the cards and sorting them according to the images to be taken, placing them in groups revolving around which props will go with each group of cards. What we tend to do with greeting cards is create small movements of props from one image to the next. And then change props every four or so images in sequence and then swap them out completely. Depending on the client preference and the budget sometimes these changes are reduced slightly.
Creating the Setting
The initial step to create a setting is to gather an array of possibilities. This includes props, backgrounds and surfaces. Generally, we will have an idea of surfaces and backgrounds, but certainly, with props, an array is exactly what is created as there are props everywhere! It’s much easier to pare down when you have lots to choose from. When working on this greeting card photography shoot, we made sure to keep everything simple using background materials with a lot of texture. Small jewel props are used throughout to echo the glass crystals within the cards themselves. To achieve this we created a setting that was simple and elegant but maintained a contemporary feel. A subtly textured backdrop was used, alongside a pair of modern geometric vases from the prop store. Using softboxes combined with additional diffusion material produced a very soft light and appearance.
A couple of behind the scenes images, getting the white balance right and tweaking props as the shoot progressed…
Here you can see the brand’s homepage, using one of the shots as a web banner…
Behind the Scenes
The next stage is lighting. We focussed on creating a very soft effect by additional diffusion than a standard softbox can offer. Starting by placing diffusion panels, which will result in a halo effect around the cards. When combined with a shallow depth of field creates a wonderfully unique style. While crafting the lighting can be a technical and sometimes an experimental process, when we work regularly with a client we take notes of how the lighting setup is created. This ensures we can similarly reproduce the lighting setup with enough accuracy to the previous shoot. For greeting card business shoots we also pay particular attention to colour reproduction. For this particular shoot, we aimed to reveal accurate colour, but it was more important to convey the texture and the reflectivity of the gems within the card. Either way, it’s a case of ensuring an accurate white balance throughout the shoot, and then making minor adjustments in post-production to colour saturation, and depending upon the card stock used, and the way it has been printed, sometimes further colour corrections are required.
Here, we show how we use two diffusers alongside a strip box to create a soft effect. A black piece of card in this particular image is used to reduce the reflected light coming in on the left-hand side.
Sharpness vs Softness
It can be a little bit of a balancing act, between having sharpness to reveal texture, vs softness communicating the sophisticated nature of the brand. Which has been used to help communicate the sentiments and emotiveness of the product.
Adriana says “It was amazing to see Richard’s interpretation of my brand from the brief that I gave him – the results far exceeded my expectations. Even though I am creative and have an eye for design I think having someone like Richard work on my product photography greatly helped as he brought a fresh prospective and vision. I have been working with Richard for several years now and he completely understands my brand. Every shoot he always captures the essence of the Mrs Lovesy brand but adds a lovely twist making each shoot slightly different from the last – I still get excited viewing the images from new shoots.”
All clients, and greeting card businesses are no exception, underestimate the effect of having too much light within a scene. We are often asked to make things as bright as possible and can understand why but at the same time certain details and textural elements begin to disappear as the brightness goes up. Leaving the brightness down a notch or two also avoids the card blending into the rest of the scene.
We use a Nikon D3x for all our studio shoots. This is an excellent camera for product photography, it’s full-frame and 24MP so ideal for ‘cropability’ too! The camera is connected via a tether cable to a MacBook Pro, this really is invaluable in product photography as it provides instant access to closely review images and make subtle corrections as the shoot proceeds. From there images are moved across to the main PC monitor for final editing, enhancements and colour corrections.
Since the sample shoot, Adriana has been back time and again for shoots photographing her various card collections, with the images primarily being used for website product listings, but also for other advertising purposes such as social media.
“Richard has produced beautiful photographs and interpreted my brief perfectly. I was impressed with the results from the sample shoot and he showed me what was possible, and it gave me the confidence to hire Richard to shoot my whole product range. I was really happy with the service that was given to me and would highly recommend Forever Creative Photography to anyone.”
We can help you visualise your design and bring it to fruition. Let us add value to your overall brand.
Greeting Card Designer Photographs
Working with Adriana and indeed any greeting card business is something we really enjoy and our goal is to ensure that the images produced are unique and convey the value of the design and the card itself. Read more about our simple copyright policy here and our different license types. We’re here to help you construct your brand and bring your products to life!
As product photographers, we strive to bring out the best in your products and offer free quotations and consultations. We can answer any questions you may have and there are some of our FAQ’s here. If the question isn’t listed don’t hesitate to Get in touch as we have various options for you, and can advise on which of these may be applicable to you. Such as shooting entire ranges of cards, or which to have shot, and perhaps which you could ‘get-away’ with using digital artwork for. We have a pragmatic view of these things and understand that budget and time considerations are real. Particularly when first starting out, where you really do need to prioritise your allocation of funds. We can advise where professional imagery will have the most impact for you and your sales.
There are some images that may be seen to be secondary, and this is why we’ve also produced a guide on photographing greeting cards, and you can find this on our main Greeting card page.
Don’t forget we also offer digital mock-up services, and can also superimpose designs from your own digital artwork.
We were honoured to be asked to create advertising images for both the 2019 and 2020 British Craft Trade Fair. When creating imagery for this fantastic event we were able to capture the work of the some very talented designers, makers and artists through our very own lens. Read on to find out how our studio works, and how we styled this shoot.
WHAT IS THE BRITISH CRAFT TRADE FAIR?
The British Craft Trade Fair is an exceptional event showcasing the best when it comes to all things handmade. It’s an exclusive exhibition that takes place each year in Harrogate. It has a rigorous screening process, ensuring that all items sold are guaranteed to be handmade. It also means that all items are made right here in the UK.
If you are a designer-maker, or have your own brand, this is the place to showcase your work to potential buyers from ‘bricks and mortar’ shops and online stores.
“BCTF showcases the best of British artisan crafts, including: Ceramics, Glassware, Metalwork, Jewellery, Textiles, Fashion Accessories, Greetings Cards, Stationery, Fine Art, Sculpture, Home Accessories, Tableware and more. As the demand for quality British-made product becomes a priority for UK shoppers, we offer the ideal sourcing environment for discerning retailers.”
All of the product photography was created in our own studio, which BCTF would then use to advertise the show both online and in printed materials such as brochures and invitations. It was even used on their exhibition advertising boards placed on the entry to the event.
FORTY FIVE YEARS YOUNG
BCTF is a venerable 45-year-old event that has been showing the best unique handmade goods longer than any other trade fair in the UK. All participants have their items verified to be non mass-produced before they can be involved.
The British Craft Trade Fair has a unique mentoring program that helps makers appeal to professional buyers and prepares them for their first trade show. This experience can seem overwhelming, and meeting buyers’ high standards can be intimidating. BCTF ‘walks’ all newcomers through the process and ensures that everyone gets set up for success. It’s because of this BCTF is not considered to be just a trade show, they really do go above and beyond to help you achieve success.
One of our clients, Bob from Humblewood has been a regular exhibitor at the event over the past few years now and has this to say about the show…“I hope you and the team are now fully recovered from the show – I know it’s taken me a while! I just wanted to thank you and the whole team for your efforts in putting on the event, which was a great success for me. As a direct result of BCTF, I now have 12 new retailers on board.”
The Client for the Product Photography Shoot – Margeret Bunn
Margeret Bunn has been running the event for the last 27 years. Margeret has a good eye for talent and is responsible for selecting the makers that exhibit their work. She sets the standards high and ensures only the best show their work to potential buyers. When asked by Margeret to create the advertising images featuring the exhibitors for the 2019 British Craft Trade Fair, we were elated.
Margeret hand-picked all the work she wanted to see in the images, and all of these items were In the brief, she stated that she wanted bright, fresh, and Spring-like images. There were many products to display in the pictures, and as such props weren’t necessary for the shoot as they would have been a distraction.
“Magazine editors regularly inform us that the single most important thing a company can do to gain editorial coverage is to invest in photography. In such a visual industry – and especially in the age of Instagram – it makes sense to put your best face forward and allow your beautiful products to truly shine in 2D as much as they do in their real-life glory.” – Margeret Bunn
For this arts and craft studio photography shoot, we used what we have available to us. That is the studio itself, which also houses a whole raft of props, surfaces and backgrounds. We even have a small curated selection of furniture, from vintage to modern. By combining these elements we have been able to create unique and contemporary advertising images.
We offer all of our clients access to these and some of which are featured in this shoot. Our selection can be used to highlight key features of various products, and place them within a context too. It’s this context that helps create a story, which is key to selling by emotively triggering a consumers wants and needs.
Since the product photography shoot is all carried out in-house, within the studio communication is via phone, zoom (other video conferencing apps are available!), and email.
We provide test shots to ensure the client is happy before continuing with the rest of the shoot. Some photographers require that you be in-studio for the shoot. We have found that since it can take some time to setup both the styling and the lighting that the client doesn’t need to be present. You don’t need to ‘spend your time’ at the shoot.
2019 Product Photography Shoot for BCTF
Here’s how we made the whole shoot come to life.
The beautiful soft grey walls and wooden flooring of our studio made for the perfect backdrop. From this we crafted the lighting, selected the props, until everything was ‘just-so’. We thoroughly enjoy the process of course and experiment until we achieve the best ‘look’.
The colours have a cool and fresh appearance, and also provide a minimalistic look and the least distracting colour allowing the focus to be on the products themselves.
We placed everything strategically with attention to detail and by experimenting to achieve the best balance between the shapes, sizes and context of the work. When photographing many pieces of work within one image it becomes difficult to eliminate reflections on all items, and as such glass and ceramics were carefully considered as to not have any unsightly specular highlights upon them. Some items were removed and shots merged, this was to remove shadows that were partially cast over other products
“I would really recommend Richard. He has photographed many of our exhibitors’ BCTF work, and they have all been delighted with the results. Always friendly and happy to achieve your goals, he did some great lifestyle photos for us, which proved to be invaluable for the advertising we did for BCTF 2019. Thanks, Richard.” Margeret, BCTF.
The 2020 Shoot
It’s been great to work with Margeret and BCTF exhibitors again for the 2020 shoot. This year we decided a little upon a more exclusive, more luxurious look with this wonderful blue backdrop. (Oxford Blue from Colorama, we have a full roll of it in 2.7 metre wide format now!)
Like the previous shoot Margeret hand picked the work that was to be sent, and to go with a different backdrop colour, an entirely different furniture selection was chosen. The work had a different more textured and raw feel to that of the previous more contemporary work. The furniture was chosen to reflect this.
An image featured on the BCTF Homepage.
And another image featured in their printed invitation.
That’s a Wrap (for Now)
It was a real delight to work on these shoots for both the exhibitors and Margeret herself. Of course since this shoot was originally completed the world has changed dramatically, and it’s affected all areas of trade. Online sales have become so much more important, and BCTF has adapted to both the pandemic and resulting social distancing guidelines by converting to online exhibitions for 2021 and 2022.
The next British Craft Trade Fair will be online only from June 6th – June 8th, 2021! See here for further details.
We can’t wait to work with Margeret and the whole BCTF family again once the pandemic is over. Although we have been working throughout, so don’t forget you can send your products across, you don’t need to be here for the shoot to proceed!
If you would like help photographing your products, please contact us for your free consultation. We’ll answer all your questions to make the process streamlined. If you are at the stage of needing to improve your photography and make your brand more successful and more appealing to buyers we are here to help.
Let’s get your product images marketable!
The Friendly Chemical Company, who produce natural cleaning products, contacted us with a brief to provide a shoot that fulfilled their need for a combination of lifestyle, product and interior styled imagery. A tall order all within one shoot but we succeeded by using a simple approach and tieing images together with consistent themes throughout.
Miniml is a natural cleaning brand, created by the Friendly Chemical Company offering zero waste solutions to their customers at over 500 stores in the UK, ensuring that every bottle that is sold is reused.
The Brief in Detail
These are the project requirements we received from Miniml:
• To have the right balance of product photographs against lifestyle and onto interiors. This to ensure the images are appealing to as broad an audience as possible.
• Have a balance between showing the actual products versus their uses in everyday life.
• Use ‘sunshine’ lighting and adding softness with fabrics to make it look homely and clean.
• Try and tap into interior influences using pampas grass, hessians, and rattan products.
Using Ingredients of the Products as Props
Miniml sent over a laundry basket with their products, but other than that we supplied all the props used for the shoot, from the prop store and also from the local market. This great historical market is literally round the corner from the studio in the Old Town part of Scarborough. It’s great for a whole range of fresh produce, and for this shoot we purchased apple, orange, coconut, almonds, and grapefruit.
There are several reasons why fruit can be very effective within product photo shoots.
• Adding fresh fruit to a lifestyle photograph can awaken the viewer’s senses. For instance, the orange makes you think of the citrus fragrances and the taste of the fruit connects you with the image on a more emotive level.
• The fact that your product may include fresh and natural ingredients is reinforced visually.
• They have interesting shapes, textures, colours, and small details that will pop.
SURFACES AND BACKGROUNDS
Simple backgrounds add character to your product photo shoots. A marble background and a wooden surface create a colour and texture contrast. We used a rustic table and a free-standing contemporary basin to add to the home style portrayal, which was of course part of the brief. All images are created right here within the studio by creating hints of rooms, this is great as they present a stripped down/pared down look which allows your product to be the hero without distracting elements.
Bringing Products to Life
Creating ‘everyday moments’ by including actions is something that adds the feeling of motion to a still image. We have hands ‘doing the washing-up’ and spraying the cleaner onto a surface to stage those everyday-life moments to help the audience visualise the products’ use.
Setting the self timer on the camera meant that we were able to include Richard’s own hands in the shots.
Furniture as Props
We have a small range of fantastic furniture that can be used. From mid-century chests and vintage chairs to wooden table lamps, there is something for every brand. In this shoot, we used a palm plant, various succulents and an Eiffel chair made by the famous Charles Eames.
This simplistic and chic chair creates a clean, minimalistic mood. The sharp shapes and hint of the wooden legs with metal under-frame stand out against the simple floor and wall backdrop of the studio itself.
As you can see we offer our clients various types of images – a balance of product photography, lifestyle photography, and interior design photography all carried out in our studio on the North Yorkshire coast. Simply send across your products with your brief. After discussions about ideas, and the completion of a shot list the next step is for us to produce a test shot. From there the shoot proceeds.
In this article we look back at our growing relationship with eco-friendly brand Seedlings Cards and Gifts. It was back in 2015 when we first produced an introductory sample shoot for designer Sarah-Jayne Mercer and have been creating imagery for them ever since.
We like to use colour-coordinated props to pick out colours from the products and designs, even a small flash of colour can be used to good effect.
All of the products are inspired by nature, and as they say on their own website; “Our products have been designed with the act of ‘giving back’ in mind, from using recycled and biodegradable elements to sourcing local materials where possible.”
A SMALL BUSINESS WITH AN ECO-CONSCIOUS HEART.
The Seedlings ethos was dreamt up over 10 years ago, when the idea of giving seeds sparked the formation of a card and gift company which wanted to give back to the environment and “do our bit whilst creating lasting sentiments.” These greeting cards, calendars, and homewares are really quite unique as they include a little pack of seeds for you to plant. The seeds they use are British seeds, and have been chosen to attract pollinators and help rebuild natural habitats. This is why we always show the little seed packet as well as the card.
It’s such a good idea to receive a card or gift that has a positive legacy beyond its initial use. Lets face it the majority of greeting cards don’t have a long life do they?
VINTAGE AND RUSTIC PROP STYLING – WITH RUST!
Drawing inspiration from the natural world their products also focus upon simpler times gone by. Embracing these sentiments we’ve chosen rustic and vintage props to style the shoots, as well as rusty gardening tools and other rustic industrial items. Digressing slightly, we do love rusty props here at Forever Creative and as an avid viewer of American Pickers this reminds Richard of their expression ‘Rusty Gold’.
“Being surrounded by nature we are constantly reminded of the importance of connecting with it. Learning as much as we can and taking steps to help to reverse the negative impact on the environment which running a company can cause.” The surface we use for nearly all of their shoots is actually one of the first we created, by dismantling several discarded shipping palettes and stripping them.
The charming illustrations, lovingly created by Sarah’s husband Joel, are printed upon high quality card stock with a traditional texture. Revealing this texture within the photography is so important online as it’s the only way of communicating a tactile feeling. This is why particular importance is placed upon the lighting and focus when setting up the scene for any greeting card photography setup.
As the condition of the natural world becomes more and more key to customers shopping choices products that embrace this are sure to do well. Plantable products. Which is why we have quite a stock of both rustic and organic props in. Richard loves to walk in the great outdoors and quite often can be found in local forests and woods gathering natural materials that can be used as props! We also have a selection of dried wildflowers in, and do encourage clients to send over fresh flowers to highlight their shoots.
After meeting on the Illustration M.A course at Falmouth College of Arts, Sarah-jayne and Joel have worked as both freelance artists and in-house designers and have then moved onto setting up their own business. We work with a lot of artists, illustrators and surface pattern designers, and who have setup their own businesses.
We light products with a consistent approach for each client. For this particular client the effect that we aim for is a subtle sunlight emulating effect. Graduated lighting with some highlights blown to give a warm feel. All produced in the studio where consistency and repeatability can be controlled.
HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE BEEN USED IN THE WILD
Clients use their images for a variety of purposes, primarily focussing upon their own websits for use in banners and in product listing images.
They’re also useful to create montages and for use in online marketplaces, such as Not On The High Street. An image taken from Seedlings Not On The High Street’s page, showing some of our photographs in the wild, so to speak!
Professional photography can help you get featured in various places, and they’ve even been featured in the Independent subscription gift guide…
Seedlings have been nominated and have received a number of awards and they were even finalists for the Henries Awards in 2020.
They really are innovators within their field, this being one of their latest creations adding even more creative thinking to their range of products.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUE WORKING WITH SEEDLINGS FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.
Investing in photography can be beneficial to reinforcing the concepts behind your brand and communicating this to the rest of the world. It can also bring different products together under one style. High resolution images that are sent to you can be cropped in a variety of ways to use on websites, online marketplaces and in-print too.
Product photography tips for designer makers and creatives. These will help you achieve the best possible photography with limited budgets and equipment. We regularly write new articles and blog posts, so don’t forget to check back here.
Greeting Card Association
Progressive Greetings Online / PG Buzz
How to…Photograph Greetings Cards
Rise Shine and Design, Blog Series
This blog series delves into creating a story through your use of photography, how to light your work. Keeping things consistent in terms of style. It then moves on to technique and practical advice, finishing with advice on creating your very own studio.
FURTHER ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
Great British Exchange
Three Tips to Improve your Brands Photography
Howling Moon PR
DIY Product Photography
Make it in Design
We’re going to start posting some articles here that we feel are very helpful in understanding product photography further.
Starting off with this article from Wix, Product Photography 101: The Guide for Small Business Owners
For all shoots we supply the full size high resolution images, and if you require further sizes from there you can either do those yourself or we can upload additional copies for you – there is obviously an additional charge for this. If you prefer to do this yourself there are several different ways.
Most designers will have a copy Adobe Photoshop, this is how Photoshop can save you time in resizing in an easy batch process and please see https://photofocus.com/photography/adobe-tip-save-time-in-photoshop-with-the-image-processor-script/
If you don’t have Photoshop there are several online apps that can always do this for you – such as https://tinyjpg.com/
One last way, if you’re a Windows user, and this was actually recommended by a client, it’s an app to download https://www.bricelam.net/ImageResizer/ this one is very handy and easy to use, after installing, simply click right mouse button on an icon and the rest is easy.
We like this article by Farrow and Ball on how different light affects colours, something which is very important in photography. Direction of windows has a dramatic effect too, so if you’re creating your own place within your home to carry out photography, take a look at this
How Dpi Affects Printing and Images for the Web
Some clients ask for their web sized images to be altered from the standard 300dpi, to 72dpi. The following articles tell you why it doesn’t matter anymore, and therefore doesn’t need to be done.
In this article we discuss the various options available for placing items in context using surfaces and backgrounds. Read on to find out the options available, why they’ve been chosen, and how they can be used to set off your work and products. We also delve into how different shoot conditions can alter the appearance of surfaces and backgrounds.
It’s really important to place your items in context, and lifestyle imagery does this by displaying your products in a ‘relatable’ situation or setting. It’s about evoking some form of emotional response from the viewer, with the intention of making your products appealing or perhaps indispensable. In the case of product centered shots (sometimes simply known as styled shots) it maybe a case of showing a limited area around the product, whereas other shots, usually destined for advertising purposes, more space is left around the product to create more of a mood and a scene.
In this example we use a stripped vintage door as the ‘surface’ and a simply painted background, painted quite roughly so that the texture can be brought out within the image by using side lighting. Client : Flower Studio Marlow.
Surfaces and Backgrounds for Lifestyle Product Photography.
As we know lifestyle product photography is more than just about showcasing your products, it’s about communicating with your customers on a deeper level. They take longer to create than a standard white product shot, and therefore cost more but the potential benefits to your brand and your sales outweigh this. A setting that emulates the home in some way is very often used, any many of our inspirations are based upon contemporary and vintage interior details and features.
In addition to the use of props, surfaces and backdrops are so important that an entire industry creating backdrops and surfaces has ‘sprung-up’ over recent years. We use a combination of items, some created right here in the studio, to collecting vintage and reclaimed items. From there we’ve done our research to find some of the very best examples of commercially created backdrops we can find. The best thing about reclaimed, vintage, and pieces we have created in-house is that they are unique to us, which is essential when you don’t want your work or products setting in the same way as other’s and in particular when your work or products are intended to be aspirational. To expand upon this this we have also had our own backdrops printed from artwork we have created in-house.
Our Inspirations for Backgrounds and Surfaces.
There are various things that inspire us, such as vintage and contemporary interiors, in this example we’ve used an old Victorian door to emulate paneling as a backdrop. We will be developing this further and adding various colours and styles of paneling to our studio prop store.
Client : Twice Fired Glass
• Modernist and Vintage Interiors, generally with a contemporary twist, sometimes focussing upon features such as panelling and mouldings. Including art deco elements and mid-century.
• Hard surfaces, based upon stone, marbles, slate and of course the ever popular concrete.
• Vintage rustic wooden surfaces, showing age, history, stories and patina.
• Themes from Britain’s industrial past.
• Rooms of the home, bathrooms, lounge, kitchens which work well with associated products that ‘belong’ in those rooms.
• Organic themes, and entropy/decay.
Here’s just a few of the wooden pieces we use regularly…
These are ideal for many different shoots, except for shoots including liquids, or anything that may leave traces on the organic surfaces. For when it isn’t practical we then use wipe clean surfaces such as acrylics and vinyl.
Different Types of Materials
When we first setup the studio we created all of our own backdrops and surfaces. Now we’re a few years down the road it’s a bit of a mixture of curating and creating. To get the best of what can be found commercially, and what can be created in-house. Some shoots use a combination of real wooden or other surfaces, and perhaps a custom printed colour backdrop. Nearly all of our pieces are at least A0 in size which makes them ideal for a number of different uses and situations. All printed surfaces we use are printed on vinyl and as such are water resistant.
The following example using a concrete style surface.
Client : Shells Bells Wedding Stationery
To these examples which do use a combination of a stripped vintage surface and a printed backdrop.
We also enjoy creating surfaces inspired by nature, with an organic feel, generally showing age /wear, such as stripped with two part wood bleach. this one used extensively for clients due to its rustic feel.
Showing brush strokes and other wear in use in this example for Hannah Marchant Illustrates.
In this example, a screengrab of a Lifestyle Product Photograph intended for advertising use, from the homepage of the British Craft Trade Fair, we used a 2.7m wide Manfrotto paper roll, and with a little manipulation in post production a really appealing dark blue resulted. Manfrotto also create a range of PVC backdrops in gloss or matt which can be very useful.
What Alters the Appearance within the Shoot?
It’s really worth bearing in mind when commissioning a shoot that depending upon a number of factors, backdrops and surfaces may appear quite differently to how you may imagine.
• Is the surface shot above/side/front on?
• Is it lit very brightly, or does it have a graduated effect within the lighting.
• Textures will be de-emphasised in shots where the lighting is front on. Alternatively when lit from the side, textures are picked out and emphasised.
• Depth of field and distance of backdrop to the camera or focus point. Sometimes when we don’t want the background to be distracting from the product, we’ll use a wider aperture which will provide a shallower (softer) depth of field which will ensure that the emphasis stays upon your product.
As you have seen we use doors and other real items to add that ‘edge’ and uniqueness but we go further as we do also have a select stock set of furniture in, including vintage table, chairs, side table, and coffee table. Check out the Props and Furniture page to see the all the surfaces, backgrounds and furniture.
One of the most important factors for any product photography studio is the space itself, and one of the most important decisions we’ve made was to move to an amazing old building, which forms a Creative Enterprise space. In this article we talk about how we use the rooms, and how the space has changed from when we first took it on to how it is now.
We had been tenants at this wonderful creative space for a couple of years, when the room next door to the current studio became available and I jumped at the chance of extending the space. The opportunity to create a whole new studio and creative space for product photography set out imagination alight, not to mention we were bursting at the seams with props, equipment, backgrounds, the list goes on…
It did mean a lot of work however, as the previously adjoining space had previously been separated and plastered over. Not to mention it had most of the original features stripped out and was in definite need of renovation. So with a trusty sledgehammer in hand, I set about joining the spaces up back up again.
One room within a Victorian building, the other room within an older Georgian building. It’s been a bit of a challenge as you can imagine, with such old spaces nothing quite lines up, nothing is square, and nothing is flat! But after many repairs and the installation of brand new period correct skirting boards and a brand new floor the space is starting to feel like a product photography studio. Finished off by renovating the original cast iron fireplace and fitting picture rails.
Later we also plastered over the centre window to give us a longer wall to work with for lifestyle and styled photography, as shown in this image, taken recently for Paper Lounge. The blind has been left in the centre window, so from the outside it looks the same as the other windows!
Here’s an image I recently produced for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (featuring the work of I Like Birds). This shows an example of how the room can be used to create a home styled setting, a lounge setting in this case.
As you can see the the old bathroom has been turned into a room where all the backgrounds, surfaces and equipment live. A local gallery was closing and I managed to get hold of a large art stand which is great as it stores most of them away in one area.
Quite a few clients have contacted us mentioning that they had seen the fireplace and that it would work perfectly with their products and brand. Such as these ceramics shots, where just a corner of the fireplace was used to give an impression of home…
The studio continues to evolve, and the renovation has taken both time and energy, not to mention blisters! However, we feel that now we have a space with character, features and facilities that give us a space to bring life to clients products and brands.
The original studio has now become a storeroom for all of the props and furniture. You can see more images of the studio, and the facilities here
Recently, we had the pleasure of working with a talented ceramicist, producing a whole range of imagery from still life to interior lifestyle. In this article, we’ll explain how these different approaches can create vastly different images, each with their own unique feel and advantages for the client.
But first, a little about the artist behind Febbie Day Ceramics, Deborah Buckley. Deborah, a maker and creative influencer, has gained a glowing reputation for her work in porcelain clay. During a recent collaboration with Myroo Skincare Debbie talks about her passion for ceramics and her aspiration to become a designer…
“Being a Ceramic Artist is essentially a dream come true for me, and an aspect of my life that I am immersed in now that my children are a little more grown-up! I work exclusively in Porcelain clay – it is a light, strong and fine material which (when fired) is remarkably robust. I employ a rather unorthodox style of slip-casting which involves caressing layers of clay by hand around a mould.
Porcelain is notoriously temperamental to work with – instilling a deeper satisfaction both throughout the process and in the finished piece. I complete all artistic aspects myself, and enjoy adding curves and surface design to ensure that each piece I make is truly unique!”
This shoot really does illustrate the various different styles that ceramics can be shot in. Although this shoot, was carried out entirely remotely from the client, working with Deborah was exciting and the work was fascinating to photograph and to style. Using a pared back approach to props and styling works well with ceramics, as does using hard materials such as granite, tile, and the like to accompany the product.
For the still life images below I picked wildflowers, which can be a good alternative to bought-in versions as they have a different, more raw appearance. Adding a dash of realism to the imagery.
The technique and resulting images depend much upon the surface quality of the work, the most important being whether they are glossy or matte. Either way I tend to use additional diffusion to what the standard softbox will provide.
The additional diffusion, further softens the light meaning that the change from light to shadow is made more gradual. This wraps around the objects, particularly with cylindrical forms, and conveys the shape of the object to the viewer.
OVERHEAD / FLATLAY
Digressing slightly, I picked a modernist set of cutlery up a while ago for a couple of pounds as I thought the style of them was amazing. They’re extremely simple, modernist and geometric and definitely have the look! They have ‘Air France’ stamped on them very subtly and when I looked them up recently and they were designed by Raymond Loewy a French-American industrial designer. I will be picking up some more soon of varying designs, I think this time I will have to pay a little more though. You can always check out our prop range, by looking at the Prop Cupboard.
The cutlery’s shapes and style complements the dinner plates and give the viewer a sense of purpose and eagerness to use them.
INTERIOR STYLE / LIFESTYLE
By using a small Habitat side table, and a corner of the studio with its period skirting board, a sense of style was created that accompanied these bowls, cups and vases really well.
We have a real love for ceramics and how photography can bring out different elements and styles. These are a few of the aspects we bring to each ceramics shoot…
• Bringing out surface features and definition.
• Accompanying props to add, not detract quality or attention.
As an example the books in the Still Life shot, the spine titles were removed in post production.
• Using diffused light to wrap around the objects, and create a graduated lighting effect overall.
This is what Deborah had to say about the shoot “I was absolutely blown away by the photos taken by Richard! The composition was incredible – it was exactly how I wanted my ceramic home ware and art pieces to be displayed. He captured the mood perfectly, and I felt as though he has represented my style and brand in every shot. Richard also wrapped each ceramic piece thoroughly for the transition back to my studio, so they all arrived in an immaculate condition. I received a professional service throughout and I highly recommend Forever Creative Photography to everybody.”
Later Deborah was featured in both British GQ Magazine, and Wired Magazine who both used the following image from the shoot.
For more handmade ceramics photography, please see the Ceramics Gallery.
Recently we were approached by a potential client wishing to have a complete line of giftware shot. It would need to be shot in a cohesive style that could work across all of the different products in the collection. How would we introduce a simple style across this whole line of products, read on to find out…
CGB Giftware, one of the UK’s premier wholesale giftware brands asked us to shoot Dapper Chap, their brand new range. They required the images for the launch advertising for various channels. The business, based in Bude, Cornwall, are unique in that they design their own products across fifty five collections, but also work closely with retailers around the world, creating their ‘own brand’ giftware ranges.
THE PRODUCT PHOTOSHOOT
During our initial briefing process and conversations with Niall from the company, we established that they already had white background photographs of their products. However, they still wanted a cost-effective way of helping consumers visualise their products in a more appropriate context.
Wishing to achieve a balance between cost effectiveness and differentiation between images was of importance for this shoot, and the range consisted of different product types.
The initial test shot is shown here…
Most product shoots feature repeating settings where the products are swapped out in series. That works very easily for products where the design is changed, but there is only one actual product type.
But what about if you have a large set of products in a collection, and they’re not all the same product type. If your product range contains giftware or homewares this will most likely be the case. We will then work with the designer or brand manager to think about and adopt different settings that suit and complement the various product types.
It really becomes a choice, the first being different settings for different product types – which is fine but as it would take longer, it would cost more. Alternatively keeping both the setting and lighting simple means the camera angles and viewpoint can be changed more readily. This technique also had the advantage of ensuring that both cost effectiveness and consistency are achieved.
With a shoot like this, many clients wonder if they are going to have to do work themselves on the images. Our post production as standard includes all dirt removal, and require no additional enhancement. The only time where an additional charge may be made, would be when the products are damaged, or perhaps mis-printed. We would always speak to you about this before going ahead.
It was a delight working with Niall and the team at CGB Giftware during this shoot. To bring your products alive, why not contact Richard to discuss how we can help.
For more examples of giftware and homewares photography, see here.
You’ve received something a little different in the post today. It certainly doesn’t fit in with the rest of the post, it’s not a bill and it certainly isn’t something throw-away. It’s unique, looks beautiful and even feels amazing. The texture and thickness of the paper stock oozes quality. What could it be?
Wedding invitations are much more than a way of simply providing information to guests, they are designed to be an experience from the very moment the envelope is opened. This is the reason why wedding stationery designers put so much thought and attention to detail into their creations. Invitations are designed to give a flavour of the day to come, to be emotive, and to announce the special day in a special and unique way. In this article we’ll explain how we worked with a wedding stationery designer to produce some exclusive looking images.
I was delighted to be asked to photograph the charming and stunning handmade wedding stationery by the talented designer Michelle Thexton, and her brand…Shells Bells
Michelle and I spoke on several occasions to discuss her brand, the wedding stationery itself and what makes it exclusive and unique. After several discussions we decided upon five different shot types to represent the collections, and capture the essence of the brand.
The Perfect Brief.
Most shoots proceed in this manner, in a collaborative way. Spending time to understand you the client, the designs and giving consideration to how best to proceed with props, settings and lighting. We are lucky that most of the designers I work with here at Forever Creative Photography work similarly, and appreciate. We use an in-house shot list document extensively to gather information from clients, and then break this down into unique shots and settings.
What makes this Handmade Stationery particularly Enticing?
Michelle bases her collections upon people in her life that she has found inspirational. For example, the collection ‘Sarah’ is shown below.
Featuring unique typography, beautiful illustrations and printed upon textured paper stocks.
The Product Photoshoot.
As you can see two alternative settings were used, the first using a white slatted surface, while the second introduces a pale rustic wooden plank. Surfaces and backgrounds are something we continually develop, and this particular example had been recently stripped and toned down with wood bleach. The layout of the individual pieces is generally based upon a layered approach, where certain parts of the designs are covered over, and other areas are highlighted.
Michelle’s brand colours are green and white, this is reflected by the choice of props (the plates were actually supplied by the client) and also the flowers. Flowers are always a staple for use in photography of wedding stationery. Michelle usually chooses Bloom and Wild, but there are quite a few letterbox flower options to choose from. Real flowers definitely add a ‘certain something’ to the images which is difficult to replicate using faux variants.
Above – Screenshot of the clients own website, showing how she has used the images.
“Thank you Richard for working your magic on my wedding stationery designs. I am over the moon with the pictures – they are exactly what I wanted. Thanks also for making the process so easy & straightforward … you’ve been such a pleasure to work with.” Michelle Thexton, shells-bells.co.uk
Michelle also believes that the images have helped her to become a listed supplier with a venue, “I hope this will be a game changer, I think having professional photography has really been the driving force behind this.”
If you’d like to discuss having your own designs photographed don’t forget you can ask for a no obligation quotation, or even commission an introductory shoot. You can use this not only to try out the service but as a way of finding a style that could accompany your own work and help improve your sales.
See more examples of stationery photography see the Stationery and Paper Gallery
Recently we had the privilege of working with one of the Yorkshire Coast’s most interesting and innovative brands. The Spirit of Yorkshire distillery are creators of Yorkshire’s first single malt whisky.
As you can imagine there had been considerable interest around the region at the possibility of a noteworthy whisky being produced in Yorkshire. The team at Spirit of Yorkshire needed packshots, followed by styled ‘line-up’ shots of their whiskey.
The ‘packshots’ were produced first. This term is common within the photography and advertising industries but what exactly are packshots? Let us explain further.
This type of shot is primarily focussed upon accurately depicting the products’ three dimensional form, it’s colours and design in an accurate and precise manner. Packshots have become probably the most important tool in creating product and brand recognition in advertising, and in particular in digital marketing.
Based upon our experience of shooting packshots we realise that they need to…
• All text clear and legible.
• The product to be well lit and well defined.
• The product and/or packaging to fill the frame of the entire image.
• Lighting to accentuate and communicate the three dimensional form of the product, subtle shadows left in place to aid with this.
• Nothing to distract from the label and branding itself.
(In the example below this was complicated by the fact that the text is set in foil, which had to be picked out by the lighting, but not to overly so as to be distracting).
Glass is notoriously difficult to photograph, and even more so when formed into a cylindrical shape. It can be a double edged sword to photograph, initially it’s all about removing all distracting reflections from the surface of the glass. For those who have done this, they will realise that, although the result looks much more professional, the material doesn’t actually look like glass anymore! The next step is to create a lighting solution that lights the glass in a more pleasing way, introducing diffusion to soften any highlighted areas upon the glass.
Their brand identity features a Gannet, “a large seabird with white plumage which catches fish by plunging into the water”. The bottles and packaging also feature the Gannet, and we’ve picked it out on the carton above. The business is based in Yorkshire, just near to Bempton Cliff’s which is nationally renowned for being home to the largest gannet colony in the UK.
For this the client really wanted to emphasise the natural part of their process, and also their traditional processes that are used in the creation of the product. So although the packaging and bottle design are quite modern, it needed to reflect this tradition too.
The client supplied us with the barley grains, we then added some stones, and one of the studio’s stripped vintage tables, which has just the right amount of patina and age. We photographed this against a hand painted background, which was lit across it’s surface to accentuate its texture. Three different shots were composited together to provide the optimal lighting on the surface of each bottle. A bottle was removed in each of these shots so that there were no reflections from one bottle to another. Diffusion was used to soften the highlights on each piece.
These couple of images show how the scene is split up photographing each segment of the scene independently, also it’s separately diffused, and then all composited back together to form the final shot.
Here’s what Jenni Mellor from the company had to say “We researched Yorkshire based photography and were really impressed with the images on Richard’s website. We really liked too that he was very local to us and understood the region and the area that we represent. Really impressed and easy to work with, despite very tricky circumstances (shoot was scheduled for the end of March, just as the Corona virus lock down began). We got fantastic imagery at the end.”
To check out their unique products see their website at https://www.spiritofyorkshire.com
We do also have a range of drinks ephemera in our prop store (in the kitchen section) which allow us to style the images, including artificial ice cubes, tumblers, champagne flutes, wine glasses, cocktail shakers and glasses all suitable for use in drinks photography.
Web banners are an important factor in e-commerce, and website advertising. They can be used on your own website, or as advertisements on other sites, such as marketplaces and the like. They can be created to show a lifestyle setting allowing the consumer see a tantalising hint of your brand, or be more product-specific selling a particular benefit.
Why they are so important is something we will discuss in this blog post, after-all why should you use part of your marketing budget if they don’t work…
Reason 1 – Web banners create an ‘Abruption’.
Before the internet came along, businesses relied upon print adverts to grab people’s attention. These adverts consisted of great product photography and a catchy headline – it was the days of print advertising where the term ‘headline’ came from. Because it appeared at the top or ‘head’ of the page. It captured their interest and created an ‘abruption’. Today’s digital version, the web banner, does this in the same way and makes potential customers stop what they’re doing and channel their attention through the same use of captivating product photography and thought provoking headlines.
In the digital world attention is something that is a real premium, we all have our own ‘in-built’ filters so that we can get to the information we really need, and capturing this attention is so very important. Professional photography really helps the web banner stand out amongst the competition.
During the initial briefing process and the creation of the shot list we discuss where the designer will be using the product photography post-shoot.
Reason 2 – A Picture (product photograph) says a 1000 Words
We’ve all heard the cliche that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. This is due to the fact that our brains have large portions completely dedicated to visual processing. As discussed in ‘The Power of Pictures. How We can use Images to Promote and Communicate.’
A good website banner should represent your business and products accurately. If it can include professional quality, studio shot photography this will mark your business out in a professional manner. It has to instantly sell you and your products, and allow the viewer to make that crucial connection with you and your business.
They can be as targeted and pared down to perhaps a sale, or a more broadly created banner that points out a mainstay of your business. you can reuse them whenever you need to.
Reason 3 – To Differentiate Yourself and be Unique
Of course you can buy off the peg stock images from a number of locations, but if you’d like images that are unique to only you, a very important factor in branding, particularly if you’re trying to create difference to other similar businesses. Afterall your customers want to get to know you and your products. Not an overused image found on a stock photography site. They are of course much cheaper for a reason, they get sold in multiple copies and become very widely used.
They are not photographs of your business or your products. The best way for potential customers to get to know you is by commissioning a shoot with a professional photographer and to show them your actual products.
That said, stock images can be useful. Particularly if you’re just starting out in business, at this stage they can be very beneficial are preferable to poorly lit, or out of focus images. There’s plenty to choose from with various stock sites such Adobe Stock, istockphoto, and Shutterstock. There does comes a point in time when any business that is wanting to progress, and to differentiate themselves within often crowded marketplaces, needs to have their own unique imagery, to go with their unique products.
If you produce any type of product that can be superimposed – we do produce designers template images, and these are a cost effective alternative to a stock image. While they would never be able to compete with a stock image on price, where they are far superior is in their uniqueness.
You can also get more use from existing imagery by creatively cropping to create a web banner. This can also be done during a photoshoot, where secondary images are created at the point of shooting, cropping them down and ensuring nothing is missing within the image.
Reason 4 – To Make Your Products Real, and Add a Third Dimension
Of course it’s possible to create graphic only web banners featuring typography. The advantages of using photography within your banners are several fold.
They add depth and connect with your customer as it shows real objects, in a real scene showcasing your products. It’s not abstract, they are textures, and tangible elements. it shows light too, and as with all styled and lifestyle photography it enables your potential customer to envisage your product in their home or in their life.
This is important for any type of product, but particularly in the case of flat product such as a greetings card. Yes the primary importance is the design printed on the card, but it’s still a three dimensional real product. This needs to be communicated in the photograph. Otherwise why would people still buy many more real cards, than simply send an ecard? Because real products that are tangible, and more personal and simply deliver on an emotional level in a way that a message sent via the internet can’t.
Generally we produce web banners in 3:1 format, which is similar to a widescreen (or cinemascope) film. This may seem like a very wide banner but when viewed in an Internet Browser it’s pretty much the norm. We can also also produce them at 16:9, see here for a guide to aspect ratios and which to use in given situations.
Reason 5 – To Communicate your Message Faster
Not only do images have more power, they communicate much more quickly than text based information. Time is becoming evermore precious and this is certainly true online. Images are much more likely to create an abruption than text alone, as we mentioned earlier.
We process images at an incredible speed. When we see a picture, we analyse it within a very short space of time, gathering its meaning almost immediately. Due to our evolution our visual senses are the most active or all our sense, and these primitive elements affect us even though we are now far removed from our hunter gatherer beginnings!
To ensure your banners are completely relevant the key is to use the image as an anchor to draw attention, and to make instant communication, then finish off with a headline or some copy to complete the communication.
Web banners can be created using any of the studio’s stock of props and settings and of course if you have any of your own props you would like including you can send those across with the products. They can be photographed in a white background type setting, or more usually have a lifestyle or styled approach. If you’d like to discuss your own web banners or website advertising photography send us an email at or give you a call on 01723 375141
Are you thinking about selling your art, craft or designs online? Folksy is one of the best places to sell handmade in the UK and a great alternative to Etsy. They are a small team, based in Sheffield, who are all passionate about craft and handmade. In this article, Camilla Westergaard from the Folksy team shares her top tips for selling online. You’ll find loads more advice on the Folksy blog too – check out the Folksy Sellers’ Handbook for tons of articles and everything you need to know about selling craft online and at craft fairs.
Above…The Folksy website, featuring one of their sellers Alma Caira
Essential tips for selling art and craft online
There is a craft to selling online. It’s no good making something, snapping a quick picture, listing it in your shop, then sitting back and waiting for it to sell. The makers movement that we’ve seen grow over the last decade or so, combined with the changing internet, means that there is now so much competition for people’s attention that you have to work hard to get seen. It can be a challenge but it’s also fun learning those skills and a huge thrill when you get that first sale – knowing that someone has chosen to spend their money on something you have made is an incredible feeling and worth chasing!
In this article, we’re going to look at seven things you can do to build a successful online shop.
1. Define your niche
When you’re starting out, it’s a common mistake to think that you need to offer lots of choice and a wide variety of products. If you try to please everyone your shop will end up feeling muddled and it will be harder to build a brand and reach your target market. It’s much better to choose one thing and carve out a niche doing that. Do one thing well.
As artist Susie West explains in this interview: “When we first started out, we sold a variety of artwork, but the business didn’t really take off until the focus was on the travel poster prints, giving us an obvious, recognisable product.”
Customers need to understand who you are and what you make, and trust that they are buying from someone who really knows what they are doing. If you can build a reputation as the expert in your field, you’ll have a stronger brand and a more sustainable business.
Read how to find your niche – http://blog.folksy.com/2015/09/14/how-to-find-your-niche
2. Start to think of yourself as a brand
You may be an artist or an indie maker, but if you can start to think of yourself as a brand, you’ll be able to build a strong identity for yourself across your social media channels and your online shop.
This starts by understanding what your story is, why you make, why what you do is special and what your values are. Once you have identified those, you can start to project them in everything you do – from your shop name to how you style your product shots, how your write your product descriptions and how you talk to your audience on social media.
Read how to build a strong brand identity for your craft business here – http://blog.folksy.com/2015/01/21/how-to-build-a-strong-brand-identity
3. Price your products so you can make a profit
Pricing is a headache for most artists and makers, especially when you’re starting out. It helps to think about pricing as a quest to find the ‘sweet spot’ where your work sells well and you can make a profit. It’s no use pricing your work so cheaply that you get lots of sales but you aren’t making a profit, as ultimately your business will fail (unless you’re Amazon and you plan to sell trillions of things at a minuiscule profit). It also doesn’t help to under-price your work because if you don’t value your time or skills, you can’t really expect other people to!
Unfortunately, there is no magic one-size-fits-all formula for pricing handmade work, but there are some methods that can help you work out a price that gives you enough profit to maintain a sustainable business. This article should help and has a handy profit calculator too – https://blog.folksy.com/2018/01/23/how-to-make-more-profit
Remember to factor in ALL your costs when pricing your work (time, materials, packaging etc) and consider whether you want to sell your products wholesale in the future, as this will affect the retail price. Don’t forget potential promotions either. If your margins are rock-bottom slim, you’ll struggle to offer any discounts. You also need to think about where you want to sit in the market. Would you put yourself in the luxury, fine art or artisan bracket, or are would you rather make affordable pieces for the masses? Research similar products that are available – how are they priced and how do you compare in terms of quality, experience and skill?
Once you know the cost price of your products, there are various ways to calculate the retail price. You could set a multiple of your cost price, or add on a set amount as your profit. Or you might prefer to set your retail price based on comparable products and what a customer expects to spend. Find the one that is right for you, but bear in mind that if you sell to shops they will take a percentage of the retail price (often 50% or more), that it’s useful to leave room for offers and promotions, and also that if you go below your cost price you will be making a loss.
We have a whole section on the blog dedicated to pricing, with lots of tips and advice. Find it here http://blog.folksy.com/category/seller-tips/pricing-tips
4. Make sure you have brilliant product photos
If you’re reading this article, you probably know this already but it’s worth saying again: to sell online you NEED to have good photos. It’s proven that shops with good product photos sell more. No matter how amazing your products are, if you don’t have great photos, they are less likely to sell. Your pictures can make the difference between a sale and a scroll – and it’s not just about grabbing their attention, it’s also about giving a customer confidence in you and your product.
In our ever-more social world, photos are increasingly important in getting attention, follows, shares, as well as press and features. They also play a part in SEO, as the more shares you get, the more Google and other search engines will love you and show your shop in their search results.
Aim for a consistent style in your photos as this will help reinforce your brand and make your product shots instantly recognisable as yours – and remember that when shown on index pages on Folksy (so search results, gift guides, recently listed), photographs will be cropped to a square, so make sure your product is the hero of the shot and that the photo works well when resized.
5. Learn how to write titles and descriptions that get found by target customers
Once you have your amazing photos, have set your prices, understand your niche, your brand and your values, you’re ready to get your products listed and in front of people.
To get your listings seen on search engines like Google and showing up within Folksy, you need to write clear, easy-to-read titles and descriptions that contain words people will actually use to find your product (these are called keywords). A search engine can’t “see” your photos, so think how you would describe your product to someone over the telephone.
It’s really worth spending some time researching the best words and phrases to use here, so that you can reach your ideal customers. The aim is to identify words and phrases that you can rank for, rather than ones which are dominated by the big online sites, but also the exact phrase that your audience are actually using to find pieces like yours.
We have some really great free tools and advice on our blog that can help you here, including product listing review videos that you can watch and learn from – http://blog.folksy.com/category/seller-tips/product-listing-tips
Include as many details as possible so the customer has all the information they need, and don’t forget to add tags to your listing as these will help your product get found too.
6. Make social media part of your daily routine
Social media is an amazing tool for sellers – not only is it free but it allows you to build a relationship with your customers. It enables you to build a customer base of fans who love your work and want to know more about what you do. The trap a lot of people fall into, though, is to broadcast rather than connect and interact. If you approach social media just as a place to promote your products, it’s unlikely to work. Social media is all about being sociable – the clue is in the name.
There are lots of different channels you can use – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – each with its pros and cons. The good thing is you don’t need to cover them all. In an ideal world, you want to spend most of your time on the same channel as your customers, but if you’re brand new to social media it’s ok to focus on the one you find easiest to get your head around, and go from there.
Always keep this in mind though: you need to interact with your followers, not just post and run. So use hashtags to find people interested in similar things and start conversations, join in with Instagram challenges, be interesting, engaging and genuine, and spend as much time commenting on other people’s posts as you do on your own.
7. List often, review your shop regularly and keep up to date with Folksy news and features
Once your shop is up and running, check in every day to ensure you haven’t missed any messages or sale notifications, and make sure there are no items still listed that have already sold at a craft fair or elsewhere (eek!).
If you can keep your online shop well stocked and updated regularly with fresh products it encourages people to come back to see what’s new. If you’ve had the same items in your shop for a while, they can start looking a bit tired and you might find your shop views and sales start to drop, as regular customers lose interest. Introducing new pieces or even just photographing your best-sellers in new ways will give you new content to share and new opportunities to tempt customers to your shop.
The Folksy Plus Account comes in handy here as you can list and relist as often as you like for just £5 a month – read more here https://blog.folksy.com/why-open-a-folksy-plus-account
Listing regularly also puts your shop and products in front of more people, as new items appear on the Folksy front page, in our Recently Listed section and in customers’ Favourites. Recent listings are one of the factors used to sort results in Folksy Categories and Gift Guides too, meaning new items appear closer to the top. We also send Folksy subscribers an email that features new items from their favourites sellers, so every time you add a new item to your shop, you increase your chance of going directly to a customer’s inbox.
It’s worth checking your Stats page every month, to see which items are getting the most views and where those views are coming from. If there are particular products that are getting more views than others, are there lessons from these listings that you could apply to others, for example popular tags or particular titles that are working well? Are you getting lots of views from one social media changes – if so can you spend more time growing your presence and following on there?
Keep up to date with what’s happening on Folksy too, by joining our Folksy Clubhouse Facebook Group or the Talk Folksy forums, and reading our Seller Tips emails. That way you won’t miss out on any new features, updates or opportunities. Our forum and Facebook group are also a great way to connect with other sellers and pick up tips.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be off to a great start but you can find even more advice here – https://blog.folksy.com/2017/07/11/how-to-sell-craft-online-beginners-guide
Ready to start selling? Open a shop on Folksy today and get three FREE listings to help you on your way. Join Folksy – https://folksy.com/selling
Camilla Westergaard is an occasional designer and maker, and owner of a hedgehog called Herb. She is in charge of words and pictures at Folksy.
Pinpointing the Purpose of Social Media for Your Business.
Knowing what tools to invest in to generate growth in your small business can be a challenge. There are so many options, and social media is a very popular choice for many, myself included. However, it is not necessarily going to suit every business.
In the most part, we are all trying to get off our devices, I’m personally putting great effort into being on my phone less. However, social media has handed me a free platform to showcase my business and gain new customers by doing what I love, so any time I spend on the ‘gram helps me to make money. So how can you determine whether it will help you? These are the steps I run through with my coaching clients:
What Do I Want to do More of in My Business?
Firstly, ask yourself, what do I want to do more of in my business? Bear in mind that the most popular answer is usually to make more money. This makes it worthwhile to check your margins and see what earns you the most money for the least effort. As an artist I want to sell paintings, but selling my digital learning tools generates the most profit for the least effort. Therefore, I concentrate on providing value to my social media audience via my digital teaching tools and paint for pleasure. So take stock, and make your decision wisely.
Once you have determined what you want to do more of and explore whether you can make content that showcases that. For example public speaking, selling art, securing more coaching spots etc. If you want to do more public speaking, create an Instagram feed that showcases the public speaking you have done. Share pictures and videos of you doing the thing you want to do more of, or sell more of. Share testimonials where you have been given glowing feedback.
If you can come up with ways to do that, I would go and practice this on Instagram. Showcase your work in a cohesive way, tell people what you offer in 3 seconds and give value.
If you want more help, register your interest for Sticks + Ink’s brand new online programme, ‘Instagram School’. This will be launching this Summer with lots of free tutorials! In the meantime, check out these eBooks to help you on your journey. Come and join me and my wonderful community over on Instagram where I share Instagram tips + tricks with you every week.
Kia, who works under the pseudonym, Sticks + Ink, is an abstract artist who teaches her expert knowledge of Instagram to creative entrepreneurs. Posting work from a weekly art class on Instagram, things started to snowball into a fully fledged business with an audience of 10,000 in just 12 short months.