This is a guest post. Zahida is the creative force behind Handmade in Florida, a soap company known for its award winning designs (including the “Butterfly Swirl”) and beautiful colors. In addition to gorgeous soap, Zahida is renowned in soapy communities for her eye catching product photography and is sharing her top 5 tips to help you improve your photography. If you’d like to learn more about Zahida, click here to read her interview on Soap Queen. – A.M.
One of the first things people notice about my soaps are the photos. I have enjoyed taking photos since childhood and got my first “real camera” for my 7th birthday, a Minolta X-7. Since then, I’ve gone through quite a few cameras and countless rolls of film. I currently enjoy using the Nikon D7000 and Canon 70D. With the right equipment and a little bit of know-how, you too can take your soap photography to the next level! Here are my top five tips for taking photos of your soap.
1. Equipment: You can certainly get by with using your smartphone, but chances are you will not achieve the look you are going for, particularly when it comes to depth of field (when the background is blurred and your subject is in focus). To achieve this look, you should invest in a dslr (digital single-lens reflex) camera and a 50mm lens (others work too, but this is a good starting point). There are several reputable brands out there including, Nikon, Canon and Sony. It is not necessary to get a top of the line model, a midrange model and a 50mm lens will work wonders for your soap photography!
2. Lighting: Sure there are lots of fancy photography lights out there, but the best (which also happens to be free), is natural light. Time to turn off that auto flash! Take your photos in soft natural light near a window. With a little practice and experimentation, you will soon discover what area and what time works best in your home/studio.
3. Composition: One of the best guides to determine good composition is the “Rule of Thirds”, where your image is divided into thirds (like a tic tac toe diagram). The four center points that connect are considered to be the “power points”. You can stage your soap or soaps in such a way that the main area you are trying to showcase (a botanical top or swirl etc.) falls on one of more of those points. Most cameras and even phone apps (like Manual, ProCamera, Aviary etc.) have a Rule of Thirds diagram built in, so it should be easy to experiment with your composition.
Experiment with your angles too, try holding your camera at a 45 degree angle and taking a variety of shots, including overhead and up close and personal shots. Be creative and think outside the box!
4. Backgrounds and Props: Simple is safe when it comes to backgrounds and props. The focus of your picture should be to highlight your soap or a certain feature of your soap. Busy patterns or bold colors may detract attention from your soap, the same goes for props. If it’s relevant or adds interest to you picture, include it, otherwise save it for something else. Simple poster-board backgrounds and lightly textured scrapbook paper work well. In addition, Professional photography paper rolls/background paper are relatively inexpensive and will last you quite a while. These are readily available online at most photography retailers like B&H Photo etc.
5. Post Editing: It’s a must. Yes, it would be great to take perfect pictures with perfect colors and perfect lighting, but the reality is, perfection is hard to achieve (even for the majority of professional photographers out there who also edit their photos)! There are numerous post editing programs on the market. My favorites are Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. The goal of editing your pictures should be to enhance them, not to change them. You want the colors on screen to be as close to the real deal as possible. Editing will also allow you to adjust your lighting, contrast, tone etc. as well as crop and rotate your images to make them more visibly appealing.
Photographing your soap is a lot like making it. With a little research, the right equipment and practice, you will be taking beautiful pictures of your soap in no time! Good luck with your soap making and with your photography!