Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Props for Product Photography

Sometimes I get obsessed with product photography. I will spend days studying how other artists, magazines, and websites style and shoot their products. I'm constantly on the lookout for cool backgrounds and props for my own jewelry photos. At the beginning of the year I gave you a peek into my process for photographing jewelry. I mentioned my photo props briefly in the post but really didn't go into much about them. Since I've recently acquired some new props that have me excited, I thought I'd share with you what I use.

The basis for any product photo is a background. I tend to just use a variety of papers.
As you can see, none of them are shiny or too distracting. I like to keep them neutral in color as well. My favorite is the black posterboard. It is very matte, and I can buy it at my local Dollar Tree for only a buck! I cut it down so I'm not dealing with such big pieces of paper.

In addition to the paper, another prop staple of mine is the cup/mug.
These are perfect to hang earrings. From time to time I'll also use the mugs for bracelets too.

I've got a small collection of traditional jewelry displays that make cameos in my photos.
The black earring holders are strictly used for earrings, but I use the wood display for necklaces most of the time. Both of them have their pros and cons.

The last of my staples are some general props: old books and a piece of driftwood.
The books come into play in various ways. I use the outside covers or inside pages as general backgrounds, I stack the books and let the jewelry (usually necklaces) hang, and I open the front cover and hang earrings from the edges. The driftwood only gets used from time to time and often to lay bracelets across. However, I don't limit myself to bracelets by any means with it.

I've had all of these props for so long that they're almost coming to bore me. So, I've been on the lookout for some new items. Over a month ago I found this lady and was ecstatic! I've been looking for someone like her for ages.
She'll help me show how necklaces hang on the body (since I have a hard time getting a picture of myself wearing them - short arms) She came topless, but I've got her dressed for decency's sake. Eventually I'll cover her with some text.

As well, I discovered this beautiful milk glass bowl while thrifting.
It's perfect for hanging earrings from the dainty edges or placing earrings inside the bowl. I've even taken a few bracelet shots with it.

Finally, I picked up this rusty piece of tin at an antique store. I probably paid more than I should have for it, but I saw so many possibilities.
It has a perfect matte finish and the rustic, grungy feel that I love. I can shoot any of my jewelry on it really.

I try to keep all my props together. The majority of them are in one of those collapsible canvas organizers.
This makes it easy to grab all of them quickly when I have the time to take pictures.

In addition to what I've shown you here, I do have a couple of other new items that need to be cut down to size. I'll also be keeping my eye out for more. Can you ever really have enough photo props? I hope you realize that the items I tend to use are either handmade, cheap, or found - with a few exceptions. There's no reason that your photo props have to be expensive, they just need to show your product well.

And oh, I love how my pictures are turning out with my new props.
Bright Blossom earrings - photographed from the milk glass bowl with black posterboard below and behind.

What do you use for photo props/backgrounds? Is there anything in particular you've been wanting to try?

10 comments:

  1. I am such a novice at photography Hope, and I just got a new camera that I have no clue how to use, and no time to learn it seems! I will soak up any tips you've got! Your photo with the earrings against the milk glass is gorgeous!
    Jenna

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    1. Jenna- I'm no expert in using a camera. I just point, let it auto focus, and shoot. I'm much better with the editing process! ;) That last photo (w/the earrings) was actually shot with my phone. . .see what I mean. ha.

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  2. I recently won a Modahaus photo tent that I am experimenting with. It comes with different color backgrounds I am playing with though a lot of my vases I have been using as props are too big to fit in it. Oh well, time to find some more.

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  3. I like how you have used the poster board here!
    I struggle a LOT with product photos and mostly use a white background that I can use later for fixing colors. Would love to figure out how to do that without something white in the photo, then I can venture into cooler props!

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  4. Your photos always look great Hope! I sell on ebay and props are not encouraged on there. For my "photo studio" I use two pieces of foam core. One lays flat. The other is scored so it folds and sits on top of the flat one as the background. I have both white and black which, as you said, are only a buck at the dollar store. Occasionally I will use sheet foam (available at craft stores) in different colors for backgrounds as well. It doesn't reflect light and it's usually great for toys.

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  5. Great ideas - thanks for sharing!

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  6. Looks good, I have a piece of rustic wood and a variety of scrapbook papers, but I like the idea of old books too... a reason to go thrifting :-D

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    1. Tammie- OH, a piece of rustic wood is one of those things I desperately want in my prop collection, but I can't find one with just the right wear and tear on it. I'll find it one day! You need a reason to go thrifting?! ;)

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  7. I like all your backgrounds. They are simple and unassuming, but attractive. My favorite photo "backdrop" is the concrete bench on my patio. It's neutral, and dirt doesn't show up on it. For earrings, I have white curtains in my laundry room with batenburg lace. When the sun is in the right position, I hang earrings on the lace and snap the photos.

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  8. GREAT tips on photographing your jewelry. Love the model and the milk glass photo showcasing your art.

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