When you decided to be a floral designer, did you ever think you’d have to become a photographer too?! It’s an unexpected part of your job, sure. But since you’re working in a visual medium, visually representing your product to the best of your ability comes with the territory!
Now, there are several ways to get a top-notch photograph of your products (such as hiring a pro. See our photoshoot blog for more ideas!) But we think any floral designer with a halfway-decent camera on their phone should be able to be a DIY shutterbug. And to be clear, ALL of our tips listed are for the camera app on your phone. There’s no need to invest in an actual camera if you don’t want to.
Below, we’ve listed a number of strategies for taking perfect photographs of your products – ranging from low-cost/low-control all the way up to higher-cost/high-control.
Read on for our tips on how to capture your products’ good sides!
Take It Outside
The easiest way to get a fantastic photo is to find some outdoor space. Just as fresh flowers look great in sunlight, so too will your wood flower creations. We recommend finding a shaded, non-cluttered outdoor area for staging your photo. Direct sunlight can lead to over exposure of the colors in your arrangement and if the background is too busy, your arrangement might be hard to see or not be the true focal point of the photograph!
As a tip, remember that different areas will be ideal for different products. In other words, you might want different staging for a wreath than a bouquet.
The benefit of this strategy is, of course, it’s your lowest-cost option. And if you happen to have a yard or a nearby park, it’s also your easiest option. But there are considerations here. You’ll be bound by weather, for instance. Rain, snow, and the like aren’t your friends. You’ll also be limited by sunrise and sunset hours, so if you’re an early bird or a night owl, this strategy could be sneakily challenging.
The good news is that investing money could give you greater control over your ultimate photograph. Next, let’s talk about mats and flat lay boards.
Mats and Flat Lay Boards
These boards effectively give you a consistent look so you don’t need to find a perfect spot outdoors. Haven’t mowed your grass in some time? No problem. Toss a board on the ground and you can snap a professional-quality photo and your customers will be none the wiser! You’ll still be beholden to natural light, but this will give you consistency of your background.
In terms of acquiring a mat or a flat lay board, there are a number of options.
- You can get a paper board on Amazon, but they usually come rolled in a tube and can be nearly impossible to get flat. You’ll want to attach these to cardboard or some sturdier base.
- I often use a fabric mat with rubber underneath (you can find the one I use here). These can be rolled up and ensure you won’t get wrinkles. They also come in larger sizes which is great for larger arrangements or when trying to capture a full wedding order for approval photos.
- Finally, consider a sturdy, non-rolling mat. These stay flat and can be adjusted in size with an exacto knife. I use this one for my light box.
At this point, you’ve got control over your background. But weather and daylight will still have an outsized influence on when you can take your photos. Next, we’ll look into how to get control over those factors as well.
Light boxes are soft-sided boxes with an LED light which will allow you to take consistent photos with a reliable light source any time of day, rain or shine. I tend to be something of a night owl crafter so light boxes have truly been a lifesaver when I’ve needed to snap a photo at 9 PM.
I can personally attest to this one but any light box should help give you control and consistency over your photographs. If you want to photograph your products at 3 AM during a blizzard? Now you can!
You’ll still probably want a variety of mats or flat lay boards to give your products a pleasing background. This will give you control over your desired background for either top-down or front-facing photos.
One note: it’s possible to DIY a lightbox with cardboard and contact paper, but this may mean you’ll be leaving the front open. With the front open, you’ll still have to contend with outside light sources which could impact the consistency and quality of your photos. If you have the means, and you’re able to invest in a light box for your wood flower business, we cannot recommend this purchase enough.
Light boxes are perfect for small to medium items. But what about large items and lifestyle shots? Don’t worry – there’s a solution for that, too.
You may think the term “softbox” is a bit of a misnomer. They’re not physically soft. Nor are they really boxes. Essentially, they’re portable light sources that photographers use to control the angle of lighting onto the objects being photographed. Here's a link to one we recommend!
Similar to light boxes, these are indoor solutions. Since they are an open light source (meaning not contained in one box like the light box), I usually like to use them in addition to natural light filtering into the space. That said, you can use them at night with no additional light source.
Where softboxes give you your most bang for your buck is that they allow you to photograph a larger section of a room. Instead of just a product shot, you could potentially use rooms in your home for lifestyle shots. A wreath against a wood deck looks good. A wreath on a wall above a decorated mantle and fireplace looks great. Now, these do require an investment, and you’ll need to consider storage. But the flexibility and control you’ll get in return are second-to-none.
Photo Editing Apps
Whether you decide to go all-in on lightboxes and softboxes, or snap a few photos in your backyard, you’ll likely need some photo editing software to put the finishing touches on your phone. Let’s go over the basics:
As far as photo editing goes, I’m a fan of Lightroom and Snapseed. These are both free apps that allow you to crop, rotate, and adjust things like color, brightness, contrast, and the like.
Now, there are a few things to consider. if you use a consistent source of photography (like lightboxes and soft boxes) you could potentially create ideal settings and save them as a preset. This means every time you go to edit a photo, you can optimize it with the press of a button.
One thing to watch out for, however – be careful not to overly filter your product. A heavy-handed approach to editing and filtering your product could make it so that your product photograph doesn’t match your actual, physical product. And that’s an easy way to get customer comments about mismatching products.
So, What Should You Use?
Easy answer. Any or all of the above! The photography items listed in this blog aren’t mutually exclusive and can be used interchangeably to create a cohesive product photography collection. Your website and listings will look like they are working together to build your brand vibe. And with a little creativity and know-how, you’ll be able to represent your products with control, consistency, and an eye for what works.
Good luck and happy snapping!