Using the Rule of Thirds for Product Photography

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Easily create more dynamic photos by learning to compose your product photos using the Rule of Thirds.
The Rule of Thirds theorizes that an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally, which creates a grid. 

The concept is that placing main elements and subjects near the intersecting lines of the grids creates a more balanced photograph and engages the viewer more readily than one placed directly in the center. 

GipsonWands has allowed me to use several of his images as an example of Rule of Thirds.

center placed subject
As you can see above, the center placed wand photograph is stagnant. The image below of the wand at a diagonal draws your eye from one side of the image to another and is more aesthetically pleasing.

diagonal subject
Many cameras and photo editing programs allow you to turn on a grid to help you decide your image placement.

While its best to compose while photographing, cropping can be a great back up method to creating dynamic compositions.

In the following photo, subject is too close to the center of the frame.  



By utilizing the cropping tool, we can move the subject off center to create a more pleasing image.  


Changing your product listing from a centered shot to an off-set shot may make your work stand out from all the rest by catching a shopper's eye with a more visually pleasing image.

Here are a few photo examples of the Rule of Thirds. These images are captivating, and tell a story or evoke an emotion merely by the strategic subject placement.

In this photo by Opposite of Far, the placement of the subject (the child) an the use of negative space (not the subject, in this case, the backdrop) creates a beautiful image that would be perfect as a magazine centerfold!

Opposite of Far


Lu & Ed utilizes the Rule of Thirds with negative space here - in this image, her rainbow of her best-selling product Mon-stors is off set by 1/3 of the image being neutral, drawing your eye along the edge of the photo and making it her "most liked" Instagram photo ever. 


Crafteroni & Cheese shows her new amigurumi work-in-progess by having it pop diagonally into the frame, crossing the lines of the grid & creating a fun, visually pleasing image.

Crafteroni & Cheese

The whimsical placement of HiTree's product gives off a fun and playful vibe.  This is a great example of using the product to fill 2/3 of an image with 1/3 negative space (the blurred background).



As always, keep shooting and experiment! The rule of thirds is fun to experiment with & see what sort of results you get with it compared to other images. Remember, the subject doesn't have to be precisely in a single column or you don't have to use 2/3 of the image for negative space - just use the grids as guides for product placement. If your camera has a grid option when shooting, turn it on & play around with it to get a feel for how you can use it to improve your product photos. Remember to place your product at intersecting points of the grids for a more dynamic image!

Are you more drawn to images that are centered or images shot using the rule of thirds? 

#happyhandmade week eighty-one

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

This week's Staff Picks:

This week's Most Viewed:


Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 


Meet the Maker - Melissa & Nick of Print Therapy

Some makers know they are meant to be makers from a very young age - they have always been crafting, creating, and dreaming. For others, like Melissa of Print Therapy, the dream of being an entrepreneurial maker became clear after working hard for what she thought she wanted, only to find out she didn’t want that at all! After three business related degrees and nine years climbing the corporate ladder, it took nine months of handcrafting numerous wedding details, several very long business trips, and her supportive husband to make Melissa trust her gut, listen to her heart, and start Print Therapy, a stationery company devoted to sending happiness, one card at a time. 


Print Therapy is run by Melissa and her husband Nick, and is focused on greeting cards, invitations, and love notes. Their name took a few tries to get right - Yellow Dog Creations, Two Hearts Stationery, and Blue & Grey were all on the idea list (which they still keep in their home studio today!) before they settled on Print Therapy. To them, it spoke to what stationery is all about - that feeling of love, happiness, and excitement that comes with opening a card, finding a love letter in your mailbox, and putting your emotions down on paper. Melissa and Nick run Print Therapy from their home studio in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, with their rescue pup Sawyer by their side, who often sneaks his nose into photo shoots and has been caught eating a card sample or two! 


Melissa and Nick started Print Therapy in April 2013, just a year after Melissa graduated with her Master’s Degree in Communication and Information Management, while she was a Project Manager for a large company. She admits that at first, it felt counterintuitive - she had finally finished years of schooling only to realize that Corporate America wasn’t for her, like she once thought it was.  Now, however, she knows that her educational and professional background gives her an edge as a small business owner. Not only does she love the creative side, but she loves the non-creative side of running the business as well. It’s been a good lesson for her, and for some of her close friends and families, that just beacaue you’re doing something, have been doing something, and think you should be doing something, doesn’t mean that you can’t be brave enough to 


While Melissa handles the design work and client communication aspects of Print Therapy, you can find Nick behind the scenes building (and rebuilding!) their website, fulfilling orders, and monitoring their inventory. While they feel blessed to be able to add “business partners” to their relationship titles, they’re open about the fact that finding their flow of how they work best together wasn’t always easy at first, as they both wanted to be involved in every single decision, action, and plan. Over time, and after very open communication, they learned how to play to each other’s strengths and settled into roles that compliment each other, and the business. Today, they work in separate offices out of their home, and have delegated most duties to one of them or the other, but make all of their big decisions together and are always running ideas by each other.  



While there are a lot of stationery companies out there, Melissa thinks Print Therapy is set apart by their overwhelming drive to connect people. It’s not just about pretty paper and thick envelopes - they revel in the fact that every day they get to help people connect, say I’m sorry, tell someone they love them, or just say hello, in a way that is meaningful and permanent, and in a way that cannot be achieved through an email or a text message. This year they also started their Send Love . Share Love campaign, which links a specially released card with a specific charity each month, and 50% of the profits from each card sale are donated to that charity. It’s their way of connecting and giving back to organizations that matter most to them and to the ones they love - which to them, is what stationery is all about.




Connect with Melissa 

What file type to use when saving product photos

Today's guest post is brought to you from Scott Gipson of Gipson Wands. Scott is a digital archivist for UMKC specializing in image file restoration & conversion.

As an edition to the product photography series, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about image file formats and which ones are the right ones for your product photos. I’ll go over some common file types for digital photographs & when they should be used for your indie biz. 



Tif or Tiff 
Tifs are great for pictures you want to store images (archiveally) in an un-compressed format. You can create & save collages you've created - and edit them later, since each layer can be saved separately. The only drawback is they are big… huge really, and can be slow to load and save. Tif files are usually too large to upload into selling platforms like Etsy & Storenvy. 

Jpg or jpeg 
Jpeg images are the internet standard - the most accepted file format, if you will. Jpeg images are the best option for product photos in listings. They have many options in saving that allow you to create a smaller file, making it easy to upload images within megabyte range that some sites require. But, resizing jpeg images comes with risks. The more you edit a jpeg or the higher compression you use the more you will get artifacts (blocky patches and pixelation, lower resolution, just not good lookin' images) so it’s best to shoot in uncompressed Jpeg (or even Tif) then edit and save and change file size from the largest, most high resolution form. 

Gif 
If you need an image with multiple frames that is animated then this is the format for you… otherwise don’t use it. If you product photo isn't animated (which it shouldn't be) then there's no need to ever save your product photos like this.

Png 
Does your image have a transparent background or is full of big fields of single colors? Png are meant for logos or images created in a Vector program. It’s also good for saving mutliple color or black and white typography graphics. If you save a Vector created logo in jpg or gif you are bound to get artifacts in the large fields of space and they can end up looking unprofessional. 

So, what image format you need depends on your needs. Not every format is good for every occasion and using the right ones can make a big difference. Let's recap: 

Tif - large, high resolution images - best used to print publication like magazine submissions.

Jpeg - best used for uploading to web stores, social media or sending via email. 

Gif - animated, unprofessional (sorry!) short "video" type image slides. Should never be used for a product photo. It would be better to upload an actual video of your product in action than a Gif. 

Png - for digital images like logos, typography art, art print files & printables.

I hope you find this post helpful! 

Save Money on Postage & Keep Track of Packages in One Place with Shipping Easy

Today's guest post is brought to you by Toni from Little House Of Crafting


Of the multiple ways to print a shipping label, I've found ShippingEasy to be the most affordable and effective. It works in conjunction with a variety of different storefronts including, Etsy, Storenvy, & Ebay. The low down: 

 You can sync one ecommerce shop and purchase 50 shipping labels per month for free. 

You will need to set up an Edicia account for both First Class Mail and Expedited (Priority Mail) shipping. 

The only draw back is you must purchase a minimum of $10 worth of postage at a time through Encidia. Don't worry, you will use it!

I found ShippingEasy under the "Extras" tab on the Storenvy dashboard. After signing up for ShippingEasy and Endicia and syncing my store I was ready to go & it quickly became my favorite way to prepare orders for shipping, so I thought I would put together this little walk through to help others get started using it!

This is the order screen. You will see all of your open orders on this screen. 


Clicking on the down arrow will open up a drop down menu. From here you can create a shipment, edit the shipping weight, add notes, pick a quick ship option, etc. 


After clicking on "Create a shipment", you are taken to this screen. You will want to edit the shipping weight first. Then, choose your carrier (USPS, UPS, etc), choose your carrier service (First Class, Priority, etc.) and then the type of package. The prices will automatically adjust as you change the settings as long as you have your shipping weight updated. ShippingEasy will tell you if there is a cheaper way to ship your package based on weight and location. 

You can also change the shipping date as well. If you change your shipping date, when your purchase the shipping label, ShippingEasy will send an email to the customer letting them know that their shipment has been scheduled. I've gotten very nice feedback about this feature. My customers enjoy it very much! (You can turn off shipment notifications here.)


When you're ready to print your label click on "Add to Cart". You will be taken to the "Ready for Payment" screen. You can pay for multiple orders at a time.


After payment, it's time to print! Under "Settings" and then "Labels" you will want to customize your label printing. You can print two labels per page or you can print a label combined with the packing slip. You will want to do this for both Domestic and International labels.


After your label preferences are set, click on "Shipments" and "Ready to Print". You can print multiple labels at a time. This is particularly helpful if you choose to print two labels on a page. Click on "Print All" to print all labels. Otherwise, select the orders you would like to print, click on "Print Selected." Select what you would like to print:  Labels, Packing Slips or Labels & Packing Slips. Another window will open with the document. Ctrl+P or "File" and "Print" and you're ready to go! 

  
Other helpful information can be found by clicking on "Dashboard". Here you can see how many new orders you have today, how long ago you printed your last label, if you have any unshipped orders, your postage balances and your postage purchase history. 

 
On the left hand side of the screen, click on "Review Shipped Orders". Here you can check the tracking of orders and sort orders by destination and time. 


Also on the left hand side of the Dashboard, you can "Order Free USPS Supplies". This is where you can order Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes and boxes.

That is a quick run down of ShippingEasy! Detailed plan and pricing information can be found here.

Will you be trying out ShippingEasy?

#happyhandmade week eighty

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

This week's Staff Picks:


This week's Most Viewed:


Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced, supplies & vintage items. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 


5 Tips for Shooting Modeled Product Photos

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

An important way to sell your product to customers is to share photographs of your product on a model. Whether its kids clothes, women's accessories, hair pieces, art, or toys fans get the best representation of your product by seeing it with a model. Check out these tips to improve your modeled shots. 


Make your product the focus

Mitla Moda does a beautiful job of capturing the brightness of the handmade belt because they photographed it up close, but still told a story with the added hat and the ocean backdrop. 

Mitla Moda

Coordinate the model's entire outfit

Opposite of Far sells adorable animal masks and tails, and in this photo of the giraffe mask, the model's clothes complete the look, creating a cohesive image. Always style outfits to flatter the product being modeled - they should fit well, be wrinkle free and not have distracting graphics or patterns on them.

Opposite of Far

Use soft, even lighting

Pieces to Peaces uses beautiful models and further flatters their headbands with soft, even lighting. Shooting outdoors in open shade is the key to achieving this look. Read more about lighting techniques here.  

Pieces to Peaces

Watch the details

Hair blowing out of place, a kid's runny nose, dirt under hand model's fingernails, a shirt collar folding up weird or even just an odd shadow on the model's face can distract from your product. As you take photos, pause to look at them on your camera's screen and make any adjustments to your model or outfit needed during the shoot to reduce time spent editing or worse - having to reshoot an entire series of photographs.


Crop carefully

The standard rule I was taught in my college photography courses is not to crop out any part of the model at a joint (wrist, knee, waist, shoulder, ankle) because it can make the image look awkward. Be mindful of limbs, joints, and the background when cropping.


Bonus Tip:

Take lots & lots & lots of photos. It is not uncommon to have to take over fifty images in order to get a handful of high quality images of modeled goods. Most cameras have a rapid burst option to capture multiple photos quickly, which is great when photographing products on a model! 

Do you shoot your own modeled photos, or work with a photographer for modeled product shots?

#happyhandmade week seventy-nine

Hello & welcome to #happyhandmade, the original social sharing collective of handmade products from various artists, shops & platforms - all brought together to aid in product discovery and help connect artisans with new audiences and other makers! 

This collective generates over 2,000 click-throughs to participants shops every month! 

Each week there is SIX chances to be featured, either as staff pick or most viewed - so be sure to  share #happyhandmade with your friends, family, Etsy teams, in forums and Facebook groups you are a part of - the more people seeing this link up, the more people shopping & seeing your goods and the bigger our #happyhandmade community grows! YOU radical makers are what makes this event so awesome, and I appreciate you all so much for helping me spread the word about this great handmade collective! 

This week's Staff Picks:



This week's Most Viewed:



Rules:
Link up to three {3} handmade products from your shops below! 
  • Share at least three {3} items from this collection (not yours) via social media
(Do not Pin items to Pinterest without express permission from the creator)
  • Spread the word! the more people who hear about it, the more exposure everyone gets!
  • Please show your support of handmade and leave a comment listing your favorite three products from the link up that you shared!
What can you link up? Handmade products, art prints, and any designs you personally have created and had printed in small batches on clothing, fabric, notecards, etc. So long as you made it, you can share it! 

What you can't link up: blog posts, Facebook pages, giveaways, tutorials, items that are factory produced. This collective is to connect handmade shop owners with one another and promote one another's products, so all links you share should be to an individual product in your shop. 

Click "add your link" - this opens a new window. In the first box put the URL to your INDIVIDUAL product listing, not your shop home page. In the second box, put a description of your product. In the third, your email address. Then below that, chose a product image for the thumbnail. Easy peasy! 

Using Iconosquare to Analyze Your Instagram Account

As we wrapped up our dream client series, we had a lot of people tell us they felt like their dream clients were on Instagram, so I thought it was a perfect time to roll out this tutorial I've had saved for using Iconosquare to measure your influence & optimize your posting on Instagram. 

I started using Iconosquare in October of 2013, to begin a one year study on how different marketing tactics effect account growth and translate into traffic to my shop & sales. I will be releasing my findings on those in an Instagram series in October, and I can't wait to share it all with you! Until then, use this tool to analyze your account & figure out what is working for you, what gets the best results & where you can improve! 

First, log into your IG account through Iconosquare. You will land on the homepage showing you recent posts from people you follow. At the top of the site, click "Statistics". 

On this page, you can see how many photos you've posted, how many total likes & comments you've received, how many followers you have & how many people you are following in the top bar. 

In the second bar, you can see how many followers you gained & lost over the past seven days. 

In the third bar, you can see what percentage of your followers interacts with your media - the heart is how many of your followers like you content, the black convo bubble is how many of your followers comment on your media, and the third image is how many people not following you interact with your media. 


From the left hand sidebar, click the next option Rolling Month Analysis. 

In the first box you see how many photos you have posted in the past 30 days & your most used tag.

To the right, you see a POP box. I'm not sure what it does, because mine has always said 0. 

Below that, you see your engagement. How many likes you received in the last month, how many average & how well you are performing compared to last month as well as a snapshot of your most liked posts. In the next column, you see the same info, but for comments. 


Below that, you can see your growth over the last month as well as your most engaged followers & track your loss & gain of followers over the last 30 days to see what type of content causes you to lose followers.


On the left sidebar, click the next option, "Content". 

The first column shows your first media (Oh, hey, look! It's my Lu & Ed mascot Gabos being made!) & a timeline of content that you've posted so you can see how your account has grown. 

The second column breaks down your postings over the life of your account. 

The third column shows which day you post the most often on, and which hours. 

Below this, you can see which filter you use the most, which hashtag you use the most, and what percent of photos are geolocated.


Let's head to the next category - "Engagement". You can learn some really good stuff here about what resonates with your audience the most. 

In the first column, you can see your source of likes over time - red being from followers, white from non-follower. 

Below that, you can see your most liked media, ever! As you can see, my top three most popular posts have nothing to do with my products.


Below this, you can see your comment history over the life of your account. Yellow is followers, white is non-followers.

In the bottom column you can see the photos that received the most comments. NONE of mine are my product photos. Use your Instagram account to show people the person behind the business - share your life with your followers!


Now for the REALLY beneficial stuff. Click the next item in the sidebar - "Optimization". 

The first column shows when the best time to post is by day & hour, along with your current posting habits.

Below that, you can see your media lifespan - how long after you post it that it gets interactions. 


Below this, you can see which filters you use the most that get the best results. 


Below this, you can view your current hashtags that you have been using, and compare them to the top tags on Instagram. Do not just use tags from this list for like spam - only use them when applicable.


The last item in the sidebar is "Community". 

In the first column, you can see your followers, following & how many of your followers you don't follow & do. 

Below that you can see a graph showing the timeline of your account & how those follows show above have grown over time.



In the second column, you can view your growth in followers & people you follow over the life of your account. 

In the next column, you can see your recent follows & unfollowers as well as your new followings. 


Below this, you can see your own stats on how many likes you give to people, who the top people you follow are, and discover new people to follow.



Head over to Iconosquare and check it out! Then come back & share - is your Instagram account performing as well as you had hoped? Are you seeing steady growth? Where do you think you could improve? What is currently working the best for you? Let's discuss in the comments!