Yes, but do you shoot products?

A few people have asked me lately whether I shoot products.  Well…. it depends.

I used to annoy the crap out of my university students by answering all their questions with, “Well, it depends.” And I’m going to do that here, too.

Do I shoot products?

Yes.

And no.

It depends.

If your product is a piece of clothing or an accessory of some kind, then I am more than happy to incorporate it into a portrait session, or to hire a model and do a shoot specifically to show off that product. Here are some recent images from a test shoot with the gorgeous Grazielle Lima.

If you have small-ish products and you’d like some creative images that make your products look deliciously desirable, then yes, I can shoot that. Ideally I would also do personal branding portraits for you and your team as well.;-)Here are some that I shot for Turramurra Drapery.

But do I do product shots for e-commerce sites? Hell no! If you ask me to take straight up and down plain Jane photos of your super-duper funky new fandangled widget-y thing from front, back, and side so that you can use it for your ‘add to cart’ pages, well…. let’s just say I’d rather not. Nor do I do ‘invisible mannequin’ style shots (usually called ‘ghosting’ in photography circles).

But I know people who do. And they do it well.

So if you’re looking for the kinds of photos you see above, then yes, I’ll happily talk with you about what you need. If you’re after ‘proper’ product photography, then I will happily help you find a photographer who can do what you’re looking for.

And then everyone’s happy!

Ready to talk about your photographic needs? Click here to get the ball rolling.

 

 

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What makes a good profile pic? » vividity blog - [...] like in one of my previous posts (on product photography), I’m going to answer that by saying “It [...]

Vintage. How very hip, very cool, very now.

It seems everyone is into all things vintage these days, doesn’t it? So here I go jumping on that particular train, too. Have a look at this. Isn’t this an incredibly beautiful old image? And how about that hand colouring that was done back then? This scan simply doesn’t do the image justice.

 

The young lady in that photo above is my beautiful mum when she was about 21 years old. As I write I am wearing a top that she knitted for herself at about that age. It’s precious, but I love to wear it. Hopefully it will survive all the wearing and washing long enough for me to pass it down to my own daughter.

Here’s another photo of my mum. It’s much more recent, though I realise (with some disquiet, I might add!) that this, too, is now technically “vintage”.

 

 

It was taken by Kimberley Mann, the photographer for my wedding in 1993. And you know what? This photo is as precious to me as the hand painted one above, not because it was my wedding day, but because it’s about the only photo I have of us together. I was the last of four babies, and Mum was more likely to be in the kitchen or in the laundry than in photos!

And you know what makes this photo even more precious? Mum died in 1996 — just a few years after I married, and many years before I had children of my own.

And I still miss her.

It wasn’t until my own children were born that I really understood what Mum had given me — and by then it was too late to say thank you. Or sorry.

Perhaps that’s why I love mother & daughter shoots so much. There is a point in every shoot where Mum looks at Daughter and sees the incredible woman she is becoming, and another moment where Daughter looks at Mother and recognises in her the amazing and beautiful woman that she is. These two women — one younger, one older — both learn to appreciate one another more through the simple act of sharing a girly day together. And I know that one day the images we create in their mother and daughter shoot will be counted among that family’s most prized possessions.

 

 

So if you still have your mum, go give her a hug and tell her that you appreciate all that she does for you. And mums, go find your children and tell them how proud you are of all they are achieving. It’s a very hip, very cool thing to do. And please, do it now, because one day it will be too late.

Much love to you.
Jen

 

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The knitting that might just beat me.

 

I am four rows into a 44 row repeating knitting pattern and…..AAAGH!!! This pattern book should come with a warning:

I knit for pleasure. For relaxation. And I have done since I was about 6 years old. That’s a long time. But this? This is anything but relaxing or pleasurable!! It’s like knitting with 217 stitches of cobweb!

“You need this luxurious item in your life!” says the description in the pattern book.

No. No I don’t, actually.

“Knit one for your glamorous best friend too,” it says. My friends all just got a whole lot less glam.

All I can hope is that once there is enough fabric to stop the work twisting around the needles, and once the pattern is established, it will eventually become fun. Or at least tolerable. Relaxing is too much to hope for, I’m afraid.

 

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How to crop your profile pic.

NOTE: No clients’ reputations were harmed in the writing of this post. The images you see here are some selfies I took a year or two ago. All images used with my permission.;-)

I shoot a lot of professional portraits for everyone ranging from doctors through to dancers. Everyone’s needs are slightly different, so I do customised shoots for each of my clients to create for them the images that they need.  We do hair and makeup, shoot, select images, and then I retouch and provide those images in print and in digital format.  My clients leave armed with enough to start growing their business profiles in print and on line.

But here’s where the trouble (sometimes) begins. An image that was provided like this:

….gets cropped like this:

Not at all flattering, is it? Not nice at all.  The worst one I’ve ever seen the person cropped their image so tightly that they looked like a decapitated head in a box. Really not nice.

Here are three tips that will help you get a good result when you upload your profile pic

1. Rule of Thirds

Imagine a 3×3 grid over your image, dividing your image into thirds vertically and horizontally. Try to keep points of interest on those lines, or better yet, at the intersection of those lines. You get a stronger, more interesting and visually pleasing image that way. Here are two potential crops of the same image, both making good use of rule of thirds.

And here’s a third version that has my face right in the middle frame. It’s OK, and an acceptable profile pic, but it’s just a bit….well….boring.

 

2. Negative Space

Negative space is the empty part of the photo, the bit that’s ‘just background’…. the bit that’s not the subject. So in the images above, the negative space is the white part. Negative space is a powerful tool in art and design. Have you ever thumbed through the newspaper and seen a full page ad that is mostly white space? I bet it caught your eye amongst all that type on the rest of the pages. If you’re on instagram, have a quick scroll through someone’s gallery (and I mean that literally: make the images in their gallery scroll by at a reasonable pace) and see which images make you pause. My guess is it will be the ones that have more negative space than the rest of the images in that particular gallery. Here’s a screen shot of my instagram gallery. I bet I can guess which frame catches your eye the most.

Click here if you’d like to see more of vividity on instagram.

So what does this mean for your profile pic? Well, a little bit of empty space around you is not just wasted photographic real estate. It’s actually a great tool to help make your profile picture more captivating. Compare one of the tight crops from above to one with a little more negative space. Which do you find more appealing?

making use of negative space

 

3. Use the correct file size and orientation

If you can find out the dimensions in pixels for the place where you are using your profile pic, great! Resize a larger image to those dimensions and you should be good to go. But whatever you do, don’t try to enlarge a smaller image to fit, especially if it has already been provided to you by your photographer as a low resolution file. You will end up looking like you’re made from lego bricks! The other thing to avoid is cropping too much. It will have the same effect. Here’s an example. This is the same image as above, at a low resolution for web use, but then (as many people do) cropped to just the head and shoulders.

Remember that a ‘head shot’ or ‘profile pic’ doesn’t necessarily have to be only your head. It is quite acceptable to use a head and shoulders, head and torso, or even a full length shot as your profile pic if you like. Personally, I don’t think it really matters too much across most platforms. What IS important, though, is that you don’t take a low resolution full body shot and crop it to just your head and shoulders. That’s when you will run into problems with pixelation.

There are also some sites that have less than friendly user interfaces that can make it difficult to upload your profile pic well. Sometimes you upload your pic, and it suddenly looks like this:

This is probably because the site is set to fill the allocated profile pic space with the file that you upload, and if your file happens to be smaller in one dimension, the site just stretches it out to fill the available space. Yuck. If this happens to you, try to find out the dimensions that are specified for the profile pic, and resize or crop your image to fit that size before you upload. If you have trouble doing that, contact your photographer. They should be able to do it for you. I even had one client recently where the user interface on the site she was using was so poor that she actually allowed me to log in on her behalf and upload the image for her. It took me three goes to get it rightand I work with images all day for my job.

And while I’m at it, here is one more tip for free.

4. #nofilter

Stay away from strong filters that come with some apps like Instagram and the built in camera app on your phone. If your photographer is worth their salt they will have spent considerable time making sure the colours of your corporate portrait make you look good. They will have done so on a colour calibrated monitor, possibly in a darkened room. If your image is black and white they will more than likely have made it that way by tweaking a lot of different settings individually, not but just desaturating the image (just taking out the colour information). So it’s probably best to just upload that image exactly as it is, and resist the urge to go all “Gingham”* or “Hefe-ish”* with it.

;-)

Your photographer will thank you for it. And it will be so much more appealing to your target market, I’m sure!

* Names of popular filters in Instagram

PS: Need to update your own profile pic? Click here to get the ball rolling.

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