Improve Your Product Photography with 'The One Up Rule'

Need to up the quality of your product photography for Instagram, e-commerce or website galleries? One secret to creating a beautiful product shot is "one-uping." Take a photo and then ask yourself, what can I do to "one-up" that shot? To demonstrate this, I photographed a pair of gold hoop earrings (Susan Lorraine Jewelry) and photographed them on my desk. There was no special setup, no fancy equipment or production team. I was literally in my bathtowel and my 2yr old niece was eating a PB&J sandwich beside me. I started with the earrings laying flat and 60 photos later I had a 3 photos I liked. It took me 10 minutes to shoot, 10 minutes to edit and then an hour to create this blog post (ha!). Creative product photography involves lots of experimentation, ugly photos and even once I take a good photo, I keep shooting, trying to "one-up it" until I've exhausted all possibilities. I made you a video (see below) so you can watch me in action, see ALL the photos I took and the final favorites. | Questions: hello@chamonixfilms.com

how to take better photos of jewelry - product photography demo with chamonix films and susan lorraine jewelry

TIPS FOR ONE-UPing YOUR PHOTOS:
Think about these things when you're attempting to "one up" your product photography for Instagram, e-commerce or website galleries.

  • ADD SOMETHING: Add a little flower, a bit of greenery, sprinkle glitter
  • TAKE AWAY: Sometimes, less is more and all your succulents & ferns are just clutter. Try minimalism to draw attention to the main focus of the photo.
  • CHANGE ANGLE: We usually start with the most boring angles; shooting straight down from eye-level. This is boring because this is how we see the world all day long. To make your photo more interesting, move the camera to an angel that is difficult to get to (lay on the floor, hang upside down, turn your head to the side etc...). Your goal is to create a photo that makes someone think, "Hey, there's something different / special about this?" 
  • REARRANGE: Products have a "good-side" and you need to keep twisting, shifting, layering, balancing to find it. We're usually trying to show off depth, texture or shapes that are unique to the product and you have to keep moving the camera AND the product until you find the sweet spot. 
  • LIGHTING: Photography is light. The prettiest flatlay will be unimpressive if the light is off. Move your camera or the table to get different reflections of light off the product. Products usually look best with the light direction hitting them because everything is illuminated and vibrant OR from the side where you can see light and shadows because the shadows add depth and help you view the product as 3D. 
  • BACKGROUND: Keep your eyes peeled for distractions (chords, lightswitches, dust, corners etc...) Try photos that are completely one color/even light (shooting down on a table or directly against a wall). Try photos that have a 'horizon line' (shooting across a table so you see the edge of table as a distinct line with the wall in the background. We usually avoid busy backgrounds where you can see the room, people or "stuff" behind. Keep it clean to keep the focus on your product.
Photography Nerdy Stuff:  These images were shot on a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Natural north-facing window light at 9am in mid-August in Seattle, WA. I shot 60 images and had 3 finalist. Camera Settings: ISO: 640, APERTURE: f/2.2, SHUTTER SPEED: Ranged Between 160-500

Photography Nerdy Stuff: These images were shot on a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Natural north-facing window light at 9am in mid-August in Seattle, WA. I shot 60 images and had 3 finalist. Camera Settings: ISO: 640, APERTURE: f/2.2, SHUTTER SPEED: Ranged Between 160-500