Origins #44 - DIY Product Photography
Taking matters into our own hands
In this series we are documenting the journey of building DULO, starting from Day 1. Every week we publish a new chapter that takes you behind the scenes of our process. With every article, we want to provide value to you, the reader. We share the success and failures, the opportunities and the challenges that we face while executing our vision.
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One of the best things about running your own business is that you have to deal with a lot of unfamiliar things and in the process you learn a lot. Personally, I have a natural curiosity for the new and like to immerse myself in new territories. Recently, I had the opportunity to do just that once more.
We needed product shots where the shirts are on a model and people can better visualise how they look. Before we launched the first version of our website, we didn't want to make a full-blown photo session, because there were too many constraints. We were pressed on time to launch, so we needed images quickly. We didn't have the immediate network of models and photographers to organise a proper photoshoot. We were thinking that having the shirts appear floating in space would give people more freedom to imagine themselves wearing them.
The first time we heard someone mention that it would be a good idea to have the shirts shot on a model was early on, when we were testing the first version of our website. After the launch we got the same feedback from several other places. People were asking "Why is there no one wearing your shirts on the photos?"
Our response was that we didn't have the time and we were working on fixing this. We wanted to find and work with a professional photographer and organise a photoshoot. We spent several weeks approaching various photographers, but there was always something that was preventing us from progressing. Usually, the people we got in touch were too busy around the winter holiday season or were off. Some simply didn't respond to our inquiries.
Over the holidays, Julian and I made the decision to act and take matters into our own hands. I did a quick search online about the equipment we would need and found a very affordable photo studio kit on Amazon.
I ordered it and in a week the package arrived. It consisted of two LED lights, three woven backgrounds (white, black, green), light reflectors, and a frame to place the backgrounds on. It cost us around €80 (including delivery) to setup a small photo studio at home.
The following weekend we got busy with the photoshoot. We set up the new equipment. Using a phone we started photographing each shirt. We shot front, back, and a few detail shots for each model. First, we shot the men's shirts with Julian modelling. The next day we shot the women's collection with my sister helping us to model.
Quick side note. After I was done with shooting I felt a sense of dissatisfaction. I have set very high expectations for the quality of the photos and I didn't feel we've done a great job. Noticing my frustration, Julian was quick to reassure me that we are in more than a good shape, showing me some of the early product photography of some established brands that we like. Later on, and after examining the photos carefully, I was happy with the result as well.
Next, it was time to do the post-production. The night after the photoshoot we considered to ask for help from an external party. However, this would make us dependant again on someone else and further delay the execution of changes we wanted to implement.
The next day, I was determined to give editing the photos a go. After a few minutes on YouTube and just as much playing with Photoshop, I was editing the photos. I found several useful tutorials that taught me how to quickly and effectively use the software to accomplish what I wanted.
Going from photo to photo I was slowly but surely getting the desired results. Post-production of product photography, done. Another skill in the bag.
While there are many arguments not to do DIY product photography and I am sure they are all valid, in the interest of speed, we decided to do it ourselves. As a result, we now have a set of product photos that are in more than a respectable shape. Most important of all - we have very useful content for our website and social accounts.
In addition, I learned a lot about how to do a product photoshoot. I already have a list of improvements for next time. I also learned how to edit the photos in post-production.
This is a valuable experience that will be extremely helpful in future shoots. Once we reach a point when we hire photographers to make those shoots, we will have much more experience about what it takes to make good product photoshoots. We will also have a much clearer idea of what we want to achieve. I can confidently say that our high standards for quality have grown even higher.