In many ways, making soap can be akin to making art. Those who have mastered the craft create artful swirls, velvety smooth bars, and captivating landscapes of waves, textures, and colors. It can be very frustrating when the beauty of such artistry is lost in a photograph. A great picture should showcase what makes your soap special and urge the viewer to take a closer look. If you’ve been feeling uninspired by your own soap photos, here are a few fun ideas for livening them up.
While simplicity can be a beautiful thing, sometimes it’s fun to paint a more colorful picture. Bright colors that compliment and contrast can make your product really pop. Experiment with colorful backgrounds, bright and cheery props, and plenty of good quality light.
Be Playful With Your Composition
Think of viewing your photo from a potential customer’s point of view. Depending on where you are selling your products they could be browsing hundreds of soaps – slowly scrolling through a seemingly endless sea of similar looking photos. One surefire way to stand out is to make your composition different from the rest. Try showcasing your soap at different angles and in a variety of arrangements.
Don’t Crowd the Shot
It’s tempting to fill your frame with bountiful herbs, huge blooming flowers, and towering bath accessories. If you hold back a little you might find that small details – like these demure lavender buds – add beauty without taking focus away from the product itself.
Contrast is King
The whole point of taking a great photo is to make your product stand out. Place a white soap on a white background or a brown soap on a brown background and it will pull a disappearing act. Instead, try placing your soaps on soft colored backgrounds that complement their hue. I like to have backgrounds on hand in warm and cool off-whites, tans, greens, blues, and grays. I also keep one black background for photos where I really want a light colored product to pop.
Tell a Story
Where did your soap come from? Where is it going? Who will use it? The right photo can engage customers by illustrating answers to these questions. Bubbles, bath accessories, and soap dishes are just a few narrative elements that can be added to photos. Another way to tell a story about your soap is by showing it in a telling setting, such as a gift basket, spa, or farmers market.
Often it’s the small details in a bar of soap that make it beautiful. The wavy texture of a bar’s top, or the contrasting colors in layers and swirls transform simple bars of soap into works of art. Capturing those details is crucial to illustrating your product’s individuality, so don’t be afraid to lean in. Just make sure that your focus is spot on. Using a macro lense on a manual camera or a macro setting on a point-and-shoot camera can help keep your closeups crisp and gorgeous.
What are your favorite tricks for getting great shots of your handmade soaps? Share your wisdom in the comments below!
This was our second post in our new Soap School series. During 2015 we’ll be sharing many more posts on soap making, including recipes, technique tutorials, and more. You can join in the fun by sharing your own soap making photos on social media using the hashtag #NBWSoapSchool. You can also email us your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org or share them to our Facebook or G+ pages. Let us know what you are working on and what you would like to see in future Soap School posts. Have a soap making question? We’d love to tackle it for you!