Androids work too of course ;)
About a year and a half ago I began seeing major shift in my business. People began noticing my cookies more, I was getting more engagement on Instagram and most importantly, the orders started to come flooding in.
However, right before that shift happened I was at a place where I was really happy and proud of my cookie decorating skills, but I still felt like there was something keeping me from getting to the same level as some of the cookie decorators I admired most. I wasn't necessarily looking for lots of followers...I really just wanted my (at the time) side hustle to look like a polished business rather than a cute hobby. I realized that the thing that set my cookie role models apart from me was their ability to photograph their cookies so that they literally looked like they belong in a magazine. Once I realized that, I was on a mission to figure out how to get those magic pictures that make people stop and look. I finally figured it out and then boom! cue the shift in my business! It is CRAZY how the way you present your work can transform your whole business.
Now, I am in no way a photographer, so if you want real, professional advice, talk to someone who is! A fancy camera will obviously give you the best quality photos, but I have been just fine using my iPhone. Here are 10 tips for taking great photos of your work.
1. Use natural light!
I figured this one out early on...or at least I thought I did. I actually used to put my cookies on a poster board and carry them outside to my deck to take photos HAH. It didn't matter how cold it was...I was outside taking cookie photos. Now that is a little (okay A LOT) extreme and not even the best way to have great natural light for photos. I would find a spot in your house in front of a window with some nice sheer curtains to take your photos. You want soft natural light...not direct sunlight like I was getting outside on my deck haha.
2. Use a consistent backdrop
Consistency in your photos is key. You want to begin to create your own unique style so that if someone is scrolling through instagram they can recognize your work from someone else's. One easy way to start to do that is by using the same backdrop for all (or most) of your photos. Like I said, I used to just use a white foam poster board which worked...but the butter from the cookies would stain it after a little while. So, I upgraded to a Bubb Market backdrop. It's great and I can easily wipe off the cookie crumbs!
3. Arrange your cookies while looking through the camera
Looking through the camera view is SO helpful when setting up your cookies for photos. That way you'll be able to see what your photo will look like and you can make sure nothing gets left out of the shot! I put my phone in my handy bendy arm table clamp!
4. Use a light reflector
A light reflector does exactly what it sounds like...it reflects the light coming from the window back down on the are you are photographing and helps prevent shadows. Amazon has a great collapsable light reflector!
Here is a photo of my photography set up! The links to my favorite tools are below.
5. Create an interesting composition
Lining up your cookies and taking a photo from above might seem like the best way to showcase all of the small details in your entire cookie set, but here's the harsh truth...it's boring to look at. If your photo is boring, it won't make anyone stop scrolling and then your beautiful cookies with tiny details will not get noticed! You have to find a way to catch someone's eye. Change up the angle, do some close ups, add in some props...make things interesting!
See what I mean???
6. Don't be afraid to leave things out
You don't need to get every single cookie from an order in the photo. It can overcrowd the photo and end up looking messy. If I want to get a shot of an full set, I will aim to get one cookie of each design in the photo...but if I can't sometimes I'll leave designs out! Less is more sometimes!
7. Learn from others
It's not cheating to find an account that you really admire and try to mimic their photo style and practice taking photos! If you feel like you are copying their photos too exactly, you can always ask permission to post a similar photo with your cookies and give them credit for the photo set up! As you get better, you will start to create your own style!
8. Find great Lightroom Presets
Ooohhhh this is a big one. PRESETS. This is a game changer. Consistent photos help you create your own personalized brand. So just like you want to have a consistent backdrop, you also want your photos to be edited consistently. If you aren 't familiar with Lightroom, it is an Adobe photo editing app. There is a free version for your phone (which is what I use). Presets are basically just filters for editing your photos that you can create yourself or purchase from someone else and download. Once you take a photo, you choose a preset (filter) and then can make minor adjustments to perfect the final product. It makes the editing process much quicker and makes all of your photos look cohesive!
For a little while I tried creating my own presets but...I'm not a photographer and they were pretty bad lol. Pay the $25 for someone else's presets was worth every penny. There are TONS of presets out there for purchase, but my favorite for cookies are the Linen & Gray presets.
9. Take the photos portrait style
This one is really if you are focusing on photos for social media. If not, take your photos in whichever orientation you like! However, if you're like me and use social media to market your work, portrait style is the best option for one simple reason...it fills up the phone screen more than landscape will!
10. Maximize your content
People tell me all the time that it seems like I have SO many cookie orders...and I do...but probably not as many as you might think based on my instagram. When taking photos, break a set up into 2 or three groups! That way you can get at least 2 posts from one set!
So there you have it! A quick guide to taking great photos! My photos didn't always look like this...we all start somewhere! If you really want to see where I started, scroll allllll the way back to the beginning of my instagram :)