Photography and Presentation Tips

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You’ve worked really hard on your creation. There are a lot of reasons to show it in the best possible light! The only way we can judge your entry soap for the challenge is by the photo, so you want to make sure it looks good! But, I’m guessing you don’t just share photos for the challenge. You’re probably posting on social media and quite possibly your online store. You can benefit in so many ways by upping your presentation game! Here are some tips to help you do just that:

1. Finishing touches – I highly recommend investing in a planer and beveler. Cleaning up the edges, tops, sides of the soap can really make it stand out. How to bevel soap video HERE. My recommendation for an acrylic planer HERE, a stainless steel one HERE, or a wooden one HERE.

2. Presentation –

A. Where will you take great photos of your soap?

Any place you can get good natural lighting is a great place to take great photos of your soap. Outside in the full sun is NOT good, however. It will wash out the colors and give a lot of shadows.

Outdoor – Full sun.

Let’s try a place in the shade. First option – On a cutting board on top of the grill, I’m standing between the house and the grill:

Outdoor shade spot #1

It’s a bit dark. How about facing the other direction?

Outdoor shade spot #2

Now the colors are brighter, but the background isn’t very nice! Solution: have my daughter hold up a neutral colored 12 x 12 scrapbook paper!

Outdoor shade spot #2, with a neutral background

Let’s crop it, and we’re good to go:

Final photo – only edit was to crop. This would be my 1st choice for an entry photo!

What if you don’t have a good outdoor spot? Find an indoor spot with some natural light coming through if possible. My best spots are on my kitchen table with windows to the north, or in my bathroom with the glass block window to the west.

How I set up soaps for photos in my bathroom:

Photo set-up

What it looks like from behind the camera:

Lighting looks like this

How I would finish up the photo:

Cropped and brightened slightly – this would be my 2nd choice for an entry photo

If you don’t have natural lighting, a light box may be your best bet.

B. How will you position them? Try multiple positions, using two bars, three bars, etc to discover what looks best. Lay them down flat, stack them up, some flat, some standing up…

C. What will your background be? A neutral background doesn’t have to mean plain white. Look for natural textures or finishes inside your home, or acquire what you need. Look for samples of tiles or wood flooring or a wooden cutting block that can be placed in your perfect naturally lit setting. Use 12×12 scrapbooking paper or neutral colored fabrics with interesting textures from the craft store.

D. Common presentation issues to avoid:

1. Colored background doesn’t make the soap stand out 2. Slightly out of focus; soap crumbs are visible 3. Dark, shadowy photo, paper towel doesn’t give the best impression 4. Cropped too tight – can’t see the soap very well

These are all easily fixed! 1. Try a different colored background! Could be more neutral, even black can help make colors pop. Just needs more contrast with the soap. 2. Clean up the photo area and slow down to take a good, sharp photo. 3. Find a different area with natural lighting and a better background. If you need something inexpensive, 12 x 12 scrapbooking paper is the way to go! 4. Make sure you can clearly see full bars of soap in your photo. Back out and don’t try to crop the photo as you are taking it. You can always crop later!

3. Photography –

You don’t need a fancy camera to get great photos. Cameras on mobile phones have improved greatly in the past few years, and they come with editing capabilities as well. In fact, I took all of the photos above with my Android mobile phone! Feel free to adjust the brightness, contrast, and warmth of your photo so that it looks more like your soap in real life (no filters, please)! Many phones have a portrait mode that will blur out the background. Just make sure at least one of your bars of soap is entirely in focus! If you don’t have all the editing resources already at your fingertips, there are plenty of free apps such as PhotoDirector for Android, or Snapseed for iPhones, and editing programs for your desktop such as Gimp (post on how to use it) that may help.

Entry Photo Requirements:
Your photo needs to be 2560px wide at most. Otherwise the entry form will crop it down to that size, or may even cause a critical error! If this happens, you can resize your photo by emailing it to yourself on your phone, or using this website on a computer.  I also highly recommend cropping your photo square, as this is how the thumbnail will show up on the entry form.

More Tips:
The main object in your photo is the soap, so it has to be at least 50% of the picture.
Use landscape format – it’s closer to humans’ eyes view.
Take your time. Take LOTS of photos. Try various angles to see which one looks best. From up higher, down lower, closer or farther, to one side or the other. Just make sure you don’t get so close that you distort the shape of the soap!

More Resources:
Kenna from Modern Soapmaking has compiled some of the most common photography mistakes on her blog HERE.
Check out these amazing soap photos on Shutterstock!