How to Photograph Pottery
When you are taking product shots it is best to use a simple, neutral background. Professional photographers will generally use a lightbox to photograph products however you do not need one in order to get great results. Set your pottery infront of a neutral coloured wall or lay out a white tablecloth to set your pieces on for the product shots. A simple, neutral background will allow for easier photo editing and cropping out the background. If your handmade pottery happens to be white, use a contrasting colour as your background, ie. a grey wall, dark table or coloured tablecloth. When the foreground (your pottery) is easily discernable from the background then photo editing software will have a much easier time detecting and removing the background from the photo.
When taking lifestyle photos, experiment with your background using different textures and materials such as wood, fabric, stone, etc. You can use a tablecloth, wallpaper or a piece of satin to set your background. Or considering your gleaming kitchen backsplash or maybe your garden. If you have the capabilities to use ‘Portrait Mode’ this is a beautiful option for highlighting the foreground (your pottery) by blurring the background.
Consider purchasing flat lay backdrops for an easy way to achieve a professional, stylized look. Easily and affordably available from Amazon, these offer alternative backgrounds beyond your home.
If your smartphone or camera has the option of portrait mode, try using this feature to really highlight your pottery. By blurring the background of the photo only slightly, it allows the foreground (your beautiful pottery) to stand out.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography and good lighting can really change how your product looks. White lighting is the best for accurately displaying the colours of the glaze. I highly recommend purchasing photography lights if you do not have a room in your home that has white lighting with an appropriate space for photographing. Otherwise, your best option is natural sunlight. Try to find a spot with soft sunlight as stronger sun is more likely to cause shadows. Whether using photography lights or natural lighting, make sure of the following:
- Try to avoid any shadows falling onto the pottery that would obscure the colour and/or design
- Try to avoid any reflection off of the glaze
- Never photograph in low light or yellow light. This will make your pottery appear dull and potentially appear a different colour than it truly is.
Consider a set of photography lights. Personally, I use this set from Amazon.ca. They are easy to use and easy to store.
When taking lifestyle photography shots of your handmade pottery I recommend following the same instructions as the above when it comes to lighting. You can play a little bit more with shadows, etc if you are going for an artsy look but I recommend keeping it simple if you are a beginner.
Ensure that the entire piece of pottery is within the camera’s frame. If your pottery has an intricate detail/design take an additional photo as a closeup. Avoid having your hands in the photo (ie. holding the pottery bowl or pottery plate) and instead, utilize lifestyle images in order to show size and dimension of your pottery piece.
If you have the opportunity to do some further research, there are some great videos out there on flat lay photography. It is perfect for showcasing functional pottery. Flat lay photography is a birds eye view of the product that is taken directly from above or at a slight angle.
You can play with colour and texture by adding ‘props’ to your images. These are excellent for helping the customer understand the size of your pottery piece, whether it be a pottery mug or platter. The best lifestyle photos will feature ‘props’ that relate to the piece such as coffee with a mug or appetizers with a platter but even just a piece of fruit on or next to the piece will be a great help.
Flat lay photography isn’t the only way to stage a lifestyle photo – considering setting your pottery up in it’s ‘natural habitat’ – a garlic keeper on a kitchen counter. The best selling pieces are usually the ones that feature a picture showing the piece in use. Customer’s can easily imagine it in their own homes!
Take photos against neutral backgrounds and ensure the entire piece is within the frame.
Flat Lay Backdrops
This image features a "concrete" backdrop as the base and a "marble" backdrop as the background.
Utilize household items to show your pottery in use. This will help shoppers picture it in their own home.