As a professional LA product photographer, you might expect that I have a perfectly streamlined system that never fails. Well, I’m here to tell you that even the most established system has hiccups at times. For instance, who could have anticipated a global pandemic that causes everyone to shut down or work from home? The trick is knowing how to adjust and use those bumps as motivation and inspiration. As an artist, it’s important to keep the creativity flowing — even if it’s not how you expected.
If you need a dose of encouragement, here are a few secrets of an LA product photographer.
How to Improvise During the Pandemic
Photoshop is Your Friend
Good photography requires a natural eye and a creative knack, but even the best photographers get a little help from tools and technology. The key is to know when and how to use them to authentically enhance an image instead of making it look fake and pieced together. I encourage you to play around with EVERYTHING until you get the hang of it. Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva are helpful editors.
- Blending options
- Removing and inserting backdrops
- Creating your own shadows
- White balance
Creativity is limitless. People are surprised when I tell them that sometimes my best images come from playing around and “accidentally” finding something that takes the image to the next level!
You Don’t Need a Big Fancy Studio
Cosmetics, food, and packaged items are all pretty small. To be the best, an LA product photographer should have a huge fancy studio, right? Nope. During quarantine, I’ve been shooting from home in a 5×7 area to create professional studio-quality images. It’s not the equipment or workspace that makes the photography; it’s the way an artist utilizes resources to produce desired results. Honestly, sometimes my most interesting photos come from test shoots or unexpected workspace bloopers (ahem, the cat coming in to steal my props…).
While I am a perfectionist with my work, I also know when to roll with the punches. Believe it or not, “mistakes” make interesting work. Accidental-yet-artistic spills that would be hard to imitate; pets interacting with your subject; broken props. Own it and make it yours! In the right circumstance, there’s something mesmerizing about imperfection. (Not to be confused with sloppiness.)
Use Quarantine as Creative Time
You can’t be “on” all the time. Artists also need time to play around, develop new skills and styles – to grow. Take time to get messy and experiment. Your professional work will be better for it.
For instance, shoot common items in a new style that you’ve always wanted to try. In the end, if you produce work you love, it’s easier to promote yourself. You’re proud of it, and you enjoy creating it. As a bonus, you’ll attract those clients that are drawn to that style – and therefore be able to create more of the type of work you love.
Identify Your Ideal Client – And Vocalize It.
The truth is, not every person you pass on the sidewalk is your client. And that’s ok. You want partnerships to be mutual. Don’t try to be someone you’re not by attempting work you hate. As you find your specialty and promote it, the right clients will find you. The more you communicate to the world what you want and what you’re about, the easier it is for those clients to find you and your work! Being an LA product photographer, it’s easy to get lost among others with similar specialties. I’ve carved out my niche and attracted an audience who values my work — and I value theirs in return.
Invest in Yourself & Your Business
Don’t put off buying new lights for a year like me. The second that I bought them I knew I made a mistake. I should have invested in myself a long time ago. What if you were a big company like Starbucks? When a store needs a new espresso machine, they order it. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s also necessary to maintain their standards and give their customers the best. Give yourself the tools that you need to create the work that you want to be paid for! Future you and future clients with thank you for it!
Lindsay is a Los Angeles-based food, product, and commercial photographer. She specializes in Still Product & Food Photography, Lifestyle & Portrait Photography, Stop Motion, and Food Styling. Connect with her HERE for product marketing!