Soap Photography Tips
After years of photography practice these are ideas I employ in Sorcery Soap photography.
The image below shows a soft reflection in the foreground and side shadows. The shapes also have a slight shadow on the surface to reveal full aspects of this color and add interest. The subject is not floating without connection to the environment, but the slight shadow and reflection on the surface grounds the shape. A floating image can be unnerving without the viewer even knowing it.
Tip #1 While photographing soap, if you want to get rid of cracks, contours, blemishes – over expose. Bring in more light than necessary, and make the background as white as possible, eliminating shadows. This is called “high key”. This can be done with flashes, camera settings or post editing in software.
Tip#2 To photograph details in your soap to create shadows. Shadows show contrast. There is a fine balance between harsh light and bright light, but enough light reveals the details.
Tip#3 If you want to sell your soap, avoid props, busy backgrounds or other distracting information. Each photo tells a story and the story you want your audience to focus on is the object in the photo. Unless the props are essential to the story, avoid props. Its distracting.
Tip #4 A direct flash on your soap, unless controlled, is rarely appealing and will cause harsh shadows. A better use of light is to bounce the light at a bright surface above or around the soap. The light wraps around the object.
Tip #5 Clean up each photo. When cutting soap little crumbs can appear that our eyes cannot see, but the camera can. Any soap blemish or specks will come into focused and that will be what your viewer sees. Its a natural behavior to pattern-match and when something is out of sync the viewer will focus on that and the mind/eye will continue to move to that mis-matched pattern.
Tip #6 Be mindful with whites: white areas of the soap. Strive to SEE the information in the image. Say what you see out loud. This helps to understand what is in the photo verses what one thinks is in the photo. We take so much for granted that most information is just absorbed. This is a good practice in all areas, not just soap photography.
The first thing we look at when we view something, generally, are the white areas. If the entire image is white the eye will move toward the colors. That is a controlled use of white. If the your soap is on a similar color background all contrast and focus will be lost. Squint your eyes until all things are blurry, what stands out? That area that stands out, is that what you want the viewer to focus on?
The idea behind photography is not a journalistic style exactly. Journalistic style is to just report facts, along with revealing the truth. Seeing an element of enchantment can extend to the viewer, if you can capture this idea.
In person our eye sees differently, we imagine things, take in textures, can touch and smell the object. We experience the object. To convey this experience takes time and patience through photography. Telling the truth, but in a delightful way.
Another Point of View
Try not to pump up or exaggerate the soap, so much that, if your customer receives the soap and is not disappointed. That is on par with, while on-line dating, posting a photo at your best weight ten years ago. When the person shows up for the date, they are guaranteed to be disappointed. People in real life are not people in photos. The skill is to convey enough interest in the soap to tell a story without marring the truth.
A photo that makes you happy is better than just getting the job done. Soaping can be a happy process, every step of it, even your photography. Photography is an opportunity for your creativity to flourish.