Photography Tips from Handmade in Florida

Zahida is the creative force behind Handmade in Florida. She's known for her innovative soap designs and flawless photography. We asked her to share her tips for taking beautiful product photos - learn more below!

One of the first things people notice about my soaps are the photos. I have enjoyed taking photos since childhood and got my first “real camera” for my 7th birthday, a Minolta X-7. Since then, I’ve gone through quite a few cameras and countless rolls of film. I currently enjoy using the Nikon D7000 and Canon 70D. With the right equipment and a little bit of know-how, you too can take your soap photography to the next level! Here are my top five tips for taking photos of your soap.

art0136 photo tips soap collage

Clockwise, left - winter soap cupcakes, swirl soap, soap tops

1. Equipment

You can certainly get by with using your smartphone, but chances are you will not achieve the look you are going for - particularly when it comes to depth of field (when the background is blurred and your subject is in focus). To achieve this look, you should invest in a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera and a 50mm lens (others work too, but this is a good starting point). There are several reputable brands out there including Nikon, Canon, and Sony. It is not necessary to get a top-of-the-line model, a mid-range model and a 50mm lens will work wonders for your soap photography!

2. Lighting

Sure there are lots of fancy photography lights out there, but the best (which also happens to be free) is natural light. Time to turn off that auto flash! Take your photos in soft natural light near a window. With a little practice and experimentation, you will soon discover what area and what time works best in your home/studio.

art0136 photo tips cupcake soap

Mini soap cupcakes

3. Composition

One of the best guides to determine good composition is the “rule of thirds,” where your image is divided into thirds (like a tic-tac-toe diagram). The four center points that connect are considered to be the “power points.” You can stage your soap or soaps in such a way that the main area you are trying to showcase (a botanical top or swirl, etc.) falls on one or more of those points. Most cameras and even phone apps (like Manual, ProCamera, Aviary, etc.) have a rule of thirds diagram built in, so it should be easy to experiment with your composition.

Experiment with your angles too. Try holding your camera at a 45 degree angle and taking a variety of shots, including overhead and up close and personal shots. Be creative and think outside the box!

art0136 photo tips editing

art0136 photo tips composition

4. Backgrounds and props

Simple is safe when it comes to backgrounds and props. The focus of your picture should be to highlight your soap or a certain feature of your soap. Busy patterns or bold colors may detract attention from your soap, and the same goes for props. If it’s relevant or adds interest to your picture, include it, otherwise save it for something else. Simple poster board backgrounds and lightly textured scrapbook paper work well. In addition, professional photography paper rolls/background paper are relatively inexpensive and will last you quite a while. These are readily available online at most photography retailers like B&H Photo.

art0136 photo tips simple background

Green Meadows soap

5. Editing

It’s a must. Yes, it would be great to take perfect pictures with perfect colors and perfect lighting, but the reality is perfection is hard to achieve (even for the majority of professional photographers out there who also edit their photos)! There are numerous post editing programs on the market. My favorites are Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. The goal of editing your pictures should be to enhance them, not to change them. You want the colors on screen to be as close to the real deal as possible. Editing will also allow you to adjust your lighting, contrast, tone, etc., as well as crop and rotate your images to make them more visibly appealing.

Photographing your soap is a lot like making it. With a little research, the right equipment, and practice, you will be taking beautiful pictures of your soap in no time! Good luck with your soap making and with your photography!

art0136 photo tips soap tops

Soap tops

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