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Every other month our blog posts a tutorial showing how to take at home the pictures we create in the studio. If you have a question about our suggestions please don’t hold back - write to us.

Would you like Via U! to create your photography instead of doing it yourself? Anywhere in the world you live, we are here to help.

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Via U! Photography


About Me

I am an advertising photographer in NYC. My pictures help large corporations sell more and keep their brands looking fresh. I am also the founder of Via U!, an online studio dedicated to creating photography that helps people selling in Etsy increase their sales too.

20. May 2011 16:15

Are You Ready to Flash?

How to use daylight and light from a flash together to take pictures that make your product look truly special. It's also truly easy to do.

Light is the most important control you have when photographing your product. Here is how mixing light from the sun and light from a flash you can create pictures with brilliant, richly saturated colors.

I use an inexpensive flash with the simplest of controls. To make the light softer I tape a piece of tracing paper in front of the reflector. What it’s indispensable is that the flash you use can be set in “manual” so it puts the same amount of light each time it goes and that it has a plug for a PC cable to connect it with a camera.

Many cameras don’t have a PC socket. If yours is like mine and it doesn’t have one you can use a “Hot Shoe Adapter” to provide the terminal needed to connect it with a flash.

Normally the PC cord that comes with a flash is only a few inches long. You can get a “Flash Sync Extension Cable” to be able to use the flash away from the camera. The extension cord I use is 8 feet long and it costs $12.

To diffuse the light I used a piece of translucent acrylic (plexiglas). I like the one that is less dense, it lets more light go through. I also used a spring clamp to hold it.

To find a place where to take the picture I put my equipment in a backpack and went hiking.

To carry a lighter pack I planned to take with me only what was absolutely necessary and use whatever I would find around to put the picture together.

The closer you put the acrylic to what you are photographing the softer the light becomes - further away and the light will have more contrast.

I used a plastic container as a light stand and a wooden stick to hold it in place.

Connect the PC cord and the extension cable to the flash.

Because one needs to move the flash around to adjust the light I find it easier to put the camera on tripod. However, holding the camera in the hands makes it easier to try different angles.

Connect the PC extension cord to the to socket of the “Hot Shoe”...

... and we are ready to boogie.

Because a flash gives a lot of light in a very brief burst you can then use the shutter speed to make the background darker. A flash lets you change day into night!

When using only one light, the sun, the only control it is to make the whole picture darker, or lighter.

The flash makes, for an instant, the purse to be lighter than the background. A background that is slightly dark will show richly saturated colors, if you make the background even darker it will help to make your product more prominent.

Where should I put the flash?
Well... it could be anywhere. The right place is whatever direction the light makes things look best. Controlling light is a fantastic creative tool. Try anything you think it might work, don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

To control the amount of light on your product move the flash closer or further way. The acrylic sheet is an option, I used it in this picture but most often I don’t.

The lovely red purse a loan from:
Thirtyfive Flowers
Hertfordshire, UK
Thank you for loaning us your baby Louise



4. May 2011 20:57

Ten Kick Ass Samples of Etsy Bath & Beauty Branding

Consistency is by far the most significant aspect when creating a visual identity. Showing your products in a unique way creates an image that sets you apart. Saying something different about your brand, something worth more than business as usual creates a personality.

There are thousands of Bath & Beauty shops in Etsy, here are 10 extraordinary examples of shops that have a clear a vision of how they want to be identified. They follow that vision with conviction and that helps them to create images that are memorable - thumbnails that jump off the page.

Krista and her mother Sandy have a passion for fashion and a flair for hair. Krista is the model and photographer in all pictures used in Miss Violet Lace. “At first it was a bit of a challenge to model and photograph at the same time. I find that I am much more comfortable in front of the camera by myself than when someone else is photographing me. Doing it is another creative outlet, it's a great way to connect with people and tell a story through my photos.”

Valley Green Naturals shows it’s products in a clean indoor environment where they seem to be bathing in light. Cindy DeVore developed the brand’s mood by styling and taking her own photographs using the windows of her home. She then took the idea to a professional photographer who added the bright white light to the concept. The pictures that Cindy created at home had more character than the ones taken in the studio - but the professional lighting makes the product look fantastic.

Shannon uses Hindu religion’s interpretation for the creation as a starting point for the perfumes of Pure Spirit Botanicals. “ Visually, I wanted to create interest in the botanical components and to use artwork that would reflect the aromatic mood of the perfumes.” Shannon makes extensive use of pictures she finds in stock photography websites and has forged relationships with other Etsy sellers so as be able to use their photography in her shop as well. All product photography is created by herself.

Don’t be afraid to be different! say Megan and Steve. “We chose the pulp horror comic theme for Metropolis Soap Co. because we wanted to stand out. The halftone dots were the idea of our photographer, Daniel Imeola. He took inspiration from our labels and wanted to embrace the comic book aspect of our brand. I was a little wary at first, because I felt that it might look too busy... or that no one would like it because of the lack of a plain white background. But I really can't imagine our product shots any other way now. They're really distinctive and I love hearing people say "WOW!"

Christine wanted to use something that made Earth Angel Minerals stand out from the rest of sellers in Etsy. “I used my multi-toned lab jacket as a background. I liked the way it looked on the thumbnail so I asked a few people to see if it would draw their eyes to the product over other listings. Its a very unique background as this lab coat was sold about five years ago and is no longer in production, so it is probably safe to say I am the only one that can use this, so that makes it really unique!”

Jill McKeever owner of For Strange Women says that the way the brand looks is a reflection of her own personal style. “I want every material I use, both in the product, the packaging and the photography to show it’s soul” All photography is created by Kevin McKinney using Jill’s home as a background.

For Strange Women uses an extraordinary amount of pictures to show each  product. Rich sepia, gold and cream colors is the common theme but each pictures is distinct, full of character. Going through the shop becomes a journey of discovery, every click bringing a surprise.

“I wanted to use something that brought added beauty and dimension to my product photos without detracting from them. The problem was finding something unique. ”Jen’s inspiration to put powder on flowers became obvious when she realized that her garden grows hundreds of them. She is the model and photographer for all pictures used in Providence and Grace “In order to save everyone's sanity I actually model the products myself and use a tripod and a remote to take the pictures.”

Cheryl chooses all the backgrounds for Toadstool Soaps photography from a collection of scrapbook paper. Her husband, who is color blind, takes the pictures using indoor natural light. She feels that the colors for bath & body products that can be achieved using natural pigments are limited, and that sometimes can be boring. She loves adding color when taking the pictures.

Each nail in Nevertoomuchglitter is handmade by Jen. “They all start out blank and turn into different creations, depending on my mood and what's around me!” When photographing Jen uses the same one of kind artistic touch for each picture. Making each one of her nail creations look even more unique. “I use printed scrapbook paper for my backgrounds, I try to choose a paper which will complement the nails but is not too close in color because it's easy for the nails to get overwhelmed in the photo if they don't stand out.”   

Michelle and Chad say that “When we came up with the name for our business we already knew the kind of font we wanted to use.” They both like graffiti and the culture of urban art of so when deciding how to brand Funk Off they let the two worlds meet. “We are huge fans of drips. We do bath and body products, sure... but there is no reason our brand shouldn't match our style.” Michelle takes all the pictures for the shop.

Every other week we post a new product photography tutorial showing how to take at home the pictures we create at the Via U! studio.
Tutorial: Flash! and Take Fantastic Pictures