Whatever stage your at with your cake business… Please. Stop. Stop taking pictures of your products with poor lighting and messy backgrounds. This is seriously so important & if you don’t start doing this properly NOW, you’re going to be kicking yourself later- trust me!
I know you’re so focused on creating amazing products that it’s easy to forget about taking a quality picture of it, but if you don’t get a good picture, did you really even make it? You need to start building your portfolio along with your reputation. You’ve already invested your time into making an awesome product, don’t make it look unflattering with a sloppy photo! The photos you take are what your future customers (if you’re starting a business) or potential employers (if you plan on applying to work in a professional bakery) are basing their decision off of & it really will make or break the decision for them.
I feel like we’re already friends so I can keep it real with you…
Not only do the bad pictures make the product look sloppy, they don’t make you look that great either. Subconsciously, it sends a message to people & customers that you don’t pay extra attention to detail & that judging by the disaster in the background, they assume your kitchen isn’t that clean. Customers aren’t going to be willing to buy your stuff if you’re not selling attention to detail & a clean kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, my kitchen gets a bit cray cray at times too, I mean you can’t create epic things without the mess- BUT, the customer does not need to see that. It’s not exactly a selling point.
Are you guilty of this? IT’S OK! It’s an easy fix & I’m here to help you- NOT judge you!
Building a portfolio of your work is so easy, anyone can do it! All you need is a window, plain background or wall, your product and a camera (any camera, even an Iphone camera will do, although if you’re serious, a DSLR camera is totally worth the investment).
Ok, now that you know it doesn’t involve any-crazy-anything, let’s look at how to do this step by step.
How To Build Your Portfolio
Step 1: Lights
Note: There is no substitute for natural light. Trust me. I have a million lights for filming & even a huge ring light, the extra lights are a bonus & helpful, but unless its a nice day out with a decent amount of natural light coming in my window, I won’t even bother filming.
Find a spot in your house or business where there is lots of natural light (meaning a large window or sliding door)- you know what I’m talking about, the go-to selfie spot where your selfies glow and make you feel fabulous! Doesn’t everyone have a go-to selfie spot in their house? I’m pretty sure it’s a thing.
You don’t want the sun shining directly into the window or door, you just want a soft glow of light. If the sun is shining directly into your desired spot, hang a white curtain or sheet to diffuse the light so you get a soft glow. Ok, now that you have a spot, you can either move a small table in front of the light or just put down a plain box or use a cake stand on the floor (don’t put any products directly on the floor, a cake stand will generally give enough height to keep your products off the floor). Make sure your product is facing the the light so the front of it is illuminated softly.
Step 2: Background
Ideally, a plain wall (of any colour) is best for a background but if you don’t have one near your natural light source, here are a few easy things you can use to create a cheap simple background: piece of white bristol or foam board from the dollar store, a large plain white gift bag or box, someone holding up a plain sheet behind your product or anything with a large plain surface!
Making sure you have a simple, plain background will keep the focus on the product in your picture & not distract people from wondering when you’re doing that mountain of dishes behind you.
Lighting & background alone will instantly kick your portfolio photos up a notch!
Step 3: Taking the photo
Yes, I have an awesome fancy DSLR camera, but no I don’t use it for taking pictures of my work (but yes, I would recommend using it if you have one). I use my Iphone. Why? Because it’s quick, easy, I always have it close by, I can upload & edit my pictures instantly & to be honest it takes pretty decent photos! So now that you know I use my cell camera, I hope you feel more confident! Go check out my Instagram for photo inspiration: instagram.com/chickbosscake you’ll notice I mainly use a couple of backgrounds- why? because that’s where the natural light is!
Ok. Here’s a tip for you, make sure your cell camera lens is clean (wipe it with a gentle dry cloth or if your like me, your t-shirt), why is this important? Because we work with cake & icing- it’s messy! I don’t think I’ve ever gone to take a picture without wiping the cell lens first. If your lens is dirty your photo will come out blurry & look hazy & weird. If your fancy and using a DSLR camera, you will likely have a lens cover so you won’t need to wipe it every time, but if you do, use the lens cloth NOT your shirt.
Position yourself in front of your product but be aware of any shadows you may be casting on your product. Move around until there are no shadows and your photo looks awesome! Then snap away, take a few different pictures & get creative with your angles. If you look at my Insta, you’ll notice I like some fun angles- they are captivating and attention grabbing when people are scrolling through their boring feeds!
Step 4: Don’t use a filter, but do adjust the brightness!
I don’t like using filters on my product photos because I want my product to look like how it’s supposed to. This is especially important if a customer wants to buy one of the products they saw on your account, it’s really hard to know what colours you used if you added a crazy filter & you best be expecting that the customer wants it to look like the picture. Keep the filters to your self-ie! (like what I did there?)
The only edits I add to my photos are to adjust the basic settings: brightness, contrast, saturation & warmth mostly. By adjusting these settings, you can really spice up your photo. Also, people love looking at bright, cheery photos, you’ll get more views!
Here are a few examples of good lighting & clean background photos:
Step 5: Keep a portfolio
You don’t need to print all your pictures and keep a real life portfolio (kudos if you do, that’s awesome) but you do want to keep them in one safe spot. I keep mine on my website, in a folder on my computer & a Facebook folder. You can do the same or pick one of those. By keeping them all in one spot, you’ll have them when you need them.
There will be lots of times where your portfolio will come in handy- customers will want to see your work, or if you’re applying to work at a bakery they’ll likely ask for it, heck even just to show off your epic artistry to family & friends!
Keeping a professional portfolio will help you get more customers or get the trendy bakery job you’re after!
Step 6: Get Creative (optional)
This step is totally optional and if you’re not into it, you don’t have to do it but I thoroughly LOVE this part.
Get creative with your product pictures by introducing interesting textures, props & backgrounds. When I have time, I love to play around with this! Product photography is a fun hobby for me (which works out great for my business). Here are a few examples of my creative photoshoots:
Here’s the thing:
The thing about a portfolio is it takes t-i-m-e to build. It’s not something you can just put together in a crunch. That’s why you need to start now, with ‘every product you maaaaake’ (insert Police- Every Breath You Take melody- that was annoying, you’re welcome) so you can build it slowly overtime. You’ll be so glad you did! As you grow & your skills develop you can get rid of any photos that don’t show your best work & replace them with your updated products that you’re proud of! I’ve updated mine several times throughout my career & I’m pretty proud of the one I have created.
The last thing you want to do is be showing off sloppy pictures to potential customers or someone who is interviewing you to work at their trendy bakery. Because, that likely will not get you where you want to be!
It’s all in the details. Lights. Camera. Action.