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How to Become a Photographic Author

Lesson 3 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

How to Become a Photographic Author

Lesson 3 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

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Lesson Info

3. How to Become a Photographic Author


Class Trailer

Session 1


Introduction to Craft Photography Fundamentals


What Your Visuals Say About Your Brand


How to Become a Photographic Author


How to Use Natural Light for Your Product Photography


Setting Up Your Photo: The Basic Rules


Becoming the Viewer to Take Better Photos


Shooting 3 Setups: Creating the Backstory with Images


Lesson Info

How to Become a Photographic Author

We're gonna start with how to become a photographic author. Not a photographer, a photographic author. And the first is the Main Character. So every image needs a main character, otherwise the viewer looking at it isn't gonna know what you're trying to sell. And obviously, your main character is what you're selling. Okay, it needs to be the main character. So, here we have three images from the same set, the same shoot. But what would we say the main character is in each of them? It's different, right? It's all the same shoot but the main character is completely different. So, in this middle image, it's the back drop. It's the pretty party setting, we're encouraging them. If I was selling the "love it" letters, then this is the image that I would use because I want that overall party feel. If I just show them some glitter letters on a white wood they're gonna be like, "glitter letters, that's good what do I do with that?". I'm showing them what they do with that. Now the images on the ...

left and the right are, if I was selling this ombre cocktail or if I was selling, if I was a baker and I was selling the cake. And then I wanna kind of come in, I'm still getting like a little party set-up and that bright feel to them but I need to focus in on what my main character is. Okay, so we're gonna have a game with you guys, and the audience. And the game is called, Tell me the Story? So first, can you pick out the main character? And then, can you tell me what the supporting items in the image are trying to say about that main character? Some of them are super easy and some of them are a little bit tricky. So this is one of our tricky ones. What am I showing or selling in this image? I'm seeing a computer. The computer, okay. That is exactly what I wanted you to see. So this was an image that went on our social media about our new website. So, It's all about the computer in this. Now, I have it surrounded by sub characters that are all things that we sell, right? We have our journals, we've got a planner, we've got these prints in the back. We sell all those things. Because this is who I want to be looking at my website. People who buy my things, right? So I've styled this as the woman that I think would be looking at our website. She's got our journals, she's got a planner, she's got her morning coffee in a super cute mug because I know that my client loves trendy cute colors, you know, she loves clean things, and she loves, like, pretty girly things. So, I've got also some bracelets and other little elements in there. But you guys got it exactly right, it was the website and not the product that we were selling here. Now, this one is a little easier, right? Anyone? The journals, yeah. So again, same set, different view. So now we're just looking down at the table top. And I can use this image, I can shoot this on the same day and then use this in social media throughout the week. So that's another really big tip is, get as much as you can out of one setup so that you can kinda spread those images and not be constantly, like everyday, how do I get something on Instagram today? So I can layer those images to kind of tell a story throughout the week on Instagram. We don't want them to look identical. If it starts to looking too similar people are gonna be like, "your feed is kinda boring", right? But, these are so different, they have some of the same elements, but they're so different and they're telling my viewers something else about us. Okay, what's the main character here? Gotta be the apples. Yeah, the apples. So this was for Handmade Mood. And, when we started Handmade Mood, we had a mood board for each week and we discussed one item for the entire week. And at the first day we would present that mood board and it was on apples. So, this was our apple week. We did crafts with apples, recipes with apples, all those things. Um, but this was that main front image for the week about what we were doing. Okay, here, who is the main character here? The little boy? The little boy, yes. His name is Mike. Yeah, the little boy, she had it. Okay, so what are the supporting characters? All the candy around him. All the candy, right? We know it's a party, he's at a Halloween party. The colors, the candy, yeah. So here, he definitely is the main focus. But, now what's the main focus? The candy. The candy, right. Okay, and I also, so what we are actually selling in this image is different than the candy. So, sometimes there's a little leeway in having your supporting characters really shine. But here, I'm actually selling card stock. So that whole buffalo check wall is made out of card stock. Um and so, If I just showed them a buffalo check wall people are going to be like, you put up some wallpaper, or your hung some fabric on your wall, and it's not just a plain wall, not that interesting right? So we have to create like an environment. When would you want to use this product? For a Halloween party. So we presented it that way. Now what is the main character? The tin can? Yeah, the can. Um, and this in particular, the label. So, this item we sell and we are showing them how to use it in this image. Okay, so, this second thing that we're gonna talk about is the setting. So, the setting sets the tone for the whole story of the image. Actually, just like we talked about with that background, the buffalo check, it's black and white, it gives it that fun Halloween party feel. The setting becomes really important. Okay so there are two photographs of the same subject. These are, I'm gonna probably butcher it, the Nanaimo Bars, any Canadian's around? Um, one of the three from Handmade Mood is from Canada. And, so Nanaimo Bars are like a big tradition, or a big food that they eat there. And so we've adapted it to like our American ways and we have a Halloween version of pumpkin Nanaimo Bars so we have the orange in there and we're shooting it on a dark background to give it that fall, rich sort of feel. Here on the other side, we made these for the Fourth of July. So, we have red, white and blue, we shot it on a bright marble, white elements to tell the audience that this is summer. And you can even see that these came out of the fridge so you see the little glisten, the cold element to it, as opposed to these are room temperature when we photographed them because we wanted them to look warmer. So, every little element that you put within an image is telling, it's giving visual clues about what you want your audience to see and know of your product. So here on the left we've created a desk set and that is just a white, foam core board in front of a window. So, we're gonna talk a lot about presenting, a beautiful set to people that doesn't, it's not necessarily real. Okay, and then on the right we have how I saw a lot from my minds eye which is again that same customer that I'm constantly thinking about. So, how is she using our products? She probably throws those journals in her purse and carries them around with her to keep notes, keep her to-do list. And so, now I'm presenting it in a very lifestyle sort of way of where it would be in her life. So she can immediately feel connected. Yeah, I can see those journals in my purse. Oh they fit in a purse, yeah that would be perfect, right? So I'm always thinking of that story I'm telling. Okay, the third is the mood. So, how do the elements come together to make you feel? Because that's super important. People aren't going to buy something if they don't feel connected to it. So, same item again and you're gonna see this happen a lot. But, same item again but photographed completely different for a completely different audience that I want to feel something different. So, black, very rich, elegant, you see those on a lot of car adds. You see a lot of dark in technology adds. Expensive items, we associate that rich contrast that really hard light of highlight and shadow with wealth, okay? Generally looking at it. And so, when you want someone to look at your product and think, that's expensive, that's going to be expensive, then we can add in that contrast, we can add in those dark rich elements, okay? And sometimes you want that right? You want me people to be like, I'm gonna spend a lot of money on that because I'm worth it, right? And because everyone else is gonna see me spend a lot of money on that. I mean, why do you buy a labeled purse? Maybe you really love it. But then you're also, a lot of times, buying it because people see that you're carrying Coach or Kit Spade, or whatever it is. So, the way that we present the item also tells people the price point, okay? Here on the right, this feels a lot more approachable and maybe a little bit younger and a little bit more festive. I might take my daughter to this restaurant for a tea party, right? And because we've got the twinkle lights in the background and we have the pink and we have these youthful bright colors and we are very high key. So we're telling completely different stories and we're reaching a completely different audience when we put out these images. And we're saying different things. Even though, literally, five minutes apart, same exact item we're photographing.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Creating Visuals For Your Brand Assignment
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 1
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 2
Prop List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class taught by Candice was amazing. She teaches in such a step-by-step, easy to understand pace. She shares so much of her own tips and tricks she uses to create beautiful images without spending a fortune or having all kinds of expensive equipment. Having the DSLR lessons included was really great for anyone who wants to do more than the camera phones are capable of. Learning the basics of how to use a DSLR is confusing for most people, but Candice broke it down in the simplest way possible. Social media is all about imagery, so if you want to put out the most beautiful eye-catching photos, then you want to learn how to use more than the camera phone. I don't have a business where I need to take photos of things I sell and I still enjoyed her class so much. As a photographer, I am going to use her ideas and insight when I photograph things for fun. There is so much to gain from this class. I would highly recommend taking her class. She is a wealth of great ideas and information and has that friendly personality of someone you'd want to sit and have coffee with.


A wonderful class to get you going with craft/product photography. Candice provides (and shows) fantastic examples and it's really fun to watch her work through a shoot, moving items, etc. to create the final image. She also covers some basic photography tips which is very helpful. Great class! I definitely recommend to others!

Melinda Malamoco

I loved this class! Candice is so personable, clear and relatable. I would want to hang out with her and be creative! I have been taking pictures for YEARS, and for my Etsy store for over two years, and I still learned a lot in her class. The lessons are set up in a way that you can follow, take what you want and don't worry about what you don't need. I will say that I got a TON of ideas for how to better display my brand, what my personal style is and how to be consistent with it. I so recommend this class for anyone who has small business or just wants to be able to take better pictures of their products. Okay, off to build a prop kit!

Student Work