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June 21, 2024 —

How to prepare your independent shop for a photoshoot

Photographer Anna Considine demystifies the process of having your independent shop photographed and what you can do to make sure it goes smoothly...
how to prepare for an independent shop photoshoot
Anna Considine
Photographer,

Photography

Anna Considine
Photographer,
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Here at 91 Magazine we feature many beautiful independent shops, both here in the UK and abroad. You’ll find them in the magazine, in our e-zine and here on the blog. We also featured a huge selection of our favourites in our PLACES to Shop book. If you’d love to have your shop featured (either by us, or elsewhere), we highly recommend having a professional photoshoot done of your space, as often we will be requesting images direct from you to allow us to feature it. We do occasionally send a photographer along (usually only for the print magazine), but if you think you will benefit from having images you can also use yourself, then commissioning a shoot is well worth the investment. So we asked photographer Anna Considine of Studio Gently to share her tips for shopkeepers to help them prepare for a photoshoot of their shop, ensuring they get the absolute best from the day. Over to you Anna…how to prepare for an independent shop photoshoot

Having your shop photographed is incredibly exciting, but for many the experience can be a little mysterious and you might not know what to expect. As one of 91 Magazine’s contributing photographers, I often have chats with shopkeepers who are curious about how it works, what I might need and what I’ll be doing during their photoshoot. Below are a few insights into what will help in preparing the shop ahead of the shoot whether it is for a magazine feature or your own brand photoshoot.

Be prepared for the lights to be turned off

This step in particular can seem a little baffling, especially in shops that have really invested in their lighting to show off their wares. Natural light is always the best option to showcase the true colours within your space and its products. Artificial lighting, on the other hand, is much more noticeable in photos than it is to the human eye and it can warp the colours of your shop. As photographers, we can correct this to a degree in-camera or while editing, but this is much more challenging with multiple sources of light (light from windows, lamps, and overhead lighting all read differently to a camera, for example).

Additionally, overhead lighting in particular is prone to casting excess shadows that can affect how well the camera portrays a space. We want as few shadows as possible, so for almost all shop photoshoots, I spend a little time at the start of the session switching off the overhead lights and sometimes the lamps within a shop too. As I have a tripod with me, I can shoot using a long exposure that shows off the space even if it seems dark in person. This is a small step that has a huge payoff.

how to prepare for an independent shop photoshootTry and hide switches and sockets where you can

Wires, switches, and sockets can all be a noticeable eyesore in photos, and sadly they can’t always be fixed through editing. As photographers, we always try our best, but with tight deadlines and a need to not radically alter the space in Photoshop, we can be limited. It’s hugely helpful when shopkeepers thoughtfully place plants, frames, and props in front of sockets and switches. This helps keep the viewer’s gaze on your gorgeous wares, instead of getting distracted by small details.

I also recommend tidying up wires as best you can. They can be neatly attached to a wall in some cases or artfully hidden in plant pots for others. It’s amazing how much cleaner and enticing a space looks without electrical fittings peeking through!how to prepare for an independent shop photoshoot

Try and hide price labels where you can

Just like those electric fittings, price labels are another element that can distract the eye. I know that removing every single price label is completely impossible prior to a photoshoot, so instead I recommend finding ways to hide the most obvious offenders. This usually means pivoting a piece so that its price sticker is out of shot and tucking away dangling labels from view. You might want to remove any signs or large stickers that say ‘sale’ or similar so that the products can be the focal point of every shot.

A photoshoot day hoover can go a long way

Many shopkeepers hoover daily regardless of whether their shop is being photographed, which really makes a difference to the photos. Avoid distracting fluff, threads, and dust by giving the space a vacuum clean. If you are able to, wipe down mirrors and glass (including picture frames) to ensure that the space feels clean and welcoming in photos.

how to prepare for an independent shop photoshootLess is sometimes more

I completely understand when shopkeepers are keen to show off as much of their stock as possible in a photoshoot, so it can seem a little strange to see me moving things out of shot! A very laden table can sometimes look messy or over-styled in a photo, where items are unable to breathe and stand out. Instead, I recommend styling with a clear story for each area, and not overloading any particular surface. The shoot time may be limited, so the photographer will get more of the shop shot when we don’t need to move pieces out of view.

Remember to style your shop window

It’s always great to capture the shopfront, so styling your window is really helpful for your photoshoot day. For magazine features, it’s worth remembering that your feature will usually go out a few months after the photoshoot day. (Check with your photographer if you aren’t sure when the issue will be published!) With this factor in mind, I recommend including ​​your evergreen bestsellers, rather than styling based on what you want to sell most right now. If you have ​​anything in-store that you know will be in-demand come publication time, feel free to include it.

For fashion boutiques or shops selling clothes, you might want to include long-sleeved garments in the window for features getting published in the autumn, or shorter sleeves for those going out in spring. Again, don’t forget those evergreen styles that do well every season, as your feature can serve as a nudge for customers to purchase what they see in your article.how to prepare for an independent shop photoshoot

Park in front of the shop on a photoshoot day

Many of the shops I get to photograph are in front of street parking, which can prove challenging for photography. On sunny days, in particular, the camera will pick up glare and reflect the cars parked outside, distracting from your beautiful shop frontage.

My top tip is, if you have a car, try and park in front of the shop on your photoshoot day. That way you can quickly back out of the spots and allow for a clear shot of your shopfront. (You can even ask your team members to do the same if there are multiple bays in front of the shop.) It won’t take long to capture the shopfront, so you will be able to return your cars once the exterior photos are all done. This can really help get a clear, beautiful image of your shopfront and the pieces in your window.

how to prepare for an independent shop photoshootIf you are photographing your space yourself,

here are some bonus tips…

 

  1. Remember to capture both landscape and portrait photos. Publications will use and want to see both; it might mean you capture the same view both ways. Also, bear in mind for your own usage, portrait images tend to be used more on social media, while landscape photos will be handy for your website banners.
  2. Try to get all lines as straight as possible. This can be challenging in characterful old buildings, but it will make your photos read more professionally and increase the chance they can be used for publications.
  3. Shoot in RAW mode as publications will be looking for large image sizes. RAW mode also gives you greater flexibility while editing, because you can brighten or darken photos more easily.

I hope this has got you excited about your next shop photoshoot, whether it’s for a publication or for yourselves! Be sure to bookmark this post so that you can come back to it as often as you need to.

_________________

Anna is an Edinburgh-based brand photographer working with creative kin across the UK. She loves helping even the shyest clients feel comfortable on camera, and when she’s not shooting, you’ll probably find her cosied up under a blanket with a copy of 91 Magazine.

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