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Seasonal styling ideas for your DIY product photography shoot

In the world of retail - big or small, Christmas prepping begins in July and with so much to plan for ahead of the seasonal surge in sales, you’ll want to start thinking about your Christmas product photography shoot around about now.

During the time when I was photographing for brands and small businesses, I would always have a box of Christmas props that I’d keep on hand, year round, so that I wasn’t having to scramble about in the loft or shed for Christmas related props (in July/august), so that's my first tip - keep your best Christmas props handy.

How you decide to shoot your Christmas ranges really depends on the feel of your brand image/current visuals and it’s all too easy to go overboard. Christmas may be a time of excess and garish colours but you don’t have to use the traditional colour palette that we associate with the festive season such as reds, greens and metallics (if you’d rather not).

Either way, you mustn’t allow your props to take over the image, and in most cases taking a minimal approach will create the best visually appealing set up.

Remember to stay on-brand and perhaps steer your brand aesthetic into silly season with neutral pieces and touches that maintain the Christmas allure, but don’t distract too much from your product.

Try using visual clues for a minimal Christmas scene.

What is a visual clue? For those who aren’t sure, imagine a visual clue working in the same way a set of clues work for a crossword puzzle.

Visual clues offer hints at the context of an image and this is a particularly useful concept to try out when thinking about your Christmas product photography. Try including one or two visual clues in your imagery to allow the viewer to decipher what the image is about and, of course, the time of year, without being too obvious.

Beloved "twinkly" lights

Christmas season (and the lead up to it) is the best time of year to make use of bokeh (pronounced boke-eh) in your imagery. Bokeh in the literally sense means the way the lens renders out of focus points of light. I’m always intrigued by how twinkly lights appear as balls of light when they fall out of focus and the cinematic effect it brings to an image is unsurpassed.

To achieve the coveted bokeh effect with your fairy lights you'll need to set your aperture to a smaller number and focus your lens on your product (in the foreground). Again, keep it subtle and choose micro sized lights over chunky older style strings of lights.

More ideas for Christmas product photography props:

Small pine cones

Small sprigs of spruce

Small dried orange slices

Cinnamon sticks

Star anise

Dried cloves

Copper wire micro fairy lights

Natural textiles

Rustic base/backdrops

Seasonal (non poisonous) berries and/or foliage

All of the above props evoke warmth and comfort and are perfect to incorporate whilst we are innately preparing to hunker down and get cosy as the nights close in.

Remember your imagery should tell a story and encourage emotional connections for the viewer.

For Christmas "gifting" visual clues:

Natural twine

Aesthetic small scissors

Appropriate parcel wrap

Mini handmade wreaths

Bobbin with ribbon

As we move into the final furlong of summer, the days are already shortening and autumn is beginning to creep in, it's time to start thinking about, not only your Christmas content, but your autumnal shoot ideas too. Autumn styling is my absolute favourite and I know many other small business owners share the same enthusiasm for it. I'm excited to start sprinkling in some warm and inviting vibes to my aesthetic. Will you be doing the same for yours?


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