Q & Cake

Q & Cake #24

June 1, 2021

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In today’s Q & Cake (our own fancy version of Q & A) Elisabeth and Cami discuss several questions from listeners about taking stellar product photos, building the confidence to get visible and show up on Instagram stories, and weighing the pros and cons between offering fully custom wedding stationery vs. offering digital downloads on Etsy. These are questions from fellow artists, calligraphers, designers, stationers, etc. that will hopefully help you in your own biz journey as a creativepreneur!

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How do you take your product photos, especially on a white background? I’m using natural light, but when I edit the photo, I’m having trouble getting a clear white background. Also — how do you choose the props? Thank you! – Anna B

Cami 6:04

When taking product photos, obviously you want to try to take it in front of like a window or something, unless you have like a studio light, which you probably don’t because I don’t, who has that, but taking in front of a window is going to help so much with the light balance, making sure you don’t have like super harsh shadows and things like that with like nice, soft diffuse light.

And then when it comes to getting that nice, clear white background, like true white, you have to edit the living tar out of it. I mean, that’s just the reality. Like anything I take in my office, um, it still has a greenish or a yellowish tint to the white. And so it’s all about adjusting the white balance.

I do all of this on my phone in Lightroom. I’ve created presets for myself for literally different spots in my office where I can just click on a preset. But even then the white is still not as white as I want it to be. So for product photos, I will take the ones I’ve edited in Lightroom, airdrop them to my computer, and then I’ll edit them in Photoshop using the curves tool and do it for just the white and it’ll make like a really quick adjustment.

You can use the white eyedropper and click on a really light part of the image and it will adjust the white shade to have the right temperature. You can also play with the temperature, like making it cooler or lighter because that like the white just shows so much of an undertone of a warm color or a cool color.

And then, you can use the Dodge tool to get rid of more shadows. That’s my instant potion for getting good, clear photos with a white background. 

And then if you really do a good job, you can erase the background and then just do white behind it and make sure the product is just there.But you still want to keep the shadow so that it looks realistic. So that’s a little, little trickier. 

Ultimately, the most important thing is just starting with really good natural light. I mean, if you’re taking it at night with, You know, lights or ceiling or something, or like a lamp.If not, you’re just going to have a really hard time. 

And then in terms of choosing props, you just want to make sure your props are like the proper scale.

So your image looks proportional. For instance, let’s say you’re taking a picture of a greeting card. You don’t want to put a huge book next to it. 

Another example would be placing a shoe, like the bride’s heels beside a wedding invitation. That doesn’t work well because the shoe (the prop) is too large. So just focus on figuring out like the scale and then making sure like the placement of it kind of. 

Also, when looking at a product image, you want your eye to kind of go in a little circle, motion around it so it doesn’t feel very jarring. Like why is this thing over here?

And then make sure that your props make sense and evoke a specific feeling. I think that’s really important when choosing props, like, if you’re doing something for Christmas, you know, having like some marshmallows or like candy or like, you know, some greenery, like those things that have both that like feeling of what you’re trying to like showcase your product as if that makes any sense at all.

Hi ladies! My question is how can you post on stories and be present in your feed when you are embarrassed about your face? In the last 2 years I have suddenly developed rosacea which there is no cure for and also have some acne scarring on my cheeks. Im so scared to show my face because my business is my livelihood but everyone keeps telling me I need to basically be an influencer for my own products on my Instagram. I even polled my followers once on how important it is to them to ‘know the face behind the brand’ and it was overwhelming that they said its super important to know the maker. Im just feeling discouraged on creating an IG strategy that helps my business grow and be profitable while struggling with not showing my face because it’s embarrassing.

PS: I cant just cover it up, makeup makes my flare-ups worse/burns my face and filters seem to enhance the blotchy/redness instead of hiding it. Thanks for any advice. – Anonymous

Elisabeth 11:19

Sweet friend. Oh my goodness. I know that this is a struggle for a lot of people out there who just don’t feel comfortable regardless of the condition their skin is in. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable showing their face. That’s a really big process and hurdle for people to get over.

But I also feel like there are great ways that you can allow your audience to get to know the person behind the brand  without necessarily having to show your face on Instagram stories. Like I’m kind of thinking in this instance, possibly if she were to do something like a photo shoot and do some posts in the feed, and then that allows you to do a little bit more like intentional touch ups, if you’re not comfortable with filters or things like that, if that makes sense.

Because then you can get some really beautiful photos for your brand and who you are and your business, and make sure that those photos look how you want them to look and how you want to be presented to your people. If you feel like you are struggling with the condition that you’re in, that your skin is in or something like that.

But also.I just want to say, like on a relatable note, I mean, a lot of people struggle with acne or breakouts or just the condition of their skin. In general. I know a lot of people in my life who have gone through that, and that is not a fun struggle, and it’s really challenging because it feels like everyone’s always offering you advice on things like, do this, do that.

And you’re like, I literally have tried everything, but thank you so much. And I want to say too, if you get to the place someday where you’re feeling brave enough to share or comfortable enough to share, like people also don’t mind that vulnerability, or sometimes they like knowing that you are human.

So,if you eventually get to the emotional place where you step past feeling embarrassed about the condition of your skin, maybe you can turn it into something that you share with your audience, because chances are somebody else might be struggling and experiencing exactly the same thing.

And that’s totally up to you because obviously like if your brand is products or services, maybe you don’t want to talk about that. But a big name that comes to mind for me is Jordan Lee Dooley. She is. An author and kind of an influencer and inspirational person. And I know that she has struggled with her skin for a long time.

And I think even Jenna Kutcher actually went through a huge phase of struggling with her skin too. And at the end of the day, what they really did was open up to their audiences and share a lot of that. And so that could be really uncomfortable for you and maybe something that you don’t necessarily want to do, but there are ways.

That you could go about it. Like you can share, I don’t know, Kimmy if you’d agree with this or not, but you can share a lot of like showing the studio and picking things up and showing things with your hands and showing your pets. Like you don’t have to stick your face into Instagram stories.

Elisabeth 16:22

And second of all, I like to play a game with myself called what is the worst thing that could happen? And so what is the worst thing that could happen, like that you show up in your feed and you talk and that your skin condition and your breakouts and your flares are a little worse that day, right?

Are a couple of people going to unfollow you? And if, if they do that as their problem, but in that, in this situation, I see that as the, what is the worst thing that could happen scenario is that a couple of people would unfollow and then they’ve got to go deal with that because that is like an inner heart problem on their end.

It has absolutely nothing to do with you and who you are as a human. And so if you frame it as that way, just to be like, The stakes in this situation are actually really low. Like I’m actually probably going to benefit my business and benefit myself by showing up who I am with my breakouts, with my skin, not being up to par or where I want it to be.

But at the end of the day, building that vulnerability with your audience in sharing your story, it will only open more doors for you at the end of the day. Like, I think that is the truth, but I, I know, like I truly do know how scary it is and have had friends deal with that. And family members deal with that.

Hi guys! So I have been searching for a creative job to apply my graphic design degree that I got in 2019. I have been looking into (and really falling in love with the idea of) becoming a wedding stationer over the past year. Your podcasts have been my main source of education and inspiration. I’ve been struggling with figuring out which lane to take on the highway of wedding stationery design. Should I start with selling digital downloads on Etsy, or go straight for Collection work or Full custom work? Do you have a suggestion as to which one is best to start out with? I was thinking digital downloads just to get my feet wet but it doesn’t seem very profitable. Love you lots! Thanks! – @designby_dee

Cami 20;49

There are so many factors to consider here. So I would just start looking at the nuances of each and the nitty gritty and start making like a little pros and cons list to figure out what you want, because at the end of the day, we can’t necessarily make this decision for you.

I personally would avoid digital downloads starting out with, because I feel like you’re going to get burned out by people in Etsy, and you’re going to market yourself as like the lower price point starting out. So it’s going to be hard to build up from that. Um, whereas if you started as like custom or semi-custom, you could start adding digital downloads later after you’ve kind of already established yourself as a designer.

Elisabeth 21:36

Yeah, I was gonna say too. I mean, she has a degree in graphic design. Yeah. I recently graduated, so I almost think, All right. You’re coming into this with a lot more experience than some people AKA myself have when they first start, because I taught myself Adobe and all of this design work and everything from the ground up over the years, like I did not have a degree or any formal training in it.

So I almost feel like you could do a really great job if you wanted to make a collection of invitation suites and try to market that because like, you already kind of, I’m assuming from your years of school already kind of know who you are as a designer already know your style and what you want to put out there.

And so more than anything, I would just start like, Literally just start designing invitation suites. I designed an invitation suite in a day, the other day, and it was something that I’ve been the most proud of in a really long time. I just did like a design blitz. And then my neck was like, so sore for two days, I could barely turn my head because I was hunched over my iPad, like a gremlin and.

I don’t know if the work that was most true to myself came out at that time. So I would be like, just tell you to, first of all, sit down and start designing some sweets, like, see where that goes. And if you were like, oh, I want to have a semi-custom collection, or I want to do digital downloads, or I want to do fully custom, 

Well, first you need to have something like a base point of.What is your style? What does that look like? Play around with designing some things, because like, maybe if you do it a few times, you realize like, oh, I don’t actually like this much, but if it fuels your fire, then you could be like, what can I do with these designs? Or is there one that’s most popular or do I put it to a vote on Instagram polls and see what people say and which one they want me to add to my shop, or, you know, start asking people what they want for me.

Once you start sharing your work, because that might give you a good idea, too. Or you could just straight up like build your business plan exactly how you want and go for it, because that always works too. And it’s a little more straightforward of a path then. Like, I feel like I have like weaved over the years with my creative direction.

Cami 23:57

Yeah. I mean, like the main difference between all these things is how much interaction you’re going to have with your clients. So if you’re like, “I don’t want to talk to anybody” then you don’t want to do custom work. You know? 

So just keep that in mind. Like each of these has a level of headache talking to people and you know, are you, or does it fire you up to be like, oh, I’m going to take their vision and create something? Or do you want to just like, create your own thing? And people buy it like that, like as a huge differentiating factor on what you’re going to really, really love. But also you might not know exactly what you love because you’re just starting out. So. You know, we always start off doing all different kinds of things.

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