The background is one of the easiest ways to improve the overall look of your photos. With a simple white sheet of paper, you can create a clean, white background. Have a cool wallpaper? Use it! Have a great view out your window? Set your subjects up on the window sill!
Have a sign like I do? Just prop it up in the background and shoot. It can even serve as a "watermark" or branding. How about a fragrance collection? All those fancy bottles gives a SOTD photo some class.
However, a really cool technique is to black out the background. Now, normally this is done with an SLR & a speedlight, but using a piece of velvet fabric, you can replicate the look using just a cellphone. See how I shot the above photo below!
I just used a piece of foamboard, velvet cloth, and two boxes. Easy!
Of course, not everyone has sheets of professional quality backdrops. And admittedly, that piece of velvet was $10, and setting it up every time can be a pain. But, there's a different and easier way to get a decent background without investing anymore time or money. Shoot at an angle.
As you can see, the table fills the entire background. If this type of shot is your style, it works great! Another option is to shoot from the top down and lay everything out like this:
Here is how two compositions look from an angle and from a straight on shot:
Lighting is the key to any good photograph. The best light source is the sun. It is a million times more powerful than any commercially available lights, and probably anything short of a nuclear bomb. So, use it! North facing windows are always a good bet. Outdoors is always good.
Leave the bathroom! It probably doesn't have the best lighting in your house, and it may not have the most room either.
And if for some reason, you really don't have access to any windows, just get a bunch of lamps together and light your shave gear from the top.
It's the thing that a lot of photographers ooh and ahhh over. And yes, it's pretty darn cool. For those that don't know what it is, it's the blurring of the background. See below.
But it's not that easy to do with a cellphone because they don't have that large of an aperture. The lens is only a fraction of an inch in diameter, whereas a DSLR lens can be a couple of inches or more. But, fear not, if you place your shave gear as close to the camera as possible, and have your background as far away as possible (at least 5 ft, 10 is better, and 20+ is great), you can get a good bokeh.
That metal art deco piece is about 15-20 ft away. So, as you can see, it is difficult, but possible to blur out the background with your cellphone. And of course, there's an app for that.
While this might be obvious, there are a few ways to arrange your shaving gear in a way that maximizes the impact. Depending on what gear you want to focus on, arrange the items accordingly. If you want to show off that flashy shaving soap label, then put the lid front and center (so to speak, off to the side also works, the point is to make it prominent). Want to show off that cool straight razor? Put it up front.
Shaving brush? Put the shaving soap lid in the background.
Don't be afraid to omit pieces of gear for a better shot. In fact, the more stuff in the shot, the more cluttered it will look. Sometimes less is more.
Check out my friend Rodney's instagram page for inspiration on arrangements. He does a much better job of it than I do.
Whatever you do, just shoot more photos!
And if you use any WSP gear, be sure to tag us on instagram and facebook, and we'll repost it to our instagram feed.