How to Take Professional Photos of Your Antiques on a Budget
One major difference between selling antiques in a shop and selling them online is that, in a shop, the antiques themselves do all the talking. When you’re figuring out how to photograph antiques, you must remember that you’re the intermediary and that it’s your responsibility to make the antiques look as attractive as possible. Remember that your antiques will be listed on the internet along with millions of other items, so you need to learn how to take photos of antiques in a way that sells them – without breaking the bank.
If you’re concerned that you can’t undertake an antiques photoshoot on a budget, we’re here to tell you that you can. From utilising everyday technology through to thinking outside the box, you can bring the costs down with these photoshoot tips while taking fantastic photos that sell your antiques better than a long description ever could. If a picture tells a thousand words, you need to make sure those words are good ones!
Use Smartphone Cameras
The first trap many dealers fall into is believing they need a professional digital camera to take quality photos. The truth is, the right camera is often already in your pocket. Thanks to the evolution of smartphone cameras in recent years, it’s become simpler to conduct a quality photoshoot on a budget, and there’s no reason why antiques dealers can’t take advantage of this.
If you’re not sure how to make the most of your smartphone camera, there are YouTube tutorials detailing tips for most major models. One of the most important photoshoot tips when it comes to smartphone cameras, however, is to use a tripod to take stable photos. This offers an element of control and stability, and mini phone tripods are cheap enough to buy and will prove their worth after just one antiques photoshoot.
Consider Free Locations
The most economical place to conduct your antique photography is at home, so assess whether that’s a possibility. When you’re thinking of how to photograph antiques, think of simple spaces in your home that might suffice. For instance, a brick, concrete or colourful wall is an ideal backdrop for antique photography. If this isn’t possible in your home, ask around your friends and family to see if they have a location that would work. If they need an extra incentive, say you’ll take the tea and biscuits as a thank you.
Hire an Unusual Space
The locations that are popular with photographers are the ones that are often expensive so, if you’re looking for a photoshoot on a budget, start thinking outside the box. Some sites might not usually be considered for fashion photoshoots but might be ideal for antique photography. For instance, a chapel, warehouse or factory could provide the perfect backdrop for your antiques and won’t be as expensive to hire as professional studios.
A bonus of this strategy is that it gives your antique photography an edge, with photos taken in unusual locations catching the eye more effectively amidst a sea of online antiques listings.
Just putting the item against an effective backdrop might not be enough to sell it. While you don’t want to overload a picture, you need to tread a fine line between boring and crowded. Using props can show scale and demonstrate the colouring or design of an item in comparison to other everyday items. So, for example, showing that a chair is fit for a child could be done by putting other child and adult sized products in the background. If you’re photographing lots of chairs in an afternoon, creating a backdrop that is ideal for a chair (pictures on the wall, curtain backdrop) can add depth to the image.
Beware of overwhelming your item, however. The viewer should know immediately which product is the one for sale. If you’re selling a table, don’t include more than one table in the picture and ensure that the focal point is of the item for sale. If it’s not the most interesting item in the shot, remove the ones that are stealing focus from it.
Use Free Photo Editing Software
Another common misconception when dealers are considering how to photograph antiques is the editing that comes afterwards. Most images can use a little editing to ensure they’re showing the antiques at their best, and this doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. While there’s plenty of expensive editing software available, there are several free options that perform the job just as effectively. For instance, Canva is an intuitive online tool that comes in free or premium packages and allows straightforward image editing.
On the more complex scale is GIMP, a downloadable program that has many more features than Canva but is more difficult to learn. However, if you want more control over your images, GIMP may be the right choice for you and there are free tutorials on YouTube to help you figure it out. Remember, too, that you can get free trials of most paid software if you want to be sneaky.
Think About Collaboration
To undertake a photoshoot on a budget, see if there are options for collaboration with friends and colleagues. If you know other sellers aiming to photograph their antiques for sale, see if you can share resources to hire only one location instead of two. As well as this, you might also consider trading skills with the owner of a building to get reduced rates in exchange for your skills or expertise. These informal arrangements can often work well and will expand your network for the future too.
Utilise Natural Light
Natural light is by far the greatest weapon you have when you’re working out how to take photos of antiques. While artificial light can make your antique photography seem unprofessional and grainy, natural light immediately looks more professional, especially for those inexperienced with photography. There might be scope to use artificial lighting if you can borrow the right equipment but, if you’re not confident about using it, make the most of natural light during your antique photography.