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Chrysanthemum Mother’s Angels ornaments ready for a lifestyle photo shoot.

Go behind the scenes of a photo shoot with us.

Who here wears glasses? 🙋‍♀️ Yeah, I see you — me, too! Chris and I both do, actually!

If you wear glasses, you know the pain that comes with posing for the perfect photo — to only have it ruined by a glare or reflection running directly across your lenses. Ugh. 

We learned really quickly how hard it was to take pictures of Mother’s Angels®!

Our angels are highly reflective, so glare is always an issue. They are designed for light to pass through, so taking "pretty" photos to capture the beautiful colors — while also photographing the details within the wood and avoiding glare — can be challenging.

Lifestyle photo shoot of Chrysanthemum Mother’s Angels ornaments

⇧ A sample lifestyle photo of the Chrysanthemum Mother’s Angels® ornament.

First of all, we are not professional photographers.

Let me say that again, we are not professionals when it comes to taking photos. Yes, our photos look nice (well now at least!), but they didn't always look great. We still take the majority of our photos ourselves and we have refined the process, but in the beginning, things looked... different. Quite literally.

When we started Forged Flare®, photography was at the top of tasks we DREADED doing. We had no idea how to harness lighting to make our finished ornaments really pop off a phone or computer screen. Some of our very first designs were photographed separately from the background and then Photoshopped together to give the appearance of a more professional photo. Looking back, these photos make my eyes bleed. Oof.

We really struggled in the beginning. Our home doesn't have a lot of decent natural light, and is limited on photogenic areas. We had to improvise.

Original daisies Mother's Angels product photo

⇧ Our very first product photo that we used for the Daisy Mother’s Angels® ornament.

For the first product photos we took, we used a small lightbox — the type that is used to trace drawings. We would set the ornament on the light and snap a photo. For the background, we used our professional lighting equipment (yes, we actually had some lying around) to light a floor and background (those were actually made of scrapbook paper from my paper crafting days). In Photoshop, we removed the angel from its background and overlayed it on the image of the set we had created. We mainly did this so that the background remained consistent among all photos.

Second attempt at a the Daisies Mother's Angels product photo.

⇧The second photo version we used.

Eventually, we decided that the background of the first product photos was too busy, and we ended up redoing them all. We designed, created and painted the wavy floor and background of the second iteration of product photos. This style was the look of all our product photos through all of 2021, but by January of 2022 we smarted up and really focused on ways to make our photos better — and quicker to take.

Current Daisies Mother's Angels product photo.

⇧ We used this image for awhile, but it wasn't quite to where we wanted it.

Current Daisies Mother's Angels product photo.

⇧ Our current photo. Much, much, better!

Finding a better way to take photos.

We discovered Replica Surfaces over the 2021 holidays. I believe it was through a Facebook ad (be sure to check out our article "Protect Yourself From Shady Online Stores" — luckily for us, they weren't shady!). Replica Surfaces makes photographic backgrounds specifically for product-based businesses. Their mission is to make photography as easy as possible — and anything that makes taking photos easier is welcome! 

As soon as the holiday season wrapped up, we purchased our first Surfaces and re-shot all of our product photos. By then, we had around 40 different products in our collection, and re-shooting photos was a big project.

Our current product photos.

It was important for us to show that Mother’s Angels® stand on their own. To do this, we made the conscious decision to avoid the standard solid white background (although Amazon requires our product photos to be solid white). Instead, we decided to go with very light (almost white) backgrounds with just enough texture to show that the angels are standing on their own.

Looking back, I feel that this is what we were trying (unsuccessfully) to achieve with our first two iterations of product photos.

These are very template-based photos and apply to every single photo in our collection. They're pretty easy to shoot. We have 4 studio lights set up around our display stand. It can get pretty cramped when we set up our photo shoots — we take most of our photos in our living room so we have more room to work. Occasionally we set up a photo shoot in the studio.

The use of more lights allows light to bounce around our work area more and it really lights up our angel ornaments. It can be tricky working around reflections and glares, but we have managed to make it work.

Typical photo shoot setup

⇧ A typical product shot setup.

Taking lifestyle photos.

After re-shooting all of our product photos... again... we moved onto lifestyle photos. These types of photos show our products in different real-life settings (in front of windows, on desks, in the kitchen, etc.) — hence the name "lifestyle photos". 

We tend to have a lot more fun with these. It's exciting figuring out which props and backgrounds to combine with each Mother’s Angels® ornament.

Chris snapping a lifestyle photo in the studio

⇧ Chris snapping lifestyle photos in the studio.

Monarch Mother’s Angels ornament hanging on an ornament hanger on a desk.

⇧ A sample of a lifestyle photo. This image can be seen in our Monarch Butterfly Mother’s Angels® product listing.

Using real people in our photos.

If you've followed us for awhile, you'll have noticed that we have started to use models in some of our product listings and throughout our website. When we decided to start using models, we wanted to be as authentic as possible.

I have a photographer friend who I met through one of my business classes. She lives in Connecticut, and despite the distance, I have hired her for several sessions over the years. When it came time to hire models for our photos, I made it clear that I wanted to hire real people — real mother-daughter couples to be precise.

She put the word out and was able to find two amazing couples for our photos. Both sets of women are real mothers-daughter couples — which makes the visual bond seen within these photos even more special.

Mother and daughter smiling over a gift Mother's Angels

 Mother and daughter smiling over a Mother's Angels ornament

In conclusion.

As you can now see, taking photos is a time-intensive process, but it is one of the most important parts of our business. We are still in the process of taking photos as we are able for all of our product listings, website and for each big holiday. We put out so much marketing on social media, gift guides, advertising creative, social media influencers — you name it!

Due to the sheer amount of photos that is required, we have learned efficiencies along the way to make this part of running our business little less cumbersome. The end result is one we hope you enjoy!

Want to see our favorite collection of photos for our most complete product listing? Check out our Monarch Butterfly.

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About Jen Street

Jen Street is the Founder & Creative Director of Forged Flare®, a business that specializes in creating unique ornaments that are reminiscent of stained glass. Handcrafted in Texas and perfect for gifting, her Mother’s Angels® ornaments make people feel seen, appreciated, and loved. Sign up for the newsletter and save on your first handmade ornament today.

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