Thursday, March 3, 2011

6 ways to showcase accessories in outfit photos

One of the questions I get often is how I decide to take my accessories photos. Accessories are often overlooked in outfit photos, because they can be small sartorial details. But they are some of the most intriguing subjects in portrait photography, because they offer interest and color --- and because they're still lifes, they're easier to deal with as models. Here are some quick tips to showcase accessories in photography to add more depth to outfit shots:

 1) Take it off.
Perhaps it was made to go on your arm or around your neck, but for close-up shots, it's easier to take the accessory off. This will allow the accessory to shine on its own, and you won't have to worry about zooming in or moving your own body in the frame to get the right shot.

2) Choose an interesting location.
 Although I usually pick my photo locations based on my overall outfit, I often try to take some time to find a small spot to place my accessories so they can be showcased. Finding an interesting location doesn't have to be hard to do -- like an accessory, it can just be a smaller detailed area of your overall location. I do a lot of my photos outdoors, so many of my accessories hang out in the grass, on tree limbs, or near shorelines. My favorite locations are ones where the item is serendipitous with the location (like the pocket watch above on the sundial), or ones that make the item look out of place and hint at an untold story.

3) Use background colors to complement the item.
Because this is all about the accessory, have fun playing with background color to enhance the item's elements. This might mean finding a wall that matches part of the item's pattern, or choosing an opposite hue on the color wheel to make the accessory's features and colors pop.

 4) Keep lighting a priority.
 Even without a fancy location, you can still show off an accessory with good lighting. Using sunlight or a back light can add more depth and scope to an item's features.

5) Experiment with different photo compositions.
 Because an accessory is often a more manageable model to use, it's a great chance to experiment with different photography compositions. A photo composition is the way the elements of a picture are arrange and lined up in the photo, and can affect the focus of the viewer. Digital Photography School has some great ideas for composition. For accessories, some favorite compositions include the Rule of Thirds (having the photo broken up into a grid so that items align in a certain area) and looking for horizontal lines (natural lines that act as a dividing point in a photo and add visual interest).

6) Always keep the item in focus. 
  This last one might be a no-brainer, but it's above all the most important tip in close-up photography. Because your accessory might be small, it can get lost in the details of a larger background setting (such as a pile of leaves). Minimize these issues by changing your camera settings -- it might mean zooming in, switching to an auto focus or portrait setting, or using a tripod to maintain a steady grip. And don't be afraid to experiment -- taking several shots from various angles can help you find the right focus to highlight your item!

Do you take photos of your accessories? What kinds of shots are important to you in outfit photos?

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