how i use stock photos for my prints

Okay, let's be real: product photography is not easy for those of us makers who aren't also photographers and stylists. How does one take a nice photo of their work?

Here's my solution: I don't take photos of my products.

Well, not of my prints and cards anyways. (It's a different story for my laser cuts unfortunately!) 

Let's talk about how I use stock photos to create product photos of my prints and cards for Etsy and Instagram.

P.S. To use my method, you'll need access to Photoshop!

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

What are stock photos and what do you do with them?

Stock photos are generally photos that a photographer has already taken and edited that you can pay for and use as you wish within their licensing guidelines. Usually this means using the photos for something that won't directly make you money, like using them for ads, photos on your website, or graphics for posters but not using them on a product that you'll be selling. So a restaurant might put stock photos of food ingredients on their website or a makeup blog might use stock photos of makeup to create their blog graphics.

How I use stock photos:

I mostly use stock photos of blank frames and cards and insert my designs onto the photos to create my own product images, and I'll tell you how I do it in a sec!

Where do you get stock photos?

1. Create your own! 

When I first started selling my prints online, I "styled" my own product shots with blank pieces of paper. I'd put the paper in frames and I'd style things around it to make the shot pretty (or as pretty as I could). I'd take all the photos and use them as my own stock photos to place my print designs onto. 

2. Get a subscription to a stock photo website. (My preference!)

It all depends on what kind of photos you need, but my favourites are SC Stockshop and Kate Max Stock. I use the later because it fits my needs a little better, but both have frames, branding sets, and lifestyle photos to choose from!

3. Have a photographer take custom stock photos for you (or take your product photos in general). 

This is definitely the most expensive option (or it should be, anyways). Hiring a photographer to take all my product photos doesn't really make sense for me because I like to come out with new items weekly. You can also hire them to do something like the option I listed first, create our own stock photos but with someone who knows what they're doing with a camera!

How do you insert your designs into the stock photos?

1. Open my favourite stock photo in Photoshop.

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

2. Add a rectangle as the "paper" and convert to smart object.

The stock photos I use don't have any paper in them, so I create an off-white rectangle with an 8x10 aspect ratio, using the rectangle tool. After selecting the rectangle tool, you can hit the "settings" wheel at the top right (as shown below) and choose your aspect ratio. Just click anywhere on the image and you'll be able to add the rectangle. Then, I right click on the layer and "convert to smart object". You'll see why soon!

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 7.20.59 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 7.50.44 PM.png

4. Add an inner shadow to the paper layer.

Just a one-colour rectangle definitely doesn't look natural! I add an inner shadow to make it look like the mat of the frame is casting a shadow on my print. You can see my default settings below! All you do to access this window is double click on the layer and selecting the 'inner shadow' window. Make sure to avoid the rectangular photo giving you a preview of the layer AND the title when you double click - just click on the empty area of the layer!

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

5. Save the file up to this point as a .PSD so you can continue to use this set-up for more print designs in the future!

6. Insert your design!

1. Double click on the icon on the left side of the layer. A new window (a .PSB file) will open up.

2. Click file > place embedded. You'll be prompted to find a file to insert!

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

3. Find your file and click place! Your file will be placed into the .PSB file with a box and X across it. Just hit enter or click the checkmark on the top toolbar to finish placing your file. 

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy
How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

4. I like to change the opacity of the lettering layer to around 80% to make the black less intense - it looks more natural like it was really printed! Then just hit X on the .PSB file, and click Save! 

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy
How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

7. Done! Save your design as a .jpeg and share! 

How to use stock photos for calligraphy prints by Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy

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