How to Style Greeting Cards in Product Photography

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Product photography can be a daunting task for product designers and retailers. One of the most difficult challenges is styling hand made products, such as greeting cards. With so many options on how to style greeting cards, product photographers often find themselves at a loss with how to prepare these items in their product shots.

But fret not! We have some simple tips for you that will help you style your greeting cards more effectively and give it an upscale feel without breaking the bank or spending too much time on set!

Here are 7 product photography styling tips for greeting cards:

  1. Choose artificial lighting.
  2. Utilize color psychology.
  3. Pick a suitable backdrop.
  4. Choose related props.
  5. Stage the scene properly.
  6. Utilize the 4 most popular shots.
  7. Edit the photos.
Turn your product photos into e-commerce optimized infographics with just a few clicks!

When showcasing greeting cards in your online store, they need to shine. If they don’t, they’ll get lost among the thousands of other greeting cards available by your competitors. Read on to learn more about how we style and photograph your greeting cards to boost sales.

1. Choose Artificial Lighting

The right lighting can make all the difference in your photos. It brings out the colors and details of your greeting cards and enhances reflective designs. Setting up your lighting in the wrong way can make your greeting cards look dull, flat and unappealing.

For this reason, we recommend using artificial lighting since it provides more control over the appearance of your product.

Choose a light source that is closest to daylight for optimal results, such as halogen or fluorescent lights. Also, make sure you have enough lighting so no details are lost in shadows and highlights.

Here are some considerations when setting up your lighting:

Natural Light Is Fickle

Although natural light can be filtered, soft, indirect, and bright enough to showcase all of your greeting card’s details, it can be like a friend that owes you money.

They show up every now and then when they need something, and they are always friendly until you’re not able to help them.

In the same way, natural light can quickly change and ruin your carefully crafted product shot, especially if you’re shooting outside or near a window that gets direct sunlight.

To use natural light, you’ll want to use a north-facing window. This light is more diffused. If you don’t have access to a north-facing window, any other window will work, but you’ll have to diffuse the light somehow—diffuse light with a sheer curtain, tracing paper, or a white sheet.

When using natural light, turn off any artificial lights nearby, or else they will cast a yellow hue onto the product. To maintain consistent photography, take photos of your greeting cards at the same time every day. 

So set up artificial lights instead to avoid such issues!

Try a Lighting Kit

In our opinion, studio lights are the best thing to use in product photography. They can easily be diffused and cast light consistently across your product, allowing you to take pictures at any time of day or night.

Studio lights may be placed on both sides of your card and adjusted to light the area evenly or create dimension within the scene.

Lighting kits can come in continuous lighting or flash (strobe). Check out our article on continuous lighting vs strobe lighting for more info on how to select which one is right for you.

Utilize a Light Box and an Anti-Glare Sheet

Lightboxes are a cure-all for poor lighting situations but they can have their problems too. The limiting factor of a lightbox is space, which can be inconvenient if you’re working with a larger scene.

For most beginners, these are ideal for greeting cards, as they’re small and compact. Lightboxes are best for standard white backgrounds and limited props.

Additionally, when photographing greeting cards, you can use an anti-glare sheet, especially for shiny cards or reflective surfaces. These acrylic sheets reduce reflections and prevent any glares from your lighting setup. 

Make Those Reflective Finishes Pop

When you have foils or shiny elements on your greeting cards, photographing becomes a little tricky. Natural light doesn’t always work in these situations, as the light must bounce properly to make those finishes shine without glare or awkward reflections.

To do this, you’ll need two lights—one to light the card and the scene and one to highlight the reflective finishes. Place the light that’s lighting the scene to the side of the layout. The light behind the camera will illuminate those shiny elements.

Check out our article on how to shoot reflective products for more tips and tricks.

2. Utilize Color Psychology

Hero Image of hand made greeting card taken in our studio.

Color can enhance your greeting cards, motivate consumers to click, and increase sales. Some of the most successful companies utilize the power of color to ensure that their brand stands out. You can do the same with your greeting card photography too!

Before settling on a backdrop and props, learn more about the color wheel in photography. Color theory will help you choose complementing and contrasting colors to make your greeting cards shine among your competitors.

For example, let’s say that you have a birthday card and the main color is purple. Yellow is purple’s “opposite,” or contrasting color. You can use a soft yellow background or utilize subtle yellow props in your greeting card image background.

In addition, I highly recommend reading up on color psychology in marketing. Colors can invoke an emotional response in potential customers. Knowing how color psychology works is critical to successfully marketing your greeting cards.

You don’t want to choose color schemes that make people want to run away (yellow on a green background, for example). You want colors that reflect your message, are engaging, and entice consumers to buy.

3. Pick a Suitable Backdrop

Hand made greeting card on top of marble pattern paper.

Backdrops showcase your greeting card in a more attractive light. If you use consistent backgrounds, over time, they can become part of your brand. People will start recognizing the backdrops as your images, which is vital to successful marketing. Unique backdrops help your items sell and stick in the back of consumers’ minds. 

Choose a backdrop that is not too “busy” and try to stick with one that no competitors are using; that way, your greeting cards will be unique. 

Backdrops do not have to be flat boards. You can experiment with different textures, colors, and setups to see which looks best with your greeting cards.

Some potential backdrops include:

  • White stretched canvas
  • Photo boards
  • White cloth
  • Silk
  • Furry blankets
  • Wood floors
  • Fluffy carpet

For an assortment of flat backdrops, I recommend PACON Ella Bella Photography Backdrop Paper from Amazon. These backdrops are ideal for overhead flat lay photography.

4. Choose Related Props

Flat lay image of a hand made greeting card taken in our studio.

A simple white backdrop showcases your card design, but it doesn’t draw much attention or add any “character” to the greeting card. Props bring interest and tone in colors. These are “supporting objects” and can even tell a story about your greeting cards. For example:

  • Birthday candles, streamers, and mini cupcakes are ideal props for birthday cards. To finish it off, sprinkle colorful confetti around the card.
  • Candy canes, ribbon, and a mug of hot cocoa are suitable background props for Christmas cards. You can even utilize Christmas lights in the background.
  • Mini pumpkins, plastic spiders, and fake spider webs are perfect for Halloween cards. You could even use a skeleton hand to hold the card.

Experiment with different props to see what looks best with each greeting card. There are so many items that you can use—you don’t have to purchase anything. Some examples of everyday household items you can use for props include:

  • Buttons
  • String
  • Lace
  • Envelopes
  • Beads
  • Plants
  • Stones
  • Herbs
  • Jewelry
  • Bows
  • Paintbrushes
  • Makeup
  • Tealight candles

The props depend on the concept of the card you’re photographing. It’s best to use related objects. It would be odd to use candy cane props in a Halloween card.

How Many Props Should I Use?

The number of props matters. To create a simple, elegant greeting card photo, less is more.

Start with three or four props in your greeting card photos. Too many props create a “busy” image that is distracting to potential buyers. The greeting card should remain the focal point of the picture.

A good rule of thumb is to slowly add and move props around until you’re satisfied with the result. Props should enhance the photo and highlight the greeting card. If you find that your eyes are darting around the picture, you should limit the props in the image. The best advice is to keep it simple.

Check out our article on product photography props for more info.

5. Stage the Scene Properly

Have you ever been to an open house where furniture, accessories, and decor were perfectly placed? That’s expert staging. In the case of greeting cards, staging can enhance your product and make it stand out in the minds of potential buyers. Photographic psychology is a real thing that affects buyers’ decisions to purchase.

Colors, textures, and shapes all play a subconscious role. When staging your card, experiment with different prop placements, shapes, and textures. Make the card the center point with supporting objects around it and behind it.

When setting up your camera, you can slightly blur any props to make them less prominent. We’ll discuss camera settings in the next section.

6. Utilize The 4 Most Popular Shots

Detailed shot of handmade greeting card taken in our studio.

Once you’ve styled your greeting cards properly, it’s time to start shooting photos! There are several different ways to take photographs of greeting cards, and it all begins with the angles.

Card Set Up & Camera Angles

Using multiple angles is important with greeting cards so that your buyers can see both the front and the inside of the card (as long as it’s not blank). Here are some of the shots you should take of your greeting cards:

  • Full front shot – This is the primary product image and may or may not contain props—it’s up to you. Some sellers like their first image to showcase the card only, whereas others will utilize a few props to make the image stand out.
  • Inside of the greeting card – The next photograph should show what’s on the inside of the card. This will reveal the text, any embossing, or additional details.
  • Back of the card – The third photograph should be of the entire backside of the card. This side usually includes your logo, copyright information, and contact info. If the back is blank, you do not need to include an image of it.
  • Additional images – All other images should show the card up close. Think textures, reflective surfaces, ribbon, embossing, or further important details that make the card unique.

4 Types of Shots

Never underestimate the power of product photography. Taking a quick, random photograph will not showcase your greeting cards in their best light. Product imagery is so crucial for conversions, and the setup and angles are critical.

Here are four of the most popular types of shots for greeting cards.

  • Overhead flat lay – To create an overhead flat lay image, all elements are placed onto a flat surface, and the image is shot from above. Shadows are often a problem with overhead flat lays, so to soften them, lift the card off the flat surface by placing something underneath it. A roll of type, dry sponge, or even your cell phone will work. 
  • Upright photographs – To take an upright photograph, you’ll stand the card upright on a reflective surface. Lightboxes are great for vertical photos. When photographing upright greeting cards, angle the card toward the light to add dimension and capture those important details.
  • Macro/Detailed shot – A macro shot showcases a close-up image of the product and lets online shoppers see what kind of texture and details are on the product. You can shoot this type of photo from above or below, depending on what you want to highlight about your greeting card.
  • Lifestyle shots – Setting up your greeting card in an environment is the last type of shot you can take. A lifestyle photo shows how your product looks like in a real world setting, and it’s especially effective for selling products that are meant to be used by consumers (such as gift cards, candles, or home decor).

7. Edit the Photos

Once you’ve taken your greeting card photographs, it’s time for the editing process! There are hundreds of ways to edit and enhance product photographs. Below, we’ll discuss a few essential editing techniques that will enhance your greeting card images.

  • Cropping – If the edges of the board are showing, use crop to remove those rough edges. The crop setting in image-editing programs usually includes a function to straighten the image as well. If things are a little tilted, straighten the image before making any additional adjustments.
  • Brightness – If your picture looks a bit too dark, raising the brightness just a bit can increase vibrancy and enhance the overall visual appeal of the greeting card.
  • Contrast – Contrast gives a little more definition to the image. Add a little bit of contrast to prevent the image from looking flat.
  • Exposure – If your greeting card is dark and moody (think Halloween), you can underexpose the image to enhance those shadow details. If it’s brighter, you can try to raise the exposure for a little extra light.

Editing photos requires a lot of trial and error. Touch things up, experiment with different settings, and scale back any adjustments if you have to.

Benjamin

Benjamin

Hi, I'm Benjamin, Digital Media Strategist and product photographer for Skyline FBA. I have been involved in content creation for over 10 years and love helping people develop strategies to grow their business. My wife and I are Product Photographers that are experienced in Amazon FBA, eCommerce, Lifestyle, and Advertising photography.

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