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Photographing small, inanimate objects is usually no problem for a skilled photographer. If you’re shooting shoes, however, there’s a way to shoot them and a way not to shoot them. Shoes, especially women’s shoes, are a coveted, desired, highly sought after, and frequently purchased clothing item. The right pair of shoes can turn whatever a person’s wearing into something truly stunning. When shooting shoes, you must present them in an engaging, enticing, and seductive way. If you do, a good pair of shoes will look great, and a great pair will look amazing. Read on for inspiration that will knock your shoe photos up a notch!
Using water can be tricky when photographing shoes but, if done well, can provide stunning results. A black background is preferred to get the best results, but any color can look great with the right shoe. Dropping a shoe, or pair of them, into a shallow container of water means taking rapid-fire shots and more than a little prep time. Laying them on a flat surface with still water can give a beautiful mirror effect.
Depending on the shoe, you can use a variety of props to draw attention to them. The shoe should always take center stage, of course, but the placement and choice of the prop are up to your own imagination. If you use a hand model, try to use jewelry with colors that pick up on the shoe color. Props should fit the mood and type of shoe. You can try a beach bucket and shovel for sandals or a bouquet of flowers for wedding shoes.
Some people imagine walking in shoes when they see them in a photo. Because of this visual need, it’s best to always shoot shoes at an angle, never flat. Prop them up against a wall at an angle or on the railings of a fence. Show them descending a flight of stairs or perpendicular to one another. The angles you position the shoes will convey a sense of movement to the viewer.
Depending on the shoes, some are designed for exploring and hiking. Those models should be shot in a natural environment. Hanging bridges, trees, mountains, and even plain old grass can create a fantastic backdrop that makes the shoes in your photos stand up and shout! Just make sure the lines of the photo draw viewers to the best spot.
Are you taking photos of winter boots and other shoes made for the snowy climes of winter? If so, shoot them in the snow! Not only is pure, white snow a fantastic backdrop, but it also conjures up images of winter fun in the mind’s eye. A little extra snow on top of the shoes can also add a fun aspect to your shots. Winter props work great here, like skis, a pair of snow goggles, ski gloves, etc.
Just as snow is an excellent backdrop for winter shoes, sand is the best for summer shoes. Sandals will look more attractive on a sandy beach than on a grassy backyard. If you can, get a small amount of ocean foam in the picture to conjure up visions of summer beach fun. An angle showing the water in the distance works well, also. The example of this technique displays a plain beach towel and off-white sand to excellent effect.
OK, let’s say you’re shooting athletic shoes. Where do you think they would look better, on a plain background or on the feet of someone using them to have fun? If you said “on the feet having fun…” you’re correct! This method of shooting shoes is especially helpful with designer sneakers, which you can photograph on a skateboard, bicycle, or tennis court. Golf shoes on the green, short grass of a golf course’s hole make perfect sense!
All shoes come in a shoebox, and while it may look plain and unattractive, it can make a perfect place to show them off. First, remove any paper and other wrappings that are on the shoes. Next, arrange them facing each other as they came in the box. If you want, you can use some of the white paper they came with on the bottom of the box for contrast. The plainness of the box will make the colors of the shoe or sneaker stand out.
It’s easy to run out of ideas with standard backgrounds when photographing shoes. When you do, start looking for a background you never thought about before. An antique mirror laid flat, for example, would make the right shoes look amazing. The ledge of a tall building in the city would be a unique place to take shoe photos, especially with the right sun angle. Like the author’s photo, you can hang a pair of shoes from a fence, on a wall, or from a lamp post.
Most shoe photos are taken looking down or from the side. Taking a photo of shoes from down low can be tricky, but the results can be stunning if you get the right angle. Try lying down and having your model walk over you. The sharper the angle, the better. As the author’s photo demonstrates, it’s an intriguing way of looking at shoes.
Many shoes have unique soles that can make an unusual, eye-catching photo. Running and athletic shoes, especially, have a variety of different and fascinating patterns. Sneaker-heads, so-called for their adoration for sneakers, are connoisseurs of the sole and find great beauty and nuance in them, so don’t be afraid to show them off. When you focus on the soles of the shoes, the results can be remarkable.
Many shoes have laces that are often forgotten when shooting shoes. Laces can be fun, frilly, and, if used correctly, fantastic. You can spell out words with them or place them in various patterns. You can focus on the laces to show off their intricate designs or circle the shoes with them too. Have fun with laces and explore different ways to use them.
As we spoke about earlier, shoes are an item that many people collect and covet. They stir passions far more than they should, so keeping your shoe photos in a sharp focus is best. People want to clearly see what they look like instead of a blurry, washed-out image. In other words, keep your focus as sharp as you can when shooting shoes to give viewers the intimate shoe details they seek.
Lighting is crucial when photographing shoes. If it’s too bright, the colors can get washed out. When it’s too soft, you’ll lose all the details. You have to find a happy medium between the two, which will change with every pair of shoes you shoot. For sporty shoes, more light is best, but elegant shoes demand low, seductive lighting. Firelight works great for hiking boots and adventurous shoes, and natural sunlight is best for sandals and beach shoes.
Photographing shoes is an art and takes practice and patience. Whether for art’s sake or for sales, the right combination of angle, light, and movement is what you need to photograph footwear. We hope our 14 shoe photography ideas help you with your photoshoots and inspire your creativity. Now, go out and make some shoe art!
Featured Image Credit: Nosiuol, Unsplash
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Greg Iacono is a self-taught writer and former chiropractor who, ironically, retired early due to back problems. He now spends his time writing scintillating content on a wide variety of subjects. Greg is also a well-known video script writer known for his ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible for the layperson.
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