6 May 2016

At Shopee university: going #instagramworthy

As part of Shopee's launch of Shopee University, the Garena e-commerce platform arm arranged for a hands-on real-life Shopee University session to show media what Shopee sellers and members of the public will experience.

Each free session runs from about an hour to 90 minutes, and there is a requirement that students go through two basic and two advanced classes before being allowed to attend an expert class. Once they are eligible for expert classes, they may attend as many expert classes as they like. A photography class such as this one would be considered advanced to expert. Shopee often invites third party professionals to teach expert classes in the evenings, and students have bonding time over dinner afterwards. Shopee provides a graduate certificate for completion of a full curriculum of six classes.

An introduction by Avril Khoo, a Graphic Designer at Shopee, who was our photography expert for the day. 
The lesson was on flatlay photography, the type of photography where items are arranged lying on a flat surface, after which the camera takes in a bird's eye view of the items. Flatlay styles are currently popular especially with fashion bloggers, said Avril Khoo, Graphic Designer at Shopee, who shared some tips on how to make flatlay photography more 'Instagram worthy' or 'Pinterest worthy'.

The mood board shows how different flatlay styles evoke different moods. Items should be placed on a basic background, so that the background does not distract from the items themselves. There can be items of contrasting colours to add interest. If black backgrounds are used, there should be elements of colour to help the items 'pop out'. 

There should be a colour scheme to the picture. If it is about PC accessories, for example, a darker, metallic look might appeal to the largely male audience, whereas wood as a background is more evocative of lifestyle imagery. "It really depends on what products you have and how you want to feature them," Khoo said.

Flatlay styling should be done on relatively plain surfaces, so the items can stand out. Large pieces of paper can be used as a background surface. 

Lighting is very important. Khoo said it can make or break the photo as there is only so much Photoshop can do to save an image. The preference should be for natural daylight but not direct lighting, as that could create a lot of glare on shiny products and very heavy shadows. Indirect natural daylight, by a window, will provide nice, soft even lighting, Khoo said.

Display your wares in interesting ways, against a relatively plain background. I used a black marble surface.

Khoo also suggested using the 'square function' in iOS when taking pictures as Instagram pictures are by default square, making them more noticeable.

When it comes to styling and proportions, less is more. The props picked to accompany the main items should be 'in proportion', that is not drowning out the main items. Props, textures, colours, and positioning come into play. The stray mosaic tile (right) may be considered a distraction, and can be removed digitally later.

All pictures should be edited before uploading. Khoo recommends two free tools, VSCOcam and Snapseed. She said Snapseed is very flexible as the edited image can be saved as a separate version, and that different procedures carried out on the image can be individually reversed. Some procedures would include tuning brightness, contrast, editing the highlights and shadows, sharpening, rotating, using the 'dodge and burn' tool, and the healing tool. 


Read the WorkSmart Asia blog posts about Shopee's new launches and the droolworthy Garena office

Hashtag: #instagramworthy, #shopeeSG

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