I'm a photographer and I began soaping this year. I don't sell my soap, maybe in a year or two I'll try making it into a small business but right now I'm enjoying learning through trail by bubbles. Making soap has begun to change my lifestyle for the better. I started a garden because I want to grow things for my soap. I'm crafting and pressing flowers that I forage, and I'm learning something new almost everyday. It's liberating walking into a store and passing all the plastic bottles, and synthetically scented soaps while thinking to myself, "I like mine better."
*Photography tip: Having a foreground adds depth but make sure your subject is sharp and in focus.
To me what goes in my soap is just as important as what doesn't. As my soaping alter ego name implies (Picky Redhead) I've grown rather selective.
I don't use palm oil.
In 2014 I traveled to photograph the Mondulkiri Project, an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia. All the roads in Cambodia are horrible, even the highway is a dirt road. I found it curious, when I entered the Mondulkiri region, which is forest and jungle, that the roads are brand new and pristine. Turns out the logging companies had big plans for the area. They were buying the lands from the natives for less than $5,000 usd intending to make palm oil and rubber plantations. For the natives this would be a lot of money but they had no financial management skills so what would end up happening was they would buy a motorcycle and a smart phone and in 6 months the money and their land was gone. A clever man named Mr. Tree had a better solution. He convinced the locals to not sell their land to the logging companies but instead rent the land to him for an elephant sanctuary. Saving elephants from a life of enslavement and abuse from the tourist ride industry.
Palm oil is in everything because it's cheap; in reality, the cost is much greater than what is in our wallets. So no thanks, call me picky.
Want to buy bananas for elephants, or rent part of the forest? You can find more info by clicking on Mondulkiri.
*Photography tip: Props add information to a product so make sure everything in the image is relevant to your subject. Avoid fake and plastic items. I began researching the how to's by typing in "how to make soap" in good old Google and YouTube. The quality of advise varied greatly but after watching many great videos and many not so great ones, I had a good idea of what I wanted my first soap to be like and what I wanted to avoid. No artificial neon colors, no glitter, no fragrance or perfume oils. Yes to a simple, unscented soap. Carrot, ginger soap was my first with Sea Buckthorn oil.
Yes, it was love at first soap but I thought that would be it until I used up the first batch. Silly me. Before the first was even cured I was on to the next experiment, a red wine soap and my first try using essential oils. I chose lavender. Don't worry, the wine was horrible but instead of it going down the drain, it went into soap.
*Photography tip: The eye will naturally go to the lightest part of the image.
* Photography tip: Shoot in diffused or soft light. I like to use window light when the window is in the shade.
Mothers Milk Soap. Made with the last of my expired frozen breast milk.I was cleaning out the freezer and forgot I even had it. I live in Germany, my husband is in the Army so I can take this where ever the universe might plant us next. Besides, the thought of just throwing it out made my boobs hurt. I had pumped it on Valentines Day so it really is made with love.
*Photography tip: Consistency can help strengthen your brand. Felted using wool from a local sheep farm. I cleaned and combed the wool straight off the sheep. Buying wool and having it shipped seemed silly to me when there where sheep 3 km from me. I brought a bar of soap and the man from the sheep farm stuffed my bag overflowing with freshly sheered wool. He told me a man from France would pick up the rest of the wool the next day, send it to China to be cleaned, and then back again to sell it in Europe.
*Photography tip: Bird and bug. Shoot from the perspective of a bird, and then a bug.
A pressed forget-me-not on a shea butter and grape seed oil soap with a line of cocoa, wrapped in homemade seed paper also forget-me-not seeds, tied with wool from the local sheep farmer. Making seed paper was another first that I may have never tries if it wasn't for soaping.
*Photography tip: Step back, zoom in. Doing so will give you a shallower depth of field and a compressed look to your image.
Testing the lather of "Beer'ded Lady", my first beer soap, with a vegan shaving brush. Most shaving brushes are made from badger hair and come from China. The badgers are gassed in their dens by the trapper and then skinned, their hair mostly used to make shaving brushes. I opted for a synthetic brush instead. Call me picky. Wrapped in poppy seed paper and decorated with pressed elderberry blossoms. It smells amazing without any EO's added.
*Photography tip: Fill your frame, although I am also a fan of negative space but for products generally it's good to fill the frame. Just remember to keep it relevant to your brand. "Dirty Hippie" Made with foraged stinging nettles, hemp oil, and scented with patchouli and bergamot.
*Photography tip: Don't forget the love, aka, editing software. Everything you see is edited so don't feel discouraged if your photos straight out of camera don't look like what you see online or in magazines. All those images get lots of extra love before being published. In photography, my favorite image is usually the last one I took or I say the one I'm about to take. I feel the same way about my soaps. I'm so excited to make my new favorite.