Visual cues are of utmost importance to online sales – customers can’t pick up your product and interact with it as they would in a store, so they have to get that same experience through the pictures instead. But how can a small business owner get started on a small budget?
This guide will help you take better product photos with the equipment you have in your home right now: whether you’re shooting with a digital camera, a smartphone, or a full DSLRrig.
1. Use a White Background
Backgrounds are distracting. A single continuous piece of paper is all you need to create one of those disappearing white backgrounds the professionals use. This is a great way to help customers visualize the product in their own household, fitting in with their own lifestyle. To get the white background that truly disappears into the white background of your web store, make sure to light the background independently of the object.Increase exposure (or edit later) to ensure that your product remains nice and bright.
2. Eliminate Blur with a Tripod
Nothing looks more unprofessional than a blurry photo, especially to an interested customer that tried to open the full size to get a better idea of the details. This problem affects stores that sell large objects, like furniture or clothing, probably because nobody wants to go out and purchase a full-size tripod. But you don’t even need to use an actual tripod – you can use any table or other flat surface that allows you to set the camera at the right level. A long straight stick would even work well to give your hands some extra stability.
3. Keep Your Products Straight
Real estate listings are the worst offender when it comes to crooked photos; so many houses end up looking like they’re sinking into the soil. But when misaligned products show up in other online shops, the effect is subtle enough to go unnoticed by the seller but the cumulative effect is palpable. Use the grid setting on your camera or phone to make sure everything lines up nicely.
If your camera does not have a grid feature, you can go back through and tilt/crop the photo so it looks right. If you don’t have a great photo editor, you can buy and use a photography app
with this feature built-in to make life a lot easier. A good photo editor can help you correct colors and brightness levels as well.
4. Use Soft Lighting, Avoid Standard Flash
Ordinary flash from a digital camera or smartphone will wash out the photo every time. This is great if you want to market a creepy or vintage vibe, but most product photographers would do well to avoid standard flash at all. Instead, shoot under brightnatural sunlight or use a softbox light (a light with a piece ofpaper over it as a diffuser) to ensure the best results. It is even better if you can light the product from more than one angle to eliminate all the harsh shadows.
5. Offer a Variety of Angles
What you photograph matters just as much as how you photograph it. Customers want more than just a three quarter view or full front angle. They want to know what the back of the product looks like. They want to know the size of the product by comparing it to an easily scalable figure (like a person or a car).Depending on the product, they might even want to see underneath.
Try to include the product from two or three useful angles against a white background, and include one lifestyle shot to show the product in action. Every seller will have to tailor his or her technique according to the actual product at hand (seeing sweater from behind might be more important than seeing a bookshelf from behind) but “more is better” is often a good rule of thumb.
Get Started Today
Good product photography is more than just an art form – it’s a science. The professionals charge such high rates because it takes years to learn how to take great product photography, and it takes a huge investment to build up a collection of the right gear and equipment.
But they all got started somewhere: anything you can do to improve your product photos today is sure to provide a solid return on investment tomorrow. Never stop reading about digital photography, never stop practicing, and never stop thinking about new ways to show your products in a better light.