In eCommerce, having high-quality product photography is a must-have. Remember, first impressions are everything, and if your photos aren’t making a statement, that could be why your products aren’t selling as much. So, if you’re looking to stand out in this industry, you have to invest in crisp, professional product photographs.
Tips for stand-out product photography
Select the right camera
A camera is an indispensable tool for any shoot. While you might get superior results with a high-end camera, you can take perfect shots with a smartphone.
Of course, if your budget allows, or you already own a fancy camera, take advantage of it. The point is, you aren’t stuck with substandard images if all you have is a smartphone. Just start with what you have. Many modern smartphones boast high megapixels along with numerous features and macro settings. You can even buy a set of smartphone camera lenses for exceptional results.
Having the right camera isn’t enough, you’ll need to know how to work with its manual settings. Understanding these three key terms will go a long way in improving your photography skills:
Shutters on your camera open and close to allow light to pass for a determined period. The faster they can do this, the clearer and crisper the pictures will be. Feel free to experiment with slower speeds to capture the sense of motion. Most new smartphone models and cameras will give you this control.
This is the size of the opening that light passes through when the shutters open and close. Aperture is measured in ‘f-stops’. The larger the number, the higher the contrast between your product and the backdrop. The aim here is to blur the background to prevent competition with the product. Your product should always be the star!
ISO measures sensitivity to light. The lower it is, the less sensitive your camera is to light, which means it will need intense light to capture a crisp shot.
There’s an art in balancing these settings, so it’s best to experiment to see which best suits your shoot. Don’t forget to take notes for future reference.
Use a Tripod
Think about the last time you browsed through a blurry image. What was your impression of the website or online store? Not very impressive, I presume. In the world of still life photography, tripods are lifesavers, especially when shooting at a slow shutter speed. With a good tripod, you no longer have to worry about camera shakes, and you can look forward to professional images. Moreover, having a tripod leaves you free to work on the styling and composition.
Whether you are using a fancy camera or a simple smartphone, there is a wide variety available, all with different features at different price points. If you’re on a budget, a chair or stack of books can also do the trick.
Get the lighting right
Light is a major determining factor in image quality. Remember, before making a purchase, a customer will want to get the best look at the product. Thus, you’ll want your product’s details to pop like they do in person.
Depending on the product, purpose, and platform on which you’re advertising, you have two options: studio lighting and natural lighting.
Natural light or soft lighting refers to sunlight. This option is not only popular owing to its affordability but also the ease of manipulation. All you need is a well-lit window. Light too harsh? Place a cloth or white paper over the window. Need more? Use a white card to modify the lighting and fill in the shadows.
Always avoid direct sunlight as it can create harsh shadows.
If you decide to use artificial lighting, remember to get at least two softbox light setups to achieve softer shadows. One should serve as the key source and the other as your fill or backlight. With studio lights, you will have to play with different angles until you get your desired results. The best thing is, once you have the right setup, you can duplicate it for all your shoots.
Set up your product
When setting up your product, keep in mind your online customers have no way of holding, using, or even trying on the merchandise. Take your time positioning your product in a way to give them the ability to examine it from a distance. For example, if your product has a label, ensure the print is facing the camera and legible.
Backgrounds have the potential to highlight or sideline your product. Ideally, you want a backdrop that resembles how you want your customers to perceive your product. For some products, a white background might work best, while for some, you’ll need to take in-context shots to highlight their features or show direct use-cases.
Take multiple shots from varying angles
In photography, one shot is never enough-and for a reason. Before making a purchase, a shopper will want to see all the product’s small details. Hence, if you’re looking to sell, you’ll have to photograph the product in varying positions to give the buyers a complete picture of the features. Plus, the more images you have, the easier the editing.
Don’t forget to edit
Once you’re happy with the images you’ve shot, it’s time for some post-processing. For beginners, editing can be time-consuming as it takes a bit of trial and error. The good news is, there are many free image editing tools available to help you achieve a polished look.
One of the most significant marketing steps you can take for your online brand is investing in good product photography. Gradually apply these tips and watch your photography skills grow.