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Product Photography Tips

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Product Photography Tips

One of the downsides of eCommerce is that customers can’t interact with your products the same way they can interact with goods in a brick-and-mortar store. The best way to make up for this is with stunning product photos. According to one study, 67% of consumers say that the quality of a product or branded photo is “very important” in their decision to select and purchase an item. A statistic like that should quickly tell you how important product photography is.

Taking beautiful pictures isn’t easy though, especially when it comes to product photography. If it were, then tens of thousands of photographers across the globe would be out of a job. For many eCommerce business owners, it’s worth hiring a professional to take your product photographs. If this isn’t an option, here are some tips on how to take product photos that will make your customers want to hit the “buy now” button.

Get the Right Equipment

You’re going to need the tools of the trade if you want to take product photographs that impress your customers. Here are the basics:

  • Camera – This one is pretty obvious. Try to get a camera that allows you to manually adjust settings. It gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility than a normal point-and-shoot does. Modern smartphones have cameras that are capable of taking passable product photos, but you should really try to get a dedicated camera if you need to take more than a handful of images.
  • Tripod – Because you are going to be using long exposures, a sturdy tripod is essential. No matter how steady you think your hands are, you are going to end up with a blurry image if you try to hold the camera in your hands. Plus, the tripod makes it easy to take consistent photographs from the same distance and angle.
  • White Sweep – A white sweep allows you to take photographs against a seamless white background. You can purchase this from a photography store or you could make one yourself using an extremely thin piece of matboard. As long as it is pure white and you can bend it so it smoothly transitions from horizontal to vertical you should be able to take great pictures.
  • White Bounce Cards – These are used to bounce light back onto your product and are incredibly simple to make. All you need to make one is a little bit of scrap white foamcore. Measure and cut it so it’s about as tall as your product and three times as wide then bend it in the middle so it stands up on its own. It’s as easy as that!
  • The Right Room – You should pick a room with windows that receive a lot of sunlight. The bigger the light the better. Set up your table so it’s at a right angle to the window and pushed up against the wall.

Set Up the Camera

The right camera settings are vital for quality product photography. The first thing you should do is set your white balance to automatic. Turn off the flash as well — you won’t need it in a well-lit room like the one you should have picked out. If possible, set your camera to shoot RAW. This the highest-quality file that a camera can possibly produce. If your camera doesn’t offer RAW, then choose the largest JPEG file you can. Set your ISO to 100, as this will keep noise to a minimum. Change the camera to Manual and set your f/stop to the highest number available. This will help your product “pop” off the background. You’ll have to adjust the shutter speed to make sure that you are getting the proper exposure for the photo. If it’s too dark, decrease the shutter speed and vice versa. This will give you a great base to work off of for your photographs.

Set Up the Shot

The first thing you will want to do is set up your table. You should press it up against a wall as close to a window as possible without intersecting the shadow from its pane. Try to set it up so the window is 90º to the right or left of the table. After your table is set up, you’ll need to set up the sweep. The easiest way to do that is to simply tape the sweep to the wall at one end and the table at the other. You may have to roll the sheet into a loose tube beforehand to get it to bend smoothly. Place your product in the center of the sweep and get ready to set up the rest of the shot. You will need to:

  • Arrange your product how you want it to appear. This will probably take a little longer than you are anticipating. Make sure the product is angled properly so you can show off any branding you may want to include in your product photography. You should try to pick an angle that shows off as much detail as possible.
  • Set up the reflector card. In general, you want to place this out of the frame in a place that will help fill in shadows, usually meaning on the opposite side of the product from the window. You will probably have to play around with this a little bit to get it to look just
    how you want it to.

After that, it’s time to start taking pictures. Even if you think it looks bad on the preview screen, don’t delete anything yet! The screens on cameras make photos appear very differently than how they appear on computer screens. What you think is a dud could actually be the best of the batch.

Retouch your Product Photography

This will likely be the biggest hurdle for you to overcome. It’s really tough to develop an eye for how to edit photographs to get them to turn out how you want them to. If you’re short on time and patience and have the money, there are services that will edit your photographs for four to ten dollars per photo. This is the most painless way to go about things, but here are some general guidelines if you decide you want to do it yourself.

  • Adjust the white balance of the picture. Photoshop has a white balance eyedropper tool that makes this easy. All you have to do is click on a part of the image that should be white with the tool and Photoshop will do the rest for you.
  • Touch up imperfections with the patch tool. If there is dust, dirt or other imperfections on your product you should fix them with the patch tool. First, duplicate your layer so you can refer to the original if you need to. Then, draw a circle around the part you want to change and drag it to an area you want it to look like. The tool will replace what you don’t want with something that you do.
  • Save in a large dimension. This will give your customers the best possible look at your product. Gigantic images will kill load times, so don’t overdo it, but customers like to see what they’re buying up close. Make sure you check what image formats your eCommerce platform accepts.

Practice!

Product photography isn’t easy. You won’t get any better at taking or editing photos unless you put in a lot of practice. It’s not a bad idea to try shooting some products you don’t sell just to get a feel for how it would work. The more experience you have, the better you will be.

We hope that this overview has been informative and will help propel your eCommerce store to new heights.

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