Product photography is a skill that you must develop to sell products online. As you launch a business, or even just bring your product to a new platform, you need your merchandise to stand out, and that means creating eye-catching photos that attract the attention of potential customers. The camera you use, the lighting, the composition, the backdrops — all can affect the quality of the images you use in your marketing. Read on to learn some simple ecommerce photography tips and tricks to elevate your visual product marketing.
Your Smartphone Probably Has a Great Camera
Smartphone cameras have come so far over the years that many of them take better images than a professional camera that is more than a few years old. In most situations, your smartphone will be enough to provide you with the images you need for product photography. Learn how to use the camera on your smartphone, and adjust the settings as needed. You can get excellent images out of your smartphone when you take time to set up the shot.
The cameras on these phones (or newer models of the same type) have 12 megapixels or better, which is all you need to capture the high quality product photos you need to get started in this field.
- iPhone 8.
- Google Pixel 2.
- Huawei P20 Pro.
- Samsung Galaxy S8.
A tripod will hold your smartphone steady while you take pictures of the products you want to sell. Your camera will remain in the same place, making it easier for all of your images to stay consistent. Although you might take a few shots holding your phone for a quick product image, you will want to use a tripod for the rest of your photos. You can choose from a wide range of tripods, so find one that works for your needs.
Figure Out Your Lighting
Good lighting is essential to excellent product photography. Invest in a light box, or make one yourself to enhance the products you are selling. Watch out for shadows, find an even light source and pay attention to the details.For instance, sharp shadows in your images will detract from the look of the products you are trying to sell. Softening these shadows requires the use of a fill light or bounce light to create more even lighting.
If you are using a flash, hold a piece of white paper or cardboard above the flash, directing the light toward your project. Play around with the fill light and bounce light to see what looks best for you. Try different lamps if you are taking pictures inside, and don’t be afraid to move the lighting around.
Choose the Right Background
If you are trying to showcase a particular product by using a white background, make sure that the background is very clean. Cameras pick up even the smallest of blemishes, and you don’t want anything to detract from your image. When the background is nature, or full of color, strategically place the product, so it can be visually attractive. You can use a sweep, which is simply a piece of white cardboard paper that you curve into a semicircle, surrounding the product. This will make light bounce off the paper and at the product you want in the spotlight.
Furthermore, some online stores require a plain and simple background. In many cases, such as with Google Shopping, plain colors such as black and gray are permitted, but a white background is always a safe bet. Sticking with a white background keeps images clean and compatible with all online stores.
Note that you don’t want to clutter your photos with anything extraneous. Occasionally you can get away with supporting props, but never add text banners, unrelated items or promotional copy, either in the photograph or in post. Product photos need to be clean and simple. Any added elements should be considered on a case by case basis, as they’re not allowed on most eCommerce sites.
Learn the Technical Basics
As your business grows, you’ll continue to grow your product photography skills. More and more things will start to come naturally, or you will get big enough to hire professionals to take the reins. Until then, here are some quick hits to know immediately.
- Image file formats
Most eCommerce sites require images in one of the following file formats: TIFF, GIF, PNG, JPG or BMP. If you’re uploading images from your phone, this shouldn’t be an issue. Otherwise, one way to convert image file types is to use Photoshop.
- Fill out the metadata
When you upload the images on any platform, fill out as much of the metadata as possible. This allows your product to be indexed better by search engines and will be easier for customers to find it online. Use keywords that rank well for your product , and use complete sentences with details to help those using the alternative text for image descriptions.
- Be strategic with any filters
Unless you’re doing a deep Photoshop edit on these images, keep your editing light. The picture you take should be as close to the image you post as possible. There’s nothing wrong with a filter that helps make the colors more vibrant or the edges more crisp, but you need to document what you used to get that way so that you can stay consistent with it for every product photo in the future.
Trial and error
In order to take great images of the products you are selling, take a variety of images to see what you like best. Play around with your camera or smartphone settings to see what works in your situation. Invest in a tripod to keep your images consistent, and consider the variety of light sources you have available. Pay attention to the small details, and make sure there aren’t any blemishes in your images. Use the right lighting, and have fun as you try to create product photography that pops.