‘I’m not a photographer’‘
‘I don’t have the budget’
‘I don’t have a good camera’
‘It’s all too technical for me’
‘I only have my cell phone’
Do any of these sound like the excuses you’ve been telling yourself?
If you’re worried that your product photography is the weak point of your online store, it probably is. Fashion, jewellery, accessories and home decor, all require a different kind of approach.
Good quality product photos are required so that you make steady and consistent sales on a marketplace like Etsy or your own ecommerce web store.
Today we’re going to show you some of our favourite product photography tips. You’ll learn how to take the best possible photos of your products.
Using simple words.
On a phone or an inexpensive camera.
On a budget of little to zero.
Good quality product photography is even harder when you’re selling digital art online. Digital prints, artwork and posters. How can we capture everything correctly?
By the end of this article, you will know:
- What background is the best performing for product photography
- How to Choose a perfect lightening for your product photography
- Secret hints of outstanding photography for an ecommerce
1. Product Photography Background Tips
A plain white background does a fantastic job at showing your product off for what it is. When shoppers see a thumbnail like this, their eye is drawn to the clarity and contrast.
A perfectly white product photography background from The Catkin Boutique.
Clear photos on a white background (sometimes called ‘packshots’) set a realistic expectation of what your customer can expect. This is transparent and honest product photography.
But sometimes it’s hard to get a plain white background for your photos.
You can easily build yourself a setup like this with a plastic tub from Ikea, some paper and some desk lamps.
Product photography like this is essential. But the photos themselves are also quite boring.
A textured background is great for branding and expressing a mood. It also makes your products more memorable. Plus, product photography like this is shared on social media more frequently!
Consider textures like wood, rock, sand. For example, this ring looks amazing against the contrasting background of brushed steel.
The ForestMagicWithRivka team found textures that compliment their product perfectly.
Consider creating an environment or background where your product will be used. A desk, kitchen table, bedside table.
Another example, this simple leather tassel. It looks a lot more desirable when photographed on a simple piece of timber, alongside a piece of foliage.
The team at ToriLoDesigns take incredibly well crafted photos.
But what about digital products? How do you create product photography of..well, a photo?
For that, we use mock-up backgrounds.
2. Digital art backgrounds
Are you selling digital art? Sure, it’s simple to provide a hi-res image of your piece of work, but what about showing it off hanging on the wall, like RosaLilla does?
Creating an image of your image may be a bit difficult – it is hard to create a photo of a photo. Glass creates reflections so managing light is incredibly difficult.
3. Lighting tips for those that know nothing about lighting
Whether you’re shooting with a Phase One IQ3 ($57,500) or the toy camera that came in your kid’s happy meal, one thing is important.
9 times out of 10, natural light is going to be your best friend. Search around the house for some good light near a window. Perhaps (gasp) even go outside.
Taking photos at midday, when the sun is directly above will usually generate the best results.
No good outside? Hunt around the house for some lamps. Place one lamp either side of your product and have a look.
- Is it lit well?
- Are there any shadows?
- Are there any reflections?
Play, experiment and learn. Move the lighting around to move shadows and minimise reflections.
Sharp, solid shadows are distracting. This is called ‘hard light’. If you’re working with lamps, chances are that this is what you’ll have.
To soften the light, place a white plastic bag over the globe (just watch out for the heat). This will give you a ‘soft’ light in a more even fashion and cut down on the sharp harsh shadows.
Hard lighting (left), soft lighting (centre) and lighting with a reflector (right)
When you think you’ve got yourself a good photo of your product, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is the lighting creating any reflections or shadows that are distracting from the object itself?
- Does the light show off the colours, shapes and design materials used and or does it mask them?
- Does it convey the mood you are going for?
- Is your image overly white, blue or yellow?
4. Styled ecommerce product photography
Close up, lifestyle or scale shots are great at showing important factors. If you’re a fashion brand, a lifestyle photoshoot brings your work to life. No more on clothing a lifeless mannequin.
A lifestyle shot from Primrose & Pixie sleepwear. You can almost smell the coffee.
To pull off a well-styled product photography shoot, you need a little preparation.
Firstly, define your style. Are you minimalist, industrial, quirky, organic?
If you’re minimalist, for example, you won’t want to clutter your photos with other elements.
Pro Tip: Whatever your style is, follow it through onto the rest of your branding. Click here to see some great ideas for minimalist product packaging.
Defining your style will help you determine what your overall goal is. It will also help you establish what emotions to include in your styled ecommerce product photo shoot.
- Know the rule of thirds – This is a simple rule that lets you compose photos effectively. Chaitra explains more on her blog, Pinkpot.
- Demonstrate size, scale and fit by using a model. This helps people to visualise how it actually looks on a person.
- Remember branding. Use colours, shapes and patterns consistent with your current branding and brand message.
- The point is to sell your product. Don’t let anything else in the image draw attention away from what’s on offer.
- Show off the benefits of your product. If your product can solve a problem, dedicate a photo to it doing just that.
Proper Copper Design show how their hooks & rod can solve your kitchen problems
5. Use a tripod
A quality tripod will really help you get the most out of your photos. It also makes the process of taking photos much easier.
Using a cell phone? Try something like this.
Using a digital camera? Try this out.
Even a minute tripod like this one makes product photography a breeze.
You only have two hands. If one is preoccupied with holding the camera, you’re going to spend a lot more time arranging your shot with only your free hand.
A tripod will allow you to keep the camera in one spot, which leads to a sharper, clearer image. An overall better picture.
A tripod will also allow you to go and move lights, adjust the product and change things without losing the camera position.
Buy a tripod.
Invest a few dollars and get control over the whole shooting process, not just your photos.
6. Forget Instagram
Instagram filters have their place – on Instagram. Not on an online store where a product is being sold.
Some filters can make images look sharper, that’s true. But they will simultaneously present your product in ever so slightly different colours.
A filter added over a product photo will also damage trust and make a potential buyer question your quality. ‘If it needs an Instagram filter to look good, what does it look like without it?’.
7. Use your macro
Most cameras have a ‘close up’ mode, also called macro. Look for the little logo that looks like a Tulip. MomSkoop has this awesome guide on macro photography with a cell phone.
This mode is often used to focus at a short distance to show off the nuances and little details.
This is a great mode for jewellery, really detailed areas and…well, tulips. The overall result is quite astonishing and creates a completely different perspective. Your product photography can take on a new life
Silver Sky Creations use macro photography to highlight the small intricate details.
8. A sense of scale
No matter how creative you get, don’t forget that the one goal of your photos is to sell them. Your customers may get confused and leave a sale if your photos aren’t accurate enough.
Hannahdoodle uses furniture to give an idea of her pillow sizes.
Your product description may state that your coffee mugs are 85 cm high. But what is 85 cm compared a teaspoon, or a coaster – or a human hand?
A bracelet that is 3 cm wide looks very different when it’s actually on the wrist. Don’t deceive your customers, give them some good quality product photos that show a sense of size and scale.
9. Show all your variants
It can be exceptionally frustrating for a potential customer if what they are interested in is available, but they can’t see it.
Show it all. If your t-shirts come in 5 different colours, show each colour. Every product style should have its own picture.
Blue Iceberg show their white jumper in a lifestyle shot, but also the black variant.
Don’t just show a green swatch, actually show each different colour product in a different photo. Your definition of green may be different to someone else’s idea of green.
By showing off each variant in your product photography, your conversions will grow because people know what they’re buying.
Want to know more about increasing your ecommerce conversions? Read the article:
25 Ways to Optimize your Ecommerce Conversion Rate (read now.)
10. Don’t delete your product photos.
Don’t get frustrated and delete something because you don’t like it. Just because your picture looks average on your phone or the 2-inch preview screen, does not mean it’s going to look bad when it’s had some editing work done.
By keeping everything that you take, you’re able to see what worked and what didn’t. The image you delete may, in fact, be the best one of the entire shoot.
Taking a photo is just the beginning of your photography adventure. Touch ups and editing are just as important as taking the photo itself.
To get started, load your images into Photoshop or Lightroom. If these aren’t available to you, try Pixlr Editor, the free, online version of Photoshop.
Take a look at the colours in the image in comparison to the real product. Are they the same? Are the reds more orange in the photos or are the blues more green in reality?
Be careful and don’t go too far. Gentle adjustments are all you need.
It doesn’t take a lot of adjustment to completely change this image from Nordic in Kent.
Remember, you want your product photos to be honest, not to make the product look different.
Adjust parameters like brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, exposure and colour balance/vibrance.
After a little fiddling, it won’t be long until you strike a balance that represents your product accurately.
And that takes time. Don’t rush. If these product photography tips are new to you, be patient, and implement them one by one.
Be prepared to make mistakes and be prepared to learn from them. As you focus on smaller and smaller details, your product photography will improve!
Your next steps…
Have you ever bought a pair of shoes because they smelt good? No, you bought them because they look good.
People are visual creatures. By creating exceptional product photos, you’ll satisfy the needs of curious buyers. Your conversion rate will grow, as will customer satisfaction.
Go forth, assemble your tools and start shooting!
What are some of your favourite ecommerce product photography tips? Can you sell a bad product if you have fantastic product photography?