A critical component of any successful eCommerce website is having professional, high-quality product images.
The images customers see when they land on a product page is the first thing their eyes focus on. You could have the most amazing product descriptions, prices, shipping, and customer service, but if your website doesn’t have images that instantly connect and draw buyers in, they are probably not going to buy from you. It’s as simple as that.
If you don’t have room in your budget to hire a professional product photographer, you may think there’s no way you could acquire amazing product images that jump off the page and turn shoppers into buyers.
But you would be wrong.
It’s absolutely possible to take high-quality product photos yourself – no professional photography training needed. All you need is the right equipment and the right approach to taking the pictures and editing them.
Here are a few product photo techniques you can use to wow customers and increase sales.
The right equipment
In order to capture great images of your products, you’re going to need the right equipment. Even if you use the best product photography techniques, your pictures may not turn out very well if you don’t use the right equipment for the job.
Keep in mind that the equipment you use doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can easily find used equipment on eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, and others.
The equipment you’ll need include:
- A camera
- A tripod
- A white backdrop
Of these, the camera is the most important. The type of camera you’ll want is known as a digital DSLR. New DSLR cameras can be purchased for as little as $500, although you can find great deals on used models. This is the type of camera that professional photographers use, and they capture the highest-quality images.
The type of tripod you need depends on the brand of camera you purchase. You just want to make sure it’s compatible with both the brand and model of the camera you are using.
The white backdrop doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It can be a simple white sheet, white poster board, craft paper, or a portable photo studio.
Portable photo studios are boxes with white interiors and an open front-end for taking pictures of objects you place in them. They usually fold for easy storage when not in use. Small photo studios can be purchased for as little as $40.
The lighting is something you don’t want to get wrong. For best results, you want to use a lighting source with 5500K daylight bulbs. These bulbs give you that bright, white look that product images always have.
You want to avoid standard light bulbs, or anything labeled “cool white” or “soft white.” Those are the types of bulbs that give off a slightly yellow glow. They may be great for reading, but they are terrible for product images. If you are unsure of the right lighting for your needs, photography studio lighting kits can be purchased for as little as $40.
Before you start taking pictures of your products, you definitely want to make sure you have your camera set up correctly. A few simple adjustments to the settings can make a huge difference in the quality of your photos.
The following are the best camera settings for product photography:
- Turn your flash off (you’ll be using studio lighting).
- Set the white balance to auto.
- Use the highest-quality image setting your camera has. For most DSLR cameras this will be the RAW setting.
- Change your exposure setting to manual (using a high f/stop will increase the depth of field).
- Do not use a wide angle lens. These lenses cause your products to appear out-of-focus.
Making sure your product placement is correct will go a long way to ensuring high-quality images. Of all of the product photography tips, this one is very easy to do.
If you are using a simple backdrop, like a sheet or craft paper, you want to hang the backdrop in such a way to ensure there are no wrinkles. You can use a table, for instance, to place the product on, with the backdrop in the background extending underneath the product. Be sure to place your product in the center of the backdrop.
When setting up your studio lighting, you want to place the lights in such a way as to avoid creating shadows. This may require a little bit of experimentation to see which lighting angles work best. If you are unable to eliminate all of the shadows, additional lights may be necessary.
Another option if you are unable to eliminate all of the shadows with your lighting is to use a reflector card. This is a simple white card that, as the name implies, reflects light onto your subject. The idea is to bounce light off of the card to fill in shaded areas.
Before taking pictures of your product, be sure the product has been cleaned. Even if a product looks clean, it’s possible there may still be dust, fingerprints, or something else that can show up in the picture.
Finally, for product photography ideas, take the time to view your competitors and even eCommercecompanies that sell other types of products. You’ll want to study the way they display their products, the camera angles that were used to capture the images, and other things.
Product photography ideas are just a mouse click away. And in some cases, you may even be able to identify things in your competitors’ photos that you could do better.
Edit the pictures
After taking several images of a product, you’ll want to edit them in photo editing software to give them a professional finished look. The two most popular photo editing applications are IrfanView and Adobe Lightroom. Both are relatively inexpensive.
These powerful photo editing tools give you the ability to do a lot of cleanup on your pictures to really make them pop. They allow you to adjust the color, contrast, cut out imperfections, whiten teeth and smooth out complexions (if you are using models), and many other things.
Although there is a little bit of a learning curve with photo editing applications, they are not difficult to master. With a little bit of practice, you can be editing photos like a pro.
If you are short on time or don’t want to invest in photo editing software, you can easily hire someone to edit your photos for very little money. A simple internet search for “photo editor” turns up many great options.
Practice makes perfect
By implementing a few simple product photography tips, you can very easily take amazing product photos that will draw customers in and compel them to make a purchase. With all new things though, you will have to experiment with different camera angles, lighting arrangements, and editing features to create high-quality images that will look amazing on your eCommerce website.
Thankfully, the learning curve is not as big as you might think. With a little practice, you’ll be creating incredible product images that will look like you spent thousands on them.