If a picture is worth a thousand words, a stunning product picture is worth a thousand website visits.
Keeping that in mind, product photography can become extremely valuable to your eCommerce website strategy.
According to Webalive, 80.8% of Australians with internet access shop online, and that segment of buyers is set to increase with one out of every ten items being bought online.
That number is proving that more and more Australians are carelessly purchasing products without touching, trying or demoing the product before giving away their money.
Online stores provide a quality of retail convenience that Australians have grown to love and never want to give up.
But the convenience of online shopping stores isn’t everything to every single customer.
Being able to browse merchandise for the new kitchen renovation is just one part of what makes an internet storefront successful.
To successfully reach that 80.8% of people who do prefer buying online, you also need to give your audience, visually appealing, crystal clear, eye-catching photos of your products or these online shoppers aren’t likely to have confidence in what you offer.
That’s because these online shoppers could get the confidence they desire by walking into a store and seeing the product in person.
With that said, product photography isn’t as simple as picking up a camera, pointing and shooting.
To capture your products and tell a story you’re going to need the correct shooting equipment, the right lighting, and space to produce eye-catching images that sell shoppers.
Don’t stress out too much, your photoshoot equipment shopping list isn’t as big as you may think. Most items you probably already own!
Here’s an easy list of tips and tools you can use whether you’re using a digital camera or a smartphone camera.
Lighting is Extremely Important
I’m going to start with what I believe is the most important aspect in product photography, and that’s product photography lighting.
Without proper lighting, neither your product or your background is going to appear how it would if you looked at it in person.
You have only two options for product photography lighting. They are artificial lighting and natural lighting.
To determine what lighting setup to use all comes down to the product that you’re photographing, the purpose of the photo, and also the platform you’re sharing it to for promotional reasons.
Natural lighting works really well for product photographs featuring people, clothing, and foods. and these natural-looking photos work well for social media posts for platforms like Instagram.
If you’re shooting inside, you will want to set up your set and products facing a window so that you can utilise all the natural light that comes through as possible. But, if you are able to photograph your products outside, do that!
With natural lighting you have a period of time where the lighting is most optimal to use.
The best times to shoot are early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
This is because at these times the sun isn’t too harsh. So you will avoid getting those harsh hot spots on your products and a nice even spread of light across your products.
On the other hand, if your product is primarily used indoors like cookware or a product that has small feature details like artwork then artificial product photography lighting is your better option.
Lighting can be quite intimidating, but knowing a few basics and building a simple studio setup can help you gain confidence with lighting.
Props Help Tell the Story
When it comes to using props in your product photography, do not get overly ambitious with using them.
The main focus of each product photograph should be the product itself.
If you have too many objects in one frame it becomes overly distracting to the viewer’s eye.
They become lost in what story you’re trying to tell which means you lose them as a potential customer.
Product photography props should welcome and help brighten the photograph for your viewers.
Props should be a subtle complement to the main product that’s the focus of the shot.
So how do you decide what props to use?
I always recommend keeping them simple, aligned with the colour scheme you’re going for, and relevant to the scene, theme or your product.
For example in this nautical flat lay I did, the message in the bottle was my focus, so it’s in the centre of the frame. The hooks, line and floats and even the Seawood texture all support the theme of the shoot.
Switch up Your Angles
The worst thing you could do in product photography is to just take one or two shots of each product from the same composition, then move on to the next.
What you need to do is take multiple shots of your products from a variety of different angles.
By doing this will show your customers exactly what your product looks like and help you tell your story to them, they will also be able to get a feel for your product without physically being there.
Plus, it will help give you more options when it comes to editing, and won’t leave you thinking, “Should we re-do this one completely?”
Whenever I photograph food, I like to shoot from above and from a few different side angles.
Mix up your angles, you’ll surprise yourself on what you can see and create.
Give Your Products Context
One of the most important things with product photography is that your prospective customers need to be able to envision themselves using your product.
After all, if someone sees photos of your product online and can’t easily tell themselves a story about them using it, why would they buy it?
Normally, before anyone with a limited amount of disposable income purchases a product, they need to feel confident that the product will solve a problem they have, a goal they want to achieve or a need they want satisfied.
It’s difficult to envision yourself using certain products when they’re abandoned of context.
For example, someone who’s in the market for a couch to furnish their new home likely can’t see themself using one that’s advertised simply sitting against a blank background.
BUT, they can very easily envision themselves using a couch that’s advertised in the context of a home, as seen here:
Use a Tripod
Camera tripods might come across as an unnecessary piece of equipment, but they make a massive difference in the clarity and quality of your product photography
Tripods are stands that help stabilise your camera when taking shots from your shaky hands.
When using a tripod, it will ensure there’s a reduction in motion blur, which is crucial if you want your product photographs to look crisp, sharp and of a high-quality.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using a DSLR camera or a Smartphone, there are heaps of tripods available in varying price range.
Tripods are not really that expensive or hard to use, you can go on Amazon and get one for your camera.
It’s certainly worth taking the extra minute to set up a tripod to make sure you get better-looking product photographs.
Understand the Rule of Thirds
Anyone who is new to photography should learn the rule of thirds as quickly as possible because it is a powerful tool in any form of photography.
The rule of thirds teaches you to visualise your canvas as nine equal segments, like the example below.
The rule of thirds was designed to help photographers create a well-balanced composition in each photograph.
The rule is also useful to determine where to place the focus of your product. Your goal is to have your product positioned along the grid lines where two lines intersect.
When people are viewing images their eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the centre of the shot
Using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.
Learn How to Edit Your Photos
Learning how to edit your product photographs, even if it’s just slight adjustments is a necessary skill to have under your product photography belt.
Making some small adjustments like tweaking the vibrance or even masking small flaws within your product photograph can make a massive difference in the feel and story of the finished product.
The difficult part with photo editing is that there are SO many tools that you can use to transform your image that it becomes very overwhelming if you are attempting to do it on your own without any training.
Especially if you are using a tool like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
You’re going to want to learn some foundational knowledge about photo editing platforms so you don’t get completely overwhelmed as you attempt to edit your product photographs.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to learn how to edit your photos.
Just go to YouTube. There are hundreds, if not thousands of free tutorials that will teach you the basics you need to know of the editing software of your choosing.
Take Inspiration From the Brands you Love
To keep your creative juices flowing, It’s always handy to look to others for inspiration.
I’m sure you already have some brands in mind that you love going to check out.
So take a look at their accounts and product photography and imagine to yourself how a similar shot or style could work for your products.
For example, imagine to yourself that you’re operating a local women’s boutique. Search for your favourite women’s clothing brands on Instagram and find what you like about their product photos.
Perhaps you like their colour scheme and how they use simple backgrounds to really draw attention to the product.
Can you create something similar with your own products?
When in Doubt, Use a Plain White Background
When you start taking product photos you quickly learn how powerful plain backgrounds are.
When photographing something like food, the worst mistake you can make is putting your prop against a patterned, busy background.
The delicious plate of food or beautifully decorated cake should be the star that shines in your photograph, but it never gets seen in the distracting scenery.
By keeping your background plain and simple (as hard as it can be) will make sure the product you’re trying to sell to your customers doesn’t get lost in the scene.
Light colours like pale blue, pink, and yellow can work really well, but if you’re in doubt, using a white background is always a great option to ensure your product shines against a crisp and clean background.
In The End
By following these nine tips you will be able to completely transform the look, feel and story being told to your customers about your products.
With a new story being told and the perception of your brand and products being clearer you will also sell more and more of your products.
Like anything in photography, taking amazing product photos takes time, patience and consistency to be able to achieve the look and feel you want.
So whether you have DSLR camera or Smartphone camera, set up your products near a spot of good natural light and practice these 9 tips and transform your product photography game.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more photography tips and tricks then click here.