In this lesson, you will learn about:
- The importance of having great product photos
- Best practices for ecommerce product photos
- Tips and tricks to taking great product photos
Product photography is now easier than ever. Once upon a time creating professional product photos meant spending Big Bucks - but not anymore. Now, an iphone and two lightbulbs may suffice. However you decide to get it done, we’ll show you a few tricks to producing compelling photos for your products.
Step 1. Layout your products. You should know what you need photos of before you start. Once you set up your “lighting stage” you’ll be able to photograph them quickly if you have them ready to go.
Step 2. Set up your lighting stage. This will entail a few pieces of equipment, but we’ve been known to set up a stage for less than fifty dollars. The size of your products will dictate the size of your stage. Small products can fit inside a “lightbox”.
Step 3, get yourself a fancy camera. Lucky for you fancy cameras are cheaper than they’ve ever been. What once cost ten thousand dollars is down to 1 or 2 thousand in the camera world. But if this sounds extravagant, the most recent iPhone and Samsung smart phones take incredible photos that will do the trick when your budget is tight.
If you sell items smaller than a basketball you’re in luck. This can be done for cheap. But that’s all relative. There are a few different things you should consider. Will your products look best on a white background? Or will they display better in action, in a real life setting. For example if you sell guitars you might photograph them on white, so they look seamless on your white website. However, if your products need a natural setting it could be beneficial to photograph them in their element.
Once you decide how your products should look on your website you can begin building your stage.
Small products on a white background will be easiest, so let’s start there. You’ll want to get a sheet or two of white poster board. Make sure it’s flexible. You’ll also need two lights. These can be purchased at your local hardware store. As for the lightbulbs, you want to make sure that they are identical; ideally a pair of cool colored five thousand K bulbs. You’ll also want a transparent container to put your product inside. This will help diffuse the light. Lastly, if you’d like a nice reflection of your product you can get a piece of plexiglass to fit inside the box, to sit underneath your product. Now you’re ready to shoot. If you have a few more dollars and you’re not much of a Do-ityourselfer, you can purchase a “lightbox” that will come with all these pieces.
If you’re products need to be modeled then you’ll have to think a bit differently, but all the key pieces are still the same. Products, Stage, Camera. You’ll have to decide if your products are being modeled against a white background? Or will they be modeled out in their natural element? Either way you’ll need “light”. This is the common denominator in all great photography. You must have good lighting. Even if you use a top of the line camera you still need to light your product appropriately.
If you’re shooting outside it’s sometimes more about diffusing the sunlight then it is adding light, but we’ll focus on shooting indoors. Shooting against a seamless white background is preferred as these photos will look best on your store’s white website, but also it makes it easy to remove the background if necessary when editing your photos.
When photographing people, you’ll want to get a big roll of white paper. You can buy these from different websites by doing a search for “white seamless”. They can be purchased for as cheap as $25. You’ll need to find something to support the roll a foot higher than your model’s head. Unroll it to the floor and then toward the camera, past your model’s feet. You should have all white as the background of your shot. Shine some nice lights on your model and product and start shooting!
As I mentioned earlier cameras are so much better these days. You should invest in a DSLR. These shoot photos right to a storage card and make it easy to transport them onto your computer for editing. Some good brands for DSLR cameras are Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax.
After you’re done shooting, it is time to start editing. Post processing gives you the opportunity to clean up and enhance your photos. If possible, shoot in RAW format so you have the most options. RAW files have a much greater dynamic range within each photo, giving you more flexibility when editing. Great editing programs for photo processing are Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, or there are some free software like Picasa or Pixlr.com.
Whatever camera you use, make sure you spend time lighting your product and taking some test shots. It’s always good to have a laptop with you when you shoot the photos
so you can transfer your shots quickly and test it out in one of the editing programs.
This way you can make tweaks to your stage and your lighting if you have to. Make sure you take the time necessary to produce good photos. They are incredibly important to your conversion rates. You don’t have the luxury of touch and feel on your Bigcommerce store so your product photography has to be bright and clear to entice your customers to buy!