7 Steps to Creating Effective Product Photos

Since at least 1911, advertisers have been saying “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” It’s even more true today, when so many people shop online. A good photo shows a potential buyer details that are hard to convey in words, including colour, shape and size. It answers questions about features a buyer wouldn’t think to ask, decreasing the chance of returns. A great product photo makes the item more attractive, evoking an emotion or lifestyle, and makes the e-commerce store hosting it seem respectable and authoritative.

The simplest way to get effective product photos for your online shop is to hire a professional photographer. Many photographers are freelancers and charge reasonable day-rates for product photography. However, if this isn’t possible, here’s how to do it yourself.

1. Lighting

Good lighting is absolutely critical. It should be strong but diffuse, like a summer’s day with light cloud cover. Ideally, lighting should be white, from multiple sources and adjustable. Try to avoid strong shadows.

2. Background

Keep the background plain and neutral. At minimum, use a white sheet to create a clean, plain backdrop. If you want to shoot action shots, for example, a breakfast table for an e-commerce shop selling coffee mugs, make sure there’s nothing untoward in the shot. Look carefully – it’s easy to miss details in a cluttered setting.

3. Camera

You don’t have to use a top-quality professional camera to get shots that are good enough for an e-commerce site, but don’t expect to get great shots with your phone. Use the best camera you have available, but make sure you know how to use it. Many DSLRs now have ‘auto’ settings which can help you out in a pinch.

4. Image Size

Choose the largest image size the camera can manage. This gives you the most versatile images. You’ll need to resize them (shrink them) before uploading to a web shop, but you won’t have to retake the photos if you do a printed flyer.

5. Shoot Wide, Crop Down

Don’t try to frame a shot perfectly. It’s much easier to shoot a wide shot, making sure you have the full object in your view, and to crop it down than to create the perfect shot on the camera.

6. Multiple Angles

Take lots of pictures from many different angles. Product photography doesn’t need to be artistic, but it should be thorough. Take photographs from different angles, close up and further away. Experiment with a few quirky poses, so you have lots of options to choose from later on.

7. Key Features

Make sure you get a photo of each of the key features of the product. E-commerce software allows you to upload multiple photos of each product. Typically, if a customer is viewing the images, they’re half-way convinced to buy. Show them each of the features and you’ll show them why they should choose this product. You can even add props or show the product in use to better illustrate your point.

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