You don’t need an expensive camera to take great looking product photos. Most smartphones have the specifications needed to take professional looking images.
Aside from a tripod, you already have most of a DIY studio setup available in your home-- like, lights (lamp, leg light, or the sun), a blank background (i.e. paper or blanket), and a flat surface (table, chair, or counter).
There are many free online photo editing software available to edit your photos-- some of them can be installed on your own smartphone.
Product images are the first thing consumers see when browsing eCommerce stores. It’s proven to be one of the biggest deciding factors for online purchases. Studies show that 75% of consumers consider a product’s image when shopping online. Which means if your website has outdated and boring images, or none at all, you’re missing out on a lot of potential sales. Maybe it’s time to improve the way you present your product online. Professional product photography is a great place to start!
We know what you’re thinking. Hiring a professional photographer will be too expensive.
It’s true, some external photographers can run up to $1600/day. Instead of spending a fortune on hiring outside help, you can become a DIY product photographer!
Having quality product images that provide your customers as much detail as possible will help reduce your return rate. For other tips to reduce eCommerce returns, read our article: 5 Ways to Reduce E-commerce Returns.
Follow our guide below and see how you take the best product photos to include on your eCommerce website.
As a DIY photographer, you’ll need a few supplies to get started. Don’t worry, these items won’t break the bank and some of them can be found around your home. We’ll include some cheaper alternatives as well.
Choose a camera
The most expensive, but also the most important item you need is a camera. Without one, there’s no photo. A brand new digital camera can cost you thousands of dollars, but there’s an alternative that captures images just as clear as the priciest camera. You may be reading this post on it right now!
Smartphones, including the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel have advanced so much over the years that even the most amateur photographer can look like an industry expert. You’d be surprised how many online sellers today share eye-catching product photos with an iPhone.
Set up a tripod
Find a flat surface
To ensure all your images are consistent, you’ll want to position each product in a way that’s easily maneuverable. A table, chair, or your own floor will allow you to quickly set up smaller items like shoes, jewelry, tools, etc.
Pick the right lighting
Another important aspect of product photography is your lighting set up. Depending on whether you choose natural lighting - from the sun - or artificial lighting, you’ll want to determine which practice compliments your product - we cover this more in depth in the section below.
If you’re considering artificial lighting, there are a few options. You can choose from something as simple as one LED light to full professional studio lighting. Another alternative is an iPhone ring light as many content creators use this since it acts as a tripod as well.
Add a backdrop
As we’ve mentioned before, many of these decisions will be based on the product you sell. Choosing a background is no different. Here are some simple tips when deciding on a background for your product images:
Avoid busy backgrounds - Adding several elements to a background takes the attention away from your product.
Keep colors plain/ neutral - Colors including white, black, or grey keep all eyes on your product.
Play to your product’s strengths - Add a simple background that’s relevant to your product (e.g. If you sell furniture, a wooden floor background can help you stand out).
It’s time to get down to business. We’re going to walk you through the steps to set up your in-home studio. You’ll start taking product photos that’ll entice more customers to buy from you in no time.
Place your table
In a wide open space, set a table (or whatever you’re using to create a flat surface) that’s large enough to hold your product as well as the background sweep.
Make a background sweep
A sweep is a simple and seamless background. Without one, your photos will have a background color depending on what you decided to paint your wall. Not only that, audiences will clearly see where the wall meets your table.
So how do you set up a background sweep? All you’ll need is a long piece of fabric or paper. If you choose to have a white background, simply purchase a paper roll that spans a few inches wider and longer than your product. With that paper, elevate one end above and behind your product, and “sweep” the other end under so there’s no crease.
Once your background is ready, take your camera and place it on the tripod. You’ll be adjusting your setup several times to get different angles of your product. You want to give shoppers as much information about your product as possible, so multiple angles helps them visualize what they’re purchasing.
In addition to changing your camera angles, you should consider adjusting how your product is presented. A simple “head-on” image is perfect for a thumbnail, but positioning your product in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing can really help it stand out among other online listings.
A good example of this can be seen on many shoe listings. Merchants can place their products in the shoebox from a top down camera angle or even position the shoe in a running position to promote flexibility, the possibilities are endless. Get creative with your product and promote its benefits with different placements. Here are some ideas you can use:
Whether you’re using artificial or natural lighting, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Avoid poorly lit images
Shoppers need to see what you’re selling, make sure the lighting is bright enough to visualize your products' features and benefits.
Use hard or soft lighting
Shadows can either hinder or improve your product photo’s appeal. Soft light, which can be achieved by placing your LED behind a translucent umbrella, produces a less pronounced shadow. Conversely, hard lighting produces a larger, darker shadow. Just point a light directly at your product with nothing in between.
Combine your techniques
Above we stated that you must include several angles when taking product photos, here is where that concept can be really useful. Don’t just take simple images with artificial lighting, but throw in a lifestyle image. Put your product to use in the real world and capture it in action. Here’s where natural light can be a great tool.
Photographers don’t have to spend hours editing images with expensive software anymore. There are dozens of apps that help beginners turn their images into masterpieces. From removing redeyes on people modeling your apparel, to focusing or adding blurry backgrounds, it’s easy to find an application that’s right for your product photos.
At first glance, product photography can be intimidating. In the past, merchants would either break the bank with a pro or settle for a selfie with their product. Now, anyone can become a professional product photographer. All it takes is a few materials, some great lighting, and your imagination.
A great product image helps smaller online merchants compete with big brands and stand out among the millions of other ecommerce sellers. But there are other aspects of your business that should have the same focus. Check out our blog and find out how you can improve your ecommerce store for better results.
Image Credits: Shutterstock