They say a picture is worth a thousand words so If a picture is worth a thousand words, an incredible product picture is worth a thousand website visits and sales.
There’s no doubt about it, product photography is extremely valuable to your eCommerce website strategy.
So to reach, entice and convert your target audience who prefer buying online, you also need to give your audience clear, eye-catching photos of your products.
So here are 6 product photography tips and techniques that are handy to know.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Smartphone’s Camera
My first product photography tip is to use your smartphone camera to shoot your product photos.
A lot of product photographers like myself have invested thousands of dollars into cameras and lenses, but don’t think you have to as well.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to do to try to convince you to invest large amounts of money into a new camera.
But If you already own a camera that fits this description, take advantage of it.
For many types of products, it’s completely acceptable to shoot product photos on a smartphone.
Why? Today’s smartphones that are on the market boast amazing and powerful camera lenses that are so sharp and clear with settings that allow you to really optimise your shots for the different types of light and environments you might shoot in.
2. Shoot From a Tripod For Photo Consistency
My next product photography tip is going to start with a cardinal rule: Don’t prop your phone against something to aim your lens toward the subject.
The simple reason why you shouldn’t it’s that It’s too easy for this makeshift mounting setup to slide around during the shoot and cause inconsistencies in your photos.
And to be honest you will just waste a heap of time setting it up and making adjustments to get it to mount correctly.
You can hold your camera yourself when shooting just a few product photos for your eCommerce website.
But as your business grows, and you start to take more photos of even more products, it will become more difficult to standardise the orientation of your product’s in each photo when shooting their handheld.
So to ensure consistency across all your products, you’ll need to invest in a tripod.
And luckily, buying one isn’t a big investment.
A tripod will save you so much time in setting up your product photography set and ensure you have clean and visually appealing product photos.
3. Choose Natural Light Or Artificial Light
My next product photography tip is all about lighting and what lighting is best for your products.
Certain types of light can improve or hinder your product photography.
E-commerce is a convenient and powerful tool in selling products but remember, buyers, get the best look at a product in person, where they can see everything they want about the product before purchasing it.
The right lighting setup helps you reveal those critical and important decision-making product features when all website visitors have to go on is a photo.
A single lighting setup might not work for every product, be aware, a lighting arrangement that works for some products might make the appearance of others not look so good.
There are two types of light you can choose as your main light source: natural and artificial light.
Natural light is your cheapest and easiest light source to use. You will just have to arrange your product photoshoot set up near a window where you get a nice amount of light through and shoot at times of the day where you get the right light to suit your aesthetic, the tone and feel of your products.
Artificial light, on the other hand, can be cheap but most times for a decent lighting setup it can get costly. The benefits of using artificial light are that it’s constant and you can shoot at any time of day and get consistent results.
I generally prefer shooting with natural light as I love the natural look it gives my photos and will resort to artificial light only if the weather doesn’t go in my favour.
But what light you use is completely up to you, the types of products you’re shooting and your budget.
4. Fill or Bounce Your Light to Soften Shadows
Whether you use natural light or artificial light, you’ll need to reduce the number of shadows that any potential hard light casts on the opposite side of a product.
There are three ways to do this:
A fill light means you need to Include another, less-intense light source to supplement your main light. It’s used as a counterbalance to soften the natural shadow your main light produces behind an object.
To do this, place your fill light opposite your main light so your product sits between both light sources.
Flashbulb Bounce Card
A bounce card is a small card that “reflects” or “bounces” the main light back onto the surface beneath your product to reduce shadows.
Bounce cards attach to the external flash of a professional camera to diffuse the light from the flash once it fires.
This card distributes a softer light onto the subject from above your set rather than straight at it to give you a softer and more natural look.
You can get some flashbulb bounce cards here
Standalone Bounce Card
If you’re shooting from a smartphone, a bounce card isn’t an option, since you don’t have a physical flash you can attach it to.
Instead, you can make your own standalone bounce card which can be positioned opposite to your main light source.
For beginners to product photography, a bounce card can effectively replace your fill light, which counters the hard light from the camera flash or light source that’s facing toward the front of your product.
You can find some bounce cards here
5. Use a Sweep or Portrait Mode to Emphasise The Product
There isn’t one right way to position your product, lights, and bounce cards – they can change dramatically depending on your background. But don’t choose a background based on what’s easiest to create. Backgrounds should resemble how you want your buyers to perceive your product when viewing it online.
Consider first whether you’d like a white background or a more dynamic, real-world background. There’s an easy way to achieve each one.
White Background: Sweep
One of my most important product photography tips is using a sweep.
For white backgrounds, it’s not as simple as setting up a table against a white wall, placing your product and shooting.
Smartphones and professional cameras are incredible when it comes to their camera quality and they will pick up little blemishes on a white wall that you wouldn’t notice with the naked eye.
To capture a perfect white background with no corners or blemishes, use a sweep.
Simply, a sweep is a large bendable sheet of paper. The bottom acts as the surface beneath your product and then curves up into a white wall behind the product.
When you look through what your camera sees, the sweep’s curve is invisible, emphasizing key product details and allowing the item to own all of a website visitor’s attention instead of fighting against annoying distractions.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison showing why a sweep matters:
You can find some white sweep backdrops here.
Real-World Background: Portrait Mode
Real-world backgrounds are very appealing when shooting products that have a specific use or are being modelled by a person.
the only problem is that it’s easy for a real-world background to steal the focus of the photo which can make it very hard and unclear which item in the photo you’re actually selling.
The solution to the problem is to give your product some depth and emphasis by switching your digital camera and even smartphones camera to portrait mode.
Portrait mode blurs the background so the product is clear but not competing against the product itself.
6. Shoot a Variety of Images
My last product photography tip for you is to not stop at one photo per product.
Remember what I said about how customers like to look, hold, use, and even try on merchandise in a store, your website should shoot a variety of images to simulate this very experience as much as possible.
This means shoot ore and more and more!
If you’re shooting clothing, for instance:
Capture the garment of clothing alone — that is, spread out on a white surface.
On a mannequin whose colour contrasts the colour of the product.
The finer detailers like zips and buttons
Then, for additional photos, have the clothing modelled on a person, allowing you to take pictures of the product from the person’s different poses and angles.
In The End
There you have it, my 6 product photography tips that will have you shooting like a pro!
With these product photography tips, don’t feel like you have to invest in every tip and piece of equipment at once because you don’t.
Apply these product photography tips gradually as you shoot more, as your creativity grows and as your business grows to see what makes your store look the most presentable and appealing to your target audience, and change your approach as your product photography gets better.