10 tips for better product photography

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Many individuals and small businesses are now selling their own products in online marketplaces, and the ones that perform best are often those with the most professional product photos.

It’s logic. After all, if you create and/or sell products that people love, whether on your own website, through Amazon, Etsy, or other online marketplaces, you want to show them off in their best light.

It is said that our attention spans are shorter than before, and professional product photography can be a strong decision factor (opens in a new tab) if people decide to buy from your store.

By ensuring your product photography is of the highest quality, you can help potential customers get the best possible feel for your products, almost like they’re shopping on the high street.

For those looking to take their own eCommerce images, it’s the little things that can make all the difference. We spoke to the photographer and founder of Pic-Up (opens in a new tab) Peter Cryer, for his top 10 tips when shooting an e-commerce photographer.

Peter Cryer shot PIC-UP owner in the head

Peter Cryer is a professional photographer based in London. He has built a diverse editorial and business portfolio for over six years, working with international brands, publications and modeling agencies. Peter is the founder of PIC-UP, a product photography service that makes it easier and faster for e-commerce businesses to create memorable and eye-catching product images.

1. Choose the right camera and lens

Product Photography

(Image credit: Neil Shearer)

The first, and potentially most obvious, tip is to make sure you have the right camera and lens for taking pictures. Many of the best professional cameras (opens in a new tab) are a good choice for e-commerce shooting as they offer flexibility, extreme precision and image sharpness.

Since the products are static, you’re not necessarily looking for the fastest camera, or one with video features that you won’t use. Having high quality colors, tones and contrasts makes all the difference in your end results – making your products stand out for attention and clicks in online marketplaces.

When your competitors use the best cameras (opens in a new tab) and your photos are in a directly competitive space, if you have inferior photos, it’s easy to lose sales.

When choosing your ideal lens for product photography, a 24-70mm lens (opens in a new tab) is a good choice because it offers the most flexibility, especially when you need to shoot a wide range of products. You can also create close-ups without compromising on quality. The focal length is also incredibly versatile with a sturdy and comfortable feel, helping you shoot comfortably without sacrificing quality.

2. Lighting installations and equipment

Bowen

(Image credit: Bowens)

If you’re looking to improve the look and quality of your shots, you should definitely consider artificial lighting. Natural light is always your cheapest option, but it’s not always the most efficient when it comes to lighting.

When shooting for e-commerce, lighting can make or break an image. Not only in terms of lightness and darkness, but also the mood, tone and atmosphere of your product photos, all of which can have a big impact on buying behaviors.

If the products you are photographing have many intricate details, artificial lighting will clearly highlight them and could be the difference between someone buying your product or scrolling through a competitor’s listing.

3. Use a tripod for consistency

Best Budget Tripods: Manfrotto Element MII

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

In online markets, consistency is key and shooting from a tripod ensures that every image is taken from the same distance, height and angle. The best tripods (opens in a new tab) will provide a stable shot and allow you to compose from a stable position.

It can make all the difference in the consistency of your brand, the look of your online store, and the impact of your product imagery on your customers. When competing in e-commerce spaces anywhere, how your product photos make your users feel is incredibly important. It also makes your job easier, because it does half the work for you!

4. Connecting to laptop or computer

attached

(Image credit: Tether Tools)

Tethering is the process of shooting with your camera connected to a laptop so that each image is instantly downloaded to a larger screen. This allows you to see the images in detail, just as the customer would see them.

The last thing you want is to spend hours taking hundreds of images, uploading them later, and finding there’s an annoying shadow or glare that completely ruins the image.

Rather than just seeing them on your camera’s LCD screen, connecting to a laptop can show all the intricate detail you definitely don’t want to miss. You can then readjust while shooting to ensure your images look great while saving time and effort along the way.

5. Use white polyboards or paper for even lighting

Polyboards are large sheets of foam that are traditionally used as insulation in building construction. They are also a cost-effective way to ensure that your images have an even distribution of light.

By using white and black polyboards you can also reflect light and create shadows where they didn’t originally exist. This helps you change the lighting in your shots to your advantage, giving you a better result and higher quality shots. If you have more space and a more generous budget, white paper rolls will also do the same. If you have less space, lightweight tents (opens in a new tab) are a good option.

6. Hire a set designer or fashion stylist

Our next tip for photographing e-commerce is to work with other specialists when taking photos of your products. Hiring a set designer or fashion stylist can ensure that the end results are even better. Having an assigned person maneuver things into position, change angles, and create the perfect scene saves time, effort, and always leads to better results.

7. Use white background paper

Pet Puppy Photography

(Image credit: future)

A white background is great for grabbing the attention of online customers by isolating your product and drawing more attention to it.

Using white background paper also eliminates the risk of your camera picking up blemishes or marks in the background that could distract your clients’ attention from the image, and it’s also a cheap alternative to using a professional setup or studio.

Your product is laid on the paper, and the paper curls to form a white wall behind the product, producing a perfect white background with no flaws, marks or inconsistencies.

8. Minimum crop sizes

When shooting for e-commerce, always have a clear plan for each image you need, as well as the necessary crop dimensions for the platforms you want to sell on.

For example, for Amazon products, Zoom has been proven to improve sales. In technical terms, the optimal zoom experience requires files to exceed 1600 pixels on the longest side of the image. The longest side cannot exceed 10,000 pixels or be less than 500 pixels. So be careful.

9. Tracing paper to soften highlights

If you’re looking to photograph jewelry or reflective objects, believe it or not, tracing paper is a must. Not only will it block out unsightly reflections, it will also soften the lighting where needed. A very diverse and inexpensive equipment that allows you to take great shots with small budgets.

This is definitely a tip for anyone looking to create high-quality product photography without breaking the bank.

10. Photoshop to cut out and retouch the product

Adobe Photoshop CC icon on gradient background

(Image credit: Adobe)

As every photographer knows, not every image will be absolutely perfect, so use Adobe Photoshop (opens in a new tab) is a great way to add the final touch and eliminate imperfections. This really helps bring out the finer details of your product. Using Photoshop, you can resize images, change contrast, brightness, and saturation, while making small adjustments one by one to get the final image you want.

When should you call in a professional?

When shooting for e-commerce, quality is a proven factor in driving sales and there are plenty of tips and tricks in addition to those included in this article. If you don’t have the time or skills to take your own product photos, use a professional product photography service (opens in a new tab) might be a better option for you.

Companies such as Pic-Up can collect your items, film them and return them to you so you don’t have to lift a finger.


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