How to create product photography that sells: Product photography 101

How to create product photography that sells: Product photography 101

A picture is worth a thousand pictures, but a great product image can add even more value to your bottom line.

A staggering 83% (of the surveyed consumers) in the U.S. believe product images are highly influential in their purchasing decisions. They rank images higher than product reviews (75%).

This article will provide essential tips on how to take the best product pictures. How to create an online store that showcases your brand at its best.

Equipment essential for product photography

First things first. You need the right equipment to produce high-quality images. To get started, you don’t need a high-end DSLR camera. You can get by with a few pieces of basic equipment:

  • A smartphone– The latest smartphones are capable of taking great photos. Smartphones are equipped with high-quality hardware and many features that will optimize your images. Spend some time learning about your phone’s capabilities, including the manual controls, to ensure you get the best quality. You can also invest in a camera and lenses with a low price that will capture your items in all their glory.
  • A tripod – A tripod is a device that ensures your camera is perfectly level. It can also be adjusted at the right height and angle to ensure consistent images. A decent tripod for your smartphone can be purchased for $20 to $60. To ensure that your camera doesn’t accidentally move, you can set up a countdown or remote control to help you take pictures.
  • Light source– Lighting can be another important element in product photography. Natural light can work in certain situations, but it is not ideal for photos that are consistent and detailed. Regular lamps are sufficient to start with professional-grade lighting. You can soften the light by using a diffuser such as a white sheet, paper or garbage bags. Make sure any DIY light diffusers you use are safe for fire. Another option for creating soft lighting is to buy or make your own reflector.
  • A sweep – A sweep is a solid background that eliminates visual distractions. This eliminates the border between the table top and the wall. It also prevents you accidentally capturing any imperfections in the background you don’t see with your naked eyes. You can make a sweep with a large roll or piece of paper, fabric, or posterboard. Attach the top of the sweep to a frame or wall.
  • An optional light box– Depending on the size and shape of your products, it may be necessary to place them inside a lightbox (aka a macro photo studio, light tent, or light cube), to ensure that they are optimally placed between light sources. Light boxes come with built-in screens that diffuse light and reduce shadows. You can find many online tutorials on how to make inexpensive tabletop light boxes or buy one at a camera supply shop.

  • Stands, mannequins or racks (optional– Each of these can be used as standard props to help you clearly display your items. To hold your products in place, you can use two-sided tape and dabs with glue.
  • Photo editing software Software programs such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop can sharpen images. You have access to many effects, filters, graphics, and other capabilities . You may not require the entire range of editing tools for your work. Before you spend a lot, take advantage of other options such as Wix’s built in photo editor.

Here are 10 expert tips on how to take high-quality photos of products

  1. The big picture
  2. Make a shot list
  3. Master your lighting
  4. Use your angles
  5. Choose your background wisely
  6. Use the composition
  7. Add to the accompanying text
  8. Please be aware of the file sizes
  9. Use user-generated content
  10. Use other visual tools
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01. The big picture

It is essential to know how to take a great photo and to have the right tools. But before you start taking pictures, there is another important step: create a comprehensive product photography strategy.

The goal is to ensure consistency and quality, and to think through all possible uses of imagery. This will avoid double-backs and re-shoots due to poor planning. A well-planned schedule for a shoot that is based on strategic requirements is crucial to control costs, especially if you are looking to hire models or other photo production staff.

These are the questions to address:

  • What images will represent my brand? Your brand’s identity can be communicated in many different ways through product photos. Think about the emotion you want each photo to convey, and what color schemes, backgrounds or props you can use to help you achieve that feeling.
  • What are the essentials for each photo? The most important photos will depend on the product category and the audience. If you sell running shoes, you might want to photograph the soles and removable orthotic inserts. This is because runners are very interested in these items. A consistent shot list for each product builds trust. Shoppers know that you will communicate important information in every photo set.
  • What image standards should I be paying attention to? Although brand identity and creativity are important, your images should be flexible enough to allow you to use the same set of photos for each channel or marketing opportunity. Consider how your photos will look on mobile and third-party marketplaces. Each has its own image requirements, as well as different mediums (e.g. print versus digital).

02. Make a shot list

Keep the above in mind when creating a shot list. This is, as the name implies, a list of all the photos you wish to take. It also includes details about the different angles, arrangements, and settings.

Make sure to be specific about your intent with each photograph. If you are photographing handmade pottery, make sure to indicate that some shots are intended to show the craftsmanship of the handle.

Also, think about the many types of photos that you can take.

  • Studio shot – These photos are often used to cover an item’s cover photo. These shots keep the attention on your product. Sticky Lemon, for example, clearly shows its products against a plain, solid background.

  • Lifestyle shot These images show products in real life. These images allow customers to imagine themselves using the product, rather than focusing on details. These images can help customers to gauge the product’s size, fit, or use. Sticky Lemon takes lifestyle photos to show the product in action.

  • Close-up shot Macro photography allows you to capture stunning close-ups by focusing on objects very close to your lens. This technique is great for highlighting complex products. Lionheart displays a closeup of the diamonds in a ring.

  • Group shot – Display multiple items that complement each other. You can use group photos to showcase different sizes of an item or the entire collection. COTA skin creates an appealing group shot to promote its skincare bundle.

  • Demonstrative shot – These photos show the product in action, similar to a lifestyle picture. These are intended to demonstrate how to use the item. Ultasmile gives step-by-step instructions and photos on how to apply their whitening strip.
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03. Master your lighting

If your images are shot in poor lighting, no amount of equipment will save them. Make sure you have the right lighting conditions. You can choose to have lots of windows or a single spot in your workspace that allows you to control the lighting.

There are two types of lighting you can choose from:

  • Soft lighting – Soft lighting creates an elegant, halo-like effect which illuminates the object from every angle. This will illuminate all details of the product without obscuring edges or details. This is particularly important for photographing three-dimensional objects.
  • Hard lighting – Hard lighting creates contrast between the shadows and the light. Shadows with hard lighting have sharper edges and more definition. This technique is great for adding drama and can also be used to take active product photos.

Soft lighting is the most popular type of product photography lighting. As mentioned, DIY diffusers, reflectors and light boxes can achieve soft lighting.

For soft lighting, place your product near the window if you are using natural lighting. To avoid any competing shadows or coloring, turn off any artificial lighting in your room.

04. Use your angles

The angle you choose to photograph your product can have a huge impact on the way the customer perceives it. To compensate for the fact that customers can’t see your actual products, you’ll want to show them from different angles.

Double Oak Tack sells high-end saddles. They take care to show the saddles from every angle, including front, side and back, birds-eye, wide and close up.

05. Choose your background wisely

You want the background to enhance, not detract from, your product.

It is a good idea to take photos on a white background. Some products stand out better against a darker background, or can be used to enhance your branding.

You may choose bright colors if your brand is playful. You can opt for black and white, or even sepia tones, if you want retro glamour.

Your background color can trigger different emotions, so think about who you are targeting. A background that is right can make your products appear expensive, while a background that is wrong can make them look cheap.

You can also choose to have some photos stand out against a more dynamic background. Bimber distillery displays its whiskey in front oak barrels. The background is darkened and blurred, but this warms the overall photo. However, the eye still gravitates to the product first.

06. You can play with the composition

Composition refers to the arrangement or placement of visual elements so that they complement one another. Photograph multiple items together. Rearrange them as many as possible to get the best fit. Sometimes, it is possible to realize that you would prefer to photograph each item separately or vice versa.

To enhance the product’s quality or brand value, you might consider using props and decorative materials. You can make your product photos more lively by using green plants. If you sell sustainable-made soaps, placing your products in the background of a wooden soap dish can help show that your brand is connected with nature.

Your props can be used to support products that are too small or don’t stand well. To keep your products standing, you can place earrings on a necklace hook or place a box under books. You can minimize the impact it has on your appearance, but you can also lean in to the stand and add excitement to your product photos.
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07. Add the accompanying text

Once you have uploaded your images, they can be safely uploaded to your online shop.

It is as important to add a compelling product description as the image. Although it may seem obvious, your customers will be more interested in your product description than the image. You can reduce complaints and returns by adding text.

Keep your text concise and to-the-point. Avoid filling your product pages with too much information. This will distract from the product. Look at the product pages of large companies that have a similar design to yours and get some ideas.

Add alt text to all images. Google cannot see the content of your image so you must explain it by adding alt text. This should include a description of the product in between 2 and 3 words. Optimized SEO-focused keywords are a great idea for your alt text to ensure that your site appears in search engines.

08. Take care of the file size of your images

Your product pages’ load speed is critical for user experience and SEO. Large file sizes are a common cause of slow load times.

You will need to resize all images before you upload them to your website. Your site may have a maximum width of 800 pixels, but your images might be twice that.

Reduce the image size to fit your screen’s width (or, in developer terms, your “image container”) size. Click on any product image to see its width. Then click “Inspect” and view the dimensions in “Styles”.

You can resize images using your editing software or Wix’s built in image editor.

Further, compressing images can help reduce file size. You can use free tools such as TinyJPG to reduce the file size but not sacrifice quality.

09. Use user-generated content

Customers want to feel represented by the brands that they purchase. This means that models must reflect diverse customer groups.

Consider how user-generated content (UGC), can be integrated on your website, and not just on social networks. Your products will be displayed in real-life settings. You’ll also demonstrate your commitment towards customers’ happiness.

If those reasons aren’t enough, 80% of surveyed consumers say that they use UGC to make purchase decisions–suggesting that UGC is 6.6x more impactful than branded content.

In the following example TripleRComposites draws your attention to an Instagram account of a customer. They reward you with free promotion and show off their automotive styling parts.

10. Other visual tools are available

Still photos offer many advantages. They are easy to use for shoppers and don’t require a lot in terms of internet bandwidth. Your photo strategy must adapt to new visual tools and be compatible with them.

One of the best ways to integrate sound and motion into your online shopping experience is through videos. Videos can be used to demonstrate how to shop or live stream shopping events.

Photographs and video can be captured during catalog shoots.

Also, consider emerging tech such as augmented reality. Snapchat reports that AR-driven shopping experiences have 94% higher conversion rates than traditional shopping experiences.

Wix eCommerce supports 360-degree photos. This can allow you to tap into this trend. Other eCommerce tech trends are changing the industry.

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