Just because you are not a professional photographer or cannot access a photography studio does not mean that you can’t have amazing photos. Use these tips to take great photos outdoors or create your own photography set up at home. Prepare for the shoot; know the various aspects that you are trying to capture on your products and how you can highlight them.
This makes it easy to come up with an order for the session and choose the perfect equipment. Photo shoots can be draining and time consuming but shooting several items at once will speed up the process and create consistency. If a session goes well, note the time of day, date, lighting conditions, and weather so you can always replicate the conditions in your future shoots.
Gather Your Materials
Photo shoot Checklist
- Camera or smartphone
- Lighting (natural or artificial)
- Hard surface/Table
- Light reflectors
- Shutter release cable
- Camera lenses
- Clips for securing background
- Back-ups: spare batteries, chargers, memory cards, etc.
- Choose Your Background
Simple and orderly backgrounds draw attention to the product and not the surrounding. Clean light-colored walls, smooth fabrics, or seamless rolls of paper make for great backgrounds. Consistent backgrounds for all your shoots are also good for your brand and shop.
Using A Seamless Background
Hang your background material behind your product. You can hang it from a backdrop frame or attach it on a wall or cardboard. Let it flow down and extend it on your surface (table or floor), then place your object on it, a few inches from the curve.
Using Outdoors Backgrounds
Outdoor backgrounds enable you to portray the context of your commodities through lifestyle photos. Use outdoor photos for context and indoor shots to give customers a closer look.
- Light Your Shot
Good lighting and good photography go hand in hand. Always avoid harsh light; camera flashes, a strong fluorescent bulb or direct sunlight.
Using Natural Light
Diffuse The Light: Use indirect sunlight. For outdoor shoots, a cloudy day ensures no harsh shadows. For indoor shoots, place your products several feet from the window. Take photos when you have plenty of light, but not too bright.
Use bounce cards: a bounce card focuses light on your product on cloudy days. Make your own DIY bounce cards if you do not have any.
Do not mix the light: do not mix artificial and natural light.
Using Artificial Light
Invest in box lights: three soft box lights are enough to illuminate your product.
For small items, use a tent or light box: a light tent or light box streamlines your shoots with consistent light source and background.
Be careful with flash: avoid using the built-in flash in your camera and opt for an external flash instead.
- Steady Your Shot
Anchor Your Camera
Place your cameras on a solid surface or tripod stand because if you hold it with your hands you might move and cause blurry photos.
Turn on your camera’s autofocus function for sharper images.
Be Careful With Slow Shutter Speeds
Slower shutter speed leads to blurry images especially in a low light environment.
Get the right Equipment
Use a macro-lens or shutter release cable to enhance focus.
- Frame Your Shot
Choose The Position and Angle
How would you like to position your image? Do you want to take a vertical or horizontal shot? Using the “rule of thirds” will also guide you.
Eliminate Potential Distractions
If an object does not highlight your product, it should not show in the frame.
- Test Your Setup
Take a few test shots and view them on a large monitor.
The right equipment will help you get fantastic shots of your products. In this chapter, you will see the advantages and disadvantages of various cameras and learn about accessories that will make your photos stand out. You will come across four major types of cameras when shopping. Smartphone cameras are pretty good and they keep getting better.
With a decent photography setup, good lighting, and of course practice, you can take great photos of your products with your mobile phone camera. Pros: smartphones are small and portable. They help you save time when you need to snap your products on the go. What’s more, you can edit and list the photos wherever you are.
Cons: unlike high quality cameras, smartphone cameras do not use a lens for optical zooming. If you zoom while taking photos with your phone, it will be low quality. Moreover, smartphone cameras are not the best for low-light environments. Compact/Point-and-Shoot Cameras come in a wide variety of styles. They can either be limited when it comes to manual settings or have fully automatic settings. Pros: they are small and portable.
They are easy to use as they have more presets (built-in settings) automatic modes. They are cheaper than premium cameras. As long as a point-and-shoot camera has a macro setting and at least 10 megapixels, you can take decent photos. Cons: the automatic mode on a compact camera limits your control over the shots. Since these cameras also have built-in flashes, they may not be the best for product photography.
Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Cameras have a lot of options for manual settings and interchangeable lenses. These expensive cameras are more complex than the point-to-shoot cameras and they take outstanding photos. Pros: These premium cameras are versatile. They are easy to use and take perfect pictures even in low light. Their large image sensors absorb more light resulting in larger pixel sizes and sharper images. Cons: they are a little expensive.
They are bulky and not fun to carry around. For someone who does not know much about cameras, learning the manual settings can be a challenge. Instead of using a mirror, light just goes through the lens, then to the image sensor and the image is relay to the rear screen. Pros: They are light. They have more functions and manual capabilities. They might be easier to use for a beginner than DSLR cameras. Cons: a little pricier than compact and smartphone cameras.
They have less functionality than DSLR cameras. Older models might not take great photos. With camera lenses, you can take crystal clear photos of your product. Always consider “minimum focusing distance” when buying a lens. A specialized macro-lens enhances your camera focus when the object is close. Tripods help you take a steady shot and are available for technically any camera type.
Get one with extendable legs so you can adjust the height of your camera. While taking photos, pressing a button may cause the camera to move. A cable release or remote control takes care of this problem. Seamless Backdrops/Sweep are usually a fabric or long sheet of paper flowing from the wall to the floor, with no creases. The continuous background makes your products pop.
Good lighting is paramount for flattering features.
Bounce cards and reflectors
Soft box Lights
Light boxes and light tents
Substandard product photography, be it overexposed images or blurry close-ups, can really hurt your online sales. The following five photography mistakes are very common among new online sellers. Learn how to avoid them. When the light is less than enough, your camera lengthens the exposure to try and compensate for that.
The result may be a grainy or blurry image. Shoppers love a clear photo of the product they are buying. So even though you are selling outstanding goods, dimly lit photos will turn away potential customers. How to fix it: conduct your photography by a sunny window and also use a reflector (a piece of white poster board will do) to focus more light on the product and eliminate shadows.
Sometimes when you are shooting indoors, you might be tempted to use the built-in flash in your camera to make things a little brighter. What you do not know is that flash can cause shadows, mess with the colors of your product, and create unflattering glares. How to fix it: when you want to shoot your items and there doesn’t seem to be enough natural light, try using soft box lights or a light box to illuminate the product and avoid harsh glares.
Out-of-focus photos portray un-professionalism and buyers will highly doubt the quality of your products if they are considering it. If they cannot see the photos clearly, it is unlikely they will make a purchase. How to fix it: play around with focus settings. A lot of digital cameras are prompted to create a new focal point when you hold the camera’s shutter button halfway down. Likewise, for smartphones, you can tap the screen on the spot you want focused on before taking the shot.
For close up photos where you need to bring out the details of an item or for small products like jewelry, enhance focus using the macro setting on digital cameras. It is usually represented with a flower symbol. Setting your camera on a stack of books or a tripod also makes for crispier photos. Too many props in a photo leave potential customers wondering what exactly is being sold. This can happen when shooting items in a context environment like a pillow on a bed. Although it helps buyers envision the product in their lives, it can be confusing. How to fix it: avoid backdrops and too many props as they can overwhelm shoppers.
The item on sale should be the center of attention. If you are not sure, use a simple and solid backdrop to take photos of your product by itself. For you to sell your products, online buyers need to assess all the important details of the item from your photos. They should be able to tell the size, color, and other details. Otherwise, you will lose them. How to fix it: include photos taken from several angles in your listings. If there are damages, capture them as well. For items such as clothes, shoot them on a model for the shoppers to get a clear image. High quality photos and enough information will attract and keep customers.