With so many affordable and accessible options for equipment and apps to up your product photography game, you can save a lot of time and money by doing it yourself. However, what you don't want it is for it to look like an Intro to Photography student took you for free. Here are a few tips for getting it right. r company's product shots
An Artist is Only as Good as the Tools?
While that argument is still up for debate, you do need to make sure you have the right equipment to take professional-looking photos. First, decide what camera you need to get the level of quality you want.
The good news is, if you don't have a large budget, you can now do a lot with the cameras found right on your mobile devices. If you do have some extra rainy-day money, consumer DSLRs get more affordable every year, so it could make more sense to invest in a good camera if you update product shots often.
Be sure to consider the lens when you purchase. Never use a wide-angle lens for product shots or action shots with models. It will distort the image and you want to make sure your products shots show your products as close to reality as possible.
To go along with your camera, you'll need lighting and a tripod for stability and easy duplication of shots. Ideally, you also want a remote shutter release to eliminate camera shake.
Let There be Light
There are a few things to consider when thinking about lighting. First, select a background. It's super simple to create a seamless white background with a roll of white paper that you can find at a photography supply store.
You can use a box standing on a table and drape the paper over the box, then sweep it to meet the front edge of the table in a curved shape and secure with tape. This will prevent creasing and shadows. If you are using a model, hang the paper then tape it to meet the floor in a curve. Get creative! Use plexi glass under the product with a solid background to create a subtle reflection.
Second, choose your light source. It's always best (read: cheap and easy) to use natural light if your "studio" allows; however, sometimes you've got to shoot when the sun decides not to cooperate. If you must use artificial light, you can go with either one or two "light heads." When using two lights, make sure they are the same wattage. A softbox is a great way to diffuse light.
For one light head, place it a 45-degree angle to the product. For two light heads, you can choose to set up the lights across from each other or one at each corner, facing the background. Set up your camera on the tripod directly in front of the product, with the product far enough from the background that it does not create shadow. Make sure to set your white balance according to the type of light (tungsten, florescent or incandescent).
It's always best to manually meter, using a fast shutter speed and a small aperture opening. These two settings, along with ISO and white balance, will make sure your images are clear and the entire product is in focus. ISO should be no higher than 200 for products shots. Go higher and you'll get grainy, "noisy" product shots. If camera settings are wrong, no amount of post editing can save those photos.
Ready, Set, Shoot!
Have a shot list written out so you know exactly what you need to prepare and have on set for each shot. This will also help you create a flow and direction that makes sense. Definitely shoot your products close up and on a plain background, but also shoot each product being used. Let your customers know how the product will move in real life. It's always best to show your customers your products in action so they can trust their purchase decision. This will increase conversions and decrease returns.
Make a diagram of the lighting set up beforehand. Keep the diagram and shot list with notes from the day for your next shoot. Get multiple angles of each product and take more shots than you think you need. Your products should be prepared before the shoot to look their best. During the photoshoot, check for visible tags, wrinkles, spots and smudges.
Now that you've got your equipment, shot list and determination - just get out there and shoot! Experience is the best teacher, and this is definitely one arena where you're going to have to make a lot of mistakes to figure out how to get the best results for your products, your website and social channels.
Post Production Process
If you have some budget, post production is a great place to allocate it. It can be very time consuming and frustrating if this isn't your natural wheelhouse. Some things are better left to the experts.
To get the most professional-looking photos, post production should really address alignment, cropping, cleaning up the background, color correction and consistency across all product shots. For product shots on social sites, such as Instagram, there are a ton of free or very inexpensive mobile apps available for editing. Some favorites are VSCO, Snapseed, Mextures and Enlight.
Ultimately, it's about conversion. The best shot you have is to use high-quality images with reviews that build trust. Use creative copy that helps consumers imagine themselves using the products. And double, triple, and quadruple check that your site is optimized for mobile.
Mobile sales make up 34% of e-commerce sales and are projected to climb to 48% of e-commerce sales by 2020. Having clean, professional product photos on an e-commerce site optimized for mobile is an absolute must.
So pick up your camera and start snapping.