Learning how to create great product images for your online store is key to promoting your products in the best light and winning yourself sales. Having photos on your site that look professional and high-quality will help present your brand as trustworthy and desirable in the eyes of your potential customers.
Luckily, you don’t have to have a super-fancy DSLR camera, perfect lighting, and the Photoshop knowhow to wind-up with some striking, professional photos for your online store.
There are a number of photography basics and simple tricks that you can easily learn and master to help you take some killer photos that draw more people to your store and increase your sales.
From picking an ideal backdrop, to getting your lighting just right and image sizing – this simple guide will show you how to master the art of creating a great product image.
Step 1: Getting the right camera
You might feel like you need to invest in a professional, expensive camera in order to produce great product images – while these cameras are an ideal choice for a real, professional look to photographs, there are a number of inexpensive cameras on the market that also provide an awesome look.
A DSLR camera will ensure that you produce some high-quality photographs, compared to an iPhone or a basic digital camera. While these can be expensive, it’s likely that you may have a friend or family member who already owns one – so be sure to ask around and see.
While a DSLR camera will produce some awesome images, an iPhone camera and a standard digital camera can also produce some great shots; the photos you get with these may just require a little more tweaking with a photo editor (more on that below…).
Step 2: Shoot with the best angles and range
Photo via Neil van Niekerk photography
When taking great product images for your online store, you want to make sure that you’re a good distance away from the items at the focus of the photograph. If you are selling an item that has a lot of intricate details, then you’ll want to make sure that you capture them in a close-up photograph.
In contrast, if you are selling a larger item, such as a piece of furniture or an item of clothing, then it’s important to take a photo further away, in order to adequately capture the beauty of the product.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to take multiple shots of an item, so that customers can see how an item looks from many different angles. For example, if you are selling a dress then it’s good idea to get a long-form shot that captures the fit and overall style of the dress, while a closer shot is important in order to capture the finer details and the fabric.
Do you need to invest in a tripod?
You may feel like a tripod is an unnecessary expense, but this piece of equipment can help you achieve photos that are crisp, clear and appealing. Why are tripods so important in helping you to take the perfect photo?
When holding a camera by hand, you will never be able to get a perfectly straight shot – as you hand will naturally move slightly, producing a slightly blurred, unfocused photo. This blurred photo effect impacts photos at both long and close ranges; blurring out the finer details of an item and making the final shot often appear unprofessional.
Photo via Steve Gandy Photography
Tripods take away this natural movement, steadying the camera and leaving you with perfectly crisp, clear shots that look super professional. Tripods can also be used to hold lights at a higher position, ideal for adjusting your lighting in different settings. You can also buy a mini tripod for use with an iPhone.
Step 3: Get the lighting right
When learning how to take great product images, you need to consider your light quality. Bright lights will help transform the look of your products, helping to present them in the best light.
Sunlight is the optimal light in which to take your photographs, so set your products up outside on a sunshiny day, or take your photographs close to a wide, open window. In contrast, fluorescent lighting can often make photographs appear washed out and unappealing.
If you’d like to ensure that you end-up with an even higher-quality photograph, then you might like to invest in some professional lights. While professional lighting may feel like an expensive investment, you’ll get a great payoff from investing in a set, as they will really help to alleviate the quality of your photographs – providing you with a professional look that helps set you apart from your market competitors.
Photo via BC Design and Photography
A soft-box is a great, relatively inexpensive item to consider when looking for professional lighting gear. Soft-boxes provide photos with an extra layer of diffusion; giving photos a softer look and a more professional feel. In addition, you can also purchase some professional daylight sets; a set of mini lamps can provide you with wonderful bright light, similar to daylight.
These are the perfect choice if you’d like to be able to take quality, well-lit photos at anytime of day. You can purchase a set for just $32.00 on Amazon. If you’d like to purchase a professional lighting kit, you can find beginners starting kits on Amazon that come at a reasonable price and are relatively easy to assemble and use.
Professional lighting kits will dramatically help to improve the lighting quality of an indoor room – bright, diffusive lights will add a warm glow to a product and model and will lend a quality, professional look to your photos.
Step 4: Consider Your Backdrop
Photo via Bookishly
When taking your photographs, it’s important that you have the ideal backdrop for a great product image. Nine times out of ten your product should be the only thing in your shot; try to avoid a background crowded with other items that take attention away from what you are trying to sell. In addition, try to go for backgrounds that are neutral in shade to help make your product stand out.
If you are selling a smaller item, then you can bring in more interesting backgrounds. For example, if you’re selling a piece of jewelry then you may like to place it in a pretty bowl for a close-up shot, or on the page of a vintage book.
Step 5: Pick the Right Models to Represent Your Brand
Depending on your product, use of a model can really help transform the appeal of the item that you’re selling. If you are selling items such as, clothes, hair accessories, makeup, or shoes – anything that someone would wear themselves, then a model is vital to helping the customer get an idea of how the item will look on them.
When choosing a model to model your item, carefully consider the kind of model that you are going to use. While the majority of brands in the fashion and beauty world tend to use stick-thin models with Angelic goodlooks, surprisingly recent research has found that choosing models that represent the beauty and diversity that we see in everyday life, wins far more appreciation and approval from potential customers, than the standard beauty model does. People like brands that ‘see’ them and that they feel are designed for ‘their kind of person’.
XO Jane highlight the findings of a study undertaken by Modcloth that highlight this untapped area of the market:
“71% of the women polled think models should be more diverse. 47% feel excluded by fashion; this figure rises to 65% in plus size women specifically. 62% think the fashion industry is harmful to women. And perhaps most impressively, a majority of women report being more likely to buy from a company that uses diverse models (68%), and minimal retouching and Photoshopping (62%).”
In addition, key to making a success of your brand is ensuring that your brand stands out from the competition. Going for more diverse and less conventional models will help your products stand out in a sea of products represented by conventionally beautiful models.
The success of the Dove campaign, which used ‘everyday’ women for models is a great example of the pros of going against the grain and opting for models with a more ‘alternative’ look.
Photo via Dove
In addition to going for models that appeal based on their diversity and their appeal to the everyday man or woman, also consider how a model will fit into your overall brand. For example, the kind of model that represents the fresh, clean, high-fashion feel of Ralph Lauren will be vastly different to the grungy cool of a unique alternative clothing store: you want your model to represent your brand and your desired customer.
Step 6: Edit Your Photos
Photo via Info Parrot
If you can’t afford professional lighting, don’t fret – it can help bring in some more appealing effects, but it’s not a necessity for a great product image. If you do take photos in less than ideal lighting, you can easily clean them up using an editing software. There are a number of free downloadable programs online, as well as the classic Photoshop. You can use photo editing software to help saturate the colors of your items – ideal if you’d like to highlight a bold hue. You can also tweak the lighting and shadows in a photo, getting rid of any glares and lessening the impact of shadows.
Step 7: Ensure your images are the same size on your online store
When publishing your images to your online be sure to crop and resize them so that they are all the same size for your final presentation on your online store. Ensuring that your images are the same size will help make them appear well-organised and professional on your page.
If your images on your online store come in a range of sizes then your customers will struggle to easily browse the items you have in stock. Photos can easily be edited so that they are all the same size using a standard editing program. For example, by using a program like Microsoft Office Picture Manager you can easily edit a number of photos at once, so that they are all the same size.
Simple Tricks to Remember
Learning how to take great product images is easier than it first seems and may very well be the key to your online store’s success. Make sure your lighting and backdrop are on point, you pick models that represent your brand and that you clean up and perfect your images with the help of a photo-editing program.
Making the product images on your online store high-quality, on brand and visually appealing can quickly increase sales. People buy online based on what they see on your store. Ensure that all of your images are the same size and invite the sale. Use the tips we discussed below, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Selz if you need help perfecting your product images!
Ready to learn more?
Check out 7 Steps to Building an Ecommerce Website here.