A picture might be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to product photography, photos can be worth thousands of dollars. Online shopping has improved the lives of consumers all over the world and has made it easier than ever to run businesses. You no longer need a storefront, as much staff, tons of stock, and a traditional marketing plan to sell.
The good news? It is easier than ever to get started selling products online.
What do you need to get started selling products online?
It's a no brainer that to sell products online, you're going to need a website. Not only will you need a website, but you're also going to want to make sure you select the best web hosting for your needs. Did you know that not all web hosting providers are one and the same? Platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento are just a few of the best platforms for eCommerce brands.
Along with your website, you should be sure to have your eCommerce website SEO optimized (search engine optimized) to ensure your store actually gets found in search results. After all, what's the point if no one is able actually to find your site? When you build a website with Pixpa, you get a fully functioning eCommerce store which can be found on search engines.
Did you know that pages ranked at the top of Google receive 36.4% of search traffic? That's a big piece of the pie you don't want to be missing out on due to not knowing your target keywords and optimizing your content to rank for the keywords that your target market is searching online.
Consider Starting a Blog
Have you thought about starting a blog to go along with your shiny new website? Starting a blog with Pixpa is a great way to increase your organic traffic and provide value to your audience, which in turn will promote social sharing. Just don't forget to sprinkle in some product photography and a call-to-action in some of those posts leading readers back to your online store!
In order to promote and sell your products online, you're obviously going to need some eCommerce product photography! Luckily for you, we have that covered in today's post on how to get the best product photography whether you sell tangible goods or software.
Email Marketing Strategy
You can't just upload some products to a website, hit publish, and *boom* expect instant sales. The truth is, it takes work, and that work is marketing. It goes without saying that one of the top strategies leading to higher conversions today is email marketing, so you're going to need a solid email marketing strategy as you work on building up a list.
Credit Card Processor
The final thing you need to get started is a way to process payments. After all, your product isn't free, is it? Luckily, there's no shortage of online credit card processing companies for eCommerce stores. Options include Stripe, Paypal, Quickbooks, and Square, to name just a few. Pixpa has integrations with payment processors like Paypal, Stripe, and PayU to give the users multiple options while buying a product.
The good news is : It is easier than ever to get started selling products online.
Seriously, there are 342 million registered websites in the world.
E-commerce marketing is valued at around 3.5 trillion dollars. (For a bit of perspective, one trillion seconds were 31,709 years ago.)
The point is, eCommerce is a massive industry, and it keeps growing.
This represents a great deal of opportunity, but also lots of competition.
So, how do you stand out?
Crisp, professional product photographs not only highlight the benefits of your products, but they also inspire trust in your ability to deliver a quality product.
What Impact Does Product Photography Have on Your Brand?
Here is the thing; in the highly competitive eCommerce field, good product photography is not a nice-to-have. It is a must-have.
Great stock photos impact brand perception, which is critical for sales and service markers such as your net promoter score. Do you think customers are going to tell their friends to buy from a site that looks like it might close up shop next week?
Product photography can also have an impact on search engine optimization, aka SEO. If you are an essential oil company and want to show up for "best essential oil diffusers," you better have top-notch product photos if you want to drive sales. Adding alt tags to product photos can also give a small SEO boost.
You can also swap product photos for stock photographs when promoting your business on social media or marketing podcasts or whitepapers. Instead of using the same boring stock photos everyone else is using, utilizing your own product photographs can make your brand stand out.
Right, so now you know why product photographs matter. But what about taking those awesome shots?
Let's dive into the six tips.
1. Select the Right Camera
The best product photos start with the right camera, but the purchase process can be pretty overwhelming. There are dozens of brands and a bunch of acronyms that might not make much sense.
Should you choose a DSLR or mirrorless? What is an SLR anyway? What about a point and shoot? What if you don't have a budget for the best camera for product photography? Are you stuck with sub-par photos?
For the best product photos, a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) or point and shoot camera is your best bet.
DSLR cameras feature a detachable lens, which allows you to swap for a macro lens, zoom lens, etc. They also allow you to adjust settings such as white balance, aperture, and f-stop.
If that all sounds too complicated, a point and shoot camera would be the best camera for product photography.
Point and shoot cameras do not have a detachable lens and offer fewer manual settings, which can limit your ability to adjust to your surroundings. But, they are easier to use and more affordable. If your photography skills are limited, a point and shoot is a solid option.
But what about that fancy camera most of us carry around with us every day?
Yeap, your smartphone might be all you need.
Smartphone cameras have come a long way from pixelated screens. While you might get higher quality photos with a DSLR camera, you can take perfectly fine photos with a smartphone.
Many smartphones now have zoom features, macro settings, and portrait mode. You can buy a set of smartphone camera lenses for under $20. In many cases, this would be the best lens for product photography for you to take great product photos.
Quick product photo camera tips:
- Don't use a wide-angle lens; it will stretch your product and make it appear wider.
- Similarly, avoid a fisheye lens, which can distort your product.
- If you use a DSLR, learn how to adjust the aperture and f-stop.
- Learn how to use the scene modes on your camera. Most DSLR cameras have a dial for macro, portrait, and action shots.
Select a camera that works for your budget and your skill level. Remember, a $4,000 camera only takes amazing photos if you know how to use it!
2. Use a Tripod
When you think about professional photographers, you might get a mental image of an artistic dude in all black moving around a model, shooting hundreds of shots. Or a paparazzi shooting as a celebrity walks the red carpet.
What you might not realize is those photographers may only get one or two shots that actually work out of the dozens they take.
Plus, they are professional shooters taking images of a moving target; taking product photos is very different. You are shooting a still product in a controllable environment. You don't have to take a dozen shots and hope one works out okay.
To get a clear, in-focus, shot of your product, you need the stability of a tripod.
If your hand moves while shooting, even just a tiny bit, you can end up with blurry or out of focus images. A tripod also allows you to get your camera in just the right spot, then adjust camera settings or change lighting without moving it.
Getting the right product photography lighting may require using a slower shutter speed, which can cause blurs if you move the camera even just a fraction of an inch.
If you want high-quality images, it pays to invest in a tripod.
If you are shooting with your smartphone, you can get an inexpensive tripod with a remote trigger for under $25, like this one.
For a DSLR or point and shoot camera, look for a lightweight expandable one like this.
If you are on a budget, consider using a stack of books or a chair to support your camera. The goal is to keep your camera steady; it doesn't have to look pretty!
3. Set Up Your Backdrop
Why does the backdrop of your product matter? When done well, the backdrop can add to the overall style of your photo? Let's look at an example.
Here is a photo from an eBay listing, where the seller used a white background for eCommerce product photography. The corner of the backdrop is still distracting and, due to the backdrop and the transparency of the bottles, the background cannot be easily removed.
For a personal listing on a site like eBay, it isn't really a big deal. But this is clearly not a professional product photo. Compare the image above to this one, where the background has been removed to be used.
Which one looks more professional? Which photo keeps your eye focused on the product rather than the background?
When done well, the right background highlights the product and is easy to remove in editing if you prefer. (Though there is value to taking photos of products in use, we will cover that later.)
There are three main options for a backdrop:
- Lightbox for product photography, a fixture that produces a soft light and background.
- Sweep, a curved background that can be created using a piece of poster board or sheet.
- Natural setting - say, for instance, a person using your product or sitting in an environment where it might be used.
Which one should you choose?
It depends on your product and your budget. You can find an affordable lightbox online for around $35, or you can create a similar look by curving a piece of poster board near a bright window.
A lightbox for product photography often includes lighting, so you can kill two birds with one stone there.
But you need to consider your product as well. For example, a jar of high-end marinara sauce might look best shot in a natural setting on a marble countertop next to an expensive pot.
However, if you are selling a necklace, customers want to imagine what it will look like on them, not just on a model. A lightbox or sweep might be a better option.
4. Get the Product Photography Lighting Right
Product photography lighting can be intimidating for beginners. There are tons of options, and you might not understand the terminology, and external lighting can be exorbitantly expensive.
Natural is cheaper and generally easier to manipulate. Set up your product by a well-lit window, and you are good to go. If you need more light on a specific area, use a piece of white poster board or sheet to reflect more natural light in that area.
However, if you do not have a well-lit window or if you often shoot in the evening, natural lighting might be too restrictive. In this case, you might choose to external lighting or a lightbox.
Artificial light can create more consistent and even more creative lighting but can feel expensive if you have a very small budget.
Here are two popular methods for product photography lighting.
This set up highlights the 'rim' of the item. Place one light at the right rear corner of the product and another at the left rear of the product Then place a third light on the front to highlight the label.
Here is an example of rim lighting, from the online retailer Homedics. Notice the shadows on the right and left side of the bottle, which are from each of the rear lights.
The front light highlights the label and results in a very clean, professional shot.
Light From Below
For more transparent bottles, you can light from below by using a glass table and placing a light beneath it. Just like rim lighting, you also need to use a front light source to highlight the label.
Tip: Most products need to light from multiple angles, (i.e., bottom and front) which is why lightboxes are useful, as they reflect the light from multiple angles.
5. Shoot In-Context Photos
Blank background photos are a staple of product photography. But, in-context photos can highlight specific features and benefits, as well as showing direct use-cases.
Real-world photos can highlight how your product looks in real life and how customers might use the item. For example, look at these two photographs of the Snuggle Nest, a baby cosleeping product.
The first one showcases what the full product looks like and highlights its portability. But the bottom photograph shows what the sleeper looks like in real life— and focuses on one of its main selling points, a sleeping baby (and parents!)
Are you selling jewelry? Try incorporating a healthy balance of photos between in-context photos showing the jewelry on a real human and typical product photography shots with a backdrop. Check out this example from Eterneva, a company turning ashes to diamonds to see how to balance photos properly.
In context, photos can also be useful for hard-to-shoot products such as software or online services.
While you obviously won't be shooting pictures of your mobile app, you can utilize product photography in a different, unique way.
For example, you can expand your product photography into action shots like software company Housecall Pro. By showing a plumber at work, their target market, this photograph helps create a connection with plumbers and their unique needs:
GetVOIP is another software provider that instead uses product photography to showcase their target audience searching for the solutions that their company provides. Using this type of product photography on your landing page makes it even easier for potential customers to see themselves as an actual customer which can lead to an increase in conversions.
Lendio uses a similar strategy by using images of happy customers running their business to showcase the benefits of their business loan services:
Ellia, an online retailer for essential oils and accessories, uses in-context photos to highlight the natural ingredients in their products by posing essential oil blends next to lemons and cinnamon sticks.
Remember to keep the focus on the product by keeping the item in the foreground. In-context photos should highlight features or benefits without distracting from the product itself.
6. Touch Up Photographs with Editing Software
The last step to getting high-quality product photos that increase sales and raise brand awareness is to use editing software to touch up your photographs.
Even professional photographers edit their photos, so don't think of editing as a way to fix shoddy photographs but sort of like the icing on an already delicious cake.
Editing software can help you adjust lighting, blur the background, remove blemishes, straighten the shot, crop, add gradient, text, and so much more.
Here is a quick breakdown of the top three photo editing platforms.
Some editing programs also make it easy to directly share photos to social media, which can help streamline your process.
Final Thoughts on Taking Killer Product Photos
Images give your customers an incredible amount of information about both your product and your brand. Are you trustworthy? Do you truly have the solution to the problem they are facing? With this specific fit their needs? The best product photos give customers the information they need to make a purchase decision. What are your current product photos telling your audience?
Guest Post by Adam Enfroy
Email : email@example.com
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