Good product photography is a major part of successful marketing. Professional striking images bump your online and brick-and-mortar sales up. Here’s a guide to product photography for small businesses. And some tips on how to outsource your needs to experts who will provide good results.
What is Product Photography?
Product photography is all about pictures that attractively and accurately depict the products that you have for sale. They highlight the quality for your customer.
Product photography is important for your business for several reasons. First, statistics report visual content is over 40 times more likely to get shared. Quality goods and services pictures can go viral. That means more sales.
Professional photos can also help build your brand. These are long-term investments. They can help your small business gain credentials as an industry leader.
Why Product Photography Increases Conversion Rate
Good pictures help your website to sell. Mobile-friendly photos can increase conversion rates by attracting mobile users. Quality images build trust and credibility.
What You’ll Need for Product Photography
You need the right tools for any job you do. Of course, that includes product photography. You need the right skillset too, but good equipment is essential. Here is a list that will help you produce excellent product images.
- A Professional Camera. This is at the top of the list for a good reason. Look for one that can capture the brightest and darkest tones. Photographers call this high dynamic range. This is important regardless of the product line.
- Lighting Equipment. There’s no room to cut any corners here. The proper lighting kit is just as important as the right camera. Look for different umbrella options and an adjustable softbox. A variety of bulbs and lamps is handy too.
- Tripods. You have two choices. One is made from a carbon fiber material and the other is made from aluminum. The last one is cheaper if you’re shooting all your images in one location.
- A Backdrop. A simple white product is the go-to choice for e-commerce platforms.
- A Computer. You need to edit the product photos you take. A fast processor can run editing programs like Photoshop. You’ll need at least 8 GB of RAM too. Don’t forget the right tether cable so you can transfer photos from your camera.
Remember to invest in a color chart. This helps provide consistent results.
10 Product Photography Tips
With the right equipment and motivation, you’re ready to begin. Here are some product photography tips. These will help you find a professional or become one yourself.
1. Get the Lighting Setup Right
Getting the studio lighting right for product photography can be a DYI project. There are a few things that you can do if you’re working from your home.
To produce studio-quality product photos, you can use alternative equipment like:
- Desktop lamps as makeshift light sources.
- White cardboard and aluminum trays fill in as light reflectors.
- Homemade light diffusers can include tracing paper and white bedsheets.
Here are a few more tips to make sure you get the lighting setup right. Generally, there are four different types of lights you need to work with.
- The key lights are the ones that shine directly on the product. They are usually pointed right at them.
- As the name suggests, fill lights are used to brighten the areas around the product.
- The backlight gets pointed right at the product from behind. It is used to enhance the sharpness, definition and contrast.
- If you are using a background, a background light is used they add field and depth.
You can use other tools like a diffuser to help spread the light evenly. Natural light gives you an opportunity to get creative with your product photography lighting setup efforts.
2. Choose the Perfect Product Photography Backdrop
There’s lots to choose from here. Look for products that are practical, affordable, portable and versatile. Here are a few options.
These are simple product photography tools. They are two background boards connected together at a 90° angle. It’s a durable and portable option that you can use.
Photographers use these because they are versatile. These come with two boards with a different pattern on each.
These are good choices for tabletop photographers. Lightbox kits are another option here.
White Background – The Most Popular Product Photography Backdrop
Any product photography project is enhanced when you use a white background. It’s a standard for these types of photos. Here are a few of the advantages of using this kind of background.
It doesn’t cost a lot to use this kind. In fact, a white background is cheaper than a professional green screen. You can even use household papers and fabrics.
These make it easy to edit your photos. Brand-related editing is easier and you can change the background color from white quickly. A white background is a mainstay for this type of business.
3. Choose the Right Surfaces
If you are starting out in this business, the chances are you’ll want to save money at first. Here are some affordable options for surfaces you can use on any project.
- Colored cardboard is inexpensive and easy to store. It comes in a variety of different colors including standard white. You can even add glitter for an interesting effect.
- Vinyl is another option when it comes to these accessories. Pick from a number of different designs. Like cement, marble and wood.
You can choose from different surfaces to enhance your product images. Painted photo and plaster options are also available.
4. Use Props
Props are important when you are taking photographs of products. They give meaning and context. Here are some examples to show how you can use these to set a mood.
Photographers can use these and mix-and-match them with a background. Coloring a tree branch gives images an exceptional quality to any area.
Wrapping Paper and Ribbons
All customers love to get gifts. Wrapping paper and ribbons work well when holidays like Christmas are coming. During any festive season, these make product images look enticing.
These work well when the product category is fashion. These can add color and enhance the image. Good tools can add to the main focus of the image.
Any prop used with the product photo needs to set a mood. That’s why candles are an excellent choice for ambiance. There’s an unlimited number of props that you can use for a striking product photo.
5. Pick the Best Camera for Product Photography
Photographers need everything listed above and the right camera. Get the best product photograph by choosing a DSLR camera. The best camera has 20 MP or more megapixels and an external flash feature.
Here are a few of the top choices that will give you excellent images.
Canon SX730 Black PowerShot Digital
This item offers video recording and a powerful 40-time optical zoom feature.
Sony Alpha A7R IV
This option offers faster imaging processing than some of the competition. And reliable performance. Check out the pricing here.
Canon DSLR Camera [EOS 90D]
High-speed continuous shooting is another feature offered with this item.
Panasonic LUMIX G100 4k
This is a mirrorless camera for novice product photo photographers. The price is a little cheaper.
You get excellent color reproduction on your shoots with this camera. It also boasts low battery consumption so you can take more photos.
Keep in mind there is a learning curve involved with the DSLR camera. For most beginners in this business, an entry-level DSLR camera is fine.
6. Choose the Right Lens
Lenses are an important feature to sort through. Lots of cameras have an automatic mode for lens focus. It’s best to do this manually so shoots are crisp.
Here are a few tips on lenses to get you the best images.
Smartphones have good built-in lenses. However, they won’t do everything you need for product photography images.
A macro lens works well with smaller products like jewelry. You can choose a 24 to 70 mm lens for other types of product photography. Generally the more expensive the lenses the more resolving and sharpness power you will get.
If you are looking for a versatile lens, you can choose something in the 50 mm to 75 mm range. A zoom lens works well too.
Less expensive versions can actually work against your camera’s resolution.
7. Pick the Best Camera Settings for Product Photographs
Image quality is an important factor with a product photo. That’s why understanding different camera settings is critical. Below are a few of the ones you need to highlight products.
Aperture: This is the opening that allows light to pass into your camera. For product photography, the best aperture is F 11 regardless of the product or situation.
Shutter Speed: This is measured in seconds and even fractions of a second. It controls how long your camera’s sensors are exposed to any light source. It’s often called exposure. If you set it too high, images can be too bright.
ISO: Usually, photographers use ISO 100 for product photography. This is another way you can add darkness or light to items you photograph.
Manual: Using the manual mode allows you to set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. It’s the best way to get good images. In automatic mode, you’ll rarely get a perfect exposure.
White Balance: This is an adjustment you make so your pictures look natural. Otherwise, the colors can be affected by light sources. Many cameras have an automatic white balance function. You can also use manual settings when you are shooting products.
RAW: This is the name given to the digital files that get stored on your smartphone and camera. These are not compressed files so it makes them easier to edit. RAW files allow photographers to have better control over the final image.
8. Take Lots of Shots from Multiple Angles
You want to take shots of products that show different sides. Taking different pictures from multiple angles is one of the biggest tips for this type of work. Taking a basic photo editing class is a good idea to get good at photography.
That way you’ll be able to master these photo viewpoints.
The Front Angle
This angle is first on the list for a good reason. Most e-commerce sites use the front angle as the first picture. It’s considered the way to establish a rapport with the buyer. Make sure that you put the camera in a position so you can shoot the full width of the product.
The 45 Degree Angle
This option shifts a product to a 45° angle so you can shoot two sides. You can play with the angle. It doesn’t need to be exact. As a photographer, you’re just looking for the best photo.
The Top Shot
This one is good for different-sized products that are bundled together. It helps to display the product properly for pricing. A good photographer will use a tripod here. That makes the shot safe and stable.
The Back Angle
The company usually uses this shot as the second or third in a product listing. Quite often, the product information is written there. It also displays another angle to help make the sale.
The Macro Angle
An image shot this way is designed to focus on detail. The micro angle works with expensive items like luxury watches.
Different visual examples are important when you are pricing products. Listing for shoes on a company website provides a good example. You want to highlight the logo and design elements.
A large number of your photographs will be taken as eye-level shots.
9. Know The Best Photo Editing Tools for Excellent Image Quality
You’ll want the photos of products you take to be their best. These photo editing tools can help you with that goal. A good photographer will attract the right customer with the following.
This tool is free. Getting started is simple. Just drag your photo into the editor. There is a range of different filters to enhance any picture. You can resize quickly.
This app offers lots of different features. You can adjust the saturation and brightness with an easy-to-use interface. There is a Healing Tool that removes unwanted parts of an image.
This is another app that has some specialties. If you need a collage for any photography project, this app is designed for that. There are over 20 different filters that you can use as a photographer. This one can help you with a skin retouch feature. You can get studio-quality pictures.
This tool has some good features like a blemish and wrinkle remover. It also has a variety of different image effects. You can choose from a variety of different social media ready sizes to make any image stand out.
This company provides professionally edited photo images. It’s a service that provides professional editing. They do a variety of things for any image. Like adding shadows, resizing and removing backgrounds.
10. Optimize Product Photographs
You need to optimize the photographs of the products you take. They need to look great and load quickly. Here are a few photography tips for optimizing that you can use. These speed the process up.
These tips are especially important if you want to sell your photography on Amazon and other similar platforms.
Images need to be compressed or they can slow a website’s loading speed down. Most photos will be in either JPG, PNG, or GIF format. Adobe Photoshop is a popular tool to get the job done. Don’t want to install a new program? Try Optimizilla. You’ll be happy with the photography results.
Resizing a photograph is another technique to speed up how fast a website loads. Adobe Photoshop is the first choice of this best resizing software list.
Product Photography Uses for Businesses
Photography can be used for different businesses. It applies in brick-and-mortar and e-commerce shops. Following are a few applications where you’ll get the most from excellent product shots.
eCommerce Product Photography
Selling a product online means you need excellent e-commerce photography. A good background is important but you also need to have context. For example, a refrigerator needs to be full of food. That shot shows how much it can hold.
A Product Catalog
Catalogs are a tested method to promote any product. Lighting is an important feature. Composition is important for any product picture. The rule of thirds principle is important. It divides the screen so you get a well-balanced shot.
An eBay or Amazon Product Listing
A product listing on either of these e-commerce sites can be tricky. Amazon has a list of technical requirements like the correct filename extensions.
An inexpensive lightbox can help you get great shots day or night for photography on eBay.
Social Media Images
Using professional product shots on most of these sites is good marketing. You can make sales and increase your following at the same time. Keep in mind that each network has its individual aspect ratio and image size requirements per object.
A Business Website
Photos of any products on a business website need to be consistent. Try and keep the same distance between the product and the camera for each shot. All of the pictures you take need to be the same size. Photography of different shapes and sizes makes your web pages appear disjointed.
Types of Product Photographs
The number of different photographs you can take is limited only by the number of products. Following is a list of different shots designed for a range of different customer interests. Most of the big ones are covered.
White Background Product Photography
This background offers excellent versatility for digital marketing. For example, Google shopping and Amazon both accept this type of background.
It’s also much easier to make edits. You can use a posterboard or a lightbox to get this effect for your product photographs.
This makes a big difference to your product photos. Showing items in context gives people a much better idea of their size. Showing items up against common benchmarks like a person’s palm is a good technique.
Simple Product Shots
Some product photos are simple. They are usually taken at eye level. If you are looking to shoot a simple but effective photo, you need to avoid some mistakes.
Don’t leave overhead lights on in your studio. Avoid direct sunlight. It creates shadows and casts a glare.
Photos showing the Size and Scale of a Product
Scale and size can be tricky for any photographer. Sometimes adding in familiar objects like rulers or coins is distracting. Adjusting the margin between the tops of different sized products works. It’s a much easier method.
Photography Grouped by Product Line
Putting all similar products together in a group of photographs is a good idea. First off, it makes it easier for customers to add to their cart. It makes it easier for your business to highlight a new product in the same line too.
Offering items that complement a series of products works. Like T-shirts and jeans and/or a watch belt and wallet.
Planning a shot in advance can incorporate detailed imaging. There are several techniques here include imagery touching, manipulation and optimization.
Optimization can include fixing up a photograph for the printed page as opposed to an online site. It’s about different distributions for colors and tones.
Imagery touching is about altering a photograph. It involves correcting most colors and removing clutter. Image manipulation is the most drastic. It occurs when you add elements and actually change dimensions and sizes.
Should I Hire a Photography Studio?
Photography studios are environments that can save you time if you are a do-it-yourself photographer. Here are several benefits of using a studio service like this:
- Lights are an important detail for this type of photography. Hiring one of these studio services means you’ll get the right ones for your product photos.
- You can also get access to state-of-the-art photography equipment.
- These studios also have a variety of backdrops you can use.
A do-it-yourself photographer will also have the use of specialized software to retouch your photos.
Should I Pay Someone Else to do Professional Product Photography
Maybe your small business wants to sell more products? Perhaps you’re too busy to do professional product photography on your own? Here are some reasons why you can pay someone else to do the job.
- They know the best angles to shoot the products at.
- They will have experience.
- These professionals will have access to product photography studios and all the features.
Plus, as a business owner, you’ll be able to save time. If you’re a do-it-yourself product photographer, these people can handle the overflow. You can even choose one to work with in another country using Fiverr photography.
Product Photography Price
There are different price ranges if you’re looking to hire a professional. The product photography rates will be different between full-service studios and independent ones.
Pricing varies. Different studios use different methods to charge. You can expect to pay either by the hour or by day rate.
That can range from $150 an hour up to $1200 a day. Charging by image increases pricing. For example, estimates are $200 an hour or $1600 a day for up to 360 images.
Some pricing is by the product. An average could be around $30 per product which could allow for unlimited images. You need to fit the pricing parts together to see what works.
Becoming a Product Photographer
There are good reasons to become a product photographer. We have supplied some good product photography tips, information and steps to get started. You can either work for yourself or outsource the work.
You can get started with a white background, a tripod and a camera and build up your studio set up from there. Here are a few more tips to get you started.
How Much do Product Photographers Make?
The pricing and rates that you can charge for your image services depend on your location and your experience. A top-end photographer can charge between $200-$600 per hour.
If you are just starting out, your pricing should be around $25-$60 an hour.
You can find different pricing and numbers based on other factors. However, the average base pay for a product photographer is just under $42,000 a year
How do I start my product photography?
Getting started as a do-it-yourself photographer in this industry means following a few steps.
- Researching the client means understanding the brand. Ask a few questions and find out a bit about the history and their values. Become an expert on the product and the project will work out. Start by getting an email address.
- Understanding the studio light options you have is essential. Some clients like natural sunlight and others prefer artificial options. Good studio light techniques can include a key light on each product. And a second light in the background.
- You’ll need to invest in a variety of different backgrounds and props. Your local camera store should have a good selection.
Finally, this type of photography is creative. That means you’ll need to shoot a lot of different photographs when you start out. Take pictures upfront so you get all of the details. Don’t forget to get other shots from below and above.
How can I practice product photography?
This type of photography requires practice. Once you have a good studio set up in place, you can try these techniques out.
- Shooting products from different angles helps you to get better. Eye-level is the normal way. However, you should get good at photography that takes pictures from below and above.
- Choosing different interesting backgrounds is good practice. Add different prompts in the foreground with the product. Versatility affects your pricing in a positive way.
- Try a variety of different stands. Geometric shapes or even an old box can come in handy to practice taking different pictures.
Using photo manipulation is another good idea. You can make some original photos by learning Photoshop.
What lighting is best for product photographs?
Here are some tips for using lighting to get the best pictures of products. Lighting is a critical factor. It’s necessary to get the studio setup right.
There are three types to choose from.
These lights generate a lot of heat but also higher output levels. Replacement bulbs are not expensive. These bulbs also change color and temperatures when you adjust the brightness levels.
These are the energy-efficient choice. However, their output of light is also low. One negative aspect to fluorescent lights is they can tint your photographs and change the look of some products.
These produce very little heat and they are energy efficient. The diodes in these options last for a long time. Photographers using a ring light to take pictures of products favor them.
If you’re looking to soften the shadows, use white plasterboard or cardboard.
Are LED lights good for product photographs?
These are a good choice because they can be used in many situations. LED lights are good for clear pictures. Look for ones that come with light dimming features and a kit with long battery life.
How do you make a background for a product picture?
Having a background for a product picture doesn’t need to break the bank. Here are a few cheap ideas for any do-it-yourself project.
You can use a desk or tabletop. Glossy white finishes or natural wood work just as well. You can also use hardwood but floors make sure they’re not stained or otherwise finished. This can affect the undertones and seriously change the look of your photograph.
Here’s another DIY idea.
Contact paper or old wallpaper stuck to rigid foam board makes a great background. These look great for a product photo.
Where is the best place to buy photography backdrops?
You can buy one of these for any photo project in a number of locations. Amazon has a good selection. There are also some specialty stores you can check out. Here’s a list to get you started in the right direction.
This article, "How to Do Product Photography Or Pay Someone To Do It" was first published on Small Business Trends