Beginners Guide to Product Photography
One of the most important elements to selling a product or service online is the photography, it can double your revenue and be the reason people want your product.
You may have a killer product, something that everyone needs in their life but honestly if your product photography isn’t on point it can seriously damage your success rate. You don’t need to be a professional photographer (although personally I would highly recommend using one if product photography doesn’t come naturally to you) to make a photo look decent.
So let’s talk about the basic for product photography. Most people would recommend learning how to use a camera, the aperture, etc but for me, I don’t think this is the most important (told you, I am not your average mentor), specially with so many people using phone these days. If you want to learn how to use a camera on manual, there are some great tips around, I have a Pinterest board full of helpful tips, here! But sticking it on Auto will do the job for most items. (there are some tricky items, like jewellery, which will take a little more than these tips):
- Have a set place to take photographs
If you have space available to you, then set up a dedicated section in your office / home / garage / shed because nothing is more annoying that having to move the whole room around just to take a couple of photos, it will become a pain and you may find yourself getting frustrated with the situation which will lead to you not being able to take your best photographs.
Even if this is the smallest corner of your house / work space it will make all the difference.
- Invest in lighting
In my next point I will talk about natural lighting, but this isn't always possible so I highly recommend investing in some studio lights, these will help in the winter months and also on the gloomy days. It also helps if you don't have access to a window or the outdoors, when I was a product photographer my studio was in a box room with no windows to the outside so studio lights were super important.
Here are the ones I use which I purchased from Amazon.
- Natural Light
Although I recommend having studio lights, if you can use natural light as much as possible, it makes the product look more real and helps you control the colouring of the final photograph. This of course isn't always possible and isn't the end of the world if you can't have natural light. It is sometimes nice to combine both studio lights and natural light to get the perfect photograph.
- In situ
If you're selling a product or even a service, it is the 'in thing' to have your product photographed in situ; being used by someone, just professionally photographed. This allows the customer to get a whole new insight into the product / service itself. Let's say you're selling a jumper, try photographing it with someone wearing it and then referencing the size the model wore and the size they are; this will help the customer easily gage with the sizing guide you provide them with.
Having styled photography in a home / situation that is relevant to your product or service helps the customer see what it would look like / feel like to own your product or to experience your service.
- Know your camera
I don't mean learn all the settings and how they work, although this is always a good thing to do but I mean use your camera, even if it is just your phone camera to try and capture more then just your product photography. Really understand how it works, what colours show best, how to change small settings if needed. Become comfortable with the camera in your hands - the weight and feel of it - you want it to be like an extension of your hand (as cliche as that may sound!)
- Props / Background
Some of the most helpful items to process when doing product photography is backdrops. They can be patterned or plain or colourful, depending on your brand image but they can seriously up your product photography to a whole new level.
I have used Photoboards and Captured by Lucy for years now and LOVE them, but if you don't have the budget for Professionally made ones, grab yourself a sheet of MDF (most DIY home stores will do these) and get painting! Whether you want just a plain white backdrop or a patterned one, get creative! I think I will have to do a blog post about this one day.
- Pinterest for Inspiration
Before you start a shoot make sure you have lots of inspiration, I have a Pinterest board that I fill with product photography inspiration so that I can get a clear image of what I want my photograph to look like, you can see this board here.
I normally print out some ideas to take into the studio with me so that I can clearly see what I want to achieve, without directly copying another photographer's image - I only use it for inspiration!
Once you have taken your photographs don't be afraid to edit them if needed. They don't have to be the most perfect image ever on the camera, mainly because the camera screen can differ from your actual computer screen. I use Lightroom to edit my images (there is a free app on most phones for this), you can also use Photoshop (there is a free version of this too).
Top tip: don't over edit, only adjust things slightly, if you edit too much it is probably worth taking the photo again because the image may become pixelated or lower quality if you edit too much.
I hope this blog post is useful for your achieving your photography ideas without making it seem to daunting and scary!
Your cheerleader, Gemma
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