As a professional product photographer and Creative Marketing Coach I’m often asked, “How Can I Take Great Photographs of My Product When I Don’t Own Expensive Equipment?”
What I always tell my clients is – “If you want to sell your products online the #1 thing that will either make or break your chances of a potential customer actually pressing the “Add To Cart” button comes down to three things. Image, Description and Price”. Equipment is actually way down on the list, as a matter of fact, it’s not the camera you’re using but the person behind it.
In today’s article I will focus on image. I’ll reveal my five top tips for creating great product photos using nothing more a decent camera, a little perspective, and natural light.
1. Compose Your Shot Well. It’s often assumed that the only way to shoot an image of a product is to take what I call, “the above the head shot”, meaning you lay the product on a flat surface and shoot looking down on the item.
But in reality when a potential customer views your products online what they’re really interested in are the little details so, if you want to create quick interest in your images try positioning your camera at an angle. I also suggest shooting your products at eye level ~ and this leads to my second tip.
2. Shoot Tight. This is especially important when you have products that feature a lot of texture like knitwear, jewelry, and food especially. One of the best compliments I ever received from a client was when she told me the images I created of her cupcakes made her customers want to reach inside their computer to grab one.
3. Lighting. Nothing can make or break a photograph quicker than bad lighting.
Depending upon your subject in my opinion you can’t go wrong with natural light. But, you have to know how to ‘read the light’ meaning you must understand the effects of outdoor light. For example, overcast and cloudy days offer the softest light because the light is even, meaning very little hard shadows.
Many people assume that shooting in direct sun light is the best because the light is strong. If you want your models to have relaxed facial expressions you’ll want to avoid placing them in direct sun light (especially mid-day) because where ever there is “hard light” you’re going to find equally hard shadows.
In addition if you work with a model that is particularly light sensitive you’ll struggle to get good portrait shots because your model will struggle with eye squinting.
If you’re going to work with outdoor light better to shoot early in the morning for a soft light that’s almost pink in hue or evening closer to sundown for a golden effect.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Shadows. In the previous tip I alluded to staying clear of shadows, but not entirely. Personally I don’t feel there is anything wrong with shadows.
Shadows are all about the relationship between light and dark, what you “can’t see” being equally as important as what you can. If done well shadows can evoke mystery and a hint of mystery can go a long way towards to expressing a visual story. They can also be wonderful way to create more interest in your images while expressing a captivating visual story.
5. Tell A Story. We love a good story whether it be a film or a book, a good visual story will long a way toward creating a connection between your product and the viewer. So how do you tell a good visual story with photography?
Easy, think themes and details. Perhaps you have several products that are in the same color family. Join them together in a collage format for example or display them in separate categories on your website. For more inspiration I suggest looking at the website of Lifestyle Photographer Victoria Pearson. She does this beautifully.
Another excellent way to tell a good visual story is to photograph your product from different angles like I suggested in the first tip. For example, take an overall or full body shot, then take several detail shots, using various angles and display them together.
This is a great way to pull your customer into your images that tells a story and entices them to press the “add to cart” button. ~ Happy Shooting.
For more inspirational advice, tips, tools, and resources for creating great images that get likes, shares, clicks and sales check me out on PeriscopeTV and on Instagram for daily tips and a heavy dose of image love!