5 Steps To Producing Effective Product Shots For Your Business
So, you’re online and you’re searching for a beautiful piece of jewellery to buy your friend for her birthday. She’s into stars and rose gold which you’ve punched into Google and a thousand links now grace your screen. You click the title that shouts, “Stunning rose gold star necklace!” thinking, “Ooh, I bet this will be lovely,” only to find a blurry, gloomy image of something that looks like it could be a necklace but you’re not entirely sure. And so you click off the site and continue on your search.
I’m sure we’ve probably all done this with something at one time or another. And it always occurs to me that that item probably is beautiful. It’s probably handcrafted, one-of-a-kind unique and exactly what I’m looking for. But I can’t see that, so why should I stay and spend my hard-earned cash?
Product photography, for that very reason alone, has established itself as an important art form in business. And yet many small businesses are still skipping that crucial step when it comes to selling their creations. But it’s really not that difficult for anyone to do! So here are 5 steps to producing effective product shots for your business.
1. Do not rush out and buy an expensive camera!
Contrary to popular belief, photography is not all about the camera. It’s not the camera that takes a photograph. It’s the person handling that camera. Remember, a camera is just a tool. Learn how to utilise it properly and you’ll be producing great shots with whatever you’ve got to hand - even your phone!
2. The key ingredient is light…
I totally know, as a small business person, how busy your days likely are. You’re probably creating, selling, doing admin, marketing, social media, networking, packaging up and delivering as well as remembering to feed yourself, your family, your pets and somehow live a life in amongst all that! It’s easy to see how taking photographs of your work can be shuffled into a low priority position and probably gets done in the wee hours when you suddenly remember it needs to be done.
But photography is all about light - beautiful, soft, glorious light! So make it your mission, from hereon out, to do any product photography in daylight, ok?
Key things to remember here: don’t shoot in bright, harsh sunlight. Instead either use early morning light or late afternoon light. You’ll have softer shadows and the light is just more flattering. If you really have to shoot in the middle of the day, soften the light by placing white paper on the windows nearby, or a thin white sheet or, if shooting outside, photograph your products in open shade.
3. Think about your backgrounds
Yes, you can use a plain white background! But there’s nothing wrong with using part of your home or business premises and including it as part of the shot either. But give your background some thought. Clear up clutter (or at least move it out of shot!), get rid of the dust or tea rings and, if you’re using a mirror or shiny surface, think about what can be seen in the reflection (we’ve all seen that famous ebay photo with the naked man, haven’t we?!).
4. Use props and angles
A few key props can be the difference between a standard product shot and a wow shot that makes potential clients stop and stare for just a bit longer. I personally like to use natural props like flowers, twigs, leaves etc. But anything can be used creatively! I once photographed a beautiful bracelet on a simple white background, but when I added in a notebook behind it covered in sari material, it really made the colours of the bracelet pop. So much so I later went and bought that very same bracelet!
Don’t just take one shot and move onto the next item either. Take multiple shots from a variety of angles and place your item in different areas of your image. Variety, after all, is the spice of life! And what works for one item may look totally wrong with another.
Get creative, try lots of different things and you’ll be surprised just how much more impressive your work looks.
5. And finally… edit!
No one ever bought a cake that hadn’t been already iced. I wouldn’t buy an expensive bouquet of flowers without having them put together and beautifully wrapped. The same can be said of your images. Run them through some editing software - professionals use Lightroom or Photoshop but there are some great free alternatives out there such as Canva or PicMonkey and you can even do basic edits in Instagram! Have a play around with the editing functions and see what you can do with your images to get them looking perfect.
The key thing to remember here, really, is to take time over your images instead of throwing a few quick phone pics on your sales pages. I guarantee you, better images will always equal more sales!
Written by Sarah Wayte
Sarah is a wedding and portrait photographer who also takes business commissions for product photography and business lifestyle photography. She also runs a photography mentoring blog, Heart Lines, with lots of handy tips on improving your photography and injecting more heart and soul into your photographs. Sarah is based in Essex with her hubby and 2 fur babies - Lewie and Lola. She lives and breathes eveything photography related but, in her spare time, loves nothing more than to curl up with a novel and a big mug of hot chocolate.
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