How to Take Professional Product Photographs – 18 Tips for Success

13 October, 2020
How to Take Professional Product Photographs – 18 Tips for Success
If you truly enjoy the process of taking pictures, whether you take 100 selfies every day or just look for a beautiful shot in every breath of wind or flap of a butterfly's wings, this article is for you!

Photography is essential for conducting business online. Indeed, according to surveys, 93% of buyers feel that photography is the most important factor when deciding to buy a product online. Product photography is always the main priority, but it is enough to know a few simple things about the art of photography and to try see the world artistically. So, here are 18 simple tips to go from beginner’s level  to pro in taking professional product photographs.

Tips for beginners

The first 5 tips are for beginners. They are essential for shooting effective product photographs.

#1: Get the lighting right

Correct lighting is key for good photography. If the light is not set up correctly, the white background will be gray in the final photo, a shadow will lengthen a model's nose, the beauty of the eyes will not be emphasized, and the bright color of the sweater you sell in your online store will not be accurately displayed.

Two types of lights are used for product photography: studio lighting and natural lighting. The purpose of photographing the product, the platform where  photographs will be used, and the product itself will tell you what kind of lighting to choose.

Use natural light to take pictures of food, people, and clothing in their natural form. Such photos attract more attention, especially on social media. If photographing indoors, place the product in front of a window so you get all the natural light that comes in. If you can take the photo outside, do it. The best outdoor light is in early morning or late afternoon. However, if the product you are photographing is usually used indoors, artificial lighting is the better choice.

#2: Use a tripod

Use a tripod to stabilize the camera. The camera will not shake, so blur is eliminated. There are special tripods for cameras and for phones. They are inexpensive. It is better to spend an extra minute to set up a tripod than to worry after about the poor quality of the photos.

#3: Master the basics of photo editing

True, photo editing should not become a major part of your job, and it would be great if you could take pictures that require the least editing, but small changes are almost always needed and can be important in developing an artistic flair. Even if you just master the techniques of masking small flaws, this will have a significant impact on the final quality of the images.

It is ideal to take courses from a professional photographer. In product photography, in the beginning, there are a lot of important points to learn, and a professional photographer will share expertise more quickly and wisely. However, if you do not want to spend money, then just visit YouTube and watch videos posted by photographers about working with Photoshop.

#4: Inspire yourself to edit photos in Photoshop as a creative process

Instead of avoiding editing photos, get excited and spur yourself to get right into it. Enjoy the process. See it as an opportunity to showcase your creativity, talent, and special vision of the world.

#5: Aim for fast edits by starting with high quality photos

Think of editing as the process of making small adjustments to a great photo. As I take a photograph, I can foresee what minimal changes need to be made. Changing a photo completely can take hours, whereas small changes can take just a few minutes. This will help keep you from losing momentum and motivation.

#6: Don't forget about HDR cameras. This is a cool feature!

If you are still not using HDR, you are missing out. The HDR function combines several images of different brightness into one. The resulting photographs are brighter, more voluminous and saturated. For example, like this here.

HDR makes life much easier for the photographer, because you do not need to spend as much time on processing the photo in Photoshop, and you immediately get a beautiful photo. The only drawback is that such photos take up a lot of space. This can be easily solved just by purchasing a larger memory card.

How to take product photos for Instagram

Facebook published some important analytics in February 2019. 83% of Instagram users admit that they discover new products and services through that platform. Also, 79% of users said that, when they see an advertising offer for a service or product on Instagram, they go online to search for more info about it or even to buy it.

In other words, those who are engaged in e-commerce definitely need to go to Instagram to publish their advertising offers there and to create start pages with nice selling photos of the product.

#7: Check out product shots from similar brands for inspiration

Yes, it is possible to suddenly create a cool photo all by yourself. But what if you have no imagination? Look at photos of other brands. Take note of certain elements that you liked win their photographs. With a little artistic taste, you can easily create your own unique style by harmoniously combining different shots and techniques. Go for it and you will succeed!

#8: Tell stories in product photos

Don’t think that a commercial photograph of a product should only show the benefits of a product. In fact, many great product photos tell whole stories.

For example, this photo immediately evokes the feeling of a holiday, perhaps a birthday of the girl in the picture or Christmas time. Obviously, this bear was given to her by her partner. The size of the plush toy immediately tells us how much they love each other.

#9: Learn the rule of thirds and apply it for successful photography

Most introductory photography lessons, as well as fine arts courses, teach beginners about the rule of thirds. This powerful technique teaches you how to visually divide your proposed photo into 9 parts and to position the main subject where it will be most attractive and aesthetically pleasing. This rule helps to create beautiful compositions for photographers, artists, and designers. Using it, you can quickly create photos that grab the attention of potential buyers.

Your main goal is to position the product along one of the lines, optimally at the intersection of two lines. Studies show that, when viewing a photograph, the viewer's gaze is directed not to the center of the frame but to one of the intersection points. The rule of thirds works so well, because it is rooted in how human perception works. Use it!

#10: Keep your props simple

You should not overload product photos with props, but do not completely abandon them either. The main element of the photo should be your product, with the props only there to emphasize it.

How do you choose the right props? Use color as a basis for selecting props that are simple, color-aligned, and appropriate for your product. For example, in this photo, all the props are in the same color scheme, and the main product, the cake, is right in the middle.

However, in this next photo, almost all the space is occupied by a white teddy bear, while the props are only 5-15% of the entire photo.

#11: Take product shots from different angles

When you are faced with the task of taking many photos of the same product line, it may be tempting to just take a couple of pictures of each. This will lead to failure. Before making a purchase, many buyers try to study the product better, and when they cannot find enough photos on your website, they will go to competitors with a larger number of good, detailed photos. Then, when they are convinced that they need the product, they will buy it from your competitor. Do not cut corners. Shoot the product from all sorts of different angles.

There are two main benefits of having many product shots from a variety of perspectives:

  1. The buyer is more confident about their purchase. 
  2. You get a lot of photos for editing, so you have plenty to choose from. 

#12: Put the photo in context by describing it accurately.

The most important thing is for potential buyers is to be able to immediately imagine how the product will fit into their life. If a customer buys a wardrobe, you need to give not just a description of the wardrobe but indicate where it will fit. For example, a snow-white wardrobe may be ideal for a bedroom. If it is pink, it will probably be suitable for a child's room. Please indicate this and provide an appropriate photo. Imagine how a future mother, choosing furniture for her unborn daughter, looks at this wardrobe with affection. Imagine it, so you can understand the essence of the right context for the photograph.

Think about the buyer when writing  contextual description for a selling photo. If, for example, a buyer has a limited budget, think about what should be written. What details of the product should you emphasize to encourage that buyer to purchase your product? Remember, the buyer must feel confident  that the product will improve their life.

How to take successful product photos for Google Shopping and Amazon

Amazon and Google are the leading shopping search engines. Advice for creating commercial photographs to place in those systems is very specific.

#13: Consider Google and Amazon's Special Requirements When Taking Photos

These two systems provide unique opportunities for merchants. However, Amazon and Google Shopping have specific sets of requirements to consider.

  • The file formats to use for product photos are TIFF (.tif / .tiff), JPG (.jpg / .jpeg), GIF (.gif), or PNG (.png). You need to learn how to immediately shoot in those file formats or to convert images into those.
  • Each photo must have a name that follows a specific format, that is, product ID, point, file type. For example, a photo may be named like this: U001428366.png.
  • These services only allow professional photos, not illustrations.
  • The photo must be the product you are selling.
  • There is only one requirement for the background – it must be pure white.

Photo requirements for Amazon

  • Photos for Amazon must be professionally done.
  • The photo must show the product you are selling.
  • Other items may only be used to demonstrate scale.
  • Amazon allows the use of cropped photos, close-up photos, demo graphics and text, backgrounds and environments.

Photo requirements for Google Shopping

  • Photographs should be in the following file formats: TIFF (.tif / .tiff), JPG (.jpg / .jpeg), GIF (.gif), PNG (.png), or BMP (.bmp).
  • Photo should be exactly the product you are selling.
  • Do not use photos with watermarks, stock photos, or photos with advertising text or borders.

#14: When in doubt about a background for a photo, opt for a plain white background – this is a universal tip.

Against a white background, the product will not be lost. A white background will not draw attention away from the scarf or beautiful handbag. You can also use other light colors: pale pink, blue, and yellow. For example, yellow is a bright color for a sports equipment store, while light pink is perfect for a lingerie store. Use your imagination and experiment with colors in Photoshop. But if you're in doubt, just choose white, and your product will be the star against a clear and clean background.

#15: Show details

When taking photos of a product, it is important to show details. It is more difficult for the brain to absorb verbal descriptions than a photograph of a small detail. You need to show the advantages of your particular product over competitors' products. For this, you need to tell more about the product. Differences in presentation are the reason that the same product in two different online stores can have entirely different sales dynamics. Believe us, photographs of your product details increase sales. Good photographs also reduce the number of returns. A customer who can imagine exactly what he is buying, not an unrealistic version, is less likely to return the product.

#16: Create photographic diagrams to explain the benefits to the customer in buying your product

If you sell functional items, then you need to create infographic diagrams that explain to the buyer what functions the product has. After all, people will not buy if they don’t know what benefits it offers.

For example, this photo shows you what to do with a purchased exercise machine. A young guy who strives to get stronger and improve muscle definition, looking at this photo-diagram, will see what he can build up: arms, abs, back muscles, leg muscles, and chest muscles. Such a small exercise machine has so many functions! The photo-diagram proves the great benefits of buying one!

#17: Show customers as many variations of the product as you can

It is rare to find an online store that sells only one variation of any product. If it is a chandelier store, there will be chandeliers of all colors and sizes, from gray-blue to crystal with colored inserts. If they are fishing rods, many choices will be presented: from the smallest to the super-upgraded with a built-in sonar. Give meaning to every product in the set. Together, they attract a lot more attention than one.

Clients' tastes vary. For example, I like to wear real lambswool and green sweaters, and a friend of mine likes plain, patterned cotton shirts. My sister only wears pretty blouses. Your potential customers, too, have unique personal tastes. It is rare to meet many people with the same tastes. So, if you want to increase the number of clicks on your product photo, showcase the entire range of products.

#18: Look around and keep up with the times

Time passes quickly, and many things become outdated and unfashionable. Yesterday, it was cool to take pictures of hipster-style models against the backdrop of an urbanized city. Now it's sport style that is more on trend among young people. Yesterday, photos of models in classic Armani suits were in great demand, but now they are not. A freer style is in fashion. As more and more people work as freelancers, they are changing from a strict classic suit to comfortable and sometimes bright clothes.

Keep up with the times. If you don't understand how to take a photo of a particular type of clothing or product, go out and see what the representatives of your target audience are wearing and doing. What do they combine these clothes with? What do they carry in their hands? A business briefcase or a backpack? Does he have a snack? Is he sitting on a bench with a hot dog or eating his lunch in an expensive restaurant? It is important to understand current trends.

Photography studio in Toronto

We provided you with  some basic tips on how to create photos for an online store. I hope they were helpful for you. If, however, you are short on time and need to take a lot of high quality photos at once, then you can contact us. We are a team of professionals based in Toronto.

There are two ways to work with us:

  1. You can simply send your goods to us. We will take great quality photos and videos, and send them back to you. For a detailed order of photos, 3D photos, and 360 video, follow this link.
  2. For a day, you can rent our studio in Toronto and use our unique photo machines.

There are four machines that are already configured with lightning, tripod functions, and all other important characteristics.

There is a live machine for photographing and making videos of clothes and other goods with live models.

There is also a horizontal machine. It is designed to take good quality pictures of goods without a mannequin on flat-lat surface.

Eclipse is another great machine for photographing shoes and clothing accessories as well as video priductiion.

And, finally, there is a very cool machine Alphashot  for taking pictures of jewelry and bijouterie.

Follow this link to visit our website and learn more. We are looking forward to working with you!

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