How to take the best product photography of products at home and in the studio, or outside in the street using a smartphone or non-professional camera

12 September, 2020
How to take the best product photography of products at home and in the studio, or outside in the street using a smartphone or non-professional camera
Any marketer will confirm that the best product photography can be done anywhere, not just in a professional photography studio.

Suppose you have a teenager fashion store, for example. In that case, a couple of photos taken on the street will attract the teenager's interest in buying because they will already know how fashionable this or that baseball cap will look in an urban landscape. If you are an owner of an online store selling classic clothes for businesswomen, then the photographs should be professional studio photos. When taking a product picture, you need to think very seriously: “Who are my future customers? What environment do they live in? What are they interested in? What will encourage them to buy my product?" In this article, we will cover a variety of technical issues, but only the unique insights that will help you create the truly best product photography. So, let's take a closer look at the subject of how to shoot in different places with different cameras and gadgets.

How to take a cool product picture at home.

To take a cool product photo at home, our team of professionals has drawn up these simple rules for beginner photographers. So, if you are just opening your online store and need photos of your products, follow these helpful tips:

  1. Minimum technique

    You do not need an expensive SLR camera and professional lights to create fantastic product pictures for a small online store. An inexpensive camera or mobile phone with good optics and a tripod is enough. You can take pictures on the windowsill or create a light-box that is ideal for shooting; you can make a light-box yourself using Whatman paper, a cardboard box and three ordinary incandescent lamps. This simple design will make it possible to provide uniform illumination of the subject you are photographing. You can also, if necessary, apply backgrounds of different colours. A tripod is also a useful asset for a mini-studio as it will allow you to quickly photograph different products from the same angle in different variations.

  2. Realism

    When taking photos, do not forget about realism. Do not over-embellish the product image in photo editors. Customers may claim that the actual colour is entirely different, so use minimal colour correction while editing. However, it is important to enhance the sharpness, detail, and other areas to help see the product better.

  3. Use a variety of perspectives

    The peculiarity of online trading is that the buyer cannot touch the product with their own hands. Therefore, if they see it only from one angle, this may become a reason for refusing to purchase.

    The solution is simple: take photos from different angles (ideally, the product should be shown in 360 degrees). Use macro mode to better explain the product details that may be important to the customer.

    Show your product in dynamics; if it is a piece of jewelry, demonstrate how it will look on your hand, your neck, in your ears, and so on.

  4. Show the functionality of the product

    If something can be done with the object, then show the customer how it works. You can even add a video to the product picture gallery. For example, it is better to show sportswear dynamically, not on a mannequin or simply spread out on a horizontal surface.

  5. Create an original composition

    The originality of the product is important to the buyer. If you photograph a beautiful brooch, attach it to the collar of your clothes and take a picture smiling. Choose atypical accessories for shooting - only your imagination can limit you. For photographing furniture, you can involve your pet, etc. The main thing here is not allowing any secondary objects to draw attention to themselves.

    Use different photo backgrounds that can be made, for example, from pieces of laminate or natural wood boards painted in different colours. Use fabrics (natural ones look especially great - linen, matting, etc.).

    The main thing is that the background should emphasize the advantages of the product, and therefore it is better not to make it too colourful as this could be distracting.

  6. Learn the rule of thirds

    Professional photographers widely use this rule. It is the principle of building a composition, based on the rule of the golden ratio: position the object at the most advantageous points.

    Draw four imaginary lines, two horizontal and two vertical to divide your frame. Place your product at one of the four intersections. The bottom right corner is usually considered the most attractive, but you can experiment and find what works best for your product.

  7. Come up with your own style

    Creating a consistent style for all your images will help you to stand out. You don't need to hire expensive photographers and designers for this - the main thing is to find the very idea that will hook your target audience. Experiment and research, you will surely find your own style.

How to take cool, live product pictures outdoors on your smartphone or a non-professional camera

If you know how to take great shots outdoors, you have a huge advantage over many other photographers. The ability to take cool product pictures live on the street from your phone or a non-professional camera allows you to catch awesome photos everywhere. The originality of such images can be simply enchanting and help to increase sales of an online store!

Some tips from professional photographers in our studio

Always carry a camera or smartphone; you never know when you may find an excellent background for your photos. You can then just superimpose photos of clothes on the background via Photoshop.

Look around. Even small details should grab your attention, as, for example, in this photo. This urban background underlines well the classiness of the image of these teenagers.

A good and original composition can be found in the most unexpected places. Here is  a good example...

An original composition is an important component for photographs, and one of them ain advantages of taking product pictures outdoors.

Your main task is to tell as much as possible about a product using the product image. People do not buy things; they buy emotions. Ask yourself: do my photographs tell a story?

To tell a story and engage your online store visitors, you need to experiment with accessories and product types. You will not get the desired effect if you have only the product in profile and full-face on a grey background.

Try starting with the following options:

  • Static pictures: Show the product with your face in the frame, but try to convey only its basic qualities in the photo. For example, in the picture below, you can see how delicate and transparent the fabric of this scarf is and how magical the face of the model looks wearing this scarf.

  • Product in action: It is good to show clothes and shoes as part of a well-thought-out image to suggest how to wear and combine the items. Show the customer exactly how to use the product.

  • Product in real life: Show how your product will fit into the customer's life. Make them think that this item will make their life more pleasant, joyful, and more convenient.

How to take product pictures in a professional product photo studio

Previously, work in a professional product photo studio was solely done by professionals. The photo studio was a habitat for a small number of creators, where dreams come true, and a fairy tale is created. With the development of technology, it has become a completely accessible option for almost anyone.

Working in a product photo studio includes much more than just "come and take pictures" - it is a long intellectual and creative process that includes:

Preparation: You should arrive at the studio with fresh ideas, such as backgrounds, colours, clothes. You should think about all this in advance, in order to speed up this process. For inspiration, you can look at the photos of your category products in other online stores.

Makeup for the model: You definitely need to prepare for this process in advance. Makeup for the model of your products is an important factor. If you take photos of classic clothes, then the makeup should be classic and even inconspicuous. But, the makeup used for rock, gothic, or teenage brand is a creative approach. All of these choices require concrete involvement, and quite often, it is better to hire a professional makeup artist.

Working with the model: The photographer must continuously guide the model – to be the photographer, but also a good psychologist to relax her or  him to achieve excellent photos.

How to work with a model to take professional product photography

For new photographers, working with a model raises many questions: what to say, what to ask, how to find the required pose, etc. There is one main rule that you need to understand from the very beginning; a model is a living person, just like you, with similar problems and questions. Initially, you need to establish the right emotional contact, the easiest way: strike up a conversation. Find a topic that worries the model - what he/she likes to do in her/his free time, find common hobbies, or talk about an interesting book that you read. Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered unequivocally, let the model tell you more. By building up a rapport with the model, it will ultimately improve your communication on set. After some time, your model will get used to the photographer and become much more relaxed. This process is very important if you want excellent and professional product photography.

There are two types of models - active and passive. It is not difficult to determine what type of model you are working with. The first type are very mobile, proactive and have a huge supply of internal energy, which they constantly want to express. It is very simple to work with them; the model understands you perfectly, it is easy to find a connection, and the shooting takes place with ease. The key is to steer the model in the right direction. Explain to the model from the very beginning what you expect from the shoot, and the model will gradually find the right rhythm. You will only have to adjust her movements slightly and not slow down the rhythm of the shooting. More often, it happens that the result exceeds expectations, and that's great!

Passive models have a slightly different mindset. They are more static than dynamic. With such models, it is great to shoot a pre-conceived, choreographed plot when you need a certain pose or position in the frame. They can stay in a certain position for a long time while you “frame.” Typically, this type of model expects clear and direct instructions from the photographer.

Many photographers believe that passive models are suitable for photographing clothing and accessories for online stores, as they are more static. But this is not true. There is a BOOM in e-commerce right now, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and e-shops are trying to find new ways to attract shoppers. So, bright, emotional, active models + 360-degree photos and videos can be seen more and more often in modern internet stores; it is these innovations that increase sales.

We have already written about the benefits of these types of photos and videos for online stores in one of our articles. You can find it here.( stylephotos.ca)

It sometimes happens that the models on the set start to get bored. You should not try to "force" the model to work harder - it’s useless. All you have to do is shoot! Start shooting the  model a lot and often! It doesn't matter if you use these photos later or not. The main thing is that it will return the model to the desired mood. And it really works! Remember that you may not have a second chance, so take everything you can from the shoot.  Take as many pictures as possible, constantly change the angle, rearrange the light, change the filters - spin as you like, and then you will step over yourself, and the result will be really unexpected. Be daring, but know when to stop. This is how real artists work.

Don't hold yourself back. Now, with digital photography, the chances of getting a good photo are much higher than during the age of film. You can take many, many photos, and by using post-processing (filters and programs), you will get a really wonderful result, previously only available to professionals.

Don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures; from this huge number, you can choose at least a couple that will turn out to be successful.

We invite you to visit our studio in Toronto (stylephotos.ca), where you can rent special machines or order a photoshoot for your products.

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