Excellent product photography is essential for selling goods online. Product shots need to be planned thoroughly so that studio time is used to maximise the benefit to your business. Peter Lyth shares his experiences of product photography in this blog.
I have photographed products both in and out of a studio and deciding how to use lighting to suit the particular product is important, whether you are employing a professional or doing it yourself. I try to use natural light as much as possible as flash photography has to be carefully controlled to avoid high contrast and heavy shadows. Natural light is also excellent for photographing the natural colours of your product. Setting up a studio correctly takes time but once done the photographer does have a lot of control over the lighting and very good results can be obtained time and again.
Using Natural Light
This year I have photographed a range of skeleton leaves to display in an online shop. These are very delicate items and I found that using natural light on an overcast day gave by far the best results with much more subtle tones and shadows. I did have to do some editing work post shoot to get the best out of the images. On sunny days I have used methods to cut down the intensity of light falling onto the subject. This may be as simple as hanging a white sheet up to filter and diffract the sunlight before it hits the subject. Experimentation is part of the fun of this type of photography so always take some test shots and make sure you are happy with them before proceeding.
Take Shots in a Consistent Way
Also for any product photography it is important that the products are shot in a consistent way. This is so they can be presented to potential customers in an organised way that looks like thought and care has gone into the overall appearance of the online shop. With the leaves, I experimented for some time before deciding to photograph the leaves in threes as my primary shot. I also included additional shots of single leaves and a scattering of leaves and I did the same set of 3 shots for all of the colours in the range. Also remember to take a few shots each time you set up a product so you can choose the best shot. This is especially true if you set up includes models as they are inclined to close their eyes at inopportune moments.
If you are an inexperienced photographer it is a good idea to get other people to look at your photographic efforts and ask for their opinions and advice. When you do this, it is very important not to be offended if your images are criticised. Remember that your images will be viewed by thousands of people and they will all be influenced in different ways by the images they see.
Plan Your Location
The location or background for your products also needs to be carefully planned. Endless items photographed in isolation are not going to excite potential customers. Many items, such as skeleton leaves, can be photographed in ways that suggest how a customer might use them. This is a bit like the serving suggestions used in the food marketing industry so that the images give customers ideas beyond the product you are trying to sell. Let’s face it a bag of rice looks pretty boring but put cook it and put it with a delicious looking curry, add a few coriander leaves, poppadums and pickles, and your potential customers will think it’s a looks like much more interesting product.
Good Images Sell
Setting up for product shoots is very time consuming if you have a lot of products to photograph so it may well be cost effective to get it done professionally. You only have to look at a few websites to see what a difference getting good images makes to the overall appearance of a site and of course this will be the first impression of a business for many potential customers. The increase of sales we saw on the skeleton leaf Etsy store once we had uploaded good images was amazing.
Out Source It
If you don’t have the time or skill to take product shots, it is worthwhile outsourcing the photography. We can recommend photographers for you.
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