Guide to Product Photography

Learn how to capture high-quality product photos with simple techniques and basic equipment to boost your e-commerce success, all explained in our comprehensive guide.

May 22, 2024

In e-commerce, quality product photos are key to making sales. Etsy research shows that 90% of shoppers think photos are crucial in their buying decision. Shoppers use photos to imagine how they'll use the product, when they'll use it, and how it compares to others.

On average, shoppers want to see 3-4 images of a product online. Since that's not a lot, each image needs to be high-quality and detailed, truly representing the item they'll receive when they click "buy."

But, many small businesses struggle with taking product photos, especially when they have dozens of items to sell. So, we'll help you not fear product photography anymore. This guide will show you how to take product photos and what you need for it.

What are Product Photos?

Product photography involves showcasing and promoting products through commercial channels like online stores, detail pages, marketing, and marketplaces.

Product photos are designed to make items stand out to increase the likelihood of purchase. They highlight specific features of a product, helping shoppers imagine using it.

Product photos may optionally include promotional text or product descriptions. These visual and written media provide information and credibility, helping shoppers make a decision.

What Do You Need for Good Product Photography?

1. Camera (smartphone or DSLR)

2. Tripod

3. White background or a room with natural light from a window

4. Reflective card

5. Table

6. Editing tools for retouching

What Kinds of Product Photos Are There?

E-commerce needs many kinds of images. Review photos should be where customers can see product reviews. Cut-out photos should be at the top for customers looking at the product. For example, Amazon uses cut-out photos as the main image.

Concept photos, which show the product's subject, size, and use all at once, should be used for marketing or placed on detail pages. Detail shots are used in product manuals or product descriptions to explain specific parts.

E-commerce needs at least three of these image concepts, which can be time-consuming and costly. E-commerce needs the following photos:

- Review photos: Provide trust and accurate expectations for the product.

- Packaging photos: Enhance brand recognition and encourage gift purchases by photographing the packaged product.

- Cut-out photos: Created against a white background, allowing customers to examine the product from all angles.

- Concept photos: Shot with the product in use, providing accurate expectations of the product's subject, size, and use.

- Category photos: Introduce products by category for landing pages and brand production.

- Detail shots: Explain parts of the product or show options.

Placing the wrong type of image in the wrong place can cause confusion. For example, using a well-shot concept photo as a review photo can mislead customers, and vice versa.

Choosing a Camera

You don't need a DSLR or high-quality Sony camera to take professional product photos. Recent smartphones have cameras good enough to compete with professional cameras.

Phones like the iPhone or latest Samsung Galaxy have features like over 100 million pixels, direct view, aperture, and 3-4 camera lenses, allowing you to take amazing images.

When using a phone, keep these guides in mind:

1. Use light wisely. Backlighting is a basic concept known even by amateurs. It means having the light source behind the subject, which can create unwanted shadows.

2. Adjust the angle height. Usually, we shoot from our eye level. Try moving your phone up or down. Shooting from a high angle or low angle can change the perspective dramatically.

3. Find the subject's "face." Not only people have faces. Every subject has a "front" that shows its characteristics best. For a tree, look for the angle that shows its branches and leaves most beautifully.

4. Add dynamism to your photo. When leaving space in a photo, leave it in the direction the subject is looking. Doing the opposite can sometimes add a dynamic feel.

Keep an eye on the guide when shooting with your phone, the image will be much better.

The Importance of Background

Sometimes, the lighting and background are more important than the camera for product photos. Light is considered the most crucial element as it affects image quality.

Imagine using product photos across different platforms for various purposes. Effective results often require backgrounds different from the other images.

So, what kinds of backgrounds are needed for product photos?

- White backgrounds are most important in e-commerce. Online marketplaces usually require images shot against a white background. Try setting up a white wall or paper as your backdrop.

- Colored backgrounds are effective for expressing your brand. Shooting product photos against your brand's color can be ideal for marketing.

- Lifestyle backgrounds let customers imagine how and by whom the product will be used. Thus, the background should match the product's purpose and function.

The Importance of Lighting

There are two types of lighting to consider when setting up your background:

Natural Light

Natural light refers to all natural sources of light, with sunlight being the most common. Shooting with natural light is useful for realistic depictions and natural looks. However, sunlight is uncontrollable and changes throughout the day.

Here are some guides for using natural light:

- Bring a reflector. If you don't have one, use a white shirt or something similar to reflect light onto the subject.

- Position your model towards the light. Using backlight creatively can offer diverse photos even with the same background.

- Use a lens hood outdoors to prevent unwanted light from entering the image and minimize distractions when brightening the frame.

- Shoot in Raw mode. Editing Raw images later allows for the most flexibility.

Artificial Light

Artificial light, as opposed to natural light, is any light source created artificially. The advantage of artificial light is it's not restricted by time, and you can control the amount and position of light.

Here are some guides for using artificial lighting:

- Use a dimmer to control the light. You can adjust the brightness.

- Consider the size of the light source. Larger light sources create smaller, softer shadows.

- Try using modifiers. If you want a natural atmosphere using artificial light, place a diffuser like a bedsheet in front of the light to spread it out.

- Adjust the distance between the light source and the subject. Closer light sources create larger, harder shadows, while distant sources produce smaller, softer shadows.

Post-processing of Product Photos

Photo retouching involves a series of adjustments to enhance or modify the visual or technical aspects of a digital image. Typically, retouching includes:

- Resizing

- Color correction

- Cropping

- Refining shapes

- Removing unwanted elements

Retouching is a necessary step after taking photos. Even the most skilled photographers don't consider their work flawless. Details, especially specific parts, often need adjustments after shooting.

You don't need to invest excessive time or money to achieve perfect images. Efficient tools exist for retouching without complexity or high costs, especially useful for small e-commerce businesses with limited resources.

The post-processing function of product photos improves the quality of the image.

Try Editing Your Product Photos with Photio

Have you managed to take some good product photos after reading this guide? As mentioned, editing is a crucial part of the process. Log in to Photio now, edit your captured images, and achieve the best photos quickly and for free.

Photio offers the following editing features:

- Image Tone Adjustment: Makes your photos brighter and more atmospheric.

- Photo Retouching: Removes unwanted parts from product photos and handles them naturally.

- Background Removal: Quickly erases the background in a photo, allowing for a variety of creative outputs.

- Background Creation: Changes the photo's background, matching it with the main subject.

- Image Resizing: Adjusts the horizontal and vertical size of the photo.

- Image Clarification: Removes blemishes and improves image quality.

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