We see millions of images a day, but there are only a few of those images that are showstoppers. Or rather; scroll stoppers. If you are an online seller, those are exactly the images you want to be making. What are the basic rules of successful product photography?
Use a white background
Keeping the background simple will increase your product’s visibility. Believe it or not, the simplicity of a serene background stands out in a world packed with images screaming for attention.
If it matches your product style, you can consider using a colored background. Opt for one bright, even surface and take into account that the background color may change the appearance of your product’s color.
Struggling to find a simple background? Use a photo editor to swap your background for a clean backdrop.
Use soft and natural lighting
Do not use the flash on your camera, because the artificial light will distort the colors of your product. It will look unnatural and that is exactly what customers do not want to see. Natural light is the best, but even then, you have to be careful. You do not want to photograph in extremely bright light, as this will probably change the color hue of your product and is likely to create shadows.
So the baseline is: use natural, diffused light and avoid flashes or filters as they may distort the colors of your product.
Take steady and high-resolution photos
The higher the resolution of your picture, the better. A good quality picture will convince viewers that the product is of equally good quality (and vice versa). Moreover, shoppers nowadays might be viewing your product on a phone, a laptop or two gigantic desktop screens. Your pictures should look good on all of them.
eBay requires a minimum of 500 pixels for an image’s longest side. Most cameras and camera phones will exceed this minimum, and bigger is better! If you are worried about the file size of your photos slowing down the loading time of your page? Look into using an image hosting service like Img.vision.
Fill the frame
Product photography should do what its name promises: showcase the product. This means you let your main subject fill the frame of your photo. Leave as little white space around your subject as possible. This creates a powerful composition and keeps the customers focused on the product.
The best way to achieve a full frame is to get close enough to your product when photographing. If that is hard for you to do, make sure your background is simple.
Photograph all angles
In a physical shop, customers pick up an item and inspect it from all angles. Your online shop should resemble this shopping experience as much as possible. How? By showing photographs of your products from all angles. There are six angels you should include in your photo range:
The front angle
The front angle: This is usually the first image you see when browsing through products online. This is the angle you would most likely encounter when you go shopping in real life, it is a familiar image and it immediately shows the product’s key features.
The profile angle
The profile angle: Taking a photograph that shows the side view of your product, is a profile shot. This might not be a useful angle for all products. A tube or bottle, for example, does not need to be photographed from this angle as it will not show the customer anything new or interesting. A pair of shoes or electronic devices however, will definitely need to be photographed from the side.
The 45-degree angle
The 45-degree angle: Not quite frontal and not quite to the side, the 45-degree angle combines the best of both worlds. It is a very good angle to evoke the atmosphere of your product. Customers get an all-round impression of what you are selling. If you are taking this photo, you do not have to start measuring the angle. Any shot that shows a bit of the front and the side is considered a good 45-degree photo. Do not get carried away trying to capture every detail. Go for one shot that makes a good impression.
The back angle
The back angle: This is often the last photo in the range, because it usually does not add a lot of information to your photos. It really depends on your product whether or not this angle is useful. If the back of your soap bar might not be interesting, but the back of the package that lists the ingredients, may be very informative.
The top shot
The top shot: Laying your products down on a flat surface and looking down at them, can often be very visually pleasing. Especially if you are offering a package of various items. A top shot allows you to showcase every single item, where a front angle might have products obstructing one another.
The macro shot
The macro shot: The macro setting on your camera is there for shooting big close-ups. The frontal, top and side angles will lure the customer in, whereas the detailed shots will close the deal. Customers want to zoom in on what they are buying, before they reach for their money.
Include the details
Use a close-up shot to showcase product details that might otherwise go unnoticed. This could be an embellishment detail that illustrates how luxurious your product is, or a close-up of the material so customers can get a sense of the texture of the product. Customers might want to see the quote on a T-shirt up close or zoom in on the screen of their new watch.
If you are selling second-hand or vintage goods, be honest about any damage your products might have and add a detailed image of the damage. You might feel tempted to hide any scratches, but customers will see them once they’ve bought your product anyway. If you want customers to come back to your shop, gain their trust and be honest!
Show the scale
Human minds are very visual. Customers do not want to read through the entire product description to find out how big a handbag or lamp shade is. That is why it is important to include a photo that shows the scale of your product. You might put earrings next to a coin or include a picture of someone wearing your earrings to help customers understand how big the product is.
These tricks however, might not work for all products. Moreover, adding objects or models might distract viewers. Therefore, it can be a good idea to create your own size guide by adjusting the margins of your pictures. This is particularly useful if you are selling the same product in different sizes. Lining up products in different sizes, as illustrated below, creates a size guide without using reference products.
In this case, you can save time by photographing one item and adjusting the size margins afterwards. This doesn’t have to precisely true to the physical measurements, but it should be significant enough for customers to get a feel for the different variations.
If you are not selling the same product in different sizes, but your products do come in different shapes and sizes, think about lining them up to create a similar size guide.
In this case, viewers have no idea how big the bags are exactly, but they will immediately understand that the third bag is small. This makes it easier for customers to browse through the product range and quicker to find what they are looking for.