One of the first things that customers see in your online business would be your product photos. This is because humans tend to be attracted to photos and give them more attention than words. Even if you have an amazing and compelling title accompanied by a great product description, it will all go to waste if customers are not compelled to click on the product page. However, most big companies use professional-grade equipment for taking pictures. You may ask how to compete with these big companies if you don’t have the resources to take good pictures. Well, luckily with the advancements in technology, we can take awesome product photos with just your smartphone.
In this blog, we will tell you how to take great product photos with your smartphone and a simple setup. Don’t be intimidated by photography, especially for use in business. The standards for a good product photo compared to professional photography is different. For one, people will view product photos on their devices online. This means the fidelity and technical quality only need to be as good as what devices can show. The best thing that you can do for an online business is to ensure that the overall user experience is consistent and gives out an image of professionality and quality. That doesn’t mean the best photo quality but the best fit.
What You Will Need
Let’s discuss what you will need to take great product photos from the comfort of your own home. If we are talking about just the basics, you actually just need a smartphone and a blank wall or surface. This is because you can take a product photo with just a phone and a regular background. Those two things are the essentials. You don’t need any more to take good product photos. So if cost is an issue, don’t feel compelled to spend money on equipment. However, if you want to increase the quality you can try and obtain this equipment. Keep in mind that everything that we mention here is relatively cheap and can be used for more than just product photos so you won’t be wasting too much money.
The equipment that you will need is mainly for making better quality lighting and setting for your products. All of the heavy liftings will be done by your smartphone. The first thing that you will need is proper lighting equipment. Good lighting can make a mediocre camera sensor result in a good photo. Then you will need to have a good program to edit your photos. And of course, a background set for the products. The best would be a white background that covers the back and bottom of the frame. Ideally, this setup should be put up permanently so that you can change the product often quickly. But of course, you don’t actually need any of this to take good product photos. You can have all of this but still, have bad-quality product photos. What you actually need is to keep practicing and hone your skills. It will take a really long time at first, but once you get the hang of it taking pictures will be very fast and efficient.
Aspects of Product Photography and How to Do Them
These are the things to consider when taking product photography. Many things need to be considered because each aspect of the photo is interconnected. One part of product photography like lighting will affect color, detail, and more. So be sure to consider all of them.
Besides the camera quality, the lighting is the most important thing to consider when taking photos of products. Bad lighting can ruin pictures taken with a great camera. Bad lighting can be adjusted if you are using a DSLR or mirrorless camera. But with smartphones, the sensors are weaker and need more external lighting. The resulting image if taken with bad lighting would be full of noise and become unclear. This will cause your pictures to seem bad quality. The cheapest and simplest method of getting good lighting would be to use natural sunlight. Take pictures during daytime using natural light. This method is actually simpler than using artificial lights. But sunlight can change anytime and is not always available. A good way would be to purchase photo lights or ring lights. These lights usually have diffusion layers on them which make the lighting appear softer and more appealing.
Angles seem like a simple thing, but they are very important when taking product photos. Using the wrong angle can put focus emphasis on aspects of the product that are unappealing or not effective. For example, a smartphone is typically shown from its front and back because they want to avoid showing how thick the phone is. Even though in real life the phone is actually pretty thin, it can seem thick in pictures. This is why angles are very important. You should also prepare various kinds of angles for your product pictures. Having just one angle is bad since consumers will not have enough information to make judgements on your product.
There are 2 types of backgrounds that you will need to use for your product photos. The first would be a blank background that is used to put focus on the product itself. Blank backgrounds can also make your editing easier for use in online platforms. The color is most commonly white or other light colors, but it can be whatever matches your products. The second background would be an aesthetic background. Aesthetic backgrounds are used for beauty shots that can put your product in a beautiful setting. The purpose of an aesthetic background is not utilitarian but emotional. Making your product be associated with a visually appealing representation will increase the judgement of the product by customers.
Regarding editing, there are simple ways and more complicated ways. The easy method is to use mobile apps for your photo editing. Apps like Snapseen, lightroom, and even instagram have great editing features. The great thing about these apps are that they are made to be intuitive and simple to use. These apps are made around ease and convenience instead of comprehensiveness. Typically you would be able to change the hue, saturation, color grading, etc on these apps. Here are the top apps for photo editing on Smartphones:
- Photoshop Express
However, if you want to do things more in-depth, you can use Adobe’s suite of programs, but these can be pricey. You can also try its free alternatives like Canva, Pixlr Editor, PicMonkey, and many more. These are computer programs and include a wider range of features and adjustments. A rule of thumb would be to make sure you do not over-edit your product photos. This makes your product seem less genuine and may lead to consumers feeling unsure.
Key Steps in Editing Photos
Now we will discuss how to edit and what to do in the editor. The steps highlighted here do not have to be followed in order. This is also not an exhaustive list and we encourage you to be experimental and try out new things.
1. Crop the photos to fit your desired size
Cropping is the first thing you should do before you do an edit. The main goal of cropping is to make sure that the photo doesn’t have any excess detail as well as is symmetrical. When we take pictures, we often make small mistakes in symmetry. The horizon may be crooked or the picture includes unwanted background details.
2. Adjust the white balance
Second is the white balance of the photo. Despite its name, white balance does not control the color white in the photo. It actually controls how light is presented and therefore how color levels are shown. White balance is usually referred to as having a warm hue/tone or a colder hue/tone. A warmer white balance means that the picture has a more yellow hue while a colder white balance means it has a more blue hue. These things are not that important for the product photo, but they will add to the quality. Most apps have preset for white balance, and setting for white balance is typically referred to as temperature hence the warm and cold names.
3. Adjust exposure and contrast
Exposure refers to the brightness of a particular picture while contrast is the difference between dark and light objects. Pictures with high exposure can have too much noise. So it is better to get the right exposure when you take the picture. As for contrast, pictures with high contrast have stark significant differences between dark and light objects while lower contrast means the picture is flat and even. The best option for contrast is a middle between the two. For product photos, exposure is more important than contrast since detail is more important.
4. Adjust color vibrancy and saturation
Vibrancy increases intensity of neutral colors while maintaining intensity in brighter colors. Saturation increases the intensity of colors in the whole picture. Depending on your products, saturation and vibrancy won’t be important. If your product is colorful then vibrance and saturation will be very important as it helps accentuate the picture. However, if the product is monochrome or black then this won’t be very important.
5. Sharpen images
Sharpening refers to enhancing the details of your photo. The editing apps should have a slider to adjust the level of detail. However, there is no clear way to adjust the sharpness. You will have to experiment and check using the sliders. There are limitations to adjusting sharpness. You cannot turn an out of focus picture into one that is focused. Overly sharpened pictures will also look weird and have artifacts that can decrease the quality.
6. Finalize and use
Once you’re done editing, stop looking at the photo for a while. This is to ensure that you have fresh new eyes when looking at the picture again. Once you take your eyes off for a while, make the last adjustments before using them in your product pages and social media. You will also need to make different versions that match various platforms. The most common ratio for a photo is a square one that is symmetrical. Most platforms like Instagram and most online stores like Amazon use asymmetrical photos. But you can use a different ratio for platforms like Facebook, web stores, and many more.
What to Do After You Have the Pictures
Once you have taken your pictures and edited them, what do you do? Be sure to get the most out of your product photos. Consistency of image along the platforms that you use would be important. Once you already have product photos, you can always try and improve on them. Increase the level of photography, editing, and skill level. Once you are used to mobile editing apps you can try out more advanced editing apps. You should always try and improve your product photos just like any other part of your business. The smallest parts can have a big impact. If your product photos, usually seen as not a big deal, are done well then customers can see that you take your business seriously. Just be sure to always improve and follow the philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement.
Learning how to take good product photos is a very important aspect of an online business. However, it is a very time-consuming process. The best way to decrease the time would be to hire people to do it for you. But this can be pretty expensive and for an up-and-coming business, this can be hard. Well, if you can’t outsource this, then maybe you can outsource other aspects of your business.