8 Ways to Make Brilliant, Captivating Product Photos

by Today's Eggspert

Last updated on December 20th, 2017

Having product photos that stand out is more important than any other piece of content on your product page. One study found that 67% of people rate the quality of product images to be “very important,” more than product information, detailed descriptions or even reviews!

how images affect e-commerce

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Knowing this, what can you do to make sure your product photos stand out and are the best they can be?

The tips in this post will help you ensure the quality of your images and make sure your product photos stand out amongst your competition.

1. Start by using a Tripod and Lightbox

Great product photos start with taking the right photo and taking it well. While lots can be done to images in post-production, spending a little bit more time upfront with your photography setup will quickly pay off in time saved during photo editing and help create consistent product images that really pop.

Two basic tools that can take your product photography to the next level are a tripod and a lightbox.

tripod

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Tripods

A tripod helps you do two things:

  1. Take consistent photos. With a tripod, you can photograph multiple products or the same product from multiple angles without having to remember how your camera was positioned.
  2. Reposition items. Especially important if you’re working solo, having a tripod will help you make fine adjustments to either your product or the position of the camera.

Super tip: Try not to be too stingy when it comes to purchasing a tripod. There are plenty of cheap and flimsy tripods on Amazon. Generally, the heavier and robust tripods make for a more stable shooting platform. Additionally, consider a tripod that excels at height and angle adjustment. Trying to get a perfectly level photo can be impossible with a cheap tripod.

Here’s a good tripod that should do the trick:

good tripod for shooting product photos

It’s the K&F Concept TM2324 62″. You can find it at Amazon here.

Lightboxes

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The other useful tool is a lightbox or light tent. This is simply a box with white or translucent sides that helps to diffuse light from multiple sources across your products.

A lightbox will help you to illuminate the most important features of your products and create a more uniform light source across them. The white background will also make it easy to edit out the background from your product photos in post-production.

Whether you’re using a lightbox that you have purchased or have created your own DIY one, you’ll probably want to also invest in some lights as well. Ideally, you will want three lights – one for each side and another on the top to shine on the product from above.

2. Switch to Macro Mode for Finer Details

macro photo

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Macro (or, more technically, close-up) photos are ideal for showcasing the finer features of your product that can make the difference in customers choosing to purchase it. If they are ready to make a purchase, you want to make sure you are providing them with all the information possible. The best way to do this is with photography.

For example, macro shots are great for showing the stitching on a bag or the finer craftsmanship in your product. They showcase the quality and points of differentiation in your product that competitors are lacking.

Most cameras and smartphones will now have a macro mode built into the camera. Selecting this option will allow your camera lens to focus on objects closer than usual.

There are a few things you can do to improve your macro photo shots:

  • Use a tripod. A tripod will help to stabilize your shot further and focus in on your subject.
  • Increase the aperture. Most macro shots require a shallow depth of field, so increase your aperture setting until you’re happy with the results.
  • Choose the right lighting. Make sure that you have adequate lighting as this is especially important to bring out the finer details in a macro shot.
  • Focus. Smartphones and cameras will often allow you to choose the focus point of your photo which can significantly improve your macro photos.
  • Use a timer. You can eliminate any jitters caused from taking the shot by utilizing the timer setting on your phone or camera.

Macro shots are often underutilized in eCommerce, but they can really show your customers that you stand behind the quality of your products. The finer details can make a world of difference.

3. Create Shadows for a Sense of Depth

Showing your customers that you are willing to spend a little bit more time in post-production on your product photos helps them feel like they are buying from a more professional business. Applying a shadow or reflection, either during your photoshoot or later in editing, to your product is a great way to achieve this heightened style and make your photos stand out.

Watches

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Even large eCommerce brands like Nike use shadows in their product photography to emphasize their product features. And when shooting on a white background, shadows can really exaggerate a product’s features.

Correctly done, shadows and reflections can provide a sense of depth to products that help the customer visualize them in a 3D space. There are a couple of things you need to remember when applying product shadows, though:

  1. You have to keep your shadows consistent across products. Trying to replicate the same shadow while taking the product photo will be nearly impossible because of differing product shapes, sizes, and materials. It’s much easier to apply a shadow in Photoshop.
  2. Shadows should look natural. You don’t want to take away from the product by using an exceptionally bold shadow or reflection.

4. Make your Photos Realistic with Color Correction

Taking photos in a studio doesn’t always accurately reflect what the product looks like, which is a problem when customers are basing their purchase on the product images. For fashion products especially, if the product image colors don’t match the product that arrives, it could lead to more returns and unhappy customers!

The best way to fix this is to use a program like Adobe Lightroom that allows you to quickly adjust your color settings to more accurately showcase your products.

What’s more, you can use Lightroom to batch process your photos and apply the same corrections to an entire library of product images. Meaning if you want to add, for example, a warmer look to all of your photos or slightly increase the contrast, you can ensure all of your products have the same corrections applied.

Just remember that color correction should be used to make photos seem more realistic or idyllic. Using filters to showcase what it looks like on Instagram doesn’t help the customer make an informed purchase.

5. Utilize a Mix of Photography Angles

When it comes to increasing conversions, one of the most effective ways you can improve your store is to increase the number of product photos you are using for each product. Too many stores rely on only one or two photos to showcase their product. This is in stark contrast to how a shopper would assess a product in a retail store.

In fact, customers overwhelmingly prefer to see product photos that show the product from 360º. What’s more, you can really make the most out of your product photos by including ones that show close-ups of the most important features.

For industries like fashion and apparel, attention to detail is required to compensate for the inability to physically experience the product. The user wants to be able to ascertain the quality of certain aspects, like the stitching and fit. Proper product photography will help them decide for themselves, rather than rely on product descriptions.

red headphones

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Context shots can help the customer further visualize how the product is used in real life and give them the confidence to purchase from a store that has clearly invested more into their product photography.

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6. Know the Benefits of Natural vs. Artificial Lighting

Lighting can have a big impact on the quality and style of your photo. When it comes to choosing what kind of lighting source you’re going to use when photographing your products, you have a choice between natural light from the sun and artificial lighting.

While natural lighting can be a great way to get started quickly, there are certainly a few downsides. Natural lighting:

  • Is only available at certain times of the day and is dependent on conditions
  • Requires the right positioning to capture the correct light
  • Is harder to keep consistent across photos, requiring more time in post-production
  • Is often dependent on extra materials, like a fill

The inconsistency of natural lighting means you may have to spend a good amount of time playing with diffusers and fills to get a good quality image or spend more time in post-production editing your photos.

light reflector

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These challenges become even harder if you’re trying to create consistent product images across your whole website.

That’s why investing in artificial lighting is often a good choice. Even a basic DIY setup which doesn’t have to break the bank can be a massive time saver that will bring an improvement in quality and consistency to your product photos.

For most eCommerce stores, a small light studio is a great investment that will let you take product photos quickly and semi-professionally. But there are cases where natural light can achieve great results, especially if you are working with an editing service or designer. The choice is yours to make.

7. Follow the Rule of Thirds

This is by far the most widely known rule in photography, and is often used to make products pop even more. Centering your product is pretty straightforward, but for a more memorable shot, following the rule of thirds can be your best friend.

Photo grid

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Draw four imaginary lines, two horizontal and two vertical, dividing your frame into horizontal and vertical thirds. Aim to place your product in one of the four intersections. Generally speaking, the bottom right corner draws more attention as we tend to view pictures like we read text. However, feel free to experiment with different compositions and find out what works best for you.

8. Keep your Photos on a White or Consistent Background

Showcasing your products on a white (or at least consistent) background is now almost universally used by eCommerce stores large and small. It’s generally accepted that doing so helps to:

  • Showcase the product. Images on a white background are clearer and brighter, which helps you to showcase the most important features of the product in a positive light.
  • Remove distractions. Without the noise of a background, there is nothing to distract the customer from viewing the features of the product or confusing it with other items in the background.
  • Keep images consistent. Products with the same background will help your customers browse through your shop better and create a professional level of consistency.

Editing your photos to have a consistent background is probably the most important thing you can do to make your images stand out. Not only does it help keep your images consistent and clear, but it can also save your business time and money by standardizing the editing process.

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Your product photography is one of the most important (but time-consuming) aspects of running an eCommerce store. Whether you do it yourself using the tips from this post or enlist help from an expert, stepping up your product photography game will help you stand out from your competition and make more sales.

About the Author: Rachel Jacobs is Head of Content and Partnerships at Pixc, a leading eCommerce product optimization service. Pixc transforms average product photos into professional images designed to increase conversions. A lover of all things content and growth, Rachel spends most of her time planning new content, fine-tuning growth strategies and tweaking email campaigns. Take advantage of Pixc’s free trial here.

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