Customers might find the exact products they are searching for on your website. However, they might leave the page without ordering if they cannot see what the products look like. When it comes to eCommerce, seeing is believing. If you want to win a potential buyer’s trust (and therefore, their money), you must provide proof that you have what they want.
That is where product photography comes in. These images do more than give people a glance at the item in question. They can also highlight its best features and nail the sale. As a result, taking product images is not something you can afford to accomplish without effort. Here are five tips on snapping great pictures for your online store.
1. Show Customers What They Want to See
Composition is key to creating a great image. There may not be any hard rules or standards, though you can certainly find basic principles and theory discussion online. The most important thing to know about composition is that simply snapping a picture of your product is not enough. That picture must show what your customers most desire to see and know.
This may require you to shoot images from many different vantages: front, side, other side, back, bird’s-eye, and more. If multiple items come bundled with the product, you should try to show them all together. Open the kit box, place everything next to each other, show each variant and/or component side by side. Lastly, many shoppers appreciate being able to zoom-in to see the details of the products before making a purchase. This is why most businesses offer a magnifier option for their product photos.
2. Get the Right Lighting
Some photographers will tell you that the most important element of the craft is light. One cannot see anything without it, of course. However, lighting a photo is not always as easy as having a source present in the shooting location. If your lamp or the sun are in the wrong place, they may produce shadows or glare. Both can distract from or even conceal important details. Moreover, uncontrolled lighting can make a product look more garish than how it appears in-person.
Before you start taking pictures, you need to take care in setting up the lighting. Natural lighting, which is just sunlight, takes less work to set up but offers less control. Artificial lighting is popular because it is more versatile, but it may require more effort. Either way, you may want to experiment and determine which angles show your products in, well, the best light.
3. Just Use a Tripod
Taking a picture with a smartphone or handheld camera is not an inherently bad idea. You just should not use them with your hands. The practice leaves room for many mistakes: keeping them perfectly still is tough, and more importantly, taking consistent photos is practically impossible. Propping the device against or above something can help, but docking it on a tripod would be far more helpful.
This single type of equipment can make a massive difference just by virtue of holding steady. It does not even have to break your bank: plenty of inexpensive tripods exist that provide flexibility and extendibility. Many can even hold phones. The investment is worthwhile just for making all the photos consistent in appearance and quality.
4. Only Upload High-Resolution Images
Your composition might be artistic, your lighting may be just right, and your image may be free of motion blur. However, the photograph will hardly appeal to anyone if the quality is sorely lacking. We are not simply referring to standards of good photography, but to the actual resolution. You should not upload a picture to your website if it appears pixelated, fuzzy, distorted, faint, or out of focus. This is especially important if you are interested in getting social media engagement for these images.
Consider the perspective of your prospective customers. These people are taking a chance on an unfamiliar online store, hoping it can deliver the goods they seek. A low-quality image may seem like an attempt to conceal a knock-off product, or an item that is poorly made. Alternatively, it may give the impression that the merchant is not serious about their business, their products, or their customers. Either way, they will feel alienated, or even believe themselves to be at risk of being scammed.
5. Hire Professionals if Necessary
Everyone has different skills and knowledge. This is a nice way of saying that not everyone has a strong eye for photography. Even now, when technology gives everyone the means to shoot high-quality images, some people just cannot figure out how to do it well. If none of your attempts come out as well as you had hoped, you could always contract a professional photographer to lend their expertise.
There is still room in the smartphone era for professional photographers, and some specialize in product photography. These people know all the advanced techniques for composition and lighting. They are also likely to own state-of-the-art equipment, both for getting the picture and editing it. The result can be stunning and eye-opening to customers and even to the vendors themselves, seeing their product in a new light.
Any business owner who finds this prospect appealing may want to search for photographers with extensive experience — not just anyone with a camera. Requesting a portfolio is hardly unusual, and many will provide samples on their website. Also, keep in mind that while you may be the expert on the product, the photographer is the expert on the shot.
Taking great product images requires more work than just tapping the button on your smartphone camera. It may require purchasing equipment or even hiring a professional. However, those extra charges would significantly contribute to impressing your customers and encouraging purchases. Do not underestimate the value of a fantastic product photo.
About the Author
Gonzalo Gil is the founder and CEO of 3dcart, a leading ecommerce software for online businesses. As an ecommerce expert, Gonzalo works with businesses of all sizes to help them build their online presence and succeed in selling online.