Product photography tips for e-commerce store owners
As an e-commerce store owner, you know that high-quality product photography is very important to attract and convert customers. However, it is not always possible to hire a photographer for every photo shoot, especially in the beginning days of your business. Lucky for us, technology has evolved and it is quite easy to take beautiful pictures on your own. Keep reading to learn more about product photography and how to optimize images for your website!
Make professional-looking photos at home
Nowadays more than ever it is possible to create stunning images from home just with your phone. However, to achieve that extra-quality look, you will need to know some tips and tricks.
One of the main reason why it is possible to create amazing images at home is the fact that almost everyone now owns a smartphone with a high-quality camera. So, the first order of business is to asses is your phone camera good enough for product photos.
How to do that?
You can use your own judgment, and decide whether images created with your phone are crisp, have high resolution, and will look great on a website. You can also check the image settings on your phone to gather extra information, for example, the size of your images.
Another option is to follow basic recommendations on phone models that have the best cameras at the moment. So, if you have Apple iPhone 8 or newer, Samsung Galaxy S8 or newer, Huawei P20 Pro or newer, Google Pixel 2 or newer you have a good chance of creating amazing pictures.
Phones of course are not the only option for high-quality photos. Photo cameras are still a good choice for creating the best content for your webpage.
Once you have decided on the camera you will use for your photos, you need to find a good spot where to do the photoshoot. If you are not working in a professional photo studio, it is best to use natural daylight. It means – window light. The bigger the window, the better.
Size of your product
The size of your photo studio at home depends on the size and nature of the product you are photographing. For jewelry, you will need a very little photo corner, while for bigger items like pottery, clothing, etc, you will need a much bigger space. Also, keep in mind that the bigger the item, the bigger the natural light source has to be.
If you own a print on demand t-shirt dropshipping store, you might even consider taking your items outside and having an outdoor photoshoot with models. That way the t-shirts are shown in a natural setting in natural light. Of course, you can pair the outdoor photoshoot with indoor single-product shots.
Avoid sunlight like a vampire!
It might sound counterintuitive, but photos that are taken in direct sunlight will have too much contrast between different parts of the products. It means that the parts of the product that are in direct sunlight will be overexposed, while the parts in the shadow will look too dark. Details of your product will be lost either way.
So the best way how to take pictures on a sunny day is:
- If you are working indoors with a window light, just make sure the window you are using doesn’t have direct sunlight peeping in. If it is a sunny day but the sun is not visible through the window you want to use, you will have the best lighting.
- If you are shooting outside, find a subtle shadow! If you don’t want to play with light and shadow in your pictures then avoid any patterns made from shadows, for example, from foliage. It is best to find a shadow beside a house or any other solid object.
If it is overcast, but still bright outside, it is the best time to shoot some photos. Wait for that cloud to cover the sun, and shoot away!
When setting up your studio by the window, try to position it so the light is coming in from the left or the right (not from the back or the front). Start your shoot when it is the brightest, and if it is too bright, you can always wait for a while or use accessories that help with light management, for example, diffuser sheets.
Use diffuser sheets to soften the light
If the sunlight is too harsh, you can use accessories like diffuser sheets. Diffuser sheets help to distribute the light more evenly, therefore, making it more usable for photos. You can purchase diffuser sheets online or use white tissue paper or any similar DIY solution.
Use bounce boards to distribute light more evenly
Another accessory you can use to manage natural light is bounce boards. They are boards, often made from cardboard that have a reflective surface. It can be white, gold, or silver. You can use these boards to reflect light on the parts of the object that are in the shadow. It will make the light more evenly dispersed and the object better lit.
Background for the photos
It is wise to choose a white background for the photos. White is a very reflective surface and it will reflect light onto your object from the back as well. It is also a very neutral background and works for a lot of products and website designs. Just make sure you have enough of the background material so it can go seamlessly on the base of the surface as well. It will make the photo look like it was made in a studio.
Use Tripod for a steady shot
Tripods are perfect for stabilizing the shot (and therefore making it better quality) as well as for standardizing the look of your photos. The e-commerce website will look more coherent if all the thumbnail photos are shot from one angle. And a tripod can help you achieve both – stabilization and standardization.
How many photos you take of your product is your choice. However, keep in mind that you definitely want to give your potential customer the best view of your product, and that might mean several photos from different angles. If you are not sure what angles to try, check out some of these!
Eye level angle
Eye level angle is when you take a photo just as you are looking at the product. The camera can be in one straight line with the product or a little bit above.
Low angle is when you are looking at the product a little bit from below.
High angle is when you are looking at the product through your camera almost from above, but not entirely.
Bird’s eye angle
Bird’s eye angle is when you are standing right over the product and shooting directly from above.
Edit your photos
To achieve the best results, you might need to tweak some lighting mistakes or remove some objects in post-production. If you have never done it, it might sound scary, but in reality, it is easy and very doable.
You want your photos to look realistic since they are for an e-commerce store. It means that you don’t need much editing for the photos, you just need to make them look good.
You can use mobile photo editing apps like Lightroom and Snapseed. In Lightroom, you can touch up the light – make the image look brighter and bouncier. However, in Snapseed it is easy to remove small objects or other imperfections that won’t be on the products when they get to their new owners.
Optimize photos for the webpage
Before you add your beautifully created images to your webpage, there are a few things you need to do. These activities will make your photos SEO-friendly and improve user experience on your website.
Choose an appropriate size for the image
When you upload pictures on your website, make sure you upload them in the right size. For example, if an image is going to be a banner for the first page, you don’t need it to have a resolution of a large format poster. Choose something more appropriate! Another example is small images like favicons that also don’t need to be big in size. When you have pictures in the right sizes, you reduce the unnecessary weight of the webpage and it works better and faster.
Reduce file size
File size is not the same as the image size. Even though reduced image size will reduce the file size as well, you don’t always need to reduce the image size to get the file size you need. To reduce file size, but not the image size, try internet converters like TinyPNG.com. That way you can save a good amount of kilobytes and not compromise the picture quality.
Name your files so they are more findable on search engines! Do your SEO keyword research and use that for the file name. For example, if you are selling print on demand t-shirts, the file name could be something like “t-shirt with a dog” instead of “IMG 451”. It is also a good idea to incorporate your brand name in the file name. Just add a dash after the keyword and write your brand or website.
ALT text is primarily meant for describing what is visible in the photo. This information is used by screenreaders that people with vision impairments use as well as in situations when there is a problem with the image loading. In that case, it will show the Alt text of the image.
However, aside from these two reasons, Alt text is also used by search engine algorithms to gather information about a website. So to have the best SEO and user experience results try to marry all three of them – use descriptive language about what is in the picture and incorporate keywords, as well as add your brand name.
Make sure you have a good server
The server on which you are hosting your website has a crucial role in the page loading speed. On an e-commerce store, there are usually lots of pictures, maybe even videos that make the page loading speed slow down. To keep it at an optimal level, make sure you have a good, fast server that can provide you with the best experience.
With the tools of the 21st century, it is easy to create amazing pictures for your website yourself. Use a good camera, take photos in good light, edit them a little bit in post-production, and implement good SEO and user experience practices when uploading the picture on the webpage. And voila! you have made yourself professionally looking product photos for your website.