7 Tips for Perfecting Ecommerce Product Photography

Author Jen Kinney
by Jen Kinney
Updated Aug. 2, 2017

Boost Ecommerce Sales With These 7 Product Photo Tips

The ecommerce world has become a very wide, inundated, and competitive world with the prevalence of the internet and the ease of accessibility users have been given. An Internet-based storefront cannot and will not survive on products and prices alone - marketing efforts, branding, design and user outreach need to go hand-in-hand when trying to sell someone on choosing your site over all of the options available on the web. Customers want to know that they are not only getting a good price, but that they are doing business with a legitimate, professional, and trustworthy site.

There are a lot of ways to optimize your site to fit the needs of your customers - some are large-scale changes and others not so large. However, one of the most important things to consider about selling products on a website, and also one of the easiest to improve, is how to display your products with images. Are the colors true to the product? Are all relevant views of the product provided? Are the images clear? Product photography plays a large role in making your customers feel confident in their purchase, as it is the only way they can visually experience the item. Some companies opt to hire professionals to capture images of the product or choose to purchase stock images, but not everyone has the budget to do so. So, if your ecommerce site focuses on selling products and you are taking a DIY approach to product photography, consider these 7 tips for making your product photos more impactful and captivating.

Use the right equipment

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Taking good photos requires equipment made for taking good photos. While digital cameras have come a long way over the past few years, some features are more important than others. For instance, find cameras with optical zoom lenses and the ability to synchronize with a detached light source. An amateur or pro series DSLR would be the ideal solution with its ability to swap lenses, shoot in multiple camera modes, accommodate larger storage capacity and file sizes and synch with either a hot shoe flash or off-camera lighting setups. You can buy most camera bodies with a basic kit lens that will suffice for getting started. You will also need a tripod to stabilize your shot as even the slightest hand shake can cause motion blur - especially when photographing at close ranges. Lastly, you will need a light source, whether it is a camera flash or a soft box. While getting all the right equipment is an expensive investment, it will be worth it when visitors are purchasing with confidence instead of turning away in skepticism.

Use a rolling white background

Your product photography should focus on nothing else but the product. Corners, walls, textures and other background features can take away from the intent of your photograph and be a distraction. For the cleanest background, hang a large white sheet of paper or fabric and let it roll right onto the floor to create a curve instead of a sharp crease at your horizon line. The added bonus to this technique is that in post-production, cutouts and transparent backgrounds are made much easier when the images actual background is a consistent and solid.

Use diffused, soft light and lots of it

The goal in product photography lighting is to cast even, soft light on the whole surface of the object and to have as soft of a shadow appear as possible. To achieve this, you want your light source to be bigger than the product you are photographing. A small, direct light source will leave high contrasting shadows on your subject that are distracting and alter the appearance of the products surface. When setting up lighting, consider large softbox strobes or a flash unit with a diffuser attached to better distribute the light. Lastly, always photograph during daylight and in a room with a good amount of natural light from windows.

Give a sense of scale in the photo

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One of the biggest downsides to online storefronts vs. brick and mortar stores is that customers cannot physically see or touch the object before purchasing. While dimensions can be easily listed, it is not always easy to visualize those numbers in real life. If the object is large, add an image of it next to something relatable, such as a standard door or an adult of average height to give your customer a visual sense of scale. If the object is smaller, place it next to an easily recognized object such as a coin or pencil to give reference to its size.

Take photos at the largest file size possible

Even though photos will always be displayed at 72dpi on the web, it is important to give yourself a lot of room to breathe when it comes to image sizes. Sometimes when you review a low-resolution photo on the small camera screen everything looks great - when in reality it is out of focus and unusable. Give yourself the whole picture first before deciding what stays and what is garbage. The general rule of photography and file sizes is to start large and then crop and resize your way down to the desired size and resolution. Going in the opposite direction of this rule is not possible and will leave you with pixelated junk.

Retouch your photos tastefully

Even though image filters and artistic editing are popular on formats such as Twitter and Instagram, they are not appropriate when it comes to product photography. People want to see what color their potential purchase is and the pictures shown should match that as true as possible. If your product is available in different colors, show all the options through images, not just descriptions. A clean, white background will give your product’s details and features the most attention so avoid throwing in unnecessary colors and backgrounds. If your content management system doesn’t resize photos for you automatically, make sure that you are cropping your images to the right size requirements and resizing them properly to save on bandwidth and load times.

Consider multiple views and views of how the object will be utilized in its environment

The only thing better than one good product photo is a few extra good product photos. Show multiple images from different angles of your products to make up for the fact that you are presenting a 3-dimensional object on a 2-dimensional format. If you are selling an object that holds things, such as a bag, show images of the interior pouches and compartments. In addition to clean and clear photos of your product, consider adding a shot or two of your product in action whether it is a picture of someone using it or a picture of the item in its intended environment