ArtFire Help Center
Photography Guide for Products Posted On: 04/06/2011 Last Updated: 10/18/2011
Photographing Your Product Made Easy!
When it comes to selling your product online, the photographs of your item are invaluable. They show your buyer what your item is, of course, but they also communicate your vision, your craftsmanship, and your aesthetic. Modern digital cameras make it easy to take great pictures by just paying attention to a few simple things.
Here are the simple basics of good product photography:
- Color (White Balance)
Lighting is vital to good photography. While lighting can be a very complicated aspect of photography, with the right setup you can take great pictures easily and consistently. You should be able to take good pictures using the automatic exposure mode on your digital camera but it is good to spend a little time to get familiar with the other exposure modes available to you.
When taking pictures, you want lots of light, but not harsh direct light. Dark shadows caused by direct light will ruin your photos. The key to great pictures is to have plenty of diffused light.
You may have noticed the cloth boxes or umbrellas that cover the lights at professional photography studios. The cloth diffuses the bright light and softens the shadows caused by uncovered lights. Some shadowing is good to define objects but dark shadows are distracting. For product photography you can use a light tent to solve this problem. A light tent is a cloth box where your product goes inside and the lights go outside the box. You should use at least two lights, one on each side or three lights, two sides and one on top of the light tent. These can be purchased as a kit, tent and lights online.
You can take your pictures outside but it is much easier to control your light if you set up a light tent. Outdoor photography is more difficult because of the shadows cause by sunlight. We suggest that you take your photos indoors with plenty of light. The lights that come with light tents are usually high output fluorescent lights that are great for product photography.
Most modern automatic cameras include a 'Macro' mode - the icon usually looks a bit like the silhouette of a tulip. This mode adjusts the camera to allow for photos of small objects close to the camera. Your camera will not focus when you are close to an object unless you use this setting. When you are taking pictures of objects that are small, such as jewelry, or for close-ups to show the texture or detail of an object be sure that your macro focus is turned on.
When photographing small objects always zoom out all the way and move your camera close to your product. A tripod is strongly suggested, although a table or other steady surface for support will do in a pinch.
Many cameras also have an auto-focus feature that will 'lock' the focus on the main item in the picture when you hold the shutter button down half way. Check your camera manual for more details and to see if you camera offers this feature. This will allow you to make sure that your camera is focused on your items not the background. Set you camera to take at least a 1 megabyte picture. Even though this is a much higher resolution than needed for the web, it will capture more detail and allow you to crop without losing quality.
Simple background props can help add depth, texture, and interest when 'staging' your items. Be careful when selecting items as props. It is generally better to keep your picture light and bright rather than dark. Use mostly light colors and objects that will compliment your product and not distract from your main object.
Different types of light will cause the colors in your pictures to look wrong. Your camera may have preset lighting selections that you can set in order to get true colors or you may be able to white balance your camera. This is an important feature to be familiar with and easy to use. Usually you will place a white piece of paper in the area that you will be shooting your pictures and press the white balance button. Be sure to refer to your owner's manual to learn how to utilize the white balance feature. If your lighting changes be sure to white balance your camera again to maintain true colors.
Editing and Saving
Once you have taken your picture, use photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to crop, size (500 X 500 for ArtFire), and make any corrections necessary to improve your picture. Save your photo using the "save for the web" option to reduce the file size and optimize your picture before uploading.
Good pictures will increase your sales. We suggest that you post several pictures of each item. As a Pro member of ArtFire you can post up to 10 pictures of each product to show more detail. A good picture can mean a better overall presentation which will get you better prices, more sales, and more traffic to your studio and your items. Great pictures can be easy if you keep these simple tips in mind.