ArtFire Success Series - Product Photography
Welcome back to our Success Series and congratulations on all the hard work you’ve put into your shop so far! Today we cover product photography.
ArtFire is home to 1000s of merchants vying for attention which means it’s up to you to make your products look their absolute possible best…ready to sell!
Great photos highlight quality & features.
A good photograph (or a series of, in the case of product photography) is worth a thousand words.
Once you have captured a customer’s attention, a collection of well-lit beautiful clear images showcase the intricate details of your products allowing your craftsmanship to shine through. These series of photographs are the photographic evidence of quality that your customer is looking for.
Show some confidence!
A potential customer might come to the conclusion that if you don’t care about the image of your business, then maybe you don’t care about other aspects of your business, such as their order, customer service or shipping. Producing clear, focused images will make your whole shop look even more professional and show your customer that not only do you care about your products, but that you also value your business, and more importantly, their shopping experience with you.
Watch the video:
Lesson 4: Product Photography – ArtFire Success Series from ArtFire on YouTube.
The Four Essential Shots
The Studio Shot:
- This means showing your product on a plain background, well lit for all to see. This is the clearest way to show your shoppers what you’re offering. Clear and bright photographs attract shoppers and set a realistic expectation of what a customer can expect to receive, while at the same time helping you avoid the hassle of returns and exchanges.
- If your product is small you can tape a piece of white paper onto a wall and let it curve down onto the table or floor to make a seamless backdrop. If you’re selling clothes or larger housewares, try hanging a white sheet to your garage door or up against a wall.
- This is a close-up image that highlights your product’s fine detail. Including a close-up shot or two will help show off the quality and texture of your materials and express how much love went into the construction of your products.
- Once your item is well lit, get your camera as close as you can while maintaining focus. If you’re using a mobile phone, try investing on a macro lens, which lets you get your phone within an inch of your subject without losing focus. If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera turn on the macro setting (often represented with an image of a flower).
Snap for Scale:
- This is a photo of your product next to a common object or on a model to show its size. Stray away from using the boring ol’ ruler to show scale, a familiar object will help people put the product in perspective. If you’ve made clothes or jewelry, put them on a human! Friends and family make great models.
- If you’re selling a non-wearable product, you can style your scale photo with an item that would naturally go with it. For example, if you’re selling a cutting board you can place a chopping knife and a bell pepper to show it’s scale, or a purse can have a cell phone peeking out.
- This is an image of your product looking good in its element. Help people imagine what they’d do if they owned your amazing product and sway them to make the purchase.
- If you’re selling prints, for example, take a photo of each one hanging on a wall, to show shoppers just how great they look incorporated into home décor. Pick the cutest spot in your house (or your adorable friend’s house) and take photos of your creation in use.
- Have fun with it!
Tips That Will Elevate Your Photography:
Show your products in their best light
- Lighting is key to good photography. It makes it easier for shoppers to accurately see the colors and details of your products, which is crucial for online shopping/selling. Using consistent lighting in all of your shop’s photography helps reinforce your brand identity and creates a cohesive look through out your shop.
- Natural light is your best friend in photography but steer away from direct sunlight as it can create distracting shadows around your product. For best results pick a cloudy day or photograph your product indoors next to a window. Diffuse the light as needed with a white sheet or reflect the light with a white poster board.
- Camera phones and point-and-shoot cameras do just fine but if you’re serious about your business consider upgrading to a digital single-less reflex (DSLR) camera to capture more of that great natural light.
- If natural light isn’t an option for you consider buying a couple photography lights to place around your product (if you’re just starting out and you can’t afford to build your top notch product photography set up just yet, you can buy second hand adjustable head floor lamps). You can also build your own DIY light-box on the cheap.
- Make photography part of your workflow, include it in your studio or office.
Keep things crisp and clear
- Crisp and clear photographs make a big difference in the quality of your photos and enhance your product. If shoppers can’t see the product clearly why would they bother buying it? A common photography mistake made by online merchants is getting too close to the object to where the lens is unable to focus. For best results use a tripod (or a sturdy stack of books) in order to get a steady picture with no blur. Make sure to have the autofocus function of your camera turned on to prevent blurry or out of focus photos.
- To highlight your product, try using a shallow depth of field – where the object you’re focusing on is in sharp focus while the background is more blurred. You can accomplish this with a wider aperture setting, such as an f/1.8 or f/2.8. This is where owning a DSLR camera comes in handy because you can switch out lenses.
Compose on camera to save editing time
- It’s easier to correct issues with lighting or composition while shooting, rather than trying to correct lighting and crop out distracting props after the fact.
- Make sure everything is in order before starting your photoshoot. Take some test shots to make sure the lighting, props and composition are to your liking – consider reviewing your test shots on your computer as opposed to the camera’s display window. Doing this will save you time in editing and get you one step closer to listing and selling your items.
- Pro Tip: Experiment with the Manual settings of your camera to figure out the best lighting conditions for your product. Using the AUTO setting on your camera or using the presets means that lighting decisions like white balance, aperture and shutter speed will be left up to the camera to decide and they might not be the best decisions.
Make photography part of your workflow
- Your photos are your customers’ first introduction to your products. They can help you make a sale, or send shoppers in search of something else. Speed up your photoshoot by setting up a light box in your workspace with good lighting and a seamless backdrop. That way, you can easily swap items in and out without adjusting your lighting and composition. Not only will this save you time, but a clean background and consistent lighting can boost the professionalism of your brand’s presentation.
- Developing a schedule for shooting your products or shooting new photos of your process and workspace ensure that you always have fresh images. Images that can be used for listings, blog posts, or posted on social media as sneak peeks of your work. Plus, regular photography practice will only help you improve over time.
Experiment until you get the shots that feel right
- Photography, especially using high-tech equipment, can be intimidating. Face your fears and experiment until you find the workflow, equipment and techniques that feel right for you.
- Editing shouldn’t be intimidating either. You are not obliged to use Adobe Photoshop, there are plenty of free online editing tools and basic photo editing software you can use to get your foot in the door of photo editing.
- Once you are able to tell your brand story confidently through persuasive imagery and have gained your customer’s trust, they will remember your brand and will be more likely to confidently recommend you to others, even if they’re not the ones buying from you
- Your photos are more likely to be added to Favorite lists, ArtFire emails, social media, blog posts, and pinned on Pinterest; all because your photo looks professional and most importantly, legitimate. You will also feel a lot happier that you are doing everything you can to give your shop the best possible chance of success!
- A great photo is worth a thousand words
- A great photo creates a need
- Great photos show brand confidence
- Styled photos will strengthen a brand image
- A great brand image will establish trust