One of the things my product photography clients express to me most often is that they struggle with showing their customer the nitty gritty details of their product through a simple image (without the ability to let them physically hold it before purchasing like we can do in stores!). They have a product that people want, a product that can solve someone’s problems – yet they get frustrated because they know that their photographs aren’t showing the product in the best light. The images simply aren’t “selling” the product. And with online shops going nowhere, being able to portray your product’s best assets through a simple photograph is crucial in showing your customer what you offer. So today I’m going to give you three simple tips to think about when photographing your products, as well as a peek into one of my natural light setups.
1. Utilize Natural Light
Most small business owners don’t have fancy lighting setups and that’s okay! Take advantage of the sun’s natural light by planning your product shoots when the sun is at its prime. For me, that prime time is around 10-12am. Anything after that? Forget it. The morning is great for bright photos, while I usually find myself battling harsh shadows in the afternoon. Natural light is a great (free!) tool to take advantage of if you’re willing to adapt to its constant changes. As you can see in the photo above, my backdrop is right next to a large window, with a light reflector positioned on the right side to serve as a tool to bounce back light to the subject. No artificial lighting units needed here, just some white matteboard and a photo reflector to achieve that bright look I want.
2. Experiment with Angles
Your main goal of product photos is to leave the customer with no guesses as to what it might be. Whether that’s showing them an accurate depiction of color, size, or texture – your photos should give the customer full understanding of what it is they would be buying. And to do that, you often need to experiment with angles and adjust your camera’s viewpoint to zone in on those details. Think about what it is about that particular product that is special. What is it you want to highlight? Analyzing its “best features” can help you determine what angle to shoot with. Close-ups at table height tend to feel more personal, while a shot taken at a distance may not feel as personal but can help show the customer a setting in which the product may be used. As you can see in the image above, shooting from overtop made the most sense since we wanted to focus on the actual case design. Shooting at table height (like shown in the first image with the bowls) wouldn’t have given us the detail we needed to emphasize the selling point of the phone cases.
3. Use Props to Tell A Story
When choosing props, its important to ask yourself if the props are contributing to the story or are they distracting from it? Often times, we like to throw in extra trinkets or items because we don’t know what else to do with that empty space. But before tossing in items “just because” – think about what they are contributing to the story. If you’re selling jewelry, what kind of setting would your customer most likely keep it in once purchased? Rather than just showing the item on a white background, could you show a styled image of it in use? Or a shot of it being worn by someone who embodies the image of ideal customer? If it’s an art product, can you show it being used in your home rather than a flat digital image of it? Great product photos should not only show your item, but they should also tell a story and evoke an emotion in the viewer that allows them to connect with it on a personal level. A pretty photograph is nothing if it doesn’t speak to who you need it to.
Product photography can be a tricky art to master, but with a willingness to adapt and explore new techniques and ways of thinking, you can improve the images that serve as the face to your online business. For those of you who do your own photography, what are your favorite tips & tricks to get the best photographs using the resources you have? Leave a comment below!