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The Importance of Product Photography and How to Do It on a Tight Budget

Any eCommerce store owner knows just how important images are for online selling. Even you as a consumer would probably base a huge bulk of your decision-making on product photos. After all, online shoppers can’t see the products with their own eyes, much less inspect them in their hands.

Not only are people naturally visual, but the sense of sight also plays a huge role in online shopping because customers can’t touch, smell, or even taste (for edible items) the products. Visual information is actually 90% of what’s transmitted to our brains.

Having an online store means you should also know what goes into product photography and what type of images would engage visitors and increase conversions.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when doing product photography:

Choose the Right Background. 

Product photography only makes use of two backgrounds – plain white which allows the product to stand out, and a natural environment that shows the context of product use.

For instance, if you’re selling swimming attire, you can have photos of a swimsuit on a mannequin against a white background and also photos of it worn by someone at a beach or by a swimming pool.

When you use a white background, it enables customers to see and appreciate the product at a glance. And when you have in-context images, you give them ideas as to how the product will benefit them. These lifestyle photos are also good for social media use.

Provide Several Images in One Product Page. 

Don’t be content just putting up one or two images on each product page. It should be at least five, inclusive of both backgrounds described above.

If your store doesn’t have a zoom feature, then it’s crucial for you to include closeup photos as well as various views. Remember that every customer would want to view different sides because they want to feel as if they’re actually in a physical store examining the product in front of them.

Always Have Good Lighting. 

One important element that you should never take for granted or do without is lighting. For your images to appear professional, even if you’re just using your cellphone, you should make sure that sufficient lighting is present.

You can check out instructional videos online that will show you how to use ambient and artificial lighting for DIY product shoots.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer, then you should learn these DIY techniques.  Pixelz has a great tutorial on how to set up your own studio which you can view here.

Boot-strapped photo studio courtesy of pixelz - click for a tutorial.
Boot-strapped photo studio courtesy of pixelz – click for a tutorial.

Set Up a Shooting Station with a White Background.

It’s easy to set up your own shooting station for your products. You can simply use a chair and then clip a roll of craft paper onto the top. Let the paper move down along the backrest and fold/sweep across the top of the actual seat as it follows the natural shape of the chair.

Improvise a Light Box or Light Tent. 

Instead of buying a lightbox, you can make your own. This is an open-front box with translucent sides that enable the even distribution of light around the object in the center.

To create one, just grab a plastic container box and take off the lid. Cover the bottom and sides with white paper to serve as diffusers. This will help get rid of unnecessary shadows.

If you can buy studio lights to place on each of the sides, then do it. If not, just place your light tent or box beside a big window.

Use the Proper, Fitting Surfaces for Products. 

The surface you use depends on the product you’re shooting. Oftentimes, you will have to have a flat surface that will not add any shadows or will not disturb the product you set up. For clothes, it’s best to use a mannequin or have a friend wear them. For jewelry, come up with a bust using cardboard.

Utilize a Makeshift Tripod or a Smartphone Stand. 

It’s vital to use a real tripod if you can afford one. These days, there are plenty of affordable tripods that can last you very long. But if you don’t have one, you may opt to place your digital camera or DSLR on top of a pile of books so you can have stabilized photos. This way, you can avoid blurry images.

If you’re using a smartphone, then use a mini tripod for cellphones or one of those inexpensive phone stands.

Use a Good Smartphone with a High Resolution Camera.

Nowadays, smartphones have become so common that you can actually get one with a good camera for a very affordable price. If you don’t know how to maneuver a professional DSLR, a smartphone camera is the best way to go about it. The images also have very high resolution and you won’t have to worry about manual settings.

Learn Basic Photo Editing Skills. 

No, it’s not really necessary for you to spend much time learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. There are much simpler photo editing software or mobile apps that you can avail for free, such as Canva, Pixlr, Fotor, and Snapseed.

In post-processing of images, you can adjust lighting or exposure, sharpen, crop out unnecessary things that may have been captured in your framing, and get rid of things you don’t want to include in the photo. For example, you can erase any signs of the mannequin, bust or stand so that only the product will be shown against a white background.

If you’re looking to use your photos in graphics for email marketing, social media, or on your website, but don’t have a whole lot of Photoshop skills, don’t worry!  Tools such as Design Wizard make creating graphics on-the-fly simple and easy – and it’s free.

These simple tips will surely get you started on product photography for your eCommerce store. With trial and error, you’ll be able to come up with your own professional-looking images that can have a huge impact on your business.

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