GUEST POST BY: BYSIEF
Bad product photos are a real ‘killer’ for online sales. If you want to sell your products online, displaying your products in the best possible way is a must. First impressions are so important, in fact, they play a huge part in the decision making process for your potential buyers. The goal is to create strong images that create a certain feeling, a feeling that pulls your ideal customers in, like a magnet. Not only does it differentiate you from your competitors, but helps you to stand out in the online jungle in a unique way. But how do you ensure strong, unique images for your products?
In this article, I will tell you how you can easily take product photos from home, creating a professional look without making it too complicated for you.
What do you need for a great product picture?
When taking pictures you need five things: Light, an SLR camera or mobile phone, a surface/ background, your products and styling accessories.
SLR camera or mobile phone
If you want to start with photography, it goes without saying that you need a SLR camera or mobile phone. Of course, it is fantastic to take pictures with very expensive cameras, but it is actually unnecessary. I am using a Nikon D5300 with a 50mm lens 1.8. It’s a very nice camera for taking beautiful pictures. Don’t have an SLR camera? Just use your mobile phone! They can also make beautiful pictures nowadays.
Light is a deal breaker
This part is often forgotten, but it is very important to have the right light when you are going to shoot. The best light for product photography is sideways daylight, so take your products as close to a window as possible to ensure neutral daylight. Be careful that you don’t place your products in direct sunlight, as this will cause overexposure.
Unfortunately on dark days, you can sometimes have too little daylight, which might be a good reason to think about purchasing a studio lamp. You should always shine a studio lamp opposite to where your daylight comes from. So: if your daylight comes from the right side, you’ll place your studio lamp on the left. I regularly get the question of whether you can also use a normal house lamp and my answer is: NO. Normal house lamps provide yellow light, which creates a yellow glow over your photos. If you want to add light, look for a studio lamp. Studio lamps shine white light which provides a better light effect.
If you are planning to take a series of pictures of your products (for your website, for example) the use of daylight and a studio lamp is not enough. With a photo shoot, you want to create the same atmosphere for all photos. Daylight continuously changes, which for example may cause shadows to fall very differently on your products. I, therefore, recommend using at least two studio lamps, as this constantly ensures the same lighting, so that all photos get the same atmosphere. I myself use a softbox from TecTake; it has an affordable price and is easy to use.
Left photo: a soap photographed without a soft box
Right photo: the same soap photographed with a soft box.
You can clearly see a difference in light and shadow.
Beneath you can see a photograph with, and a photograph without a soft box.
You can clearly see a difference in light and shadow.
Less is more
When it comes to product photography, it is often said: “Less is more”. A surface or background can make or break a product image. Do you opt for wood, a concrete look, or marble? Fabric, or for paper? Light or dark? The background should match what you want to communicate with the picture, it should also match the products. I often use a concrete look background, my light gray wall in the house, or a neutral white canvas/paper. Keep your background as neutral as possible because it is about your products, and you don’t want anything to distract from your products. The background does not have to be expensive. You can buy laminated paper at an office supply store which is perfect as a background or use a nice neutral wall in your house.
Pictures with a grey wall and white paper as a background
Pictures with a grey wall as a background
Pictures with a concrete background
Time to style
In my opinion, product photography can be done two ways and you actually need both. It is very important for a customer to see what a product looks like as is, this gives a very clear picture of your products. You often see this form in online shops as the first photo. Only when you click through you’ll see photos appear with additional styling products, which you call the sphere photos/lifestyle pictures. These are the images that ensure that the customers get ‘pulled in’ as I explained at the beginning of this article. When styling your products, always make sure that you stay close to yourself and the product, and think about the colors and materials. If you make a lot of natural products, then you should not suddenly add a plastic dish, because this does not portray what you stand for; supplying natural products. In addition, you must take into account your colors; if you have a dark product do not use dark styling products around it, this will make your product disappear.
I myself don’t use a lot of styling products as I like to work as minimalist and abstract as possible as a photographer, but that does not alter the fact that I also want to create a certain atmosphere in my photos. As you can see, I make a lot of use of models that actually hold or wear the product. This is a simple and good way as the customer can immediately see what the product will look like in use. In addition, I often use white paper to make the photo more atmospheric and exciting.
Products in use images.
Products styled with white paper.
I always edit my photos in Lightroom, but you also have many apps on your mobile phone to edit photos. A mistake that I see a lot (one that I also participated in) is overexposing photos. We often want the background to be as white as possible and that can work in some cases, but it can make a photo seem very fake. In addition, you often change the colors of the product when overexposing and that should not happen with product photography. So make sure that the colors of your product match the color in the photo.
To summarize, you don’t have to buy expensive items or have an entire studio to take great pictures. I hope these tips are helpful. When starting out with your product photography, do not think too much, experiment a lot and take pictures from different angles. By practicing a lot you will see that your photos will look better and better.
Guest author: Bysief
Sifra Kuipers – abstract & minimalistic product photography
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.bysief.nl
If you have any questions or if you are interested in working with me, you can always leave a message. Have fun with your photography!
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