The golden rules of product photography
90% of the information we process is visual. That means that website visitors are, more often than not, attracted to the visual content on a page, not the text. On an e-commerce site, product photos play an extremely important role in your brand image, your customers’ confidence in you, and thus in your online sales. 93% of consumers say images are absolutely essential in their purchasing process, so you cannot afford to miss out on this important type of content. That’s why you need to know the most effective and eye-catching way to use it.
I - The golden rules of product photography:
Fill out all your product details
If your products come in all different colors and sizes, don’t just pick a single photo which you think looks the most representative or nicest, or just have some text at the bottom saying “also available in blue” etc. Don’t spare any detail! Show all the different varieties available. A detailed series of photos will allow the viewer to see each individual type and let you sell each specific product alone, meaning each one gets the same amount of attention. Having a fully-detailed product list will also make it look more attractive to customers.
The same applies to a single product: use several different angles and styles to show the product with as much detail as possible. You want the photos to be as clear and representative as possible so you have a strong idea of what the product actually feels like in daily life. Show the products from the front, back, left, right, in a ‘lifestyle’ scene, with close-up details, etc. The more you fill out all the details, the more the viewer will trust your work and be tempted to buy.
2) Think about the rule of thirds
Imagine the shot is divided into 9 equal segments by two vertical and 2 horizontal lines. That’s the rule of thirds. This means you have to position the most important elements of the product along these lines or where they cross over each other.
It’s the easiest and most effective way to take any photos. Loads of digital cameras allow you to do this easily by showing these lines on their display screen.
3) Find the best setup for your particular product
Some types of accessories can help you put your products into context, letting viewers imagine how it would work in its natural environment. They can also serve a pretty obvious practical role by showing you the size, dimensions, and use of the item. Of course, you have to think about what kind of accessories will go with it and work out how to build this kind of image in the shoot. Make sure they don’t draw attention away from your products and don’t make your products difficult to understand.
Try one or two different setups with different accessories, then do a test shot. Do the accessories bring out something unique in the product? Maybe you need to try a different angle or reorganize the accessories to make them less visible, or bring out different details, or change the perspective of the shot.
There are loads of different layouts for product photography. They can be specialized for:
Utility: Showing your product in action so viewers know how it’s used. If your product is quite small and can easily be transported, show it in a bag or on the go, for example.
Inspiration: If the product contains certain special ingredients, as seen below for example, why not add some of the things that make it what it is into the shot. It gives a sense of what the item is about. You can also add certain accessories that are relevant to what it does.
The process: Are your clients looking for some kind of genuine, hand-crafted product? Do you use some kind of special tool to build it? Then why not show it in the process of being made.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash
4) Think about light
As you’ll probably already know, good lighting is essential, and in product photography, it’s even more important. The number one thing you want to really master with these kinds of shots is the product’s surface: whether it’s shiny, matt, opaque, rough, smooth, etc. Shining objects usually have some kind of glass or metal surface and reflect the light more - making them more difficult to photograph. In that case, you have to be particularly attentive to details with light to make sure you don’t work in ugly shadows and reflections.
There are loads of different ways to work with this: you can use natural light, or artificial light by using flash, an LED panel, or lightboxes. The most important thing, however, is that the light is spread evenly and regularly over the product to show it in the best light, as it were.
As you change the light of the scene, make sure you adjust the exposure and necessary details on the camera itself: a fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur, a low ISO to avoid noise, and a wide aperture to get all the details of the object at once.
5) Master the close-up
This type of product photo gives really clear detail of a specific part of an item. Small close-ups of particular details like this are usually used alongside wide-angle, large photos because, obviously, they can’t do the full job on their own. They highlight a texture, a material or a precise detail like a logo that an overview photo can’t bring out with enough detail.
Most cameras have a small tulip icon on them, which allows you to immediately access the macro function. This lets you show the tiny important details of an item, like a piece of jewelry or a flower, for example. This lets you reduce the depth of field of the shot and get a different perspective from the image.
6) Don’t forget photo editing
Edit your photos: color correction, reframing, realigning and changing the dimensions of the photo - these things can all change a normal shot drastically and give a really phenomenal result.
Some programs like Lightroom let you apply the same edit to a huge catalog of photos all at once.
That means you can have a clear layout of all the changes you’ve done at any point. Furthermore, you can get rid of distortions and mistakes in the photos.
Then you’re going to want to use Photoshop to carry out some of the secondary corrections. This kind of software lets you make more fine-tuned changes - color correction, minor changes in perspective, or adding a simple background. This is also when you can remove minor dents or scratches in the photo that you could have missed during the setup of the shoot.
II - Some product photography sins to avoid:
A lack of variety
The number of images you post and their quality has a great influence on their effect on customers. Some high-quality images can show the craftsmanship and expertise that went into a product, which has a huge impact on whether viewers of your work go on to buy your items online without seeing it in real life.
On the other hand, showing the same style of photo every time becomes quite disingenuous and looks amateur. To avoid this common mistake, show your product in as many different angles as possible, keeping the same focal distance to keep the series of photos coherent and cohesive. That’s what will have the greatest effect.
2) Photos that don’t show the actual product
Avoid choosing photos that are overly stylized and unrealistic that will end up looking nothing like what the customer will see when they open their parcels.
You can do this by trying loads of different angles and layouts, seeing which light and environment show the product both positively, and realistically.
If you just put text at the bottom of a photo saying these are “not actual product images,” you’re instantly going to lose the confidence of your customers.
Don’t go overboard with the edits as well. A good product photo is one that shows the item in a good light, not one that completely reinvents it. What’s more, more than 22% of customers return the products because it doesn’t look how it did online, so if you make this fatal mistake you could lose important revenue.
3) Bad visual quality
No photos of the product, or just having product photos that look really bad is one of the top 3 things that stop site viewers online from making a purchase.
Etsy, a massive online marketplace that specializes in hand-made or vintage goods with over 60 million different things for sale on its pages, has noted that photos are the most important factor in an online sale for 90% of its users!
Essentially, consumers who want to buy a product online without going into a store to look at it in person are going to be looking at every minor detail of the product to make sure that it’s what they’re looking for before they make a decision. If you can’t give them the information they want with high-quality product photos, and you provide them instead with something lackluster, then they’re not going to be interested in buying whatever you have. Bad product photos are just as bad as no photos at all!
III) Choose Meero for all your product photo needs
More than 75% of consumers depend on photos when they’re buying online.
Meero knows the stakes are high for e-commerce, and that’s why our startup has been working since 2016 with prestigious clients across the world to produce photos, videos, 360 VR virtual visits, and other cutting-edge visuals for their businesses online.
Meero has developed e-commerce perfectly tailored to the demands of small businesses and online retailers. No matter where you are in the world, Meero has a network of 58,000 professional photographers who have been trained and vetted for their work to ensure a standard of high-quality photography in all our work. We take care of all the complicated admin and organization, and you get professional, stylish, high definition visuals at competitive prices in no time at all.
The content of each photoshoot is returned back to you within 24 hours of the shoot thanks to our unique artificial intelligence photo editing service. All the photos - no matter what volume - are to the same highest quality guaranteed by cutting-edge technology, with no extra cost or wait time.