6 Tips on Taking Product Images Yourself
Whether you have advanced camera gear, or a simple point-and-shoot, there are some basic tenants of product photography that will consistently give you professional-looking product photos.
Here are six tips on taking your best product photos:
1. Plan out your shoot
It’s not enough to think “Well, I guess I’ll take some product photos now.” You want to have a vision or intention for your shoot. If you’re at a loss, try imagining the kind of publication you’d like to see your product photos in, and then look up those publications and take note of how they do things. What kind of lighting do they use? What kind of background? Which angles do they shoot from? Take your favorite aspects of those product photos and apply them to your own work.
2. Use a neutral background
When it comes to your product photos, you want your products to shine! So in most cases, your best bet will be to go with a simple, neutral background. By neutral, we’re talking white, beige, gray or black. White is an especially great starting point, since it looks very clean and is easy for beginners to shoot. Try finding a white wall or sheet, or even a white sheet of paper to place behind your product will give the desired effect.
Note: There are exceptions to this rule, depending on your brand and your idea for the shoot. Should you choose to use a more complex background (ie: the wood grain of a picnic table, a living room), always be sure that your products are what’s in focus, not the background. Ideally, in these more complex shoots, your background will be out of focus and blurry, while your product will be clear-cut and the focus of the photo.
3. Pay attention to your lighting
It’s almost a crime how much of a difference lighting can make when taking your product photos. You could have everything else perfect, the gear, the angle, the positioning, the photo composition, literally everything, and bad lighting will ruin it all in one fell swoop.
In most cases, when it comes to lighting, your best bet is to use soft, diffused natural light. That means shooting outdoors on an overcast day or on a normal day but at dusk, or shooting indoors next to a window with indirect but bright light.
And if outdoor lighting isn’t an option, you can always make your own simple light tent to get the soft, diffused light as well.
4. Take more than one shot (a lot more)
Although customers are only seeing the final, perfect shot when they’re looking at your products, that doesn’t mean you’ll get your ideal shot in the first, second or even third take. Instead of being focused on getting that one perfect shot, take several photos of your product with the expectation of getting three or four solid photos to choose from later.
When taking your photos, remember to include some of these variations:
Different angles: From the front, from above, a profile of the product, etc.
Different proximities: Far away (to see the size of the product in relation to something else), close-up (to catch the details), etc.
In use: Showing your product being used by a model. For example, if you sold watches, you could take a photo of watch being on a wrist instead of being on a flat surface.
5. Take your time editing your photos
In terms of photo-editing software, there’s always the tried and true Adobe Photoshop. But if it’s a little out of your budget, don’t worry. There are several free photo editing services like Picasa, Picnik, Gimp, FotoFlexer or a number of others that will be able enhance your product photos.
When editing your photos, pay attention to properly cropping your image and adjusting the brightness and contrast. For cropping, get rid of excess space as you see fit, and keep in mind that square product photos look more professional than irregular, rectangular ones. In terms of brightness, contrast and color, use image enhancer tools in your photo-editing software to bring out the very best in your image, but be sure not to go overboard.
6. Don’t give up
Product photography is a mixture of art and skill, and like most things that combine the two, it may take a lot of practice to get into your groove. But there’s no need to get discouraged. Developing your product photography skills is well worth the blood, sweat and numerous takes.
If you’re feeling frustrated after a long shoot, try walking away and focusing on something else. You can try finding inspiration elsewhere by flipping through some magazines or ads and compiling a list of to-dos and to-don’ts. And if all else fails, you can always try other techniques to get around your creative roadblock. Just don’t give up!
Product photos are a very important part of putting your online business at the top. With your camera, your fantastic products and this guide on your side, you’ve got everything you need to create product photos worthy of your online business. So get to snappin’!