When it comes to online shopping, quality product photography can make all the difference in getting customers to buy a product.
Professional, eye-catching images that also display important features help products stand out to customers. We’ve put together a few product photography tips to help you create high-quality photography that sells!
#1 Get the Right Lighting
Lighting is by far the most important aspect of product photography and can make or break the image’s quality.
The first thing to consider is how you’ll set up your lighting is whether you’ll use natural or artificial light. Your preferred lighting style can be used in all shoots, but depending on the product, one type of light may work better than the other.
For example, if you are shooting bicycle products, you might want to consider using natural lighting, as it will help put the product in the lighting somebody would normally see it in. Even if you’re using a plain white background for the image, natural light will help put the product in context for the customer subtly.
No matter what type of lighting you use, it is essential to understand what goes into creating the perfect setup to light your product.
Setting up a photoshoot with natural lighting is relatively inexpensive and is great for any photographer on a budget. All you need to get a great shot is a sweep, tripod, stool or chair, and a well-lit window.
Set up your near a large, bright window with a chair-mounted sweep. The sweep itself can be plain, matte poster paper, which is sturdy enough to maintain an even background while also ensuring there are no light reflection marks behind the product.
When using natural light, some find it best to shoot during the brightest time of day and put a light piece of cloth or paper over the window to help soften the light if it’s too intense. However, others choose to shoot during the early morning, later afternoon, or slightly overcast days, when the lighting is naturally softer.
Artificial, or studio light, has a massive benefit in that it allows you to maintain consistent lighting for shots that last several hours or days. That being said, putting together a studio lighting setup can run on the pricier side.
To create quality artificial lighting for product photography, you will need at least two softbox lights: one key light to sit in front and to the side of your product, and one fill light to sit opposite the key light or behind or above the product. Additionally, you can use a sweep, but a lightbox is ideal for studio lighting, as it helps reflect the light around the product.
#2 Soften Shadows
When creating product images, hard shadows can take away from the clarity of your image and even make it look armature in comparison to competitor images. You can soften shadows during editing, but by adjusting your lighting and shadows during the shoot itself, you can produce better initial pictures and save yourself time during editing.
If you’re using natural lighting, placing a light cloth or piece of paper on the window will help soften the light coming in and affect the softness of the shadows cast by your product.
Additionally, placing two pieces of white plasterboard or cardboard on either side of the product further softens the shadows. The white of the plasterboard will even help to reflect the light around your product and improve the overall quality of the image.
Similarly, when using artificial lighting, place a white cloth over your lightboxes to cut down on the intensity of the light, and soften the shadows in your lightbox. The versatility of artificial light also allows you to adjust where the lights are placed, changing the intensity and angle of the shadow in the photos.
#3 Use a Tripod
A tripod is vital when working in product photography. While some photographers prefer to hold the camera for ease of changing angles and settings, a tripod allows you to maintain consistency and clarity throughout the shoot.
Tripods are available with rigid or flexible legs and come in various shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that fits your personal style and budget. Many tripods feature different mount attachments that work with any camera and can even be used to mount your smartphone!
Rigid leg tripods are more traditional and are available with retractable legs, so you can get a wide variety of angles and heights you might need for your product.
Conversely, flexible legged tripods feature legs that can be bent around almost anything to mount your tripod anywhere you need it to get the perfect angle on your product.
#4 Use Multiple Angles
Remember, you won’t see the final images until you’re don’t editing, so it’s important to take several shots from many different angles to give yourself as wide a variety of photos as possible. While you may have a vision for which angle will work perfectly, in practice, you might realize that it doesn’t work how you envisioned.
Try shooting your product close up, further away, directly overhead, and any other angle you can think of that showcases the product and its important features. When you sit down to edit, you’ll be happy you took the time to take different images, so you don’t need to go back and reshoot just to get one that works.
#5 Keep Props Simple
In product photography, all of the emphasis should be on the product, so any props that are used should be minimal and as simple as possible. If you’re doing a simple product shoot with a plain white background, you shouldn’t even need to use any props in your image.
However, if you are trying to create a dynamic, appealing image, simple props can enhance the product and make it more attractive for customers to look at. Props can also help add context to the product, placing it in a setting that it would typically be seen or used in.
If you do decide to use props, keeping them white or light-colored will keep them muted and further bring the product into focus. Other colored props can be used, but they should match the color scheme of the image as a whole. Otherwise, they may distract the viewer and take away from the product you are trying to showcase.
#6 Shoot the Product in Context
In product photography, you will mostly be shooting images of just the product itself, but it is essential to also feature it in the context of how it will be commonly seen or used. Showing a product in context lets customers visualize themselves using that product and reinforces that they need it to improve their lives.
For indoor products, shooting them in context is made easy by simply setting up a few props around the product that show how it would typically be used. For example, if you are working on a set for a pen, shooting images of the pen laying across a plain notebook or blank daily planner will show it in context while still showcasing the pen itself.
Outdoor products, on the other hand, can be more challenging to show in context and will generally require more creative sets. It may be tempting to use props inside so you can still control the lighting, but an outdoor object should be pictured outside so people can envision themselves using it.
In this case, the best option is to shoot on a slightly overcast day or in a place where you can set up shades to control the intensity of the light. Play around with your angles and lighting for outside products so you can find the combination that works best for the product.
#7 Remember the Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a concept taught in most beginner photography and art classes. It involves splitting the canvas into nine even parts and putting your focal point where the dividing lines intersect.
Sticking to the rule of thirds in your product photography, particularly in context images, will help you create more refined, professional-looking photos that are pleasing to the eye. It also keeps the balance between the focused product and the background consistent.
Overall, this concept helps photographers create unique, dynamic images that are more interesting to look at than a perfectly symmetrical or central focal point.
#8 Take Inspiration from Established Brands
Whether they’re multimillion-dollar companies or small businesses, brands that have already established themselves in the market are likely to have a consistent composition style in their product photography. These are great places to take inspiration from and incorporate aspects they use in your photography.
Scroll through your favorite business’s online shop, or look at a few Instagram pages showcasing similar products to the ones you’re shooting. Consider how they use lighting, color, and frame the products to make each unique and interesting while still sticking to their branded style.
Of course, please don’t copy the way these brands shoot their products exactly but think about how the lighting they use may work for the products you’re working on, or try out contrasting color schemes over monochromatic ones like the product below.
#9 Shoot the Details
You are taking pictures of a product to make it enticing for customers. This means your image set for each product should always include closeups of the main selling points for the item.
Yes, every product page will include a description, but a clear image of some of the appealing details of the product will help customers see it rather than forcing them to visualize it based on the description.
However, you will likely be limited in how many images you can display for one product. Generally, the project specifications will indicate a range of how many images are needed, but if you’re shooting for your products, you should still keep the number to a minimum.
A good rule of thumb is to have one or two images of the whole product at different angles, one context image, and one to three detail images. It’s important to focus only on the key points of the objects to show the details that customers are looking for.
#10 Stick to Plain Backgrounds
Similar to keeping props simple, sticking to plain backgrounds will ensure the product is the focus of the image. Patterned or otherwise busy backgrounds can make your product get lost, and it can give the image a busy look that makes it unappealing to viewers.
Keeping a solid color background is ideal for any product photo. If you’re unsure what color to use, pale colors within the color scheme or white are always safe bets. Anything you use in your shoot should be meant to enhance the image, not distract from your product.
#11 Shoot for the Edit
Shooting with the editing phase in mind is key to making the most of your time shooting and will help speed up the editing process.
Editing your images should always be meant for small touch-ups to refine already quality images. During the shoot, think about what will make a quality image from the start and how much will you need to do to each photo you take to make it work for the project.
The final product will come after editing, but if you can take a few pictures of your product and be happy with the composition, lighting, and color, then editing and touch-ups will be a breeze!
Applying these tips will help give your product photography enhanced quality and will help you make each image look high-end and professional.
Comment below and tell us what you think or how you applied one of these tips to your photography, and if you liked this article, please share!