High quality product photography is the key to increasing your eCommerce sales. Awesome product images will help your store make a great first impression for your potential customers, and will also make the final purchasing decision a lot easier. Here are five tips on how to shoot your products and optimize them for eCommerce.
1. Nail your product photography setup
Getting the photo shoot right is half the challenge in product photography. For best results, set up a white photography sweep, which is just a white backdrop that transitions seamlessly from the vertical to the horizontal surface. You can use any kind of white material for this, from a sheet to paper, but the shinier the better (plain white wrapping paper works great!) The shiny surface will reflect light back onto your product and capture the product’s true color. The sweep needs to be larger than the product, and ideally you want it to fill up the entire camera frame.
If you’re shooting smaller products, I’d suggest you make your own DIY product photography table. Grab a small table, two scrap pieces of wood, some spring clamps, and your sweep material. Nail the wood to the back edge of the table, clamp the sweep to the top of the blanks, and let the sweep fall down across the table.
If you’re going to shoot large products, setting up a sweep will be a little trickier as you’ll need to improvise with how you hold it up. You’ll need to attach it to a wall or improvise with furniture you have on hand. If you’re going to shoot regularly, I’d suggest buying a professional photography sweep that comes with a stand.
2. Stick to natural lighting
Unless you know what you’re doing, avoid using artificial lighting. Natural lighting can help you take high quality photos, but the trick is to use it as an indirect light source — a bright spot near a window will work works.
You want the window to the left or right of your product, which means you will need a fill-light on the other side to balance out the lighting and prevent harsh shadows. Invest in a reflector or make your DIY fill light by standing up a piece of white card in half. You might want to cover it in aluminium foil to make it extra reflective.
3. Provide multiple product photos
Start by choosing the perfect hero image to represent the product — this is the image that will It has to be good enough to make people click through to the listing to learn more, so make sure it’s a high quality photo that clearly showcases the product. Usually, a front-on shot is the most appropriate angle but it really depends on the product; shoes are usually shown from the side, plates from above, and chairs from a 45 degree angle.
Once a shopper clicks through to the product listing, chances are they’re interested in buying your product. Aside from the product description, product images will have a huge say in the final purchasing decision.
Take photos from different angles to show off your product from all sides. People are more reluctant to make purchases online because they can’t see or touch the product before they decide to buy it, so doing this will help shoppers clearly visualise the product.
You should also provide close-ups of any special features, patterns, or textures. Even if you have a zoom function enabled, close-ups are important because they show the shopper where to look.
If you sell your product in multiple colours, take a photo of the product in each colour. It’s not easy to image what a product would look like in an alternative colour when you’re only given a small icon of the colour swatch, which could lead to purchase resistance. Most store builders allow you to assign a photo to a colour variant, which means that you can upload different photos for each colour of the same product.
Finally, you might want to complement your product images with an in-context shot. This is where you can really get creative and showcase your product in a perfect setting.
4. Remove the background and optimize your photos
The general rule in product photography is that the background should neither conflict with or distract the viewer from the product, which is why removing the background works wonders!
There are a couple of ways to do this, but the most accurate way is to do it manually using the pen tool in Adobe Photoshop. Stay away from automatic algorithm-based tools like the magic wand, because they’ll often leaves parts of the background or cut into the product.
Using the pen tool will take some time to get the hang of how it moves, but practice makes perfect! Put simply, you want to use the pen tool to create a ‘path’ around your product, which will be a lot easier to do if you shoot against a white backdrop. You can then select the product to isolate it from the background. Click here for a step by step tutorial on how to do this.
Once you’ve removed the background, you can place it on any colour you like. By digitally adding a background later, you can ensure that your backgrounds are consistent down to the colour swatch, which will give your store a professional touch.
White (#ffffff) works best, because it draws attention to the product and doesn’t clash with any other colour.
If you don’t like the ‘floating’ look of the white background, try a very light grey. Though the product itself won’t stand out as much as it would against white, you’ll be able to have a noticeably consistent shape to your product images.
5. Create a template
Creating a template you can apply to all your product images is the easiest way to keep your product images consistent. The easiest way to do this is to use Photoshop, but you can use any editing app that lets you paste product into a blank canvas with your chosen dimensions.
Start by choosing the right size. The best size for a product image is around 1600px on the longest side. This size is perfect for viewing on a mobile or tablet, and as mobile commerce is growing 300% faster than regular eCommerce, optimizing your images for mobile viewing is critical to increasing your sales.
This size is also perfect for an effective zoom function, which is an easy way to improve the online shopping experience of your customers.
It’s important to understand that the image you upload to your eCommerce stores becomes your ‘base image’, and it’s resized to the various image templates across your store. Some of these templates include the one on the shop page with all the other hero images and the large photo on the product listing page.
The secret behind a zoom function is that when you ‘zoom’ in, you’re actually viewing the base image. This means that for a zoom function to work, your base image needs to be larger than the product listing template, which is why anything over 1000px is recommended.
Once you’ve chosen your template size, you can paste your products in one by one and save them individually. Align them so that they’re centred and take up 80-90% of the canvas. If you’re using Photoshop, you can add guidelines to your template to ensure your products line up perfectly every time.
Just remember that product photography does take a bit of practice and that it’ll take some time to get into a routine of shooting and editing. Don’t be discouraged if your results aren’t perfect the first time, and make sure you keep a note of what works and what doesn’t.