This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
Product photos might be the most important piece of any ecommerce listing. They convey everything from physical specs to emotional attributes. Plus, photo quality directly correlates to perceived value.
High-quality product photography can be done on a budget using your iPhone or camera with equipment and materials you may already have around the house. Here’s how beginners can take beautiful product photos that sell in six easy steps.
Step 1: Choose the Type of Photos You’re Shooting
Without the opportunity to touch, feel, and experience the product in person before buying, online consumers rely on product photos to thoroughly inform them.
While a simple shot of the product against a clean white background can say a lot, it leaves room for questions. How big is the item? How do you use it? How will it make the user feel?
This information can be provided through different types of product photos. It’s recommended that you upload as many pictures as it takes to showcase every major detail of your product, which usually means four to 12 images. The majority of these should be simple and informative with a plain, non-distracting background, plus a few dynamic shots that demonstrate the real-world glory of the item.
Here are the seven main types of product photography shots and how to incorporate them:
The right combination of these photo types will give your customers the information and encouragement they need to confidently make a purchase.
Shooting multiple styles of shots in different environments requires making adjustments to your setup and sometimes procuring different equipment, so it’s wise to plan your gallery before getting started.
Did you know?
Certain marketplaces have rules concerning what is allowed in listing photos hosted on their platform. Amazon, for example, prohibits close-up detail shots and prefers that sellers use a pure white background. Be sure to know any applicable guidelines before shooting to maximize your usable images.
Step 2: Set Up Your Photo Studio
Taking great product photos doesn’t require a high-budget, professional setup—but you’ll need some things other than your camera or phone.
Depending on your desired shot and available environment, you may need nothing more than a park bench and the right weather. Other circumstances, however, call for a more complete toolbox.
As an alternative, you can eliminate the need for your own photo studio by using the Square Photo Studio App. It has built-in tools to achieve the perfect angle, lighting, background, and more.
Here are the basics of a DIY photo studio:
With all of your equipment in tow, you just need to find the right space. As long as your studio area is large enough to house your gear and subject with enough room to maneuver around it, the only real consideration is light.
Our next step addresses how to choose the right spot to stage your shoot and make the most of the light it gets.
Step 3: Master Your Lighting
Lighting is key to taking great photos with any camera. Here are some tips to make the most of the light you have available.
Shoot Outside for Soft, Natural Light
This is a top product photography tip—A wash of soft, natural light provides the best color balance for product photos and minimizes harsh shadows.
You can find the perfect light outdoors on an overcast day (when the clouds serve to diffuse the sunlight nicely), or at midmorning and early evening (when the light strikes from a smaller angle).
The unedited product photo below was taken on an outdoor picnic table during an overcast day. This shot was captured using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone on its automatic setting with no additional equipment, and it’s virtually perfect for a product listing.
Use Natural Light From a Large Window or Glass Door
If shooting outside isn’t possible or convenient, try the next best thing—setting up indoors next to a large window or glass door.
By arranging your shooting table next to a bright natural source, you can still capture plenty of light. It may need to be manipulated for your subject to be lit evenly without harsh shadows, so be sure to have reflectors on hand.
Setting up a few pieces of foam board reflectors can make a great window-side stage for your product, like the example shown below.
Create Diffused Light Indoors
If the perfect natural light isn’t accessible, you can mimic it in a number of ways. The key is to diffuse—meaning to spread out and soften—the light. This minimizes shadows and enhances colors in product photography.
For small items, you can do this by using a device called a tabletop light tent or light box. They’re available to purchase starting at under $20 and come complete with rudimentary lights.
Of course, you can build one yourself using basic household materials, but you’ll need to supply your own studio lights. Here’s a detailed guide to construct your own DIY light box.