If you’re trying to sell products online, the time will definitely come when you need to show your products on your site. And that means, you’re going to need to photograph your products. Of course, the ideal is to hire a professional photographer to take the pics for you. But who has that kind of cash? If you’re like most small business ecommerce owners, the answer usually lies in a well-known phrase – if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Below are some tips to help you get the right shots for your site, without spending a fortune, in DIY product photography.
Find the Right Light
When it comes to photographing most subjects, nothing works so well as natural light. You should try to shoot by natural light wherever you can, which means that you should try to shoot during daylight hours if you can. Daylight not only is the brightest light (obviously), but also provides the most uniform, easiest lighting possible for DIY Product Photography.
In DIY Product Photography, there are two kinds of shadows to work with – hard shadows and soft shadows. When the size of the light source being used is small compared to the size of the object being photographed, it creates hard shadows. Alternatively, when the size of the object is smaller than the light source being utilized, it creates a soft shadow. For the most part, a soft shadow is the ideal.
The idea is, the more you use diffuse light to shoot your subject, the better it will look. That’s because the light will illuminate your subject that much better, and the smoother it will appear in the final product. If you don’t have access to the right light sources, you can use a flash diffuser to soften the light, and provide the right softening for your shot. And creating a flash diffuser doesn’t need to be expensive – just take a white tape or plastic bag, and attach it to your flash. This will have the effect of distributing the light from the flash or light source in a more diffuse manner, making it that much more uniform across your subject.
Capture Their Attention with an Infinity Curve
In photography, there’s a thing called the ‘Infinity Curve’, whereby an object is photographed against a pure white background, which focuses attention on the object itself, revealing no horizon behind it, and creates a pure, clean view. If you want to create this kind of background in DIY product photography, all you need to do is to place some white fabric or paper behind your subject, and bend it. This creates a curve, which in turn creates the illusion you’re looking for, and centers your product in an endless white space that captures the attention.
Look For Different Points of View
No doubt, you’ve seen your product many times. But you’re not the one buying it. With that in mind, you should look at your product with a fresh eye, just as your potential customers do. Remember, they’re the ones buying your product, and they have a different point of view from you. So, while practicing DIY product photography and taking photos of your product, keep that in mind, and take photos from multiple angles, even if they don’t make sense to you at the time. The key is to let your potential customers see your product from different sides, and construct a narrative for themselves, as opposed to just the way you see it. In the end, you never know what will appeal to a particular buyer, so why not show your product as widely as possible?
Steady Shot, Steady Timing
All it takes is the slightest movement of the camera to cause blur. And that only gets worse the closer to the object you are. Because of that, there are certain items that become must-haves in DIY product photography. One such item is a tripod, which allows you to securely attach the camera to a stable base, and keep the camera stable while you get the shot you need. Tripods aren’t usually expensive, and if you combine the use of a tripod with the built-in timer functionality of most cameras, you’ll be able to get the right shots the first time, an reduce errors and re-work.
It’s all About Scale
Sometime, when viewing a product online, it’s hard to understand how big or small a product is, or even to recognize it. To address this issue in DIY product photography, it’s a good idea to give you your customers a sense of the scale of your products. This is easy enough to do – all you need to do is to include a reference object in the picture, so that your customers can easily reference the size of your product relative to that object. If you can include a ruler next to the image of your antique toy fire truck, it will help buyers understand what they’re looking at.
To Each Product, Its Own
It’s one thing to take a picture of you product. But if you can show that product in the environment in which it will be used or kept, so much the better. Pictures that show your product in real life, or in an actual environment, will help your customers visualize it, and visualize why they should buy it. So, if the subject of your DIY product photography is a lawn product, show it in a yard, making everything green. If it’s a car part, show it in an engine, making that car purr like a kitten. The key is to help potential buyers understand how the product might fit into their world, and what value it will bring them.
All the Colors of the Rainbow
Lots of products come in multiple colors. That’s pretty common. So why would you show pictures of just one color? In the end, your objective is to sell product, so why not show your potential customers all the colors you have? Go ahead and photograph your product in all its glory, and all its colors. All it will do is make your product look that much more attractive.
Hang Onto Your Shots
These days, most cameras have a ton of memory built into the unit. And more so, you can typically save your shots from any camera to a hard drive, or to the cloud, for next to nothing. With that in mind, why not hang on to all of your shots for as long as possible? The truth is, most shots look different once you upload them, or see them online, or see them over time. So why not hang on to them, and re-evaluate them after you’ve had a while to look at them? Chances are, some of the shot you normally would’ve discarded will look better on second view.
The Hidden Beauty of the “Flower” Setting
If you look at most cameras, you’ll see that they have a setting commonly referred to as the ‘Macro’, or ‘Flower’ setting. So called because it allows you to take a truly close-up picture, the ‘flower’ setting allows you to utilize a much narrower depth of field, and take a high-definition picture of a small item, such as a flower (hence the name).
If you need to take a picture of something even smaller than a flower, the ‘flower’ setting may not be enough – in that case, you can typically use accessories like an extension tube to take just the right picture. Extensions allow you to photograph truly tiny objects, and are usually used by professionals. But the job dictates the tools, and you may find yourself using these kinds of extensions and accessories.
Fix It in Editing
DIY product photography is great, and taking the right shots at the right perspective is very important. But, once you’ve taken that basic shot, much can be enhanced or even repaired if you take the time to edit your shots. As long as you have the basics covered in your shorts, such as perspective and size and angle, you can enhance the brightness, and contract, and colors of your shot after the fact. The key when shooting is to take different shots from different perspective and angles and sizes, and worry about the shades and colors and contrast after the fact.
There are a plethora of photo-editing software packages out there to help you with your DIY product photography, anything from the stuff that comes with Facebook to advanced stuff like Adobe Photoshop, and a ton of options in between Don’t be afraid to try different packages and options. And likewise, don’t be afraid to experiment, and see what fits you and your site best. Packages like Adobe Photoshop, Aviary Image Editor, and Pixlr will all help your images jump to life.