by Thomas Kragelund, CEO and founder of Remove The Background
Imagine you’re browsing through an online retailer’s products, be it on a marketplace store or the retailer’s own website. The store sells a product you think you might really like to purchase, but the listing’s product photo is too small, and it’s blurry to boot. The store hasn’t included any additional images and you can’t see the product properly in the one you’re looking at. Do you buy the product?
We figure the answer is no, and for two reasons:
1) You can’t be certain how the product actually looks
2) You’re thinking that a store with unprofessional product photos cannot be trusted.
When it comes to ecommerce and online retail, there’s no denying that product photography plays a huge role in customer purchasing behaviour. In fact, a recent IRCE Report in online shopping showed that 75% of online shoppers indicate that the quality of a listing’s product photography is the most important consideration when viewing a retailer’s online product page.
Using beautiful, high-quality images to showcase your products will be your store’s biggest asset for increasing conversions, and if you want beautiful, high-quality imagery, then you need to pay attention to the following key factors:
In this article, we’ll show you how to wield each of those factors to your advantage and create amazing product photos that wow customers and boost your sales.
Everyone has a camera these days. Perhaps yours is built into your phone or you own a simple point-and-shoot. Or, perhaps you’re actually a semi-professional photographer and own some sweet gear already. Whatever your situation, don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to own the ultimate camera in order to create beautiful product images. In reality, even iPhones can deliver some great results when used properly.
As a bare minimum, we do suggest that you use a camera that contains a manual shooting mode so that you have total control over lighting. Very likely, this will mean purchasing a low to mid-level DSLR and a standard mid-range zoom lens. You will also need a sturdy tripod to make your images as sharp as possible.
Furthermore, amazing product photography requires the photographer to have an understanding of how light works. You cannot hope to wow customers and provide accurate representations of your products if you use your camera’s built-in flash, over or under-expose photos, or mix different light sources. No, in product photography, consistent and effective lighting is key.
We recommend that you either invest in medium-quality lighting equipment, such as continuous lamps or studio strobes, or plan to shoot next to a window to utilize natural light and foam core board reflectors. The latter option is beloved by small retailers everywhere for its low budget requirements, but those who use this technique do sacrifice some flexibility and often have to fight to maintain consistency between product images as the light shifts. If you do plan to purchase your own lighting equipment, two or three sources should suit your needs perfectly.
Nowadays, you don't need top-of-the-line studio equipment to get high quality product images. The truth of the matter is that you can design much of your studio with basic household items such as duct tape, white “sweep” or rolled paper, windows, tables, and foam core board. Below, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your studio and purchasing adequate camera equipment that will enable you to get the results that you want without breaking the bank.
It's important to find a location that provides you with enough space to create a simple ‘sweep’ backdrop and allows you to safely move around and shoot different product angles. An open living room or a spare room will work just fine, but if you take product photos on a regular basis, then we recommend utilizing a fixed location because 1) setup and teardown can be time consuming and 2) because fixed studios provide consistent image results.
After you have selected a location, gather together the appropriate materials (shown in the above photo), construct your backdrop and shooting platform, and set up your camera and lighting equipment.
In order to get great results as well as reduce time and work required during the post-production phase, we recommend that you thoroughly prepare your products before you start your photoshoot. This means that you will need to:
Something else to keep in mind is that you will need to devise subtle, creative ways to show the shape of your products. For apparel, use a mannequin to help customers gauge the fit of your products. For footwear, stuff boots with paper or socks and use dental floss to hold up straps on sandals and heels.
When you’re ready to photograph your product, place it in the middle of your backdrop, directly in front of your camera. Plan to capture multiple images of the product from as many angles as possible, since each added image can greatly boost the selling potential of your product listing. When you rotate your product, make sure to keep your tripod/camera and object in the exact same place for each shot, so that the product is framed the same way for all images. This will keep your images consistent and reduce the amount of post production time that will be required to perfect them.
There are a number of other factors to consider to create stunning product photos. For those who want a little advice, feel free to read through Remove The Background’s 3-part DIY Digital Product Photography series for tips, techniques, and information to see you through the process:
After you have created beautiful product images, it is then important to have them edited by a graphic designer or professional image retoucher. As a bare minimum, you need to ensure that the color of the product is accurately represented, but there are other important factors to consider, including size, sharpness, margins (top, bottom, left, right), alignment (top, centre, bottom), and background.
To maintain consistency among all of your product images, we recommend that you create a style guide per product category. You should take marketplace image standards into account if you plan to sell your products also on other platforms. Your style guide should include specifications for sizing, margins, alignment, and backgrounds, at the very least.
You might even consider boosting your product images up to the next level by adding advanced editing features, such as shadows or 3D effects. These features will give your products a sense of space and really make your product images pop.
As a general rule of thumb, the more information you provide about your products, the better shopping experience your customers will have and the fewer returns they will initiate. The information that you provide about your products comes from two main sources: product descriptions and product images. Thus, publishing multiple, high-quality images of each product is critical to the success of your online business.
We recommend that you photograph products from many different angles so that your customers can fully appreciate the color, materials, and details of your products. Committing to display at least six different angles (front, back, left, right, 45 degree, and close up) per product is a great place to start.
It is very important for customers to be able to view your products closely, so be certain to include at least one detail shot of any special logos, embroidery, jewels, ribbons, trims, or other characteristics that customers will want to examine in depth.
Many websites that boast high quality product images fail to offer consistent category pages. This crucial error distorts customers’ sense of the scale of your products and makes your website look unpolished and unprofessional. To avoid this problem, we want to reiterate the importance of creating a style guide that clearly states the appropriate size, crop, margin, alignment, background and shadow requirements for each of your product categories. This style guide can be used as a reference by your in-house graphic designers or by external teams if you decide to outsource your image editing to professionals. Either way, this will assure that you get the same quality results on your site, each and every time.
Remove The Background is the leading product image solutions partner for Internet retailers, bloggers, designers, photographers, and webmasters worldwide. We optimize product photos for eCommerce in 24 hours or less and offer our clients a variety of services from Image Analytics and our unique online editing Platform, to our Image Publishing Connector that will make your online store more efficient and your life easier no matter what your company size is. With Remove the Background, you can save time, spend less and sell more!
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