The best way to showcase products is through beautiful photographs. An excellent product photo highlights an item’s benefits. The user gets a good idea of what they’ll receive, so the order meets their expectations.
The human brain recalls images much better than text alone. If you hear or read information, you’ll remember about 10% of it three days later. However, recall improves to about 65% simply by adding a relevant photo. There’s no question you need visuals to enhance your sales efforts.
E-commerce sites set the standard for how to use product images. You’ll want to follow some specific rules of thumb to get the most from your product images possible.
Do: Invest in Professional Backgrounds
The goal of a product photo is to draw attention to a product. If you snap your photo in front of a cluttered background, you pull attention away from the subject. That said, a plain white background isn’t right for every shot.
Spend a little money on professional looking backgrounds. You can purchase backdrops online, invest in a lightbox for smaller objects or learn how to zoom in and capture only the environmental elements you want.
Look for versatile backdrops. If you purchase a green screen, make sure it has two sides, such as blue and green or green and white. You can also make your own backgrounds with material such as curtains, fabric or tablecloths.
Do: Use Proper Lighting
If you want your product photos to stand out, you must invest in the proper lighting. A few softboxes placed around the room helps reduce shadows and bring enough contrast to your shot.
Learn different techniques. For example, backlighting is one of the most common lighting techniques. You can use it for parts absence or when placing components in machining.
Seek out light meters for the camera you use for photo shoots. It will tell you if you have enough light or need more. Don’t rule out the use of natural light for a strong finished result.
The key to learning lighting is figuring out what looks good. You can edit some things out but harsh shadows are very difficult to remove and can distract from the image.
Do: Obtain a Quality Camera
There is a huge debate currently about whether you still need a DSLR camera. Today’s smartphones come with built-in high definition cameras. You can take a professional quality photograph with nothing but your mobile device.
Take the time to learn about whatever equipment you use. Use a tripod in low light settings to avoid shake. Know when to use a flash and when to turn it off. Understand aperture and manual settings.
Do: Learn Editing Software
Any good photographer who understands editing software can take a good photograph and make it exceptional. Whether you add some saturation to enhance colors or fix lighting issues, invest in the right program to take your images to the next level.
According to PCMag, the most popular photo editing software is Adobe Photoshop, but there are many other apps and programs that will do a great job for you. The key is finding one you can learn well.
Do: Pick a Color Scheme
Think about your brand’s colors. Do you have a palette you use on your website and other places? If so, how can you use those same colors in your product images?
Take the time to choose the right background or learn how to add filters to your photos to achieve just the right look. When you pull in a color scheme, you help photographs match the rest of your website design. You’ll create an aesthetically pleasing look.
Don’t: Think You Know It All
If you’ve taken product photos for a while, it’s tempting to think you know everything there is to understand about taking images. The problem is trends change, equipment advances and what worked yesterday may not wor today.
Listen to others in the industry and take online courses to learn new techniques. You should always seek more skills and grow to stay on top of your game.
Don’t: Ignore the Competition
There are subtle differences between industries. Pay attention to what your competitors do. While you never want to copy another brand, you do want to make sure you meet expected standards.
Note what others do particularly well. You can also learn from their mistakes. Are there a lot of comments on a product page from customers wishing they could get a 360-degree view of the item? Add a 360-degree view of your product on your website.
Don’t: Forget Photo Styling
There is an entire category of photography called photo styling. This is thinking through unique ways of highlighting your product in its natural environment. How can you show off something in all its glory without creating a bland photo?
You’ve likely seen styled pictures on food blogs. A mouth-watering plate of cookies sites in the middle of a picnic table with chocolate chips surrounding the feature. Photo styling adds interest and tells a story.
Take the time to study what others do. Learn about using props and the Rule of Thirds. Know the best placement for your product, how to focus on just the item you want to draw attention to and when to blur the background.
Don’t: Overlook Scale
With still photography, scale becomes vitally important. If you want to showcase the size of a product, you can put it next to a standard item to give the user an idea of how large or small it might be.
You also must think through how objects look with one another. You don’t want everything to be the same size or elements might blend together. Have a mix of large and small items, but keep in mind the focus of the product.
There’s No Such Thing as Perfect
Even though your goal might be to create the perfect product images, understand there will be flaws in your photographs. When you first begin, you’re learning the craft. But even professionals make mistakes.
Take way more images than you need. This allows you to come up with at least a few great shots. Don’t be afraid to edit heavily. As time goes on, creating the perfect composition becomes easier. In the meantime, take your time and don’t be afraid to retake images when needed.
Author Bio: Eleanor Hecks
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.