Taking good product photos for your ecommerce website

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One key to selling online is having great images of your products on your ecommerce website. Blurry, badly exposed photographs with bad colour will turn people away from buying at your online store. A professional photographer can take photos for your site. If you can’t afford one there are some tips you can follow to get great results.

Camera

With cameras you get what you pay for. If you take a lot of product photos and your online store makes good money then it would be worth buying a cheap DSLR. DSLR’s have all the control that you will need to take great pictures. They let in more light and have more sensitive image sensors so the image quality is better and less grainy.

If you can’t afford an expensive camera then a good compact will do too. Canon G series cameras are great, as is the Nikon coolpix range. Generally a camera with a bigger lens will be better. Don’t worry too much about megapixels. You’ll need to scale them down for the web anyway.

Focus

Something that ruins a good picture is a lack of focus. If you buy a DSLR it means you can focus manually. This can be a big help. Some compact cameras struggle to find focus in poor light or if they are too close to a subject.

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If your camera have manual aperture control (f-stop), use a higher number. A low f-stop number means the camera will have a low depth of field of focus. A higher number will mean the camera can get more of a subject in focus. Especially when you take a photo close to a subject. Try using F8 first. Evaluate your photo and then increase if you have to.

Unfortunately a smaller aperture setting, higher f-stop, means your camera lets in less light. This means you can get camera shake induced blur on your images. Using a tripod you can keep the camera nice and steady to take the image. This stops blurry images and helps you get consistent results.

If your camera doesn’t have an optical zoom then don’t use zoom at all. Digital zoom is just a cropped version of the full picture your camera can take.

Lighting

Try to use natural sunlight by taking your product photos next to a large window that lets in the sun. Don’t take your photo in direct, harsh sunlight. This will give your product harsh highlights and reflections and dark shadows.

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To achieve soft, natural looking lighting try to direct light towards your product using pieces of white card.

White balance

The type of light you take your photos under will determine the colour of your photo. You might have noticed photos taken under tungsten light bulbs come out a yellow colour and under fluorescent lights, photos turn out bluish.

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If you can’t use natural light or a good lighting system change your white balance. Most cameras will allow you to set the white balance to a few presets. Usually sunlight, tungsten (normal lightbulbs) and fluorescent. Some will let you custom calibrate the white balance for even better results.

The white balance can be fixed in image processing software like PhotoShop. But it is much better to get it right to start with.

Colour casts on photographs can ruin a good photo and can change how a colour looks to your customers. You don’t want them buying a blue and black dress *insert link* that they thought was white and gold and returning it.

Background

A white background is best for product shots. Buy some white card from a stationary store and use it as a backdrop. You can also use the card to direct light onto your subject as I mentioned above.IMG_0851

 

Don’t have the background too close to the product so it casts a shadow. You can stick the top to a wall and bend the card down onto a table and tape the end to eliminate most shadows from your images.

Don’t take your photo in front of a ‘busy’ background. Patterned backgrounds distract from the subject of the photo.

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Consistency

Try to make your images consistent form shot to shot. Your visitors can more easily compare similar photos of products.

If you have the room set up your background, table and tripod and let it in the same place. Or you can mark where the tripod goes on the floor. Write down the settings for your camera and always use the same settings.

Post production

If you can afford it then a bit of retouching can improve your product photos. A lot of ecommerce stores clear-cut their product images. Clear-cutting means getting rid of the background completely and making it either transparent or white.

Taking a good photo on a white background makes this process much easier. You might not need to clear-cut at all.

Clear-cutting can be done quite cheaply. Some companies specialise in it. Or you can find freelancers on out-sourcing website such as UpWork to do it cheaply.

Get a Pro to do it

If you run a high end clothes store then your best bet could be getting a professional photographer to do it. You might think they are expensive. But compared to the time it will take you learn to be a good photographer and the lost sales from your store because of bad imagery it could be money well spent.

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