How To Be A Pro Photographer In 12 Steps
Would you consider your experience taking selfies or happy snaps of the kids to be the bulk of your photography skills? Well, you’ve come to the right spot if you would like to level up your photography game!
If you have been requested take some “high-quality” product photographs to promote your business or to use in online advertising, do not panic it's ok!
At Photo-Light we’re confident you can learn everything you need with these product photography tips, ideas, and techniques.
A cupcake photographed using a adjustable led light box @photolightaus
Like most our tools of choice these days is no longer film or even DSLR, but the iPhone and a LED photo Light box. Nowadays, your iPhone or Smartphone has a built-in, high-quality camera, so you don’t even need expensive equipment to get that amazing professional image.
For ecommerce businesses and social media, high-quality product photography is a key to sales. Humans are visual beings, we process information based on what we see. Studies show that people remember 80% of what they see and 20% of what they read. Check out this great article here that really highlights the importance of photography in ecommerce including the impact of online product photos on product returns.
Our guide will cover the key but simple product photography tips and techniques that will take you from amateur hack photographer to pro photographer in no time.
Product photography tips for beginners
Between optimizing your Instagram and updating the webstore and crafting high-converting product descriptions, chances are you don’t have much time to research and learn the skill of photography.
So, let’s kick things off with these basic product photography tips for beginners who are just starting out.
#1: Use appropriate lighting
Without proper light, neither your product nor your background is going to appear how it does to you in person. For anyone that has attempted product photography knows a white background without light doesn’t appear white in the photo, it appears bluey – grey.
There are two options for product photography lighting: studio lighting and natural lighting. The product that you’re photographing, the purpose of the photo, and the platform on which you’re advertising it will help you decide which setup to go for.
Natural lighting works really well for product photographs featuring food items, people, and clothing, and these natural looking photos can work well in social media contexts, like Instagram.
Flowers photograph best in natural sun light.
If you’re photographing inside, you will want to set up your product facing a window so that you are gaining all the natural light that comes through.
On the other hand, if you can photograph your products outside, then you should. The best times to do this are early morning and late afternoon when the sun is out but is not too harsh or direct. If you take out your hat collection at noon when the direct sunlight is beating down, you are going to get a lot of unwanted glare in your photos.
Conversely, if your product is primarily used indoors and features small details (e.g., jewellery), or is being sold on online, then artificial shadowless lighting is preferable. Knowing a few basics and building a simple photo studio setup can help you get over your fear of light. One of the easiest ways to get started is to buy a photography light box with led lighting.
Quality led light boxes (also known as light tents, shooting tent, lighting kit, table top lightbox, portable lightbox, photo studio kit, photography light box, or photo lightbox) will typically have adjustable brightness LED lights, various wrinkle free backdrops, color temperature adjustment, carry case, usb cable and allow photo shoots from various different angles including the top.
Many light boxes / lighting tent are portable and use a USB power bank. A portable photo studio is great for photos on the go and allow for easy packup and transport. Larger light boxes usually run on mains power so not as portable.
Tip, if you buy a lightbox make sure you get the right size!
We recommend using diffused pure white soft lighting sourced from LEDs. LED lights produce very narrow wavelengths of light which can be controlled, compared to say alternatives like fluorescent tubes, where they produce very wide range wavelengths. Using artificial lighting (led lighting) may seem daunting, but it’s necessary for those of you advertising on online and require shadow free consistent lighting.
You can check out and compare the product photography light box range by Photo-Light here.
#2: Use a tripod
Tripods might sound like an unnecessary piece of equipment, but they make an enormous difference in the clarity and image quality of your product photography when combined with a photo light box.
Using a tripod will ensure a lessening of image blur, which is essential if you want your product photographs to look professional and high-quality.
Tripods are not really optional, they are essential product shots!
There are loads of tripods on the market in varying price ranges for every type of camera or smartphone out there. We sell these cool mini tripods with Bluetooth remote, but if you are looking for something bigger go on Amazon and get one for your camera. It is worth taking the extra minute to set up a tripod for better looking product photographs, they also allow for various shooting angles.
If you buy a photo Light box and have the budget for a Tripod you will not regret it!
#3: Shoot for the edit
If you think you can throw together some poor product photographs and work your magic on them in Photoshop, think again. While photography editing is a skill that can make a considerable impact on the quality of a product photo image, these edits can only go so far.
Think of editing as making small touch-ups to enhance an already beautiful piece of art, not the process of correcting a doggy photo. If you need to change the background or completely crop something out, this is a complex process and time consuming to get it right.
When shooting your product photographs in natural light or using artificial lighting with a LED lightbox, try to shoot for the edit. With this approach, you’ll take images knowing that you plan to do minimal editing that will simply enhance the photograph.
#4: Take a basic photo editing class
While editing should be minimal in most cases, it’s still a necessary skill to have. Making small edits, like tweaking the saturation or even masking small flaws within your product photograph can make a huge difference to the finished product.
The trouble with editing images is that there are so many things that you can do that it becomes quite overwhelming if you are attempting to do it on your own without any qualification.
If you’re not keen to fork out the big $$$ for a photo editing course simply visit YouTube, there are plenty of free vids that will teach you the basics of the various editing apps available.
#5: Get inspiration from brands you love
It is always helpful to look to others for inspiration. You likely already have some brands in mind that you love. Take a look at their product shots and ask yourself how a similar photo or technique could work for your products.
For instance, imagine you’re operating a local women’s sunglasses store. Look up your favourite women’s sunglasses brands on Instagram and reflect on what you love about their product photography. The black-and-white colour scheme and simple background really highlight the product – can you create something similar with your own products? With a led lightbox and Tripod you absolutely can!
#6: Get to know the rule of thirds
Most basic photography classes teach the rule of thirds, because it is a powerful tool. This rule teaches you to visualize your canvas as nine equal segments, like the example below.
Example of rule of thirds. Photograph by: www.clickinmoms.com
The rule of photography thirds was designed to help artists create a well-balanced composition in each piece. It’s also useful to determine where to place the focus of your product. The goal is to have the focus positioned along the lines, optimally at the point where two lines intersect.
#7: Use simple props!
When it comes to product photography props, do not get overly ambitious! The main focus of each product photograph should be the product.
So how do you decide what props to use? Keep them simple, aligned with the color scheme, and relevant to the scene or your product.
Take the example of a professional cake photograph or Instagram or online. Typically you see a plain white cake stand, maybe a topping sauce, and beautiful fresh flowers for a subtle pop of natural color. Keep it simple.
#8: Take multiple shots from lots of angles
If you have a large line of products you need to shoot, it might be tempting to just take one or two of each product, then move along. However, this is not going to help with shooting for the edit (as discussed in tip #3!). Taking multiple shots from a variety of angles will show your customers exactly what your product looks like. Plus, it will help give you options when it is time to edit.
If you photograph food shoot from above and from a few different side angles, it will give you options when it comes to photo selection. This is where a good lightbox can really help out and make the task not only easy but get the results you expect.
#9: Put your product in context
It’s important that your prospective customers are able to envision themselves using your product. After all, if someone sees photos of your product online and can’t easily picture herself using it, why would she buy it?
Typically, before anyone with limited disposable income buys something, he or she needs to feel confident that the product will improve daily life in some way.
It’s difficult to envision yourself using certain products when they’re removed from context. For example, someone who’s in the market for a couch to furnish his new apartment likely can’t see himself using one that’s advertised simply sitting against a blank background.
Alternatively, he can very easily envision himself using a couch that’s advertised in the context of a home, as seen here:
#10: When in doubt, stick to a plain white background
When photographing something like food, the worst thing you can do is put your prop against a patterned, busy background. Your delicious plate of pasta or beautifully decorated cake should be the star, but it gets lost in the distracting scenery.
Keeping your background plain and simple will ensure the product you are trying to sell doesn’t get lost in the shot. While other light colors like pale blue, pink, and yellow can often work well, pure white is always a great option to ensure your product is the star against a crisp and clean background.
The classic crisp background with shoe popping out! Great for ecomm.
Choosing a pure white background is a good tip if you’re using your product photos beyond social or your website, and it’s considered best practice if you’re using these photos for product listings on Amazon and Google Shopping ads.
#11: Display the details
You can verbally describe the nitty-gritty details of your product as much as you want, but there’s no guarantee that doing so will truly get the message across to your prospective customers.
Although some people can simply read a couple bullet points and create accurate mental images in their own heads, many others need visual guides to help them absorb information.
To ensure that even the most visual learners get a complete idea of what your product has to offer, take the time to snap photos of each important detail. That way, nothing is left to the (often inaccurate) imagination.
For example, if you sell backpacks, your product listing should include photos of all the best features—mesh pockets on the exterior, a laptop sleeve in the interior, ample zipper pockets for supplies, etc. Providing these photos gives your prospects a much better idea of what it is your selling, thus making it more likely that they’ll buy.
#12: Show off your range
Many of you sell several products within the same product category. For example, those of you who sell backpacks probably sell more than just one backpack in particular.
This is important because your prospects have unique personal tastes. Across all the consumers who search for backpacks, very few have the exact same idea of the backpack they’re looking for.
As such, in the pursuit of your goal to drive clicks from interested consumers, it’s important to show off the range of your products. Thereby your product photo appeals to a wider array of personal tastes.
We hope you have found our collection of tips useful, we have sourced the content from ideas from our team and some of the best on the net including Margot Whitney! If you are in Australia or the United States please check out our led photography lightbox range and use these tips to take amazing professional photos.
Helping you take amazing photos one Light Box at a time! For reading to the end here is a promo code for free shipping 'FREESHIP' for your next purchase!
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