eCommerce Photography: Taking the Perfect Product Shot
eCommerce photography isn’t always easy on a budget. Here’s some tips and tricks for taking the perfect product shot with relatively little cost.
Taking clear product photos is essential to showing off your stores products in a light appealing to customers. Keeping them consistent can add a layer of professionalism to setting up your eCommerce store. But getting that clear, white catalogue style background and consistent look isn’t always easy, especially when the equipment you’re working with can be limiting.Here’s some tips for keeping your Ecommerce photography consistent and getting that perfect product shot.
What you'll need:
- A camera!
- Clear, white space or a white sheet/large roll of white paper
- A pencil or chalk
- Pegs or clamps
- Some basic photo editing software e.g photoshop or elements
1. Pick the Right Space
Picking the right space to take photos is essential. Setting up your product shoot area in a clear and consistent manner will help your take repeatable quality photos. Having a system for doing so will reduce the time you waste setting up your product shoot next time.
Make sure there’s enough room
Nothing’s more annoying than having random things peeping into the edge of your photo and you don’t want to have to be zooming in super far to get it out of the frame.
Leave a good 2m around your product on each side where possible and make sure you have a big enough backdrop to fit everything in. Before you start carefully arranging props or lighting, look down the camera and work out the space you need to cover. You don’t want spend all that effort only to realise you have unwanted things creeping into your frame.
Especially if you’re taking photos on a phone or budget camera, make sure you get to grips with the extent of what’s captured in the frame, it can often be surprising how much is.
Check the Lighting
Lighting is essential to taking catalogue worthy product shots. Reducing shadow will make it easier to edit your photos after the shoot.
Look for an area that has bright, uninterrupted light. The less objects around your shoot, the less things there are to create unwanted shadows. Try to avoid reflective surfaces and if you have a shiny product, reduce glare by not shining the light source directly at the product if possible.
Remember, you can always up the brightness and white intensity afterwards if you have the software to do so. The main thing is to keep the light spread evenly over the frame. If you have your own lights, adding a hood or cover in front of the bulb can help dissipate the light and spread it more evenly.
Working indoors allows you to control the environment a lot more easily. If you’re relegated to outdoors photography, try and work on bright, overcast days.
When taking the photo try and place yourself and camera behind the light source, so you’re not creating a shadow yourself.
If your products are white try and make the background brighter than the product, or use an alternative colour background, otherwise you’ll lose the products edges when you’re adjusting the brightness or white levels during aftercare.
2. Keep it consistent
Even if you’re adding in props and fancy things, getting the basic frame correct and consistent is key. Make sure you set up your basic product shot first and then build around it.
Start simple then build up from there. Take some practise shots to get an idea of where you want your product in the frame. Make sure you remove blur, keep your product the central focus and that any text or intricate design work or decoration is clearly visible. Create a good base and if you want to add props and other bits, build around it.
Once you’ve got a shot you’re happy with, the less you move the product the better. If you’re taking the same photo for multiple products, do the same shot for them all before moving onto a different setting.
X Marks the Spot
If you’re arranging multiple shots or have lots of similar products, marking the optimal spot for placing your product is a great idea, so that you can quickly place each new product where it should be.
We use a large roll of bright white paper to make a white background and use different pencil marks to mark where each product goes, making setup quicker. Stickers, chalk, or other types of marker work too, as long as they don’t show up on your photo. If you’re using a sheet, make sure it’s ironed to remove pesky creases and shadows. Using pegs or clamping it in place is a good idea too.
Keeping your camera in the same spot will also reduce time between photos and setup. If you have a fixed tripod, great, if you have a phone try fixing it in position in some way. Whether it’s a simple clamp, or you’re propping it on some books, marking and fixing your position is a great way to save time and repeat consistency. Time is money too, and if you’re messing about trying to remember where things were, you could be doing something else more productive!
3. Take more than one shot
Make sure you take more than one shot of each product, even when you have frame and setup that you’re happy with. It takes a lot less time to press the capture button than to set everything up again. You never know when that annoying cloud will pass over or someone will walk past your lighting.
Quickly check each photo after you take it for obvious mistake such as shadows or blur. If you have a few camera modes try a few, but make sure you do so for every product.
After you’ve taken your photos you’re going to want to make them ready to go on your ecommerce store. You don’t necessarily need any expensive editing packages either. Free programmes such as Photoshop elements have the basic tools you need to edit.
72 dpi is a good size to save your images for online and one that sits well for keeping site loading speed low and picture quality high enough. If you’re wanting to print your photos 300dpi is a good guide.
Using grids and guidelines in programmes such as Photoshop is ideal for keeping your image in the same spot. If you have multiple products sitting next to each other on a page you want them to be in line. Create a box where the edges of your product should fit in and resize images so it sits perfectly. If you are resizing images make sure you aren’t stretching them disproportionately. In most programmes, holding a mixture of ctrl or shft will do this for you.
Guidelines and Grids
Brightness and Whiteness
You’ll want to turn your brightness and white level up to a point where shadow is removed but you aren’t altering the colour, or losing the edges of your product into the background.
You’ll also want to make sure it matches the background of your ecommerce store. You may have a photo you think is perfect white but it could still show up with an off-white or grey box around it on the true white webpage.
Keep it up!
The first time you set out to take you eCommerce photography it may take a bit of setting up and finding out what works. but once you've got your system down every next time should be quicker and easier. You'll be taking catalogue worth product photos in no time!
- Keep it consistent.
- Check the light and remove shadows.
- Mark your products position. Keep the camera set.
- Use grids and guidelines.
- Start simple and build around the product.
We hope that's helpful Happy Piranhas! You can see some examples of what we've done with for our eCommerce photography over at Happy Piranha HQ.
Here's the finished product shot of our Potions Class Scented Candle.