Talk to any successful ecommerce store owner, and they’ll tell you that making sales is all about making your products stand out. You likely have a sea of competition, but one way to really make your products shine is through photography. While having a nice camera certainly helps, you don’t need to spend a fortune on one to achieve great results.
One cost-effective and simple solution is to use your smartphone camera. Today’s phones and photo apps are sophisticated enough to produce clear, beautiful, and interesting photos.
You can take great photos and then edit them before uploading them to your online store. The viral popularity of photography apps has made it easy and fun to take pictures. Get creative, and have fun photographing your products through the following guidelines.
Start with basic photography principles
Understanding the basics of product photography is important to your end result.
Create a well-lit space. Photograph your items against a white or neutral colored backdrop. Use a space that provides plenty of natural light and supplement it with white light.
Play with interesting angles. While useful, front and back images can be boring. Create interest in the image by shooting your items from different positions and angles.
Show scale. If you’re selling particularly small items—like jewelry—it helps to show scale. Consider propping them against a universally recognized object, or use a live model to accurately display the size.
Utilize unique backdrops. Backdrops can add texture and contrast to an image. Jimdo customer and ecommerce store Sun Ah Blair, creates a visually stimulating image by using a simple reed mat as a backdrop.
Start with a good, clear image and you can manipulate the fine details after. Innovative photo apps can only do so much, after all. You can take raw photos using your camera phone, then select the ones you want to process through a photo app later.
Get to know photo editing techniques
The following are must haves to keep in your photo editing pocket.
Crop. Trim your image down to the main object with a little background. In general, most photos contain some periphery that can be cropped out. The rule of thirds is a photography composition guideline to learn and practice in most situations. If you didn’t capture your image according to this principle, you can usually crop it according to the rule of thirds afterwards.
Brightness. Most photo apps have a function that will automatically brighten your image, but familiarize yourself with doing it manually as well. Learning how to adjust the brightness of your photos on your own can give you a good understanding of light balance, shadows, and color—which comes in handy when you’re ready to further your expertise or use a DSLR camera. Brightening can have a significant impact on your photo, and, like cropping, it’s usually necessary. When adjusting the brightness, if you start to lose focus of the fine details of the image, you’ve generally gone too far. Stay within the scale of natural, attractive light.
Sharpen. Your camera will auto focus when you’re snapping a photo, but without a tripod, there’s always the possibility of a slight blur—no matter how unnoticeable it may be to the naked eye. You can make the product in your image razor sharp by using the sharpen feature in photo apps. Apply this technique to the product in the image, and the edges will stand out. It’s okay if the background is slightly blurred, and can even soften the image if used appropriately.
Filter. Filters are a great way to achieve a desired effect or mood. Since they’re preset, all you have to do is apply them to your image. Be careful not to abuse this feature. You want your products to appear on your site just as they do in real life. If you’re going to add an image with a filter effect, accompany it with natural images as well.
Utilize photo editing apps
Edit your images using a photo app to make them really stand out. The appeal of photo apps is that they enable you to easily produce professional looking photos—the type of results that previously only skilled photographers and photo editors could achieve. There are plenty of photo apps to choose from, but these are great choices for iPhone and Android:
- Camera+ for iPhone. Camera+ is a solid, multi purpose photo editing tool. With frequent updates, it has all the basic features you need to create a stunning image.
- Camera FV-5 for Android. The main feature of this app is its user-friendly interface. Reviewers suggest it is targeted toward the photography enthusiast, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying it. It’s easy to use, and the more advanced features are there when you’re ready to try them.
- Photoshop Express and Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPhone and Android. As part of the Adobe Suite, these are internationally recognized, sophisticated photo apps. The Express version is, as it suggests, a faster and more basic editing tool, while Adobe Photoshop Touch is the whole nine yards.
- VSCO Cam for iPhone and Android. VSCO Cam is another industry leading photo app that is all-encompassing in features, as well as very easy to use. You can instantly share your images to a multitude of social network sites in one click.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you may want to start tooling around with the grid function, which helps you create interesting compositions. Exposure, brush effects, layering, and tone are all more advanced techniques you can play around with.
Remember your customer
With the huge variety of applications, filters, and effects that come with smartphone cameras, it’s easy to get carried away and create dramatic, exaggerated photos. Stunning as they may be, they can also turn out inaccurate. Remember that your customers are expecting to receive the product they see in the photo, and the last thing you want to do is disappoint or frustrate them. Never use photo editing tools to alter color, hide flaws, or misrepresent your products in any way.
One final thing to remember is to have fun. Seeing your products come to life through photography is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. If you have any product photography tips that have worked for your ecommerce store, please share them with us.
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