Taking great product photos isn’t a task just for big brands anymore! In the digital age of online influence, every business, be it micro-influencers, travel bloggers, small businesses, restaurants, independent producers or retail store owners, taking great product photos is an increasingly valuable skillset inside of any organization, to decorate your resume with, or to maximize your sales and influence!
Here are some tips to get you taking the best product photos you can!
1.Know your audience
There are so many questions that you will ask yourself as you set out to shoot. What lighting style should I use? What colors should I include? What props should I incorporate, if any? Should there be people or no people? And here is the thing, we can all sit around and talk about what makes a proper photo exposure or what props we think are best, but the answers to all these questions come down to one and only one thing: WWYCW. That is, what would your customer want?! At the end of the day, given your brand guidelines are adhered to, this is what matters.
2. Seek out the natural light
Understanding light is one of the most important aspects of product photography. If you are just getting started, I encourage you to set forth finding sources of diffused natural light in your environment for shooting in. This can simply be in front of a large light source like a big picture window in your storefront or living room, or perhaps it is outside next to your house or shop in the open shade. Either way, please never underestimate the power of proper lighting!
3. Clean your device
I know I know. This sounds ridiculous, but I am just going to say that if I had a nickel for every blurry-hazy photo that graced my scroll, I’d have a weekly hot fudge Sunday. it’s a reeeeeally easy step to overlook. Give that lens a quick and thorough wipe each and every time you shoot.
4. Hold still!
So many people will ask me, “How do I get a sharp photo? One with the subject in clear focus?” While there are a number of factors that can contribute to a “blurry” photo (see #3 above!), this is a big one: camera shake. Sometimes in order to get a photo that is exposed to our liking, the camera needs to slow down the shutter, meaning that annnny movement, even microscopic movement, will interfere with the clarity of your image. For that reason, whenever possible, I recommend using a tripod (for your smartphones, DSLRs or Fujifilms alike!). If you don’t have a tripod, look around you for things that you can use to stabilize your camera such as resting your elbows on a tabletop, or setting your device itself on a motionless surface. it doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to hold the device still. And for extra merit, set your camera’s timer so that you aren’t even touching the device as it snaps because the simple act of touching your device to take the photo can cause motion bur or camera shake.
5. Add elements that tell a story
As goes the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” there is a lot of interpretation that goes into the viewers’ perspective on a photo, even at the subconscious level. Things that appear in the background of your photo, the colors you use, the props you choose, the people, the angle and quality of the image itself all contribute to telling a collective story about your product. Make sure that you revisit tip #1 above when you consider every detail of what will appear inside your camera’s frame.
6. Make adjustments with editing
Never underestimate the power of post-processing images. A professional photographer RARELY sends off imagery straight out of the camera, and there is a good reason for that. Keep in mind this is a powerful part of the process for polishing your images, creating a consistent look and really elevating the ability for your photo to pop. Just keep in mind that it can be really easy to overdo the edits, especially when you are getting started.
So there you have it. Some quick tips for getting you on the road to taking product photos that catch the eye of the viewer you want to, and stop the scroll of those who don’t even know they need what you are selling yet!
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into this topic, I invite you to download my free 30-page guide for taking product photos that SELL, using your smartphone!