Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Teacup Tuesday... product photography

Have you ever not bought something off the internet because the photo was blurry or too dark? Well you are not alone. The product photo is probably the most important selling tool an online business can have.

So here are my top 5 tips for taking better product photos to use on the web:

Dark shadows & bright highlights caused by bad light
1. Use the right light
Firstly, & I can't stress this enough:


It creates a harsh and horrible light. It'll create dark shadows where you don't want them, and bright highlights hiding your beautiful product.

Try to position yourself with a window or other natural source of light behind you (if it's behind or to the side of the product then your photo may come out dark because the camera will try to 'balance' out the highlights).

If possible, put your product on a chair in front of you, sit on the floor & have the window behind you. This should mean that you don't block out most of the light with your shadow.

2. Steady hand or tripod
If you have enough light then your camera should take a quick photo (I'll not start talking about shutter speeds). Take a shot of your product... is it well lit but blurry? You've turned off your flash so your camera automatically times it's photo to allow in the best light. If your light is perfect you should have very little blur but if it's not then your camera photo taking may have slowed down a little to let in more light... which means any slight movement in your hand shows on your photo. This is called camera shake.

So prop your camera up - build a tower with books and rest your camera on it... or invest in a tripod. This will eliminate most of the camera shake & help you towards a crisp clear photo.

3. Focus
Big objects need a lot of focus - try landscape mode on your camera

Most cameras these days are programmed to focus on the object closest to them. So if you have quite a large product to photograph you may find that only part of it is clear, sharp and focused. This is because your camera lens has a perfect 'pool of focus' (depth of field photographers call it). Those areas of your photo that are outside or on the edges of this 'pool of focus' will appear blurry.

The only solution to this (I assume you are shooting in an automatic mode) is by moving your camera further away or switching to landscape mode. The landscape mode has the deepest pool of focus - allowing more of the subject to be included in the sharp focused area.

White card used as
a background
4. Background
So your product is lit beautifully, fully in focus but propped up by scrunched up newspapers? Guess what people are going to notice... yep the newspapers.

Bright, patterned distracting backgrounds detract from the subject that's being photographed. Our eyes are naturally drawn towards the brightest thing on the page. So unless you are preparing a plain white background for your images, try to place your product on something plain or neutral that will 'blend into the background' giving your image the attention it deserves.

Or create your own background using a white sheet (not using landscape mode as this will pick up every crease in the material) or card. If you are using the chair & window position, try placing your product on a cream cushion with a neutral coloured blanket behind (hiding your kid toy strewn lounge behind).

5. Size
Size matters!

If you are using a modern camera your image will be too big for the web. Most images taken these days are MEGABYTES in size, which will take a long time to load or dominate your webpage. Make it simpler for people to see your products by sizing your images to a web friendly size. Most of our images are saved at 72dpi (dots per inch) and are a max of 400pixels wide.

This means they are a nice friendly 128KB or somewhere near there. Still crisp, clear and easy to load.

Above all, if you are not happy with your product shots your customers will not be happy with them either. Keep taking the shots until you are happy... and don't be scared to ask a friend to help... sometimes all it takes is someone holding up a mirror to reflect more light to create that magical perfect photo.

Good Luck!


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