Since your shoppers don't have the ability to touch, try on or interact with your products, your product photography is your one chance to captivate your shoppers and encourage them to purchase. Here are some tips to take professional imagery of your products:
First, some materials that will come in handy:
- A camera. While phone cameras can get your pretty far these days, you’ll still get the best shot with a proper camera. We recommend purchasing or borrowing a professional camera (DSLR) for this photography project.
- A roll of white paper. This will serve as a backdrop for your product; if you're taking an image of white products, it might make sense to grab a light gray roll to offer some contrast.
- A white board. This will help reflect light. You can also use styrofoam or poster board, just find something of similar size to the product you are shooting.
- Daylight. It's best to work midday in a space where you can get the most daylight possible.
- Photoshop or another editing program. While photoshop can be intimidating, it's really is worth having. We'll go over some cheaper and simpler editing tools later on.
Try setting up your station on either the floor or a tabletop. If you can, place your product against a wall and close to a window to maximize natural light! Place the roll of paper on the surface up against the wall, creating a curve between the two. Be careful not to bend it, you'll want a smooth curve. You can use tape to make sure it stays in the right place.
Unless you're shooting outside on a sunny day, you'll probably want to reflect some extra light on the product. Use the white board to help reflect light onto the product; play around with the angling of the board to get the light you need.
Now that you're set up, it’s time to pick up your camera. Although some mobile phones do have exposure and zoom options, if you don't have a DSLR, some of these steps might not apply to you. Using a manual setting will make it easier to get the exact shot you're looking for. If you use the automatic setting, but make sure you turn off the flash.
You'll have to play with all of the following settings, to get the perfect images. By no means are the following rules - just tips and guidelines! To see how to adjust any of these settings, consult your camera’s manual or check out an online tutorial.
ISO – This measures how sensitive your camera is to light. If you are outside and it’s sunny keep it low (around 100-200), but if you are inside you may have to increase it to around 400-800. If you have to go above that then the room you are in is too dark! You're better off in a space with natural light where you can use a lower ISO.
Pro Tip! - While modern DSLR’s can shoot in near pitch dark conditions, the pictures will still be grainer than usual. Don’t assume your high-end camera can compensate for lack of natural light!
Aperture – Similar to shutter speed as it is measured by how much light gets in, aperture deals with focus and depth in the picture, and is measured in F-stops. Lower aperture (something like f16) means more depth and less focus in the picture and a higher aperture (around f2.8) would get you a crisp focus on your image and blur the background. Which F-stop you choose will depend on what you are shooting and what you prefer style wise -- don't be afraid to experiment!
Shutter speed – This refers to the amount of time the shutter stays open to let light in. Ideally you should be working with a shutter speed higher than 1/60, which means you can hold the camera on your own without a tripod.
Pro Tip! - While a tripod will give the best results, there are several things you can do to give yourself a steadier hand. First, leaning against a wall or on a table will allow you to not worry about your balance. Then, breathe out when taking the shot to avoid any shaking. In the end, don't be afraid to set your camera on the table or ground -- its basically as effective as a tripod!
Example scenario: when outside in the daylight but not in the sunshine, the settings might look something like – ISO 100, F 2.8, Shutter speed 1/1000.
Three things to be aware of:
Depth and focus are crucial to achieving your desired aesthetic; as we covered earlier, this is adjusted through aperture.
Light is the most important element. Well-lit photos can have a serious impact on how good your product looks. Indoor lighting is not great lighting, and while using your kitchen lamp may seem like a good idea, artificial light injects a tint that you'll almost always have to correct later on.
Angle and composition depends on your product and your personal preference. Usually the camera will shoot in low aperture by itself if you shoot on auto, both on your camera and on your smartphone. If you shoot manually, use a low aperture on a smaller product, and a higher aperture on a model wearing the article, for example. This will help create depth and sharpness in the picture.
Make sure to focus the camera on the product – if using a smartphone, tap on the product on the screen, and if using a camera, press on the capture button halfway (just before it takes a photo), and you will see that it refocuses. It is very important that you get the best focus possible, since you want your products to look as crisp as they can be!
Pro Tip! - Manual focus is an option too. It can take some getting used to but its an easy way to ensure that your product is perfectly focused. This is especially helpful when focusing on a small product or on a detail of a much larger product.
It's important to use good editing software. Adobe Photoshop is one of the best out there, but it does have a lot of advanced features you might not need. In that case, try going with Adobe Lightroom or something similar. If really want to keep it simple, Preview, the native application on Apple Computers, can do all the edits you need (just go to Tools > Adjust Color)! The Windows 10 Photo app works similarly and will allow you to get execute basic edits.
In any of these programs, there are a few adjustments you'll want to focus on:
Brightness lets you adjust how much light is in your image.
Contrast will allow you to intensify the differences between color and lighting conditions. Or if there’s already too much contrast, you can always scale back for a more evenly-lit image.
Sharpness is the key to showcasing fine details. If you are selling a ring, it will help bring out the surface texture of the metal or gem.
Temperature is how cool or warm your image looks. Make sure the white balance is not too cold or too warm, unless that's the style you are shooting for!
Remember that all of these settings are there for you to experiment with. Don't be afraid to tinker with all of the settings -- you can always go back a step!
Know that when uploading pictures of your products to your online store dashboard on Tictail, there are some limitations:
1. Images must be in either JPEG, PNG and GIF format.
2. Images must be at least 10 pixels and at most 4,000 pixels in both width and height.
3. Images can't be too narrow. So if your image is 500 pixels wide, it needs to be at least 100 pixels tall, and vice versa.
4. Images cannot be larger than 15 MB.phot
If you are looking for inspiration, browse through Tictail's marketplace and see how various shops have chosen to take photos!