How to get good product images on a budget. Watch this video: DIY product photography >Create A Marketplace >
If you can afford it, get a professional photographer or a product photographer to shoot your product images. Whether you are selling clothes or fashion accessories or home decor or furniture or custom electronics, a pro-photographer can make a whole lot of difference to how your webstore is perceived online.
Remember, if you are selling something online there is no way of touching or feeling your products. The only way you can make the customer experience your product is via images and text (or video, if you want to go a step further). You need to make sure your product photos convey the best image possible. This is even more true if you are selling original products like your own line of jeans or your own designer lamps.
Everyone knows what an iPhone looks like in real life, or a pair of Nike sneakers. These products are easier to sell online because people trust these brands. But if you are selling your own brand of designer clothing or furniture you need to earn this trust. For most commercial businesses, marketing is as important as product development and you should allocate some budget toward product photography.
Don't expect to get it right with the first product image that you upload. Any designer will go through at least 20 images before selecting an image for a web project.
There are several points to consider while uploading a product image. Your favorite image may not work out for several reasons - the lighting may be wrong; the background could be messed up; colors may not match with other images on the site, or with the site colors; there may be no room to crop the image properly; and worst of all, it may be a low resolution image that pixelates when viewed on a large screen. Keep a good selection of images for each product. If nothing works out, be prepared to shoot another product image.
You need enough 'head room' and 'elbow room' for each product image. Blipteam's image processors, and many other platforms, need some leeway while cropping a product image for a webstore. To begin with, the same image needs to be displayed on a variety of screens - desktops, iPads and mobiles.
Keep a healthy amount of breathing space around your main subject. Keep your subject toward the centre of the image and leave enough space around for us to crop. If you do an extreme zoom in and fill the entire picture with the subject, parts of your product might get chopped out by the image processor. This happens a lot when you use images of people standing, with the software cropping out heads and legs. Keep loads of space all around.
If it comes to it, you can always take pictures with some basic camera gear or even your smartphone. The important factors to consider here are lighting and setting. When you are shooting a product such as a bracelet or a beer mug or an embroidered cushion cover, you need to place it in a setting that is completely free of clutter. You need to show the product on its own.
For example, if you are shooting a cushion cover, you cannot shoot a cushion on a sofa. You are only selling the cover, not the stuffing and certainly not the sofa. This kind of composite shot might work well on your website home page but on the product page you need to show the product in isolation. You have to show the item that you will deliver and that item only. If you do shoot it on a sofa you need to mention in your product description that the product price includes the cushion cover only and that the other items are in the image only for reference.
You need to keep background clutter to a minimum. The best background would be a large sheet of white paper (dull, not shiny, so it does not cause undue reflections). If you cannot get a sheet of paper use a white bedsheet.
Try and light up the scene evenly. DO NOT use a flash - you will get some horrible shadows. Try and shoot the product out in the sunlight toward late afternoon, when the sun is not directly overhead. Keep the sun to one side or behind you, not in front of your camera. If you can get someone to assist, get them to reflect the sunlight with a white piece of paper and light up the shadowy parts of your product. This will light up your product evenly.
You can even experiment with a mixture of sunlight and artificial light. Find a room in your house that has a nice amount of sunlight coming in through one window. Do your shoot towards late afternoon, when the sun is strongest. Keep the product near the window and light up one side of the product (again, place the product on a white sheet). Place a shaded table lamp with a yellow light to light up the other side. You can get really nice warm tones by experimenting with this dual lighting arrangement.
Shoot an image and upload it to your store - you will immediately know what needs correction. You can experiment with product photography like this using your smart phone or even some basic camera gear from Nikon or Canon. Glass and metal, such as jewellery, can be tricky to to photograph, as light reflections are more difficult to control. You can use vaseline to dull down reflective areas or rebellious highlights.
Basically, there's no end to the number of photography tricks out there. Instead of turning your photography session into an academic exercise, concentrate on getting the best possible output for your online store. Keep uploading images to your site to see what works best. Remember to leave enough cropping area around the subject!
TIP: Look up how to make a 'lightbox'. You can even buy some ready-made ones if you plan to shoot a lot of products over time.
You may not get the perfect images in the first go. Don't worry. A lot of people don't. An online store is not a one-off, it is a work-in-progress. If you cannot get the perfect images rightaway do not despair. They will turn up, sooner or later.
There are several things to work on on your webstore or marketplace - product pricing, product descriptions, marketing, search engine optimization, connecting with people on social. Polish these areas of your store while you raise the budget for professional photographers or wait around for perfect lighting conditions. Remember, your online store is a combination of several things - text, images, marketing, product development. No point having perfect images if you have no customers.
Concentrate on marketing or raising sales with what you have. Share your Blipteam site on social and get feedback on your products.
In most cases, you will need to produce images for your online store yourself. If you are making your own handcrafted jewellery or designing your own dresses you will have to show pictures of your own products. In some cases you could use stock images from online image stock banks. These images work out great if you need some general images to use in in your site, for example on your home pages or on your product category landing pages.
Lets say you run a travel company. You can just get pictures of Buckingham Palace or The Eiffel Tower or New York City or scuba diving in the Bahamas from some stock bank. Other images like a group tour to Scotland you should use your own, especially when showing people. Or lets say you run a home decor store and need some images of a living room. Its always best to go original but if you are starting out you could get some nice interior design images from a stock bank.
Look up photography or design schools in your area. A lot of students are looking for real-life projects in exchange for college credits. They will probably have access to studios and good photography equipment too.
Some college students model for each other as well so if you are looking to shoot your clothing portfolio this might be a good opportunity (you can look up fashion design or fashion tech colleges too). Try and get the senior students to help you out. It might just work out for both of you. When the student gets famous, remind them where they got their start. Squeeze a nice deal out of them then :)