The best way to sell more products online is by not forgetting the importance of the product imagery – assuming of course, that you have already covered all the essentials like pricing, target market and stock inventory.
Simply, it’s your imagery. Getting the right product photography for your e-commerce website is fundamental to success. This is because the imagery is probably going to be the way for the audience to interact with the products before deciding whether to purchase or not. Unlike in a physical shop, where the shoppers can interact with the products, online shoppers only have a handful of details to go by before deciding to buy. This includes text about the product, reviews left by customers and imagery.
It’s so important to get the photography right. So how do you make sure you’re taking good product photography? Well, you can either hire a professional, which is worth doing if you have the budget for it. Or, if you’re tight on budget and own a good camera, you can do it yourself.
Here are our top tips for good product photography:
You should be taking several pictures at different angles for every product on your e-commerce website. This gives the audience a better sense of the dimensions, shape and fit of whatever you’re selling. It also gives you plenty of options when deciding which pictures to display.
Showcase product details
If you’re selling a product with certain details, make sure the details are captured in your product photography. For example, if you’re selling clothing, zoom in on the patterns, trims and seams of the clothing to demonstrate the design and quality. If there are unique selling points to your product, such as a feature your competitors may not include with their products, try to capture this in some of your photographs.
The biggest mistake you can make is getting the lighting wrong. It’s typically safe to go for a neutral lighting, like white. You also want to make sure your product isn’t cast in shadow and that the light on the product is evenly distributed. This means you may have to set up several lights behind the camera, to make sure there are no shady spots on your product.
Focus and Aperture
If you’re feeling creative you can use focus to make your images stand out. Make sure your product is always in the camera’s focus, however you may want to adjust the depth of field.
If you just want the audience to focus on the product, make everything in the background blurry and out of focus. You’d typically want to do this when taking pictures of items like jewellery. For this, you’ll want a low f-number or f-stop and a large aperture.
If you’d like to capture the scene and context around the product, make sure you have a large depth of field. You might want to do this when taking photos of clothing. For this, you’ll want a high f-number or f-stop, and a low aperture.
Use a standard lens when taking photographs. Unless you really have a reason too, don’t use filters or non-standard lenses when taking pictures of your product. A non-standard lens typically means anything outside of the range of 40-58mm.
Unless necessary, don’t use a wide angle or fish-eyed lens. It distorts the shape and dimensions of the product, which could mislead customers. Keep the camera simple. We don’t recommend using a phone camera.
Sell a lifestyle
Depending on what your products are, you may want your photography to sell a ‘lifestyle’, not a product. So, what do we mean by selling a lifestyle?
A lot of product photography is done against a plain or blurred background. The emphasis is placed on the product itself. However, you’ve probably been sold a lifestyle without having ever realised.
The most obvious place to look is the fashion industry. When a model styles a piece of clothing, they’re typically selling you a lifestyle. Customers will see the product photography and examine the model, what they’re wearing, where they are and what they’re doing. If these things resonate with the customer then it’s more likely they’re going to buy the clothing.
For example, you’re a young adult buying a t-shirt. The model in the photo is wearing similarly styled clothing, some cool sneakers, has tattoos and jewellery, and is clutching a skateboard at the skatepark. If you’re a skateboarder, or someone who likes skate fashion, this imagery will resonate with you and you’ll be more compelled to buy into the lifestyle, even though all you’re doing is buying a t-shirt.
In the drinks industry, a middle-aged couple sipping gin and tonic on the beach front is quite compelling for a certain demographic, whereas a group of lads drinking beer at the pub celebrating the football appeals to a different demographic.
What lifestyle, if any, does your product align with and can you capture it in a photograph?
Give photos context
This is slightly different to selling a lifestyle. In this scenario, your product is the centrepiece of the photography, but you’re giving it context. In other words, you’re not placing it against a plain background, but are positioning it with or against something. For example, I will return to the gin example. If the bottle of gin is pictured nestled amongst some vegetation this evokes certain thoughts and feelings.
Or how about a car? Consider the differences between a picture of a car on a road and a car that’s off-road.
In both cases, you’re positioning the product and giving it context. You aren’t exactly selling a lifestyle, but perhaps drawing attention to a detail about the product. The gin nestled in vegetation makes us think about botanicals, flavour and health. Whereas the off-road car makes me think about adventure, exploration and excitement.
Avoid cluttered photos
If you’re thinking of making your product photography more interesting by selling a lifestyle or giving it context, then make sure you don’t make the image too cluttered. Your product should always be the centrepiece of the imagery, even if there’s stuff going on around it. Don’t have too much going on, else it will distract the customer and detract from the product.
Think about colours
It’s worth thinking about the colours in your product photography. As we suggested before, putting your product on a plain background works. It helps make your product pop out, especially the colour. Don’t use filters or lenses that distort the colour of your products. You want your images to accurately represent the colours of your product.
If you want to get technical, you should consider colour theory. We don’t have time to get into all the technicalities of colour theory, but you should consider using colours that are complementary. For more information, consider these 4 colour theories:
1) Complimentary colours
2) split complementary
Edit your photos. It’s very unlikely you’ll get the perfect picture. You can edit your photos to make sure your products look their best. The household name for photo editing is Adobe Photoshop, but Adobe also offers software called Lightroom and Photoshop Elements for photography enthusiasts and hobbyists.
As we have mentioned throughout, your imagery needs to stay true to your products. Try not to distort the product too much when editing your images, else you risk undermining your customer’s trust.
Things to consider
Some online marketplaces have rules about product photography. You’ll have to make sure you understand the different platform’s rules. Some things you may need to consider if using Facebook, Google and eCommerce sites are:
There’s a lot to consider when taking product photography. If it’s too much to handle, perhaps consider hiring a professional so that you can focus on your business.
We hope you find this blog piece useful. For more information about product photography for your e-commerce website, reach out to our team at Vertical Plus.