10 Product Photography Tips for Your E-Commerce Site

13/11/2020 10:33 am

If you’ve ever tried to take photos of your stuff to sell on eBay or Gumtree, you’ll know that it isn’t as easy as clicking the button on your camera. Product photography is deceptively tricky. But once you’ve mastered the basic product photography techniques, you’ll be ready to take professional photos and maybe even launch an online store!

We collaborated with expert Lee Bird on this guide on how to take product photos. Happy selling!


#1 Give yourself a leg up with the right camera gear

As sophisticated as smartphones are, ideally you’ll use a digital camera for product photography. 

 

A mirrorless camera or DSLR will give you access to a range of advanced camera settings for product photography, as well as tools and accessories. If you’re counting on product photography to boost your career or income, a camera will help you take high-quality photos and refine your skills.

 

If you don’t have room in your budget for a new camera, that’s okay! You can still use our tips to improve your results.

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

#2 Become a master of light

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

 

By that, we mean choose the best possible lighting setup for your photos. There are two options: natural light or artificial light.

 

You can rely on natural light to capture excellent product photos, especially if you can get outdoors and use the sunshine to your advantage. This is a great path to go down if you’re taking lifestyle, in-situ shots, or styling your products in the “real world.”

 

There are a few product photography lighting tips to keep in mind:

 

  • Avoid shooting at midday. The sun is sitting high in the sky, so you’ll most likely end up with harsh shadows.
  • Position yourself near a window. That way, you’ll benefit from the light from the sun without being dominated by it. Then, place your product so the direct light falls on it at an angle.
  • Use a reflector or bounce card. These affordable tools will direct light in your favour, illuminate your product and minimise those shadows.

If you’re ready to take your product photography to the next level, consider investing in artificial lighting for a more consistent quality of light. With a portable LED lighting kit, camera-mounted flash unit or a similar studio lighting startup on your side, you’ll be able to shoot at any time, knowing your photos will look uniform. It’s a good idea to soften your light even more with the help of a diffuser, too.

 

Top tip: Learn a few common lighting techniques, such as three-point lighting — which uses fill, key and backlighting to best illuminate your subject.

#3 Experiment with aperture for product photography

 

 

A key pillar of the exposure triangle, aperture describes the size of your lens’ opening, which lets in light. It helps you to play around with different levels of depth of field, and it’s measured in f/stops.

 

Aperture can be confusing because a smaller aperture is a higher number. To keep your product photos crisp and in focus, adjust your f/stop to the highest number.

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

#4 Choose a 50mm lens or similar

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

Remember, your audience expects their product to arrive looking exactly as it does on the site. To avoid distortion, steer clear of wide-angle lenses (like the ones you’d use for landscape photography) and reach for a 50mm or similar.


The best lens for product photography, this prime lens will separate the photo’s foreground from the background, and bring out your product’s details in a clear way. If you’re shooting jewellery or other intricate objects, you may also want to use a macro lens to showcase the super small details people often miss.

#5 Prop your camera on a tripod

Every photographer should have a tripod in their kit, but using one is especially important if you’re working with less-than-ideal lighting. For example, if you’re shooting indoors or in dark conditions, a tripod will reduce the chance of your photographs becoming blurry, and the need to use very high ISOs, which lead to greater image noise.

 

A sturdy tripod will keep your camera still and in one place, reducing camera shake and leaving you with clear, crisp images. It’ll also free up your hands so you can play around with different angles for your product until you find the best one.

 

Finally, a tripod can ensure your products look consistent when they’re uploaded side-by-side on your ecommerce site.

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

Top tip: If you can, set up the tripod in one secure position at the start of your shoot, and take your time positioning your product in front of it.

#6 Think carefully about your background

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

Whether you’re shooting on location or in a studio, be mindful of the background of your images. 

 

If you’re outdoors or “in situ,” find a backdrop that helps you tell a narrative with your product, but isn’t too distracting. So, you want to avoid bold colours or unnecessary clutter. For example, you might shoot in front of green foliage, but remove any random branches or other objects on the ground that takes the viewer’s attention away from the product. After all, you are trying to sell something!

 

For clean, high-quality product photography in a studio setting, a plain white backdrop is the best choice. As for how to get a perfect white background in product photography, you can buy a professional background board, or go down the DIY route with a roll of seamless paper from an art store. ust be sure to secure it with tape, and make sure there are no gaps. 

 

Another option is to try a flat lay background. This is a popular technique in the world of product photography today, and it gives you a little more freedom when choosing a background. You could use coloured poster paper or paper with a unique texture to make your product pop!

#7 Try shooting your product at different angles

 

 

Building on what we said before, experiment with different angles to see what works for your product. For example, some products look best in flat lay form, while others benefit from a front of 45-degree angle shot.

 

Remember, you’re selling something, so you want to make sure it’s presented in the most appealing (and accurate) way.

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

#8 Keep your space clean and clear

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

 

 

The most effective, eye-catching product photos are often the simplest ones.


We’re going to keep our tip simple, too. Your goal is to showcase the details of your product, not the background, so try not to clutter your image with too many props.

#9 Apply colour theory to your photos

In a nutshell, this means limiting yourself to three or four colours (unless the brief calls for more). Having too many clashing colours can turn off the viewer, which is where colour theory comes in.

 

It’s an understanding of how grouping certain colours together can help to create a mood or propel a narrative. Fashion directors and set designers rely on it a lot, and it can also be used to great effect in product photography.

 

As you start to venture into this field, read up on analogous and complementary colour combinations and how to use them to give your work a contrasting or harmonious feel. Then, choose props, backgrounds and even colour lighting gels to match the mood you’re trying to achieve.

 

To make sure you’re capturing accurate colours, adjust the White Balance setting using the Custom option on your camera. Otherwise, you can shoot in RAW and colour-correct during post-production.

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

#10 Enhance your image during editing

10 Product Photography Tips for your E-Commerce Site

As always, the goal is to publish product images that look like the product! So, keep your editing subtle.

 

Depending on where you’re at in your career, use a free photo editing program (like Pixlr) or upgrade to a high-end software like Photoshop or Lightroom. These programs make it easy to process RAW files, manage a lot of images and perform batch edits.

 

Here’s how to edit product photos:

 

1. Straighten and crop your image so it’s consistent with all other photos in the series.


2. Adjust the exposure to make sure your photo isn’t too light or too dark.


3. Tweak the white balance so your colours appear as they are “in real life.” Most editing programs have a slider you can use to make the image warmer or cooler.

4. Put the finishing touches on your image by playing around with saturation, clarity and dodging. But be careful not to oversaturate.


5. Last but not least, sharpen your image and skip any filters — chances are, they’ll be outdated in a matter of months!

All images used in blog Copyright Lee Bird.


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Learn more about product photography

If you’re setting up an ecommerce site, absorb as much information as you can about product photography before you start shooting.

Head to Lee Bird’s site to learn more from an expert, and shop for the right camera gear online.


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