7 Tips to Improve Your eCommerce Product Photography
It's true what they say, we buy with our eyes. Often the decision-making process behind purchasing is solely based on what we find visually appealing. This is why nailing product images on your eCommerce site should be priority number one! Product images are designed to serve a single purpose - to capture the attention of shoppers browsing your website. Your eCommerce website should aim to invoke positive emotions with visitors, and happy browsers have a much higher chance of converting into buyers. The look and feel of your website says a lot about your brand, the type of customer you are marketing to and can give a good indication on the price point of your products.
It might be tempting to cut corners when it comes to product photography, as it's often the bottom of a very long list. eCommerce entrepreneurs are often overwhelmed with a never-ending list of priorities, so the thoughts of having to spend hours getting that perfect shot, taking multiple photos and angles per product. But it's not over yet, you then need to spend hours editing the best photos, with the goal of achieving a consistent feel across all your product photos.
So what if you could cut out the longest part of the process, and streamline your entire product photography process? The goal of every business should be to automate as many manual tasks as possible and delegate anything that doesn't complement your skill set. So, how do you go about cutting time and improving the quality of your product images? For those who don’t quite have a flair for photography, it's probably advisable that you look into hiring a professional product photographer. For those who are confident in taking matters into their own hands, here are a few simple tips to help you achieve professional and attractive product photography.
1. White Background Magic
Have you ever noticed that most eCommerce platforms have their products on a white background? In fact, some marketplaces (i.e. Google Shopping) insist on white backgrounds for all products listed on their marketplace. The reason is simple - it minimises unnecessary distractions, creates a sense of consistency and makes your product the centre of attention. From a purely aesthetic perspective, a white background creates a much cleaner, more professional finish and helps colourful products really pop.
Using a curved backdrop or photography shooting tent helps to eliminate shadows, and also cancels out sharp angles which can leave an image looking a bit harsh. On the other hand, there most certainly is an argument for in-context product photography. Some products look their best when shot in their natural environment. Let's take a table lamp, for example. A combination of photos against a white background, with close-ups to give an idea of what the materials are like, and in the context of a home environment helps the customer visualise how the product will look on their table.
If you're not sure which option results in more sales with your customers, why not experiment with both to determine which is most effective.
2. Set The Lighting
For people who like to take selfies, there is a popular expression 'lighting is everything'. The same is true when taking product images, lighting can make the difference between a good photo that converts into sales, and a bad one that gets dismissed and overlooked by online shoppers. Most products look much better when shown photographed in natural light, ideally a soft light that is evenly distributed across your product.
This might not always be an option, so you can also use artificial lighting by using a DIY light-box or a backdrop with umbrellas and reflectors. The trick is to experiment with and without the flash and find out which options gives the best results. In some cases, using the flash causes a distracting reflection (such as glassware products), whilst in other cases, it delivers a perfect finish.
3. Watch Your Shadows
Having gone to the effort of removing distractions from the background, the last thing you want is for your product’s own shadow to steal the show. If you want to add a bit of depth to your image, it's advisable to try out reflection shadows or a 'Mirror Effect', which can give your images a more polished finish.
If you want to avoid a shadow overcast on product images, a top pro tip is to use a flash diffuser. And of course, we have a DIY zero cost solution: place a white plastic bag over your flash to ensure the light source, your flash, is larger than your product. The light will be distributed more evenly, which will result in smaller, softer shadows.
4. Display Different Angles
Depending on the shape, colour, size and nature of a product, sometimes it's necessary to take shots from different angles. Again, this is something that you can experiment with to determine which angles get the most interaction from your customers. Feel free to mix things up periodically, but make sure you measure the results to understand what your customers respond best to. When it comes to testing out different methods, always check metrics by tracking and analysing shopper engagement levels. This will help you decide which photo should be used as your featured image.
As a general rule of thumb, less is more when it comes to your product page and the overall look of your website. However, photos are the main exception to the rule. It's always better to have too many photos than not enough. It's highly likely that people you’re selling to have never physically seen your product, so it's important to provide them with lots of different angles and a comprehensive description of the product. Adding a zoom option or close-up shots is also a great addition to your product photos.
For anyone who hasn't heard of 360° product photography, where have you been hiding? It's becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst eCommerce merchants. Products are placed on a turntable, within a professionally lit light-box, and as the turntable slowly spins photos are taken from every single angle. Photos are then transferred to specialised software that cleans the images for any imperfections and then converts the images into a 360 view motion graphic. The fact that your customers are able to see the product in all its glory, makes the task of in-depth product descriptions less essential.
For example, if you are selling a TV your customers want to see if it is a flat-screen, how slim it is and the range of different components like HDMI, Antenna and cable port.
Top Tip: The macro function, usually displayed as a flower icon on most cameras, will change the settings on your camera allowing it to capture extreme close-ups. This mode is ideal for capturing intricate details on your product.
5. Support Your Items
Sometimes your products just need a support platform to add a little extra 'je ne sais quoi'. If you are trying to showcase products that are generally flat, or perhaps don't stand up on their own, try using a stand, mannequin or a subtle, non-distracting display ornament. This will display your items in a way that gives your customer an idea of the overall size, contrasting between the object and the item. This tip is especially useful for jewellery and clothing. It's important to inform your customers that the stand or platform does not come with the product.
6. Comprehensive Product Descriptions
When it comes to selling online, it's all in the detail! When you have gone to the trouble of taking a variety of product photos, you need to back it up with detail on the product. Whilst they say a picture paints a thousand words, it won't harm to add some information about the product. If you're not sure what to include, check out similar product on some of the most popular marketplaces or better yet, compile the most frequently asked questions from your customers and include the answers in the description.
Customers can use the product information to make an informed decision on whether or not they want to purchase your product. By providing a clear description, you can expect not only an increase in browser to buyer, but a reduction in unnecessary customer service queries, leaving you more time to focus on growing your business.
7. Consistency Is Key
Whilst it's definitely a good idea to play around with a few different product photography formats, iterating where possible, consistency is key. Think of it like a fashion collection, they might all be different garments, however having a central theme that ties each outfit together is what makes a cohesive collection. In the same way, when uploading multiple images on your eCommerce store, ensure that they look like part of the same batch rather than random images pulled off the internet.
Avoid displaying photos in lots of different shapes and sizes, with noisy backgrounds or pixelated images. The whole aim is to get the shopper to attribute positive thoughts when visiting your site, and avoid activating critical thoughts which is a big sales turn-off. When running a drop shipping site, it can difficult to maintain a level of consistency, however they are options available to help manage this process more efficiently. Customers can immediately sense if you have taken the time to consider they buyer experience, and putting some effort into product optimisation is an easy win.
There you have it, our quick 7 step guide to perfecting your product photography. So, what are you waiting for? It's time to start taking awesome product images and watch your traffic conversions increase. For more tips, or help getting started, contact us. We are always happy to help!
Did we leave out any of your favourite product photography tips? Leave a comment, we'd love to hear your feedback!