Business Ideas, Design & Branding

Stand-out Ecommerce Product Photography – DIY Guide

By HappyPoints on March 18, 2021 0 Comments

product photography

“Gosh, my job is so easy! I just clicked a button all day… said no photographer ever.” Rightly so. Product photography isn’t all about pressing a button. It is as aesthetic as it is technical. A photographer needs to have an inherent sense and should hone it with technical know-how over time. 

Today, digitization and online shopping are growing rapidly. To make a consumer buy your product, it is imperative to add clear and appealing images clicked from the right angles, and  with sufficient light. This requires good photography, or else you will lose on the appeal factor. 

Unfortunately, a sizable number of images fail to impress. The reasons include insufficient product details, wrong lenses and background, reflections, too many props. These mistakes jeopardise the product photograph and the associated future business prospects.  

Justuno confirms the loss. 93% of consumers regard visual appeal as the main deciding factor in buying a product. So what is that you need to make your product photograph stand out. 

Let us discuss this in detail.

THE EQUIPMENT GUIDE

What all is needed to enhance product photography?

Product photography needs strategic planning and involves a train of gears, tools, and other accessories. Further along in this article, we unravel all.

1. Tripod

product photography - tripod

If you want to stay hands-free and focus on moving the product on your screen, a tripod comes in handy. Besides, it helps in keeping the frame stable. It is also good for clicking images in low light conditions, where steadiness is key for longer exposure clicks. However, you may decide to have it or not, and the choice is optional.

2. Camera

product photography - camera

If you think you need a high-end camera with sophisticated lenses, you are absolutely wrong. Yes, having one is a bonus. But, if you do not possess one, use your smartphone instead. Simultaneously, start amassing new equipment and scale up gradually.

3. Background

product photography - background

Choose your background wisely. The right background lifts the headache off post-processing background adjustment. Use a neutral background. Besides, there are a few more things worth considering.

  1. White sweep: It transitions smoothly from a horizontal background to a vertical.
  2. Wall curving downwards: It is difficult to capture background contours with a brightly lit background. Also, sharp edges bounce back the light. Wall that curves downwards is a great help.
  3. DIY. Use a poster board or craft paper. Place it on a flat surface.

4. Table

product photography - table

Whilst your choice for a table depends on the type of products you would want to shoot, picking the right one is important. Here are a few options listed to fit different kinds of your products.

  1. Professional Photography table. Buy a professional shooting tabletop if it fits your budget. Most of them have sweeps attached to them. Works well for capturing shoes, crockery, and accessories.
  2. DIY Tabletop. This is the easiest solution and it is economical. Take a small table, 2 pieces of scrap wood, and white paper.

5. Toolbox

gear box

Be prepared with a variety of tools you may need in the course of capturing products in your lens.

  1. Tape. Use clear and double-sided tape. It ensures everything stays in place. 
  2. Fishing line. Keeps smaller objects such as jewellery in one place. 
  3. Clamps. Maintains equipment such as a reflector or a sweep glued to the spot.
  4. Glue dots. Holds smaller products in place.
  5. Spare battery or charger. What if your camera decides to doze off. A spare charger or battery is paramount.
  6. Cleaning Kit. A little spot on the camera can ruin your product image. You may invest in effective cleaning accessories. 

6. Bounce cards

bounce card

When you use natural light coming from a window, one side is bright, and the other develops a shadow. Settle this shadow with a white bounce card that comes with an attached foam board.

Consider a black bounce card; it deepens the shadows. Use them to shoot white products against a white background. It creates darker looking edges for a white product.

Nonetheless, if a more professional-looking setup is your calling, place a black bounce card at the back and a white bounce card in front.

  • Lighting options. Light not only illuminates but defines a good product photograph? Good lighting can make or breaks the visual appeal of a product. 
  • Natural light. Use it, if possible. It is the best option. You can set your photography tools near a large window. Attach a sweep to the wall. Prevent sharp shadows with a screen on the inner side.
  • Direct sunlight. Avoid it completely. It creates dark shadows.
  • Artificial light: Finally, if you are using artificial light, use two softbox setups. One for the main light and the other to soften the shadows.

THE DIY PROCESS

How to click high-quality photographs?

With so many sophisticated equipments available in the market, selecting the right one within your budget is difficult. But good product photographs are not about equipment; it is about the environment and the setup.

Scroll down to understand how to bring great appeal to your product photography.

1. Set up

How you place your product to be captured and where you place them holds the key to the quality of a photograph. If you decide to do-it-yourself, follow a few rules. Here is a detailed description of all the paraphernalia involved.

Table
  1. Turn off all the lights.
  2. Keep your table close to the window. The window should be 90 degrees to the left or the right of the setup. Do not let the shadow from the windowsill intersect it.

The Garage is another place to try out for your DIY project. However, remember to keep the door open. And most importantly, avoid direct sunlight to prevent dark shadows around the products.

Camera

Irrespective of the type of camera – automatic or re-adjustable, the window light setup will work well for both.

camera settings
  • Settings
  1. Turn off the flash setting.
  2. Check the white balance. Set it at auto.
  3. If you have RAW, bring your image settings to the highest quality. However, if you do not have RAW, the largest JPG setting is your option. 
  4. ISO controls sensor sensitivity. Set it at 100. More than 100 implies more noise.
  • Camera exposure

Manual Setting.

  1. Set f/stop to the highest number. 
  2. Preview image on the backside of the camera. The image most often appears dark.
  3. Rotate the shutter speed dial to add some brightness to expose the image properly.

With aperture priority

Set f/stop to the highest number. This adjusts the shutter to the camera requirements. Alternatively, you may need the exposure compensation dial to add some brightness.

Auto exposure

There is nothing much to do in the auto. 

If an exposure compensation dial is present, add +1 or +1.5 to receive the correct exposure. On an iphone, tap the area to have proper exposure.

  • Zoom
  1. Forget digital zoom. 
  2. Zoom in optical zoom as far as you can. Longer zoom helps in removing distortion due to the wide-angle lens.
Placement

Keep your product in the centre of the surface selected. You may have to make several adjustments and movements to line up everything. Use different methods.

2. Click and Assess

Click and check the image. Use your knowledge and understanding to figure out what will work and what will not.

Upload the pictures to a laptop or a desktop. Use software to organize all the product images. Perform basic editing allowed with such tools. Make the necessary adjustments to make them look appealing. Should your product photographs need advanced editing, there are paid tools available.

3. Retouch

A correctly clicked photograph should look bright and clear with a grey background. To remove the background, retouch them. However, the process is slightly complicated and should be best outsourced. A professional may charge you anywhere between $2 to $5 for retouching.

Image Optimization for website 

A website speed of more than 3 seconds results in user abandonment. Even Google considers page load speed for ranking. Believe it or not, images impact load speed. The heavier the image, the more is the loading time. This signifies the importance of product image optimization.

1. Image formats

Choose the right file format before you proceed with image modification. Mainly there are three types of file formats:

  • PNG. It was initially designed to be a lossless image format but can be lossy. The image quality of a PNG image is high and has a larger file size. 
  • GIIF. A great option for alternative images. It uses 256 colours and employs lossless compression.
  • JPEG. Both lossy and lossless optimization is possible with JPEG.  So, adjust the file size and quality.

Talking about Shopify, it prefers the JPG format over the other two.

2. Size and compression quality

Low compression rate increases quality as well as the size. On the contrary, a high compression rate can result in low quality and size. Both of them are not good. Choose a medium compression rate. Generally, a PNG image should be less than 100 KB for a Shopify product image.

3. Lossy vs lossless optimization

  • Lossy. With lossy optimization, you can reduce the size of a file. Some data is removed in this process, losing image quality, therefore called ‘lossy’.
  • Lossless. In this, the data is compressed to reduce the size of a file. This maintains the quality. However, the images need to be uncompressed to bring them back to their original state. Tools such as FileOptimizer, Photoshop are helpful in lossless compression.

4. Resize The Images

It’s crucial to keep a balance between your images’ dimension and file size. As a result, your users can still zoom in and your images don’t take up too much space and load slowly.  If you are on Shopify, the maximum dimension that you can upload is 4472 x 4472 pixels with a file size of up to 20 MB. However, the website developers typically suggest using 2048 x 2048 pixels square for product images. This is to ensure that your store looks professional with high-resolution images as well as a great capability of zooming.

Tips: Please note that to be able to use the zoom functionality, your images must be above 800 x 800 pixels.

Useful Tools for Image Compression and Resizing

There are several tools available for enhancing Shopify product photographs. We have listed a few of the best available.

  • Adobe Photoshop. It is the best tool, but if you do not have it, try Photoshop express. 
  • Snapseed. A professional app for editing. Snapseed comes with 29 tools and filters for editing, along with a brush, healing, structure, perspective, HDR and more.
  • Lightroom. Looking to create a theme or already having one, use Lightroom. With it, you can adjust geometry, product image composition, sync profiles and presets, make batch edits; all this while editing. 
  • Photoshop Express. Use it to add edits, fix red eyes, adjust tones, add effects and more product images. 
  • PicMonkey. Most experts recommend using it for 
  • Canva. Yet another useful image editor.
  • PIXLR. 100% free smartphone app.
  • Shopify Image Resize tool: 100% free online image resizer

If it fits your budget, there is  Camera+ for iPhone. Both beginners and experienced photographers can use it to click pictures in RAW.

Conclusion

Clicking good photographs is not as hard as it seems. Spend some time understanding how to click product photographs without shelling out massively on the gear. It is simple, and this article should help you with the same. Start practising and use online tools to bring the best out of your Shopify product photos.

Need a hand in optimizing loading speed with your product images? Contact HappyPoints, we are happy to assist you!

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