(Product) Picture Perfect.
A photo is a photo right? Not exactly.
Sometimes getting products up and available for purchase is the priority for many eCommerce businesses. We know this story all too well and often help to facilitate a better approach.
The problem is, slowly, over time, inconsistencies in the images become the norm, the backgrounds, the positioning and the lighting starts to look a little sloppy. Nobody wants their products looking like they’re on Facebook Marketplace. And although yours wont look as bad as that, it’s a slippery slope.
Also, the more important fact is that accurate, high quality and consistent product images have been proven (by us, and every other major brand) to have a significant impact on revenue & success. Just take a look at some of your favourite online stores from the big brands and you’ll see straight away what we’re talking about.
Now, customers won’t always pick it consciously, but they will know, it’s something that will niggle at the back of their mind, but they do notice.
When it comes to good product photography we always suggest having your own setup, and we’ve built many for clients, where you’re using good quality equipment in the same configuration each time. That way you’re already starting with photos that won’t need too much touching up in photoshop, you want to limit that.
Here’s how we get there for ABOVE THE CLOUDS.
Clean, white & well-lit shoot environment
Depending on the size of your products a lightbox is a good option, or a white wall if you don’t have access to one of this. We recommend a photography table with purpose built white floor and sides. The lighting needs to be diffused (i.e. not a direct light that you can see all the reflections of the lightbulb in), a good way to do this if you don’t have a diffuser they can be picked up on most photography equipment sites for pretty cheap, even full lighting setups aren’t that much – read the reviews though.
Be careful of shadows
Make sure your lighting and product positioning helps to avoid shadows.
Capture the same 3-4 images each time
Front on, side on, styled for instance can be a good combination, but remember that to keep things consistent use the same angles each time (particularly with shoes, as all shoes pointing different directions makes people uncomfortable). Remember, this will be different for each type of product you shoot, but work out what’s right for you and go with that. At the end of the day you want to show the angles that bring your product to life.
Avoid solving problems in photoshop
It’s very rare that businesses can afford a full-time retoucher, so what we suggest is making sure your setup is delivering you ‘pretty much there’ images, rather than lightening, darkening, smoothing out in photoshop later. This is time consuming and will most likely cause you time management issues and stress. So, invest a bit in your gear if you’re encountering issues.
Do the most recent products first
If you’re a high volume store you’ll likely get rid of all the old stuff quite quickly so no need to go back and re-shoot everything, so just get your setup right and start shooting things right, eventually you’ll have set up a good rhythm and all the ‘new stuff’ will eventually replace the old shabby imagery.
Get good gear, but don’t worry if you’re on a budget
There are many negatives to using cheap gear, but it doesn’t mean you always have to spend a million bucks. We use a Canon 5D with a next level lens, but many of our clients are well setup with something of slightly lower quality such as a mirrorless or compact camera. What you want to be able to do though is get things in focus, or at least limit the issues with having to take too many photos to get things right. We often suggest manual focus, locking it off and slightly adjusting for different products. The worst thing is shooting 30 images and realising you were out of focus the whole time.
Keep it High Res
It shocks us to our core, well maybe not that far, to see imagery that looks like it’s pretty good, but it’s low res. Always export your images at a resolution recommended for your platform. Shopify recommends at least 1000 x 1000px at least. Of course, some platforms scale things down a bit, but at least start high.
Copy the big guys
If you sell backpacks, go to Kathmandu’s site, if you sell jewellery then go to Michael Hill – it’s about finding who’s doing it right and matching that. If you’re into shoes and streetwear we certainly would recommend checking out Above The Clouds, one of our most transformative results when it comes to product photography.
With a well organised photography setup and process to repeating the same great images, you’ll be fending off new customers left, right and centre. It should be one of the most important things when considering how to improve your online store. We can do it for you, but we also love teaching clients how to get there themselves.