Ottemo Blog

Tips and tricks for better e-commerce product photography

by John Harmston

Posted by John Harmston on Jul 8, 2016 10:49:20 PM

Good product photography

In an ideal world, every business that needed product photography could afford a professional photographer. In the real world, there are thousands of teams that have less-than-ideal budgets and must take care of their own photography. If your team is in that situation, lets talk about how to produce eye-pleasing and effective product photography — from thumbnails to hero shots.

Consider Your Equipment

You don't need a $3000 camera to capture effective product photos; still, your phone camera may not be effective enough. What you must have: a digital camera that can take an in-focus photograph, can mount on a tripod and can produce (at the very minimum) a 5-megapixel image. Ideally, your camera should also have adjustable settings for focus, ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

Work for Great Lighting

Many appealing product photographs feature soft, even lighting. Highlights are not too bright and shadows are not too dark. There are several methods to achieve soft lighting. One method is to use a product light tent. Place your product inside and use photo lights on either side of the light tent. With a little tinkering, the resulting light should be soft and even.

You can also achieve soft, even lighting by placing your product near a window with sheer curtains; on the opposite side, bounce the natural light off a reflector disc.

If your camera is set to auto and the lighting is not adequate, there are several things you can do. You can adjust the ISO to a higher number. However, if you go over 800, check your photo for excessive graininess. You can also set your camera to the manual setting and lower the shutter speed (for example, from 100 to 60) or open the aperture (for example, from 6.3 to 5.6). You will need to experiment to find the right settings for your situation.

Pay Attention to Details

In all events, make sure your focus is sharp. Mounting your camera on a tripod helps a great deal, since user movement usually causes blur or soft focus. Once you think you have captured a great image, zoom in on the preview screen to 100 percent and make sure that the details are clear.

Shoot more images than you think you'll need. Take photos of your product from all angles. You may not need all these detailed images, but if you consider the hassle and expense of re-staging your photo shoot, you can see the wisdom in being thorough the first time.

Maintain a distraction-free background. This requires zero thought in a light tent, but in other setups, backgrounds are easily overlooked. Remember that when your customers see the final image, their eyes will wander away from the product to any clutter on your desk or bright posters in the corner. Keep things simple and hang a backdrop.

Make Use of Editing Software

High-resolution images are ideal for printed photos, but since your goal is to display images online, aim for 72 or 90 DPI. Some imaging software doesn't get that technical; it simply gives you the option to "save for Web." Saving images at the right resolution ensures that your product Web page loads quickly and that your image doesn't get over-compressed by Web-optimizing software.

Check carefully for proper color balance. In some professional editing programs, you can do this with great accuracy; in other budget-friendly software, you might need to use your best judgment. Whichever software you use, remember that all the thumbnails on a Web page should have similar color balance. If some thumbnails are noticeably more green or magenta than others, your customers will be distracted and may question the website's professionalism.

Lastly, crop your images correctly. Confirm the image dimensions on your website (for both the thumbnail and enlarged image) and crop accordingly. Otherwise, your customers will see a stretched or compressed product image.

Good luck, and feel free to comment below to share some of your own tips and tricks.

Topics: ecommerce, digital commerce, shopping, website

John Harmston

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