Instagram represents a potentially massive marketplace for individuals and businesses looking to sell their products online.
With competition levels exceptionally high, it is critical to take the time and effort to create professional product photos to grab attention and avoid being lost in the crowd.
While product photographs are a specialized niche within photography it is nevertheless possible for amateurs to generate high quality images of their products.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Lighting is everything
The main thing that distinguishes a knockout product photo from one that you skim over is the lighting used in the image.
Professional photographers will generally have access to studio environments and artificial lighting which allows them to precisely control the colour balance and light levels in their product photos.
If you’re an amateur you’re unlikely to have access to sophisticated equipment or a studio, which means you will need to rely on ambient or natural light.
There are a few basic principles to follow here:
1. Take your photos in a light-rich area that does not have direct sunlight. This would include well-lit areas that have a north-facing door or window (swap this to south-facing if you are in the southern hemisphere).
2. Focus on your timing. On a clear day mid-morning is often a good time to get bright, consistent light.
3. Watch the weather. Overcast weather is probably not going to give you sufficient light to levels to take a striking image.
4. Make sure there are no exterior obstructions to light, like trees or walls.
Choose a background that makes you image pop
One of the best ways to add light and brightness to your product images is to make use of light, reflective backgrounds that bring your product to the foreground.
This is most easily achieved by using a solid white background, which both reflects light and adds contrast to your product image.
The simplest way to access a clean white background is to buy a polystyrene foam board from an art shop or online.
Lay this flat on a well-lit surface, place your product on the surface and you will immediately have a decent setup for a bird’s eye view product photo.
If you want to take a horizontal shot, then some seamless backdrop photo paper is indispensable.
This will provide you with a flat, light background without exposing a seam where the background meets the horizontal surface you are shooting on.
Props are part and parcel of taking styled images. Styled images feature a few carefully selected props that are used to contextualize your product and bring it to life.
This is typical of food product photography, where various props are used to highlight the use of the product or to add to its visual appeal. This could include crockery, spices or fruits and vegetables.
The use of props is all about composition, so you will need to experiment and refer to styled photos for similar products to come up with a good arrangement.
Try to avoid overdoing the use of props in a styled product photo, or you can easily crowd out your product and distract viewers with an overactive background.
Also ensure that props are relevant to the image and make sense in the context of where the product is typically used, and what it is used for.
Explore lifestyle photos
One way around having to set up an indoor staging site for your product photos is to take lifestyle images of your products.
These are photos that show your product being used in an everyday context, for example someone wearing a wristwatch.
This type of image has a couple of advantages:
- It helps viewers visualize how the product works, and what it will look like when they make use of it.
- You will be able to take the image outdoors and make use of other forms of natural light, like the golden hour which occurs around sunset and sunrise.
- You can make use of models to humanize your product.
Ideally you should include a mix of styled and lifestyle shots for your product’s image portfolio.
Take high definition, wide angle shots
There’s nothing worse than setting up a photo shoot, taking a set of photos and breaking down your set only to find out that many of your images are un-editable and unusable because there is not enough space for cropping.
This in turn can limit the selection of images you can use for Instagram, depending on whether you are able to crop the photo to meet Instagram’s accepted aspect ratios for images.
You need to leave some room to move when taking a picture and give yourself space to crop where necessary.
However, you don’t want to do this at the expense of losing clarity or definition in the image.
So, ensure your image resolution is set as high as possible, and take a few sample shots to check image quality before proceeding with your shoot.
Get help from a professional
If you have your hands full getting your product market-ready and don’t have time to develop your product photography skills, you can always turn to a professional.
Cherrydeck’s Branded Stock™ provides an affordable custom product photography service that allows you to buy professional product photos at stock library pricing.
You don’t need to plan a shoot or spend a fortune.
Simply send Cherrydeck your sample products and brand details and they’ll set up the shoot and provide you with access to the stock library of your products within three weeks.
Best of all you will only pay for the photos you want to use from the library.
To find out more, visit Cherrydeck Branded Stock™ now.