4 Factors to Consider in Product Photography

If there’s one teeny silver lining to the pandemic, it is that people who might have been a little leery of online shopping had no choice but to give it a try —and that broke inhibitions that might have been holding eCommerce back.

Likewise, businesses who might have downplayed the relevance of online sales channels had to acknowledge its importance and had to go onboard or get left out.

However, if you’re one of the many businesses now selling your products online, remember this: product photography is vital to online sales.

According to Justuno, visual appearance is the key deciding factor in their decision to buy for 93% of consumers.

In Etsy’s buyer surveys, 90% of respondents said the quality of the product photos is an extremely important or a very important factor in their purchasing decisions. Etsy shoppers rated product image quality as more important than even the cost of the item (83%), shipping cost (76%), and reviews (73%).

There are no two ways about it. You need outstanding product photographs if you are selling online — on your website, on your app, on an eCommerce marketplace, etc.

Thus, it makes sense to have a professional photographer specializing in product photography take your product photos.

To capture the perfect product photo, a professional photographer makes sure to cover these factors.

1. Storyboard

A professional photographer always starts with a plan. How is the photoshoot going to progress? What photos are they going to take first, what comes next, and what comes after?

What props do they need for each shot, and what equipment will they use to execute it? These are the questions a professional photographer always answers before going on a shoot.

The photographer also needs to decide whether to create a studio shot or a lifestyle shot, a scale shot or a process shot.

The type of shot they will go for will be decided based on their commercial photography expertise — and your input as the client, of course. It would also depend on the type of product you’re selling.

In other words, a photographer must have a plan before the actual shoot. For shoot planning, a photographer uses a storyboard.

A storyboard is a visual representation of a photoshoot. It’s like a comic version of it. It features a series of squares, each one with a photo or an illustration or some form of visual that represents how the photographer envisions a particular shot or photo.

Each square on a storyboard also comes with notes to help explain the accompanying illustration. For instance, the photographer could note down the type of lighting, technique, equipment, and angle they would use to capture the shot. Keywords to evoke the planned mood or the goal of that particular shot may also be included in the notes.

The squares represent a sequence, too. Thus, the first square (and the shot depicted on it) comes first, followed by the second, the third, and so on.

2. Ample Lighting

A photographer needs plenty of light, especially for tight detail shots or product pack shots. Customers would want to see your products clearly, so seasoned commercial photographers know how to use the correct lighting to illuminate your product clearly.

However, there’s more to lighting than simply using it to illuminate a product. The light source, lighting angle, and color cast, among others, can affect how photos will turn out.

A photographer typically uses a neutral light range or a neutral temperature for product photography.

That would be between 5,000 to 6,000 Kelvin. While a warmer light can help produce dreamy photos, a photographer normally chooses to stick to the neutral range in product photography since accuracy is paramount.

As a business owner, of course, you want your product photos to look good and want to present them in the best light.

However, learn to defer to your professional photographer’s knowledge and experience. In product photography, product photos must always be accurate.

Likewise, photographers almost always prefer using artificial light for their product photography projects.

With artificial lighting, the color temperature remains consistent no matter the time of day, therebyensuring your products will get the same consistent exposure and producing much cleaner, quality product photographs.

What type of lighting do commercial photographers use in product photography? For the best outcome, product photographers often use continuous lights.

Continuous lights is just a fancier way of saying always-on lights. Fluorescent lights and LED light panels are examples of continuous lights.

Finally, product photographers use at least two light sources placed diagonally in front of the product (one on the left and one on the right). They use diffusers to soften shadows and reflectors to improve how the light hits each product.

3. Background

When it comes to product photos, white still makes the best background color. This ensures minimal distractions that might take away from the product being shot. Additionally, photographers know to avoid a patterned background in product photography.

A solid, seamless white paper backdrop is best for product photography. A white background makes post-processing easier because the photographer can easily replace it with a different background.

Note that a colored background can influence the way a product appears. Experienced professional photographers can use a colored background to achieve a specific, desired outcome without sacrificing how accurate and realistic the product looks in the shot.

4. Equipment

Professional photographers have experience and skills, but they also rely on their equipment to take excellent product photos.

The secret to a photographer’s incredible photos is their camera, particularly their digital single-reflex lens camera.

There are amazing smartphone photographers out there, but professional photographers use DSLR cameras when taking product photographs.

Probably the only time you can ask your photographer to use a smartphone is if you are selling smartphones that are being positioned as a photography hobbyist’s tool or if smartphone photography is your marketing concept.

To minimize shake and guarantee image stability, professional photographers use a tripod. This will also ensure they can shoot your products from a consistent height, making your storefront look much better.

Pros also use a photo light box or a light tent. This is a translucent or opaque white box open on the front-facing side. The photographer puts the product inside the box, where it instantly gets a white sweeping, seamless background.

Photo light boxes may have built-in continuous lights. However, photographers will often complement these with their own lighting gear.

Photo light boxes also have adjustable openings so a photographer can shoot a product from a variety of angles. For instance, most light tents have an opening on top for flat lay photography. 

Superior Product Photos for Higher Sales

Do not underestimate the value of a great product photo in your online sales. Your customers can read reviews, features, and benefits, but product photos are the only way online shoppers can assess your product offers or gift packages using their senses.

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Therefore, make sure to hire a seasoned product photographer to create high-quality photographs of your products online.