With the advent of online shopping, more people are eager to start an online store. In order to attract potential customers, the first thing is to advertise well.
Having great product shots can help build your brand image which impresses your customers at first sight. Moreover, since customers are unable to touch and feel the actual products beforehand, it becomes a vital way for customers to know more about your products, and to serve as indications during their decision-making process.
Undoubtedly, an experienced professional photographer provides you with excellent product shots, but you don’t have to be frustrated because of lacking resources and professional equipment. Just refer to the following 5 key tips, and you will find it easy to capture the best of your merchandise with your phone.
1. Apply a suitable source of light
Photography is an art of light and shadow, where lighting can determine the success of a picture. You will be able to showcase your brand style and product uniqueness with sufficient light, an appropriate choice of tone, and nice shadowing. There are 2 types of lightning in general: natural light and artificial light.
To take the photographs indoors with natural light, it only requires you to allow the entry of sunlight through the window. The larger it is, the more sunlight you get. Since the sunlight is quite dazzling at noon, unless you would like to create a strong contrast of lighting and shadows, you are recommended to take the shots at other time slots. In order not to create color shading and other interferences, it is better to cut off other sources of light before shooting, such as light tubes and windows.
When it comes to product photography, it is common to shoot a product with front or side light:
- Please be careful if there is any image projection on the product when using front light
- If you don’t want to create a strong light-and-shadow contrast or if you want to partially compensate for the loss of side light, you may consider using a white reflector to refract a proportion of natural light
- If you don’t have any reflectors, it can be replaced by white foam boards, 4A paper or cardboards wrapped with tinfoil
If you would like to reduce shooting costs, natural light is the best choice for you, as it helps reduce the cost of purchasing lighting equipment. However, there is no needle with both ends pointed. Natural light would be easily influenced by various external factors, such as timing and weather. The diversification of lighting challenges the filming process.
Indeed, if the shooting place is too dim or if it is an indoor location without windows, artificial lighting such as touch, candles or professional lighting equipment is needed to supply sufficient lighting for shooting. The source of artificial lighting is more focused than that of natural light, which enables the details of the products to stand out so as to impress the customers.
Apart from the aforementioned, buying a lightbox is another way to avoid being affected by the excessive light source which may contribute to the issue of color shading. It is common to adjust white balance (WB) during post-production, but you are recommended to adjust color temperature and related settings on your phone before shooting, which helps decrease the time required for post-production.
2. Build your own style
Not only can product shots deepen potential customers’ understanding of your products, but also construct and present your own brand style, with more attention to details of the shots like the backdrop and decorations, directly creating a more memorable first impression.
Backdrop with solid color is commonly used in product shots as it provides a clear image for customers to focus more on the product itself. However, colors could influence one’s emotions. For instance, red brings us the feeling of excitement and adventure, while blue offers us peace and trust.
If you tend to use white as the background to your photos, try not to simply use a white wall as the backdrop as it is not always perfect and blemishes could be easily captured with a phone, such as mold and cracks on the wall. It is more feasible to buy a background paper or fabric in solid color than to repair the blemishes on the walls.
Here are some notes when using the background fabric:
- the materials could be non-glare opacity and not easy to wrinkle
- make use of tapes or other adhesives to fasten the background cloths or wallpapers to the wall, form an L-shape to the desktop or ground surface to avoid collapse during photographing
- Do not compress L-shaped corners, as the lack of fold marks will make the photo more natural
If it is too dull, you may consider having background papers or fabric with color gradient, timber or marble patterns, enriching the photos.
Aside from making use of different backgrounds, you may set off the product quality with various uses of decorations, at the same time, it may even better construct your brand style.
- Natural Style: for those shops which are selling organic products, try to make use of the leaves and dried flowers to create a sense of nature
- Homie Style: when filming daily products, books and tablecloths could serve as elements to construct a homely and relaxed atmosphere
- Luxurious Style: for luxury brands with luxury products such as timepieces and wine, reflection plates can be used to highlight its elegance
However, be careful of the overall composition of the picture, and make sure that its details are not too distracting. Instead, you should pay attention to the size, color and position of the decorations, so that your customers will focus more on the products.
3. Prepare shooting equipment
Professional product shots are also attributed to the use of shooting equipment. Thanks to technological advancement, mobile phones could present you with professional shots in a simpler way. It is, then, more smooth for ordinary people to take good product shots with cameras on phone.
There are also some notes when using phones for product shots:
- Auto-focus: if you don’t take pictures often, you are advised to use the auto-focus mode, reducing the risk of being out of focus. Remember to press the frame on your screen before pressing the button to make sure it is in focus.
- Aperture Setting: it is more common to use a smaller aperture to have a clearer image of the subject unless you would like to highlight some specific details of your product.
- Highest Quality: ensure the details are shown clearly
- HDR (High Dynamic Range): When this function is on, your phone will automatically combine 3 photos with different exposures in a sense of preserving their best part to a higher quality photo, which means it enables customers to examine the products more detailedly.
Clearly display product details and avoid excessive movement during photo taking to prevent ’fuzziness’, so be sure to switch on the shockproof function on your mobile phone if you’re doing handheld photography. Using a tripod, however, is the optimal approach when photographing products.
In order to clearly showcase the details of the products, avoid having
- Using tripods is more effective to avoid blurry photos
- When photographing a series, handheld photography makes it difficult for the lens to be positioned consistently, thus affecting the synchronicity of the series
- Don’t try to replace tripods with other objects, it is less effective to hold in a particular position for long, which may affect the outcome of the pictures
4. Picture composition
When a product shot has a good composition, not only could it make the photos more pleasing, but also highlight the key points of the products. Here are the three most common modes of composition for product shots:
- Placing the product in the middle: the easiest and the most effective way to grab customers’ attention as the products are put in the center.
- Rule of Thirds: try to evenly divide the screen into 9 grids with the help of two horizontal and vertical lines, and then place the products on the intersections of the lines, making it the subject.
- Close-ups: when having close-up shots, you may apply a larger aperture to attain the depth of field. Therefore, the characteristics of the products are shown and so, to strengthen customers’ understanding.
There are two key points to note regardless of the mode of composition:
- Photo ratio: some of the platforms limit the photo ratio, take Instagram as an example, it only allows users to upload photos in 1:1, 4:5 and 16:9. If the photo does not meet the requirements, it may be necessary to cut off some parts of the photo or add white borders which will, in turn, lower its aesthetic appeal. Therefore it is important to consider the photo ratio when composing the photo.
- Reserved space: remember to reserve space for product information, slogan or brand logo on photos if you would like to. You should also pay attention to the coherence of the font color and the background color.
5. Complete the post-production
After the shooting process, you may use different mobile applications to edit the images and make them more appealing if you find them yet unsatisfying, such as
- Adobe Photoshop Fix: This app delivers functions of liquify, healing, brightness, coloring and adjustments, enabling perfect image productions. You may also share images to your laptop through Adobe Creative Cloud
- Snapseed: It is developed by Google to offer full image editing functions, with 29 tools and filters, including healing, brush, structure, HDR and perspectives.
- VSCO: It is suggested by many Instagram users, with a preset of 10 free photo effects. You may also sign up for its paid subscription to enjoy more than 200 effects
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