Photo tips are like potato chips: After you have a few it seems you always want more. That's good, because here's another handful of tasty tips for taking better photos (and they're not fattening).
The better your photography, the better chance you have to make a sale. Much like perfecting your item descriptions, working through iterations to get them just right, you likewise benefit from continually improving your approach to your product photos. The profits come from practice, so here are some more tips to help you further refine your images and increase your net results.
A consistent background
You've been advised, encouraged and maybe even scolded a bit in making sure your photo backgrounds are neutral and non-cluttered. A clean setting is still the way to go, choosing solid backgrounds that provide adequate contrast to the items you photograph.
A clean setting is still the way to go, choosing solid backgrounds that provide adequate contrast to the items you photograph
When possible, take this idea a step further by developing a background color that you might use for all of your photography. In doing so, you'll establish a consistent look and feel for all of your items, adding to the style that upholds your store name or business identity.
You could experiment with something other than solid white or black backgrounds, choosing a color that can be properly muted or otherwise controlled yet which draws from your business logo colors. If you're the proud owner of the Big Banana Boutique, perhaps backgrounds of soft yellow could work for all of your photography (but no greasy black spots, of course). Take a new look at the uncluttered background rule and see if you can work it to project your business image.
When you're photographing tiny items or showing off intricate little details, you'll want to be sure what you can see with your eyes is what your shoppers will see from their screens. To do so, you'll need to make use of your digital camera's "macro" mode (identifiable by the little tulip flower icon), allowing you to capture clear photographs taken just inches from your items.
In this mode, you can photograph the most minute of design details. You can reveal delicate embossing or etching details. And, you can faithfully disclose any imperfections that will be important to your buyers.
Without the macro mode, you'll be limited in your ability to photograph close to your items and maintain crisp focus. One caution, though: Be sure to mount your camera to a tripod and use the timer feature to avoid any camera shake.
Photograph your items from a variety of angles and see which images seem most compelling, while remaining visually informative, to you
Get a new angle
While it's perfectly acceptable to present an item as photographed from the usual eye-level view, consider changing up your shooting angle to inject some interest and mood into your images. Eye-level photography is fine though it is rather overused; it puts the viewer in the same space, visually, as the item, but sometimes makes items appear mundane or a bit uninteresting.
Add some excitement or emotion to your items by shooting them from a low angle (shooting up at the item). This makes the subject appear larger than the viewer, more powerful, and even a bit imposing but to good effect.
On the other hand, high-angle shots (shot from above, at a 30-degree angle) provide the viewer a sense of panoramic perspective and command of the viewing. This is especially effective when photographing groups or collections of items that show best. Canted or tilted angles can be a bit unsettling to some—they provide an image that's off-kilter from the natural parallel horizon line—but they can impart a sense of action or movement.
Photograph your items from a variety of angles and see which images seem most compelling, while remaining visually informative, to you. Dare to try a different look at your items and you could discover a simple but effective way to add visual intrigue to what you offer.
Scale helps you sell
How big is that doggie in the window? Well, that's a question easily answered if you're standing on the other side of the glass, but what if you aren't? It's in your best interest to provide the context of your item (that is, its size) to your shoppers since they're unable to see it physically in front of them.
Practice, play and enjoy the fact that digital photograph provides instant results and endless retries that didn't exist in the days of film processing
It's easy enough to provide this detail, even though many sellers overlook the need. For small items, include a ruler next to the item to convey size. You've probably seen photos that include a coin to provide a sense of scale (unless, of course, the item up for sale is the coin). For larger items, you could ask a friend to stand alongside, possibly even demonstrating the item's use.
Many items you sell won't need scale references but when you sell things that are unusual or are unusually sized, help your buyers put it into perspective as they give it a look.
Go with a pro or do it yourself?
You're armed with these tips (plus others we've shared), and so you ask yourself, "Can I do it myself or should I seek out a professional shutterbug?" Be confident; great product photography is easily within your reach.
Even if you don't have the most expensive pro gear, that doesn't mean you can't take professional-looking photos. It comes down to experimenting with your camera settings, establishing a modest studio setup (a simple card table with a solid-color continuous background, two or three light sources and your camera on a tripod), and some creativity.
Practice, play and enjoy the fact that digital photograph provides instant results and endless retries that didn't exist in the days of film processing. Seek out more articles and books on the subject, and expand your knowledge and skills. And consider this: Often, the inventive and sometimes less-than-professional image can connect with buyers. Remember, if you don't like the photo you've just taken, then just take another (…and another, and another).