Luckily, you don’t need to be Annie Leibowitz or Ansel Adams to take great photos of your products; all you need is a little know-how. Follow these simple guidelines to make your photos pop … and your sales soar!
Know Your Photo Equipment
Don’t worry — there’s no need to invest in a lot of expensive equipment (unless you want to!). Nowadays, virtually all digital cameras can take great pictures. (But don’t be tempted to use your cell-phone camera — you really need an optical lens.) A newer point-and-shoot will do the job nicely, and you can take fantastic photos with late-model cameras that cost as little as $100. Look for a body with easy access to the memory card and cable ports for stress-free uploading.
Get Your Product Ready For Photos
Ready, aim, shoot! Well, not quite. Before you get click-happy, first make sure your product is looking its absolute best. If it can be cleaned, clean it. If you’re selling clothing, ensure it’s stain- and wrinkle-free. Remember that clothes look much better on figures than laid flat on the floor, so if you aren’t already using a mannequin for your lists, now’s a good time to start.
Next, find an appropriate background for your shot. You certainly don’t want kitchen clutter or a TV screen competing with your product in your pictures, so clear a space for your photo session. Solid colors are always best, but even so, watch out for textures or subtle patterns that have a way of annoyingly highlighting themselves in photographs. For really clean photos, go the extra mile and use new white cardboard for background, or try a photo tent — or just drape a sheet over a chair — for crisp backgrounds and to blocks unflattering light in the bargain.
Whether you use a light tent or not, pay close attention to light sources in your shooting area. First, turn off that flash! Natural light is almost always best, so give shooting al fresco a try! Still, be mindful of the potential problems of strong sunlight, harsh reflections and shadows. If you need more light than what is available in your photo shoot location, use just about any light fixture you already have to spotlight your product. Sometimes a little reflective light is all you need to take a decent shot to the next level. Try to position a piece of white cardboard or even a reflective windshield cover to get some reflective light.
While photos taken under less-than-ideal lighting conditions can often be edited and enhanced, but it’s always best to start with the absolute best lighting conditions possible. Take several test shots under different lighting conditions, including using the flash, to see how your product’s color translates in your photo.
Taking Great Pictures Of Your Product
Set your camera to medium resolution for excellent picture quality as well as faster loading time. You may be tempted to use your camera’s highest resolution setting, but keep in mind that your shoppers may not stick around if your photo doesn’t load immediately on your site.
A tripod is invaluable if you have a shaky hand, and if you’re taking individual photos of multiple products, a tripod will allow you to easily cycle through your wares while keeping the look of your photos consistent. This is especially important if you have multiple listings on one page. Tripods come in all shapes and sizes, right down to small, inexpensive models with flexible legs that you can custom-mold for your shooting experience.
Now – shoot away! Multiple photos in listings showcase products to their best advantage, so shoot from different angles to create several good shots. Choose your best photo as the primary picture for your listing, which is what will show up in search results. Don’t forget selling points that indicate quality and workmanship, such as close-ups of stitchery, manufacturers’ labels and tags for new items.
Using Photo Editing Software
With practice, you may get to the point where you’re happy with your initial shots. But keep in mind that simple photo editing can turn your good shots into great ones.
Use the photo package that comes with your computer or free online programs — Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Paint and iPhoto are just three examples — for everything from simple cropping and retouching to exposure adjustment. If you sell on eBay, there’s a cropping tool right on the site that you can use at the time of upload … a great time-saver! Advanced software packages like Adobe Photoshop have lots of bells and whistles if you discover you want to do even more editing, but these programs can be quite expensive. When you’re happy with your photo, follow your online store’s step-by-step directions on how to upload.
And why not? You now have all the tools you need to consistently produce effective and attractive photographs for your online store. Keep these tips in mind to be picture-perfect … and ready to sell!