Do you shop from online stores? We’re sure you do it regularly. And when you look at products in such stores how do you decide whether to buy a particular product or not? By paying close attention to the photos of the product, right? And if you search for a specific product and find it in several e-commerce stores at one price, but in one store the product is realistically shown, the photo is made with a great eye for details, and in the others it looks ordinary and totally plain as if you just have shot it with your phone in a hurry, from which store would you prefer to make the purchase?
We are sure that without thinking, you will add this product to your cart, the picture of which has awakened in you the desire to own it.
This is what makes product photography a great photographic art. A professionally made picture of even a simple product tells story, excites the curiosity and the desire of the customer to own it right now.
How to shoot product photography?
If you search for information on the Internet, you’ll probably find numerous publications that say everyone can shoot product photography. You will find tips and lessons that give you ideas on how to become a successful product photographer and save money by taking photos for your online store yourself with handy materials and using your smartphone.
But the truth is a little bit different …
At first glance, it really seems super easy to take a few photos of a particular product. Everyone has a phone or a device and has made thousands of photos on various occasions. Unfortunately, however, having taken standard photos during the holiday or on specific celebrations does not make you a product photographer. It will not make you a real photographer simply because there is a huge difference between standard and product photography.
What is the difference between product and standard photography?
The first and biggest difference is that these are two completely different forms of photography. Product photography includes photography for commercial and advertising purposes. The images must be presented in a realistic way so that customers can visualize the product correctly – color, texture, size. As mentioned above, product photography is the way the products offered in online stores are sold.
In order to make a good product picture, it is necessary not only a very good technical equipment, but also talent, knowledge and use of different techniques, a sense of light and knowledge of the correct positioning of the product in space so that when the picture is ready and uploaded in e-commerce store to grab the attention of the customer.
Unlike this kind of photography, standard photography is completely amateur and there are no rules and requirements. The task of standard photography is to capture the important moments of your personal life. Taking photos with your camera or with the camera on your mobile phone, it is more important for you to capture these important moments and to be able to view them from your phone, tablet, or computer whenever you want. Memories are more important than the photos are of high quality or with precise composition.
Another striking difference is that in standard photography the photos are mostly for personal use, while in product photography they are an integral part of the marketing strategy of the companies and are subject to copyright.
What do we need in order to shoot product photography?
To get the best picture of the product, a high-quality product camera is needed. And before you say that you have read on the Internet that good pictures can be made with a tablet or smartphone we will tell you that you can really shoot with your phone, but the quality will never be as good as if you are shooting with a professional camera. With all the good technical characteristics of the cameras of the phones, these devices will never be able to achieve the intensity and dramatic effects that are achievable with a professional camera.
It is best to shoot product photography with a DSLR camera with macro functionality. At least a few different lenses are required, including a zoom lens, a macro lens, and a wide-angle lens.
The tripod is absolutely essential for product photography. The tripod allows the photographer to get stable images, change the lenses without moving the camera and making special angular shots that are almost impossible to do if the camera is held in the hands.
Reflectors direct the light and thanks to them it can be directed directly or indirectly onto the object. Reflectors are very useful especially when natural light is minimized. Color reflectors can be added also to illuminate the product in different colors without using special photographic filters.
In product photography, light is of the utmost importance for achieving a satisfactory and effective end result. In this type of photography, two types of light are used – “soft” and “hard”:
- Soft light is the natural light that is given to us by the sun. It is called “soft” as the sun provides a larger and softer light on the object than the light that comes from artificial lighting.
- Hard light, as it became clear, comes from artificial lighting such as lamps, candles, and more. It is called “hard” because it produces less but more focused light on the object. (This type of light is used when you need to highlight some of the product details to attract the attention of the online buyer).
Although it is not always mandatory, product photography usually uses a white background. This background can also be achieved with handy materials, but professional photographers usually use tents for product photography.
It is best to work on a standard folding table with a width of 24 – 27 inches.
In order to highlight the advertised product, additional accessories can be used such as pieces of cloth, umbrellas, scarves, necklaces … everything that would come into use to make the product even more appealing is often needed.
Photo editing software
The photo editing software allows you to format and edit your images to fully meet the needs and stylistic preferences of the online store. There is an abundant choice of software used to process the photos, but the most commonly used editing software is Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Amateur or professional product photography?
This question intrigues almost every owner of an e-commerce store, and ultimately everyone decides whether to trust professional product photographers or to look for amateurs that can do the job.
There are shops that rely on amateurs because the cost of their services is much lower than the cost of professional product photography. Sometimes it happens to assign the task to an amateur who can handle the job very well and that is very good.
More often, however, the photos taken by an amateur, although looking good at first glance, even professionally made, to fail to touch the end user and not deliver the expected positive result for the online store.
This happens because there is a very significant difference between amateur and professional product photography, and it does not hide in the possession or not of a good and high quality photographic equipment, nor in the knowledge and skills of the photographer, but in the way he works.
Usually amateurs work when they have inspiration, while professionals just get up and work. They know exactly how they have to position an object to get the most inspirational and at the same time realistic picture of the object. They work on projects, meet deadlines, know the technique of product shooting to perfection, and do not allow themselves to wait for the inspiration to come.
Just because of this seemingly small, but very significant difference, professional product photographers are preferred by most e-shops. More and more owners of such stores understand the advantage of professional photos and what a powerful advertising tool they can be.
Taking into account the fact that photographers who work professionally with product photography have the most modern equipment, as well as developed skills with years of practice and can “feel” the product even before they have pressed the button on the camera, it becomes more than clear why the better choice is to assign the task to a studio or to a freelance photographer who offers professional product photography.
Because knowing how to shoot a product photography does not mean that you can really present a product so that when the potential customer enters the store and looks at the picture, he says, “This is my product. I want it. Now and Immediately “.