Recipe to effective image capture for ecommerce image management
Attest the quality and value of your terrific products and establish transparency in the ecommerce business through well-composed product photography.
Imagine that you are shopping for a dress to wear on a beach vacation and all you can see are blurry and very small-sized images of the dress on the website. The first instinct is to close the website and move on because u can neither see the prints nor zoom in on the dress. The credibility of the store comes into question and you immediately take a back step towards buying from the store. You cant buy what you cant see right? This directly translates to a loss for a business owner as conversions are not happening. No one wants to shop on a website with shoddy and blurry images.
It is important to keep your customer intrigued on your website for a long time, in order to convert and make profits. One way to entice customers to stay on your website is great product photography. Photography is a critical part of a successful e-commerce business. Image photography is not limited to just clicking pictures and uploading on to your e-commerce platform. Even the best camera cannot render shots that are complete and well-composed. It also includes research and sourcing of the right image for the right product, editing the image to make it look better, and then uploading it onto your e-commerce platform. Image photography has a greater impact on conversions and sales than you can imagine. It is more than that. It has greater potential to influence buying decisions. There are various aspects of image photography that are important for e-commerce businesses to keep in mind. These aspects will help you create images that will improve conversions.
How does one capture product images? What are the factors that make product photography stand out on your website? What is the thought process behind creating these images? Where do I start? Are these the questions reflecting your mind as an e-commerce business owner? For anyone who wants to attract customers, these questions are always nagging their minds. Let us explore what goes into product photography and why is it critical to e-commerce business owners. Later, we will also delve into some of the most common issues and pain points of image capture in an e-commerce business. Through this blog, you will uncover the steps for a well-composed product photography recipe
- Setting up a photo capture booth or studio
- Setting up a background and its challenges
- Planning lighting for image capture and its challenges
- Camera and photography equipment
- Organizing a photography crew
Ingredients to an excellent product photography
Image capture booth
The primary thing that is important is to create a space to achieve product photography. This can either be done in your home or at a studio. The place need not be very big, but it should have space enough to alter backgrounds and accommodate different types of lighting, equipment, and space to move around to accommodate models or props. The most important thing is to create a space that is clutter-free and has ample lighting. This will help in creating the best possible photographs. You can also consider using the natural light in your home or office to create these photographs. However, you need to adjust the settings to get the right amount of lighting. This is called a photo booth and it not only needs to be clutter-free but should also be organized. The photo studio should be designed to avoid any unwanted reflection of light on your product. You don’t want to have too much light or too little light. You want a balance that allows you to get the right exposure and get the right light on your product. You also want a lighting system that is going to help reduce any kind of reflection. As you know, light can be very reflective, and you don’t want to see any glare on your product. A photo booth also lets you experiment with different backgrounds and creative lighting to showcase your products in the best light.
Challenges in setting up a photo booth
For most e-commerce business owners, it is a challenge to set up this photo studio for their product images. The space essentially depends on the products that the business sells. Some products require an additional stool to be set up for taking the correct angles of the product. It is not easy to set up a studio with uniform lighting and space requirements to satisfy all the product needs. Most of the e-commerce store owners ignore and look over the need for setting up the photo booth capture space. This may result in non-uniform shoddy pictures that can misdirect the customers thereby losing business. When you have a wide range of products, setting up a booth that will satisfy the requirements for all products is a challenge. Not only the space or the table set up, even the camera and its positioning becomes a task. It is advisable to set up a photo capture space based on the product type. It is practically not possible to keep oneself to the wide range of changing products and promotions. It is best to put thought into how you can automate your photo booth so that it requires minimal human intervention.
Taking photos with a high-quality camera alone does not suffice. It is important that an appropriate background is chosen for a photograph to stand out. For example, a solid backdrop for the images makes your website look more professional and polished, which is always a good thing. A quick and easy way to get a solid backdrop for your photos is to hang a large piece of fabric from the wall or set up some curtains behind your product or model. You can then edit out the fabric from the photo to leave behind a clean, uncluttered background that makes your product shine. A solid color can be black, a neutral shade, or even other solid shades. White background on the photos always makes it easier to edit and easier for background removal. A smooth white or off-white wall or even a white screen will do for a start. Sometimes, natural contextual backgrounds convey more about the product than a plain background. A contextual background gives the buyer an idea of product usage and brings in a user experience. Background blur and background light effects are some other examples to portray your product images. Choose a background that can trigger feelings in your customer and elevate the shopping experience and feel. It should send a message about your product and brand. Choosing a background that’s not too busy and not too dark will help ensure that your image is as clear as possible. A good rule of thumb is to choose a background that is light-colored and non-reflective.
Challenges in setting a background for a photoshoot
One often thinks that having a solid white background for the product photos will solve all the problems and will make life easier for editing. It is not that simple. Unfortunately, a white background alone does not work wonders. The background lighting, the foreground lighting, and shadows created by the product all have to aligned well to create a well-composed image. Other problems include your product looking either too bright or too dull against the background. When placing the product on a solid color or a white table, make sure the shadows and light are aligned with the wall or the screen. If you think you can put up a solid screen behind and the job is done, then rethink !. When using blur backgrounds and background effects, we have to make sure that we highlight the product and not disrupt the message the product is trying to convey. Too many effects can confuse the customer. The same goes for a contextual background as well. When the background is too distracting, then the product image gets lost in the background. This does not highlight your product, in fact, it takes the attention away from it. Sometimes using the most fitting contextual background becomes a challenge as photographers can get carried away. If you have a wall in your store with light-colored paint and no artwork or mirrors, that can be a great option. Another good option is to use a backdrop. There are many different types of backdrops that are available, and they come in a wide range of styles. You want to choose a backdrop that fits with the overall look of your store, and you also want to make sure that the color of the backdrop doesn’t clash with any of the products that you are using in your photos.
Lighting and its challenges
Lighting is important if you want your product photos to be as crisp, clear, and glossy as possible. Unnecessarily dark photos can cause potential customers to move on to another product. As with any photography, natural light is the best option. However, if you need to use artificial lights, make sure that you purchase lights with a high wattage. High-wattage lights produce a whiter light that is closer to natural light. Position the lights in a manner that they do not cast shadows. While shadows can be a great way to add some depth to your shots, they can also be distracting and take away from your product. Unfortunately, most of us do not have professional lighting setups in our homes or offices. The best way to start is to get rid of any artificial light sources, such as lights, LEDs, and neon signs. These artificial lights create a very harsh light that doesn’t accurately depict the colour of what they illuminate, making your products less attractive. The next best option is to move your product as close to natural light as possible. This can be accomplished by placing your products near windows or outside on a sunny day. As with any photography, the best lighting for product photography comes from the sun. To get the most out of the sun as your lighting source, try to shoot during the “golden hour”, which is the hour right around sunset or the hour right before sunrise. The light during the golden hour is very warm and flattering and is a great time to take product photos. Avoid close-ups at certain hours of the day, especially right before sunset or right after sunrise, as these are times of day when the light is very flat and unflattering. Hours of the day affect the lighting as well, therefore it is important to time your photography.
While natural light can be great, some products look a lot better when shot in the shade. If you're trying to take a product photo outside, experiment with different angles and positions to find the best lighting. While most cameras come with a built-in flash, it is best to avoid using it if possible. A flash will give your photo a harsh, artificial look and can cause unwanted shadows to appear on your product. The best way to get a bright, even light on your photo set is to use external lighting. This can be done either with an external flash unit or a dedicated lighting kit designed for product photography. Use light kits like flashlights, which can help you achieve the right lighting for your product photo. Once you have the right lighting for your product, position it against a background that won’t distract customers from the product itself. Whether you are taking photos in a studio or outside in natural light, you need to make sure that the light is hitting your product from the right angle to showcase its best features. For example, if you are taking product photos of clothes, the lighting will significantly affect how the garments appear on your site. When taking photos of darker-colored clothes, be sure to position them in front of a light source to avoid dark, shadowy images. When taking product photos of light-colored clothes (such as white or yellow garments), you may want to position the garment in front of a dark background to avoid overexposing the image. If you are taking photos of a product outside, position it close to a wall to prevent unwanted shadows from blowing in from the side. You want to ensure that the top, sides, and products are all well-lit, and either all have the same shadow tone that you brighten up after or have no shadow at all, no matter what lighting solution you choose. Here, light consistency is key.
Camera and tripod equipment
It is a no-brainer that the first thing you need for good product photography is a camera! Today we have numerous options for a camera, starting from a mobile phone to a top-end DSLR camera. If budget is not a constraint, then invest in a high-end DSLR camera with good resolution and features. But, remember this, you do not have to go all out, borrow money and crash yourself with a high-end camera with lenses, flashlight, and gears. Today’s technology allows one to take pretty good pictures even with a mobile camera. If you are wondering, how to take well-composed images with a mobile camera, you can investigate many brands that allow multiple settings and features for their cameras.
There are different settings and parameters to account for when taking pictures with a camera. The camera should allow to manually set and adjust the exposure settings. It is the combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings that determines the amount of light that enters the camera and subsequently the amount of light that reaches your sensor. The three elements impact your picture in different ways as well as the other two settings. Photographers struggle to find the right settings for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, so it's easy to let the camera choose for you. Often we find the photographs struggling with the correct ratio of these settings. If the images are not well composed, then the result will be whitewashed or completely greyed out blurry images. Aperture controls the amount of light entering the camera, it defines the focus and the depth. The higher the aperture, the better the focus. Shutter speed controls the time the camera sensor is exposed to light. The shutter speed needs to be adjusted based on whether the shot composed is moving or stationary. Using ISO, you can adjust the brightness of your photographs or the amount of noise. A low ISO setting results in lengthy photo capturing times and darker photos, whereas a high ISO setting introduces noise to the photo, which is detrimental for product photographs. For product photography, you want to keep ISO as low as possible to prevent graininess, but not so low that the photos look too dark. You should be able to take photographs with low ISO settings using your lighting.
In order to avoid blurry images and the right composition, the positioning of the product and the camera is important. It is not always possible to change the position for every product or image, therefore an intelligent setup based on the products that are being photographed is important. To avoid shaky images and a stable, excellent photograph using a camera or an iPhone, using a tripod is essential. Using hands or a stack of books or objects for positioning and elevation is not an ideal way to get well-composed consistent photos. The photograph can be taken with your phone or camera in a variety of positions with the help of an adjustable tripod. Although the conventional tripod is good, an adjustable tripod is a better investment because it allows your phone or camera to be positioned in a variety of ways. The market is flooded with many options for a camera and tripod, choose a set wisely depending on your requirements and budget.
Challenges in equipment
The challenge lies in investing in the right type of camera and equipment suited for your product photography. Some products require both long-range shots and close up for their display, a combination of mobile and DSLR cameras may be used for the same. The setup must accommodate both types of cameras so that an integrated shot can be obtained. It is not possible to move a DSLR and a tripod set up for every shot. Most photographers find it really difficult to compose uniform images for all products using a single setup for the DSLR and tripod. Narrowing down to the current settings of the camera and positioning becomes a tough task to execute. Setting up a photo booth with a DSLR camera, so that different angle shots can be taken with uniform lighting is no joke. In addition, if the product requires close-up, additional options of using a handheld device must also be investigated. It is important to devise a plan for the photography. Making a list of products and composing the shots with angles and position is crucial before the work starts. Before shooting a new product photo, take a test shot (or a few) to ensure your camera settings, lighting, and product setup are all correct. This will save you time when making adjustments prior to shooting.
The crew - artists, models, and the photographers
The crew is very important to producing excellent product photography. The photography crew includes the photographers, the models who showcase the products, and artists who help in composing the best pictures. Hiring the right professionals for the task saves a lot of time and money. If you are a photographer, then you can take the plunge in creating the best shots for your products. Otherwise, if your budget permits, do hire a professional photographer who can make your life easier. A professional photographer must be knowledgeable about the types of equipment, lighting, accessories, positioning, and composition of the best photographs for your product. Some products like apparel may require models to showcase them. Choosing the right models to bring out the beauty of your products is as important as the product themselves. The customers should get a feel of your products and the models who display them must convey the message correctly. Apart from models, artists are also needed sometimes to compose your backgrounds and positions for the products. Creativity must be at its best when working with product photography. What is it that image is conveying? What pulls the customer to the image and the product? How does the customer feel when looking at your product images? All these questions summarize the success of your products.
The quality of your product photos has a direct impact on the success of your online business. Excellent photos boost your reputation and boost sales while lowering returns. Customers will know exactly what they are getting into and purchasing when they see your photos. It is right in front of their eyes and they will love your credibility. With all these tips, you are already on your way to creating a visually compelling brand and an enormously successful e-commerce business.