So, you’ve just created an awesome new product and you really want to sell it. Presentation is everything, which makes the photography of your item very important. Because we all don’t have a fully equipped studio on our hands at all times, here are some easy tips that almost anyone can master!
Light It Up
The number one most important factor is lighting. You don’t need a lot of lights; all you really need is a great sunlit window and a white fill card. A fill card is simply anything you use to reflect light, which allows you to fill with light for darker, shadowy areas in a photograph. Fill cards are traditionally white, made of foam core or poster board, but can also be silver or gold depending on the quality of light you want to reflect.
When picking which window to use, pick one that allows diffused, soft light to shine through. What you don’t want is really harsh sunlight. If the light is too hard, it can make one part of your image too bright in comparison to the rest. What you are looking for is nice, even light.
Setting the Stage
The second step is creating your set. White poster board (or any large piece of white paper) and some tape is a cheap and easy way to get a clean backdrop. Find a small table and place the white background so that the window light comes from the right or the left. Allow the poster board to curve in the back, creating a sweep. Then place your fill card on one side.
Whether you’re using a high-end camera or a simple point and shoot, the most helpful hint I can suggest is to turn off the flash. If you can’t turn it off, cover it with tape. Then, set your camera’s white balance setting to daylight—or auto if that isn’t available. If your photo shows up with a strange colorcast, you’re probably using the wrong white balance.
White balance is the general hue of your photograph. For example, you could have a warm balance, where everything looks orange, or a cold balance where everything looks blue. Most cameras allow you to pick which white balance you want to use. You do this by picking the white balance that matches your light source. Extra tip: If you are using natural light, you should pick the icon on your camera that looks like a sun. If you are using tungsten light, you should pick the icon that looks like a light bulb.
At UncommonGoods, we crop most of our photos into a square, so when you are composing, make sure you leave enough space around your product to easily crop. You can use almost any basic photo program to do this. I personally like to use Photoshop.
When composing your shot, keep into account that you may not get the whole thing in focus. Your main priority is to make sure the selling feature is in focus. For example, let’s say you are shooting jewelry. If the pendant or charm has interesting detailing, make sure that’s in focus and let the chain go out. Decide which aspect you would most like the potential buyer to see, and then hone in on that.
While composing, use your fill card to fill in the shadows on your product. It’s usually nice to leave some shadow, as it will lend some shape, but you don’t want the shadows to go too dark.
Time to Edit
After you’ve shot the photo, use whatever photo-editing program you have (iPhoto, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) When you are done, save it as a high res (meaning 300 dpi) .jpg or .tiff.
In general, my editing advice is to be subtle in your treatment. Some amateur mistakes include using too much contrast, over saturating the colors or using too much sepia tones. Subtly enhance your photos but don’t make them look unnatural, which is especially important in product photography because you don’t want to misrepresent what you are selling.
And you’re done! Have a good shoot!