Product Photography Tutorial: How to Take High Quality Ecommerce Photos (That Sell)
Why is it important to take high quality product photos?
We all know product photography is important, but why?
Is it really worth spending precious time and money to get high quality photos for your ecommerce site?
The answer is a resounding yes.
When someone visits your ecommerce store, you are asking them to give you their money for something that they’ve never seen or touched before. That that is a big ask, especially if they don’t have any prior experience with your brand or products. So you need to make it as easy as possible for visitors to experience your product and your brand through your site, and there is no better way to do this than great photography (and perhaps video).
What do you need for gorgeous photos?
There are two types of photos that you need on your ecommerce site: lifestyle photos and product photos.
The goal of lifestyle photos on your ecommerce site are to help your visitors make an emotional connection with your products and your brand. In these photos, you want to show your products in context so that people can better imagine what their lives might be like once they own your product.
To get gorgeous lifestyle photos for your site, the first step is planning. Brainstorm how you can communicate your brand emotions and values through these photos. This is relatively easy if you sell products that are worn, but if your product is different (a technology product for example), this planning stage will take some out of the box thinking.
Great lifestyle photography also usually requires a professional. There is much more of a production around lifestyle photos. It requires people (models that fit your target demographic), a killer location (which may or may not need to be staged), and a photographer that knows what he or she is doing.
Product photos, on the other hand, are more functional. The goal of product photos is simply to clearly show what your product is from different angles so that a potential customer can experience all of the details of your product.
The key to gorgeous product photos is for them to be simple and clean. The number one thing to keep in mind if consistency. This is especially important if you have different types of products in your portfolio. You will have pages that list several different types of products so it is important that you have a consistent format and look across all product photos so that your website looks clean and is not overwhelming to users. On product detail pages you can include other angles and styles of product photos, but the main photo needs to be consistent across all product photos.
You may be able to execute these on your own with a simple photo box (there are plenty available online or you can make one yourself) or there are several services such as Products On White Photography where you can send your product away to a service for photos. Of course you can also hire a professional for product photos if you have the budget.
How much can be done in post production?
Some people think they can take mediocre photos and just photoshop them later to make them stellar.
Our advice: Don’t rely on touchups. Take the best photos that you possibly can and just use post production as the polish to take what is already great over the moon. Avoid using post production to fix faults or to superimpose products on people that weren’t actually there using them. Usually photos done this way don’t turn out well and it’s typically more expensive than taking great photos in the first place.
What are some brands that get product photography right?
Fifty Three sells an iPhone app as well as a pencil. Their photography is clean, on brand, and most importantly, human. They do a great job of showing their product being used.
Banded is a brand that gives back. For every headband that they sell, they give away 3 meals to kids in need. Their photography is amazing because they carry this brand value and giving back throughout the entire site.
Jack Threads is an apparel company that knocks it out of the park when it comes to showing products in context. Their store is content driven. Rather than selling explicitly, they tell a story with their products through photos. They show entire outfits together being worn in real life situations to that customers can visualize themselves in the clothes.
How can Metacake help?
At Metacake, we help a lot of our ecommerce clients with photography. We start by helping clients figure out how to translate their brand values into photography and then focus on how to use that photography functionally to sell more product.