chapter 10

Product Specific Photography Tips

Once you get the basics of photography down, you can take your images to the next level by understanding key details about each product group. Dig deeper to learn techniques that best showcase key features, highlight qualities, and even answer questions with your images. Your customers will appreciate the finer details, and your conversion and retention rates will benefit. Let’s take a look at key product categories and what you need to know to make them look awesome in pictures.

Source: Burst

Fashion

The average ecommerce fashion shoot does not involve (or need) world class models and expensive locations. With small budgets, short deadlines, and piles of garments to shoot, ecommerce fashion gurus are often forced to be creative and improvise. Even then, however, fashion shoots, even if you shoot them yourself, are probably the most cost- and labor-intensive parts of promoting a product. You still have to hire models, rent a studio or scout for locations, and organize the logistics. The key is to stay organized, get your lighting right, and perform stellar post-processing.

Make a plan and decide on a style. Do you want your fashion shot in a clean-cut and traditional way, or do you want them kooky and unique? Look for inspiration in famous photographers or brands you admire. Get creative with location. Try to use natural lighting in gritty urban backgrounds or nature features.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget that the product still has to take center stage. Don’t lose sight of your concept, explore different angles instead, and take a few backstage photos for your social media channels.

Source: Pixc

Jewelry

Shooting jewelry can be intimidating for beginners because the items are so small, shiny, and difficult to fix in place. But keep in mind that the setup is much less labor-intensive than larger items, and once you get it right, it gets even easier. Unless you are a pro, start by photographing your jewelry using natural light. Flashes and studio lights can reflect from shiny surfaces and be very difficult to get right. Set up your shooting table near a large window and use a sheet of white paper to soften the light if it is too harsh.

Shoot on white background to avoid altering the color of the piece. Use a mannequin bust to prop your necklaces, or make one from a piece of cardboard. You can also use glue dots to fix small items like rings in place and fishing line to hang earrings and the like. Set your camera to a small aperture to get the entire product in focus. And don’t forget to remove the background and any props and wires you may have used in post-processing.

Source: Pixc

Shoes

Shoes come in all sizes and shapes, so shooting them can be fun because you can be creative and let your imagination run the show. Shoe photos can benefit greatly from a model, so if you have choice, snap a few shots in context so you give your store more appeal. Footwear is about details, so shoot from as many angles as possible and if you can, take some 360-degree shots. Offer detailed shots of the leather or the fabric of the shoelaces; customers will appreciate those.

Source: Net-a-Porter

For product page shots, use a white background and the same setup for all models to maintain uniformity. Keep the cropping consistent to make your store look neat and tidy and keep customers focused on the product. And don’t forget to remove the background! Use the right lighting to avoid shadows. Although they can be removed in retouching, it is much easier if your shots are clean. Take a few context shots to create lifestyle associations for your customers to remember.

Cosmetics

Cosmetics love white backgrounds and evenly distributed light that create little to no shadows. It is much easier to use natural light on a shooting table near a large window, but if you settle for studio lights, two softboxes can work well. Cosmetic packages can be extremely shiny, so be mindful of how the light falls on them. Make sure the names and labels are clear and in focus because consumers are often trying to read them to find out size, ingredients, or other info.

Get some in-context shots to create visual appeal and an emotional connection between the viewer and your brand. If you are selling sunscreen, take a few shot of your product on a beach chair by the water or over a towel hanging off a palm tree. Context photos are also great for your social media campaigns.

Accessories

Accessory photography follows a lot of the same rules of jewelry shoots. Keep in mind lighting, avoid reflection from shiny objects, and minimize shadows. For your product page, having a feature image with a white background is a must. But what really sets top brands apart in their accessories images is cool, enticing in-context shots. So if your budget allows it, hire a model and snap a few shots that promote the lifestyle you want your products to represent. Most of your frame will be close-ups, but you can still radiate luxury, casual, or hipster vibes by manipulating the background or the model’s makeup and attitude.

Source: Pixc

Furniture

Furniture is bulky, so selling and buying it usually involves a lot of hassle for everyone involved. Before you shoot, make sure you give your pieces a good polish, especially if you are selling used furniture. Ideally, you will need a stand mounted sweep with a white background, but you can also improvise with large enough craft paper that you tape to a wall. Again, mind your lighting and use diffusers and reflectors to soften shadows.

Shoot from as many angles as possible. Furniture is usually expensive, and customers want to know exactly what they are buying. Take your photos with the smallest aperture possible so you get a wide depth of field and your entire product in focus. Don’t style your product; keep it neat and showcase features and details. If you are selling used furniture, don’t cover up damages. Instead, take a clear photo of them. Remove the background in post-processing for a polished final look.

Sportswear

Source: Pixc

Sportswear (and clothing, in general) can be tricky because you have to use a mannequin and then remove it in post-processing. The mannequin is important because it gives the garments the necessary bulk and a more natural look that helps your customers picture themselves wearing them. Don’t be afraid to use props or tools to make your garments fit the mannequin better. Use safety pins, laundry clips, and tape to make adjustments, and make sure to iron out any wrinkles.

Once you are done with your mannequin shot, edit it out to create the ghost mannequin effect. You will end up with neat product photos on a clear, white background that customers love. You can also use a flat lay arrangement for certain garments if you are just starting out or shoot them on a hanger against a white wall. Alternatively, you can hire a model. If your budget allows it, you definitely should use the model for some in-context snaps running in the park or at other lifestyle setups. Lifestyle and environmental images are very important with sportswear as you want to your buyers to associate with the active lifestyle the garments are meant for.

Books

Photographing books is a bit different because, generally, you want them to take up the entire frame. As always, lighting is important and natural lighting will make your job easier. If you are shooting a single book, you need the front and back covers as well as the copyright page if it is a rare or first edition. Use a light-colored background, and never use the flash. In post-processing, you will most likely just need to do some cropping and color correction.

If you are taking pictures of multiple books together, the same basic rules apply. Take photos from different angles, and you can get creative with the arrangement. For clean-cut shots for your product page, use white background that you can later edit out but also do some in-context shots, like on a bookshelf, on grass, or in bed. Do not underestimate the power of post-processing to fix imperfect backgrounds, lighting, and colors.

Health and Food

For packaged health goods, you need a neat looking feature image for your product page and some creative lifestyle shots to complement it and enhance your social media. The same basic rules apply to lighting, background, and post-processing. Food, in particular, can be a lot of fun to shoot.

Source: Harney & Sons

Food is all about context and art direction. Of course, you need the right light, preferably natural, but you have creative freedom on the background. You can use different table tops, kitchen counters, tablecloths, and napkins to add texture to the image. Take pictures from as many angles as possible, always minding your light source.

Use dishes that are fresh and have just been made, and adjust the composition if it doesn't feel right. Honor accidents by leaving crumbs on the table or even take a bite before your last takes as an experiment. Involve a fork, a salt shaker, a drink that complements the dish, or any other tabletop items that make the composition more enticing.

Next chapter

11. Make Photography the Central Focus of Your Product Page

5 min

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