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Shooting products for your e-commerce website the right way 

About 75% of online shoppers state that pictures significantly influence their purchasing decisions, according to a recent e-commerce photography report by Weebly. It means that if your marketplace listings or e-commerce site doesn’t have properly-photographed images of your product, or doesn’t have any pictures at all; you’re putting off a lot of potential customers. So why are these photos so important? And how do you take great ones?

Photo by the PaperBoat Creative

The Photographic Difference

Even in the online realm, people are still craving for the brick-and-mortar experience. One of the e-commerce consumers in the Weebly survey said that if they can’t see the product, they’re unable to decide on it. They can’t examine the item closely or see how it feels or weighs until the item gets delivered to them.

Furthermore, a recent study by the eBay Research Labs found that the better the quality and higher the quantity of your product photos, the more sales you’ll get. The authors pulled and analyzed product listing data from a well-known, but undisclosed, online marketplace. Here are some of its highlights.

  • Stock vs. Seller Photos – If you’re a distributor or reseller, you probably rely a lot on stock photos from the brand’s official catalog to show that your products are authentic. However, you could get more sales with pictures that you’ve taken yourself. The researchers found that the conversion rate of sellers using their own photos are double those who only used stock photos.
  • Every Angle Counts – They also saw that more than one photo could increase your chances of getting a conversion. The conversion rate doubled from listings with two photos instead of entries with just one. A slight increase was seen with three photos.

However, conversions started to stagnate with more than three pictures. The authors stated that because people want to see as much information as they can about the product, they may prefer to see it from different angles compared to just one view.

  • Quality is King – The quality of your product photos significantly affects your customers’ decision to buy from your store. The study found that buyers are more attracted to clean and visually attractive product images. This is because shoppers see photos as proof that the seller is putting out legitimate products. The better the quality of your photos, the more confident your shoppers will be in buying your items.

Your shoppers want authenticity. This is why they’d rather see product photos you took yourself. They want to see every detail of the jewelry, furniture, or clothes you’re selling, which is why they prefer high-quality images of your items from different angles. Here’s how to achieve all three of those qualities.

Equipment You’ll Need

Now that you’ve decided to shoot your own product photos, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • A Professional Camera and Tripod – While your smartphone may be the latest and greatest, it still won’t beat a professional camera when it comes to quality and flexibility. A digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or mirrorless snapper will give you all the options you need to ensure you have a good image. While you’re at it, get a tripod to ensure your images are steady and aligned correctly.
  • White Background and Cards – Marketplaces like Amazon and Facebook recommend having a pure white background for your product photos. You can easily achieve this by getting a white poster board from the nearest arts and crafts store. You may also need bounce cards to reflect light. You can find these for cheap online.
  • A Room With Natural Light – You don’t have to be in a studio to get great lighting. Just find a spot in your home or office that has a window bringing in natural light from the sun. Set up a table next to the window, and you’re almost ready to shoot.

The Setup

Once you’ve completed the essential equipment checklist, consider these short pointers when setting up your equipment.

  • Background – Tape your poster board to your table and to something upright like a wall or a stack of books. Then, place your bounce card opposite your window to reflect the light.
  • Product – Place the item in the middle of your white background, making sure it’s facing you or your camera. Once you’re satisfied with your product’s position, place a small mark under it to ensure you’ll keep it in the same distance from the camera throughout the shoot.

The product should also be upright so that your shooter captures every detail. It’s okay to have stands for items that can’t hold their weight, like necklaces or watches. You can always get it removed with the help of an e-commerce photo editing company.

  • Camera – Screw your camera onto the tripod and adjust the height in relation to your product. For consistency, your product should be dead-center. You can measure this by turning on the grid on your camera’s settings. Aim to put the product on the center squares.

Photo by the PaperBoat Creative

The Shoot

Your set is ready, and it’s time to take some great photos! Set your camera to manual and follow these guidelines to follow while snapping your product images.

  • Maximum Aperture – Ensure that your lens’ aperture is in the highest setting possible. Aperture determines how much light your lens lets into the camera. The higher the setting, the smaller the lens opening, and the sharper your product will look.
  • Slow Shutter Speed – Shutter speed determines how fast your lens’ shutter closes, and ultimately, how long your camera’s sensor is exposed to light once you take a shot. Because your camera lens has a smaller opening, you’ll need to keep your shutter speed slow, or else your image will be too dark.

Your camera will have a light meter that measures how dark or light your photo will be, which are represented by negative and positive numbers. Adjust your shutter speed until you reach zero on the meter.

  • Lowest ISO – A higher ISO value means your camera is more sensitive to light, making images in the dark much clearer. However, this also adds noise to your photo. Since you’ll be shooting with the help of bright, natural light, you can set the ISO as low as possible and minimize grain that may appear in your photo.
  • Rotate and Repeat – Once you’ve snapped your first photo and you’re satisfied with the result, rotate your item to show its other sides. Follow the mark you placed earlier to ensure your item doesn’t stray too far from your camera. And remember to take at least three different angles to satisfy your customers.

Following all these steps will give you product shots that will pass your customers’ tastes. If you’re still wary about the results or you want to add some subtle lighting effects to it, get a professional editor and retoucher to enhance your images. Once you get your photos back, all you need to do is upload them to their respective listings and watch your conversions grow.

Rebecca Van Ommen is the Executive Creative Director of Paper Boat Creative

Rebecca Van Ommen is the Executive Creative Director of Paper Boat Creative, a creative agency that specializes in high-end photo retouching, photo editing, and more. She was one of the youngest Art Directors for Getty Images in London. Her work has been published through some of the world’s largest advertising agencies including Mother, AKQA and BBDO London. Rebecca loves to exercise in her spare time. She also enjoys bringing her daughter to photoshoots for inspiration  

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