When it comes to selling products on your website, it's all about the eyes. What better way to build trust with potential customers than by having clear, beautiful photos that show off your products? If you are taking the pictures yourself like most e-commerce store owners, it's especially important to have a solid product photography process in place. This will not only save you time but also increases your website's potential to generate more sales.
After reading this post, you will have the tools and knowledge to start taking beautiful product photos that'll turn curious shoppers into paying customers. You will learn what type of equipments to use regardless of your budget, how to take pictures of your products the right way, and learn how to quickly edit your product images to make them look professional. Let's jump right in!
Step 1: Basic Gear + Setup
First and foremost, the best tool for product photography is a decent camera or smartphone. However, there are two important aspects that come after the camera itself: lighting and post-production. To shoot well-lit photos, we recommend natural light. Why? Natural light will make your photos look warm and inviting. It's also more affordable than studio lights, because you can use the sunlight that's already available for free. So, if you want to shoot product images on a budget, then having natural light around is a great way to go, and The easiest way to get great natural light is to set up your product shoot near an open window. If the light is too harsh, use a sheer curtain or piece of fabric or paper to diffuse the light and make it softer.
When you work with natural light, you are limited by the hours of the day. You only have so many hours in a day when the sun is at its brightest. However, if you plan and strategize your shoot, this is not a problem.
Though studio photography can be convenient, setup can be time-consuming and expensive. For this reason, we recommend using natural light to start. However, if you want more control of the light setting and can make the investment to set up, you can opt for studio lighting. This can be a bit more complicated, but is definitely worth it in the long run.
DSLR Cameras or Mobile Phone
As we’ve already mentioned, you don’t need an expensive pro camera to take great product photos. If you have the money, we recommend three entry-level DSLRs with kit lenses that are easy to use and high quality. These budget-friendly cameras are perfect for e-commerce stores, provide quality results, and will save you money in the long run.
As we mentioned above, you don’t need to have a high-end professional camera to take great product shots. In fact an entry level DSLRs with a kit lens is more than sufficient. We highly recommend these budget-friendly entry-level DSLRs cameras that score high points for ease of use and great quality photos: Nikon D3500, Canon EOS Rebel T8i, and Canon EOS M50 Mark II. These are perfect for e-commerce stores, providing quality results without breaking a bank.
Not ready to invest in a DSLR camera yet? That's fine. What if you tell you can take professional product photos using just your smartphone? These days, smart phones can take professional product photos. Mobile photography has come a long way. In the past few years, advances in tech have made smartphones more than capable of taking clear, professional photos, especially if you learn how to use your phone's camera features to their fullest potential. And with the help of photo editing apps and third-party accessories, your smartphone can take clear, professional photos that rival DSLR cameras.
The difference between photos taken with a smartphone and a DSLR is not that noticeable in many cases. If you're going to start the process with a smartphone, it's totally fine. You don't have to make an investment on a professional DSLR camera yet.
If you want to learn how to use the iPhone to take high-quality product photos, we'll teach you in our FREE guide. You can download it here.
Stands + Tripod
A tripod is great for taking clear, crisp still images of products. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good quality one. In fact, Amazon has dozens of quality options under $50. What makes a tripod quality? First, it has to have a good weight and not be flimsy. It needs to hold your smartphone or camera solidly, but not heavy and bulky. You should be able to set it up and take it down quickly. Keep in mind that a tripod for a smartphone is going to cost less, weigh less and be much more portable and smaller than a DSLR.
Here are our recommendations for budget-friendly, quality tripod for smartphones and DSRL:
When it comes to product photography, choose a table that can be easily moved around so you can set up the proper lighting for your product. You should also be sure that your table is tall enough against the window to capture as much light as possible. The color of the table is not important as you can cover it with any colored photography boards or sheets you like. The ideal dimension of a photography table is the size of a typical desk, 48-72 inches in length and about 30 inches in height.
If you don’t want to worry about setting up a backdrop, we recommend using a professional background table. These tables come with a solid-colored backdrop that’s already attached. This way, you don’t have to worry about your background; it’s already there for you.
When it comes to choosing a background for your product photography, less is more. You want your product to be the star in the photo, so choose a backdrop that is free of distraction. You can’t go wrong with a solid white background. Depending on your products, a solid color or texture background will work best. Here are a few ideas on inexpensive backdrops you can set up: white poster board, white foam board, white paper roll to create a seamless sweep.
Want your product photos to tell a story? Use props! People often don't think about using props, but it's a great way to enhance your product photography, and add personality to your images. Also, using props that are related to your products will create a good visual connection between the two, which will make your products more appealing. A great prop will enhance the focus on your product.
Here are some examples of beautiful props you can use to enhance your product photography.
Step 2: How to Photograph Your Products
Preparing Your Products To Photograph
You’re about to take your first photo — and we know that you want to do a perfect job. But before you click the button, please make sure your products and props are clean. You don’t want to have any smudges or marks on your product or prop when you’re taking pictures. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing that your photos have imperfections that will either require a reshoot or photoshopping. We know you don’t want that! Also, make sure your props are complementary to the product. If they come off as too much, you should reconsider them. Quickly arrange the product and props together and see how they look. If something doesn’t work, just remove it.
DSLR Camera Settings
The ISO, aperture and shutter speed are manual camera settings that are critical for taking quality product photos. The ISO determines how sensitive the camera is to light, while the aperture controls the depth of field in the photo. Also, the correct shutter speed will be necessary for a solid exposure regardless of whether you're using natural or artificial light.
For ISO, you want this setting to be as low as possible. Why? Higher ISO settings can cause grainy images or “noise.” The ideal ISO if you’re taking your product photos in good lighting, should be 100.
If you're taking product photos against a white or minimal background, there is no need to have a high depth of field. Keep the Aperture setting as high as possible, lowering it only if you want to bring specific details into focus or if your product is placed in front of a busy background. If you don’t need to blur the background at all, set your Aperture to Fstop 16.
The Shutter Speed setting in your camera determines how long the camera is exposed to light — literally, it’s how fast your shutter opens and closes. Faster shutter speeds will freeze action, while slower speeds can create motion blur. For still product photography especially with a tripod, keep this Shutter Speed setting low to 1/13 for clear, sharp images.
Smartphone Camera Settings
Setting up your smartphone to take great photos is much easier than a DSLR. First, go to your phone settings and make sure you choose to save the photos at the highest quality possible. To do this on your iPhone, go to Settings > Camera > Formats > Most Compatible.
To focus on the product, tap on the product as seen on the phone screen, and hold down until you see the AE/AF LOCK icon pop up. At this point, you can either take the photo or raise the exposure by dragging your finger up the screen. This will make the image look brighter even before you take a shot! If you want to learn more about mobile photography, then download our free guide.
When to Use a Tripod
If you wish all the sides of your products to be shot with the exact same background, a tripod can be used. Doing this will ensure that they will be exactly the same in terms of angle, focus and background. However, there are many times when you want to be able to move around the product and capture shots from different angles. In this case, it's actually better to shoot without a tripod, because you'll have more flexibility and creative control, rather than having the image constrained because of the tripod.
Setting Up Your Table & Background
As we previously mentioned, if you’re using natural light, set your table near a large window and position it against the wall. If sunlight shines directly through the window, you may consider using a diffuser to make the light appear more evenly and softer on your product.
If you’re shooting directly at the product and want it to have a seamless background, consider using a paper roll instead of foam boards.
Now you are ready to stage your props with your products. Test shoot to make sure both your props and products are framed properly.
Photographing Your Products
It’s time to start taking photos! Make sure your products are centered and leave room for cropping later. You may need to take multiple angles of your products; four to five photos should be enough per product.
Step 3: Edit Your Product Photos
Ever wondered how photographers get the best shots? Well the truth is that they have the tools (the camera) and they know how to use them. But it's not just that. What's equally important is post processing, which is essentially what we do when we edit our photos in post-processing software. Post processing is an important part of photography. It's what helps make a good photo into a great photo that sells. Almost any photo can be improved by using post processing techniques to correct the colors, exposure, add contrast and adjust the lighting. And you can do all this by using one of the most powerful photo editing software called Adobe Lightroom, available both as a mobile app and computer software.
While Adobe Lightroom does require a small learning curve, you can fast-track the process by using Lightroom presets. These are essentially custom photo filters that you can import into the Lightroom software and edit your photos simply by clicking on them.
In the past, you would have to spend a lot of time figuring out which settings in Lightroom work best for your photos. You'd figure out the adjustments you needed to make and then apply them to each photo. This was a huge hassle. Now, you can get all these benefits with just one click. Instead of spending hours figuring out what settings to use with Lightroom, you can just use presets to get amazing results for your photos. It's a great way to save time and be more productive.
In this current online shopping era, brand consistency is crucial. Using Lightroom presets will help you create consistent, on-brand images that will sell more products.
Here at Dreamy Presets, we've developed specialized Lightroom presets for product and clothing photography called The Dreamy Boutique Lightroom Preset Pack. These presets are designed to make your photos sharper and brighter, colors more brilliant but true to life.
- Post Processing Software: Adobe Lightroom Software or Mobile App
- Lightroom Presets: Dreamy Boutique Lightroom Preset Pack
- DSLR Cameras: Nikon D3500, Canon Rebel T8i, Canon EOS M50 Mark II
- Tripods: DSLR, Smartphone Stick, Smartphone flexible
- Backdrops: White paper roll, Stand, Photography board
- Props: Product shapes & stands
- Table: White desk, Shooting table
Creating great product photos may seem like a complicated task, but it is actually quite simple. With the right equipment, a simple setup, and a few post-processing tricks, anyone can capture images that will sell!
If you’re reading this post and have read this far, we know that you are ready to take your online store to the next level with better, more compelling product photos. We’re cheering you on! Let’s make it happen.
Looking for tips to photograph clothes to sell online? Read here.
Want to see our Lightroom presets in action? Watch our customer live demo here! We’ll show you how to transform your product photos with our Lightroom presets.