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Mastering Excellent Product Photography on a Budget

If you’ve tried to market any product, you should already know the value of images. Apart from your promo shots, photography is the core skill for you to create professional custom packaging that supports your branding efforts.

Consumers love images because they’re the quickest and time-saving way of absorbing information. They speak of the quality of your product and offer a peek into your eCommerce store. Images reinforce transparency and trust.

You don’t need a massive budget to create great product photography. Here’s how you can create professional and polished product photos.

How Does Product Photography Affect Your Conversions?

About 90% of all the information your brain receives is visual.

It doesn’t matter how good your website is; the visuals will always be pivotal in engaging your consumers and affecting their decision-making process. Therefore, the quality of your visuals will affect your conversion and retention rates directly. Here is how:

1. Quality visuals accentuate all buyer touchpoints.

According to 93% of consumers, images are crucial in making purchasing decisions. Images give insight into the value and quality of your products. They make your product pages and content highly relatable.

2. Images are essential in branding.

Images are at the helm of your brand by drawing attention, instilling trust, and inviting customers to take a deeper look. Images are a great way to establish long-term relationships with your customers.

Types of E-Commerce Product Photography

You can use either of two types of images on your product pages and marketing channels.

1. The first is images of your products with a clean-cut, white background and with nothing but the product. These images display the products descriptively and from different angles.

2. The second is lifestyle or in-context photos that display your products being used, possibly with complementary products. They tell a story and appear great on blog posts, social media, and emails.

You can combine these two types of images for better results.

It would be best if you used a camera with settings that suit your brand voice. Natural light is great for outdoor shoots on a budget. Whether or not you have a tripod, your software and hardware should be top-notch.

You must choose the best process for your needs, polish it up, and create a set of rules to keep your images consistent.

Here’s a glance at our DIY product photography tips.

  1. Set Up Your Product and Background

Having the ideal background makes the whole editing process. You can improvise on your background using either a light tent or a shooting table. A shooting table is easy to create using a home or office chair.

The light tent would be a box-like device with translucent walls that enables you to distribute light evenly around the object of photography.

On the other hand, creating a shooting table is a different sort of process. 

You start by pushing up a chair against a wall, taping craft paper on the wall, and having it flow smoothly onto the ground. This creates an uninterrupted transition between the vertical and horizontal planes.

As you set up your product in front of your background, you should ensure it lays on a flat and stable surface. You can also suspend the product in front of the background using a fishing line, which you can remove easily in the editing process.

When you’re dealing with tiny photograph items, you can utilize various ideas, including:

  • Tape and glue to hold small items in place.
  • Experiment with hangers or creative flat lays.
  • Use mannequins for clothing
  • Have friends use your products for lifestyle shots.

You may find that more oversized items will take up more space and cost more. For instance, furniture may require you to have a stand-mounted sweep. To create your own, you only need to follow the same principles as the table-mounted sweep.

2.       Perfect the Lighting

The lighting massively affects the quality of your images. Lighting can be tedious, but it gives stunning results and eases the post-processing procedure when done right. You can use natural light or studio light. Natural light is best when you’ve created a chair-mounted sweep. Studio light needs you to use a lightbox if you don’t have the budget.

Natural Lighting

You should consider natural light when you’re on a budget. You can manipulate it more efficiently and save time and money.

You should shoot when the day is at its brightest and place a whiteboard on either side of the object if the shadows are a problem. It is hard to create perfect lighting during editing. However, if you regulate the natural lighting well during shooting, you won’t need to.

Studio Lighting

If your choice is artificial lighting, you should get started by setting up at least two softbox light devices. You can purchase two clip-on light clamps with powerful bulbs for less than $30. You can even secure two for about $50. You can also rent some from Grip and Electric Philadelphia to achieve good quality photos.

Lightboxes are built to diffuse/distribute light evenly around your product. You can regulate studio lighting using white paper or cloth so you can deal with the softer shadows. With the proper setup, you can achieve professional and consistent results.

3.       Use a Tripod

Tripods are excellent for ensuring stability, focus, and consistency. Loss of focus will make your product images blurry. If you can’t fit a tripod into your budget, you can use a stool or a pile of books to keep your camera fixed.

Set your camera to a low aperture of high f/stop and slow shutter speed. Having a wide depth of field keeps your entire product in focus, leaving your image crisp. A $30 tripod will keep your camera stable and product in focus.

4.       Choose the Right Camera

The camera is an essential element of your shoot. If you’re on a budget, you can use your smartphone rather than worry about investing in a camera.

As long as you get the other aspects of your work right, an Android or iPhone camera will get the job done. You could go with a tripod or smartphone stabilizer to manage the blurring and ease the post-processing.

5.       Now Work on the Post-Processing

If you want a polished look, you should retouch your images when the shoot is over. Even if you shoot with your smartphone, editing your images could be what sets your work apart.

Photo editing software can eliminate the flaws in your images, even ones you took with phones. Fortunately, there are many free image editing tools available to help you with your photo editing requirements.

How Do You Create Photography Guidelines?

When you’ve processed your image, you should take time to put down your process and finesse it so that you can maintain consistency as your business grows. Make sure you document all the minor details, including angles, product-camera distance, and lighting settings.

Create a template and technical guideline in your editing software to help you maintain consistent scale and size. You should go a step further and craft a guide for your in-context images too. The details should include:

  • Saturation
  • Color Palette
  • Focal length
  • Consistency
  • Shadows
  • Location and Context
  • Composition

Ensure that you have shared the guide with everyone on your team. This saves you money and time so that you won’t redo your training process over and over again.

Optimizing Your Images for Quality and SEO

You should also optimize your images for small file sizes and the best quality. Small file sizes don’t reduce page load speed. If your webpage doesn’t load in two seconds or less, 47% of consumers will grow impatient and possibly leave. A fast site increases your conversion chances.

You should name your images correctly and include multiple relevant keywords and metadata. These additional details boost your rankings by helping search engines such as Google understand what your image is about.

So, What Do You Need to Get Started (Less Than $50)?

Images are vital in delivering content quickly and effectively. The internet today bombards consumers with too much information. They have to make fast decisions based on the first content they encounter, which is why your images should be very informative, even at first glance.

Ensure you choose images that work well with your brand so that your conversions and sales skyrocket. Once you’ve grasped the lighting, background, and editing, you’re on your way to perfecting product photography.

Here is a recap of the tools you need to get it done:

  • Camera or smartphone
  • Shooting table
  • Studio light
  • Light tent
  • Tripod
  • Image editing tools such as Pixar, Canva, Pixc, Snapseed, and Motor
  • Photography consistency guidelines
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