Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses
Product Photography isn’t always about simply taking a picture of the one specific item you are trying to sell. It is about creating a story that helps the viewer imagine that item in their life, and makes them want it. It is also about creating scenes that incorporate your products with everyday items that allow the business to use in marketing, to sell without selling.
Emote The Void
The most important part of product photography is about showing the viewer that your product fills the void caused by a certain problem, even if that problem is not having enough pretty things. You want to portray your product as the solution for a problem your audience may not even realize they have. To visualize a void is a talent in itself, nevermind the actual photography part of things. You need to emote the feeling that they need to buy your product and make them wonder how they ever got along without it before.
Plant The Seed Of The Desire
Educate the user what the product is used for, and convince them that they want it. Illustrate various ways that they can use and/or display the product, and make it irresistible and impossible to turn down the opportunity to buy it. You want to create a desire for your viewers to buy your product, make them feel like they absolutely need to buy it, and a little sad if they don’t.
Show off your product! Get creative but don’t be afraid to be trendy. Styling your images is very important, to create the sense of inclusion and to curate a real-life scenario where the products would be used. Layflats are all the craze right now, and the people of Instagram are loving them! Combine that with succulents and brush calligraphy, and your 2016 marketing campaign is off to a great start. Do some research for the next quarter and year, get to know the trending colours and styles, and use them to curate scenes to get your products in front of your audience. The key is to be original, and get the point across that your products are awesome and that the view has to buy them now before they are gone.
They say a photo is worth one thousand words, so get talking!
Tips & Tricks for DIY Product Photography
When adventuring into the land of product photography, you want to make sure you have consistent soft light, a few background options, and the ability to move around to capture different angles and perspectives. You also want to make sure you have access to editing software that allows you to change more than just contrast and saturation levels. Of course, using a good camera and computer software is ideal for high quality images, but even smartphones have some great photo editing apps out now to go along with their growing megapixel photo capabilities. Let’s dive in!
Make sure you have all the basics in stock and at the ready before you start. Prepare a game-plan for the time you will be spending in your make-shift studio to make the most of it. Design your sets beforehand, make sure you have all of the equipment necessary, and keep a checklist. You’d be surpsised how soon you forget whether you photographed in that angle or with that item yet.
- brand-friendly backdrops (posterboard, wood floor, textured throw, etc.)
- brand-friendly accessories that compliment the scene (ex: florals or branches, tech tools, doilies, glasses, notebook, etc.)
- photographing device (digital camera is recommended, but a smartphone will do in a pinch)
- tripod (or other way to hold up your camera)
- reflector (doesn’t have to be a real one–can easily be a piece of carboard wrapped in foil with the shiny side out)
- adequate light source (sun, strobes, etc.)
- your products (duh!)
Chase That Light
Fun fact: ‘photography’ literally means ‘to draw with light’. Portraits rely on light, otherwise the screen would be black and you would see nothing. There are many different types of light that can give you a wide variety of styles, and can make or break the emotion of the photo. Product photography, in general, is best achieved with soft light without any harsh shadows. Whether you use professional strobes, sunlight, or something in between, it is how you use and position yourself in relation to the light that makes the difference. My light of choice is outdoors on an overcast day (all around natural light, no direct sun) or my beloved studio strobes (with diffuser and reflector to wrap the light) to emulate natural light once the sun has set or the weather is dreadful (basically all the time here in Ottawa!). The more you learn to curate your scene and control the light, the better your images will be.
Don’t be afraid to capture a few different angles of each setup you create. Especially in the beginning, you will need to train your eyes and mind to visualize things before you snap those photos, so feel free to snap a bunch and then cull through them later. As you consistently photograph your items, you will get better and not need to capture so many images.
Change It Up
While staying consistent to represent your brand is great, don’t become complacent and boring. Change it up every once in a while with new backdrops, new props, and new scenery. Consistently using a white posterboard backdrop, switching things up with an outdoor photo on pavement or wood can do wonders at captivating your audience. Sticking to your branding colours is great, but adding in a little surprise every once in a while to contrast is also a good idea to add a pop of interest to your feed and gallery.
Professional Product Photography
As with any task for your business, don’t be afraid to invest in professional services. The only thing worse than having a listing for a product for sale without a photo, is to have the listing published with a really bad photo. Photography is a learned art, but there also needs to be some underlying talent, and it’s not for everyone. Try your hand at it, but if you discover that you are better off creating the product, take pride in knowing when to take a step back and begin outsourcing your photographic needs. Behind the scenes (BTS) shots are fine with a good-enough cell snap, but when it comes to the one thing that generates your income, don’t leave it to chance!