So, you've settled on a business name, you've got your first batch of products ready to go and now you need great photos of them so that you can start selling online.
Having worked as a product photographer for over 6 years, I know a thing or two about getting those great shots, so that your products practically sell themselves! Here, I'm going to tell you what you need to get started in product photography, using your smart phone; The basic equipment to use, as well as key things to be looking for while shooting and editing.
When I say 'product photography', I mean the white background shots used in eCommerce selling, or cut-outs that most PR agencies and magazines will request when asking for images of your product for placements or features. For both of these scenarios, clean, clear images are vital in selling your product and doing it justice. This 'hero image' is the first thing a customer sees of a particular product. They need to be able to compare it with the rest of your products and with products from other brands. So, consistency is really important.
Did you know, 22% of customer returns occur because the product looks different in real life?
So, first things first; you need the white background on which to shoot. The easiest way to do this is by using 5mm foam boards from places like Hobby Craft. They're brilliantly versatile and will allow you to, not only use them as a ready-made backdrop, but also assist in lighting your shots, too (more on that later!) You could also use a white-tent or even a large sheet of card.
You'll have to sign up to use Photoshop Express, but it has great tools for correcting light and shadow, cropping and even adjusting exposure if your images didn't come out quite as planned.
Pic Monkey is relatively new to me, but is a lot more creative as it allows you to add graphics and branding elements to your images. There's also a paid version (£14.12 per month) which automatically cuts out a product from it's background with their 'One Click Background Remover'. This is definitely something to consider investing in if you're using your phone for big batches of product photography and need to get the cut outs just right.
At the very least, you'll need to be in a well-lit space with lots of natural light. Watch out for direct sunlight as you don't want harsh shadows across your images. You can counter this by diffusing or bouncing the light with a scrim or white foam board.
Diffusing the light happens in front of the light source and will help even out any shadows, spreading the light around your scene and taking away any directional light occurring in your shot. You can invest in a scrim or diffuser, or make your own with tracing paper and an old picture frame.
Bouncing the light happens opposite the light source, where you will be bouncing the light back in to your shot, taking away any shadows created by your product interrupting the light source. White foam boards are great for this!
White Background vs. Cut-Outs
Your product, shot on a white background is probably the easiest way to add your products to an online store. It's not necessary to cut these images out as there may be sizing and resolution requirements, making it a lot simpler to stick to a plain background and standardised image sizing.
Cut-outs are what is often requested by PR agencies and magazines for placement in printed media. This means that your product will need to be cut out from its background, making the product 'float' and therefore, manoeuvrable, independent from the background. This can be tricky do to if you're not well versed in something like Photoshop, but with something like Pic Monkey's One Click Background Remover, the process is made much simpler.
I hope these tips get you thinking about how you can start creating great product photography at home. Look out for my online Masterclass on Getting Starting Product Photography coming soon!
Details will be released on Instagram.
See you there!