10 DIY Tips to Take Pro Product Photos for Ecommerce

If you’re going to sell your products online, you will need good, clear photos. The quality of your product pictures reflect the quality of your product and the professional status of your company. If you’re selling in a marketplace or auction setting, the photograph has to be eye-catching and professional to get the click before all other similar products on the same page. The image also must resize from enlarged to thumbnail size while retaining clarity.

How to Take Profitable Product Photos

1. Don’t Spend a Fortune on Photography Equipment

Most cameras on the market today take a decent picture. It’s important that it look clear and professional, but you needn’t spend thousands of dollars on the camera and accessories like lenses. I love my Canon EOS Digital SLR camera because I can either take my time with total control, or snap pictures quickly and easily. In both cases, the photos are of high quality with several resolution options. I use the 8mm lens it came with and it has been adequate for all types of product photos I’ve taken. One item that is worth purchasing is a tripod to avoid motion blurring (included with the Canon kit).

Canon Camera Kit for Product Photos

2. Get Creative with your Background

A contrasting solid colour is nice, but you can add personality by getting creative with your photo background. Easy variations can be achieved by simply switching material, like burlap or wood as a backdrop for natural product photos. I stay away from anything too busy, but if the background is blurred (known as a shallow depth of field) you can add interest to the right type of products. If you’re handy with photo editing software, you can start with a plain background and crop the product for placement on any background you please.

3. Lighting

It really isn’t necessary to set up your own mini studio with extravagant lighting. The camera flash is usually sufficient, but if you have problems with glare/reflection you may want to invest in a detached/slave flash or skip the flash and use the room lighting. Some of my best photos were taken using an inexpensive desk lamp with an adjustable angle. The big photography lights, light tables, etc., usually aren’t required to get a quality shot of a product. If you feel you need a light box, search online for DIY instructions. Some of the most beautiful photos take advantage of natural light, like sunshine streaming through a window or outdoor shots.

4. Props and Staging can Make the Sale

Using props and staging can draw the eye, solicit an emotional response, generate excitement, and convince the shopper they’ve “gotta have it!” You can experiment with what a product is displayed in or on (such as sea salt in a sea shell), and add related props (like a rose for something rose scented).

5. Models

Showing your product in use can often increase the urge to buy. A custom dog collar on a puppy is much more inviting than a shot of the collar alone, for example. For most products it’s a good idea to include a simple shot to show shoppers exactly what they’re getting. However, clothing and other items do better if they’re modeled or at least appear on a mannequin.

6. Angles and Feature Shots

Obviously you’ll want to show your product’s best features but don’t be afraid to include shots taken at a 45 degree angle, or even from the top/bottom. To show the product from several angles, you can use more than one picture of the same product in the final image or use several photos if possible. If there are features you want to call attention to, take close-ups of those features and either include them as an inset with the main product photo or include them on the page separately.

7. Read your Camera Manual

When I first got my Canon Digital SLR, my eyes started to glaze over by about page 12 of the manual. It’s a lot to take in if you’re not already into photography, so take your time. Read about each setting you have on your particular camera, then research it further online.

8. Photo Editing

Learn at least the basics of photo editing. I use Photoshop most often, but I also use Jasc PaintShop Pro for some tasks. PaintShop Pro has less of a learning curve than Photoshop and is adequate for this purpose, and it’s less expensive. The most popular digital design & editing tool (for both amateurs and professionals) is CanvaPro, which is specifically designed to be easy and efficient.

You’ll need these basic skills to perfect your photo with options like cropping, sharpening, lighting and contrast. It’s also important to copyright and/or brand your images. Images are stolen on a regular basis online but perhaps most importantly, a branded photo is your freely-shared advertisement that makes its way through social media, photo sharing sites, and so on.  Branding the photo with the name and/or URL of your company ensures it continues to work for you, even if it becomes separated from the link it was originally published from.

9. Surf for Examples

Take a day to just surf around popular stores, online markets and your competition. Note which photos catch your eye and how you feel about the product when you view the photo. Mimic the styles that you positively respond to. Pinterest is a handy tool for this task, just pin the product photos you like best. You can make that Pinterest board private, if you wish.

10. Test, Test, and Test Some More

Like anything else related to ecommerce and online marketing, images must be tested for their impact on sales. Try different images, vary placement in ad copy, and feature another photo in seller markets to optimize conversions.

Do you take your own product photos? Please share your tips or questions in the comments below or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.

You may also be interested in reading:
Top 12+ Instagram Business Tools
Online Business Basics: Set Up Your Physical and Virtual Workspace
How to Develop Your Own Online Coaching Info-Products

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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Ella B

I’ve priced photographers and it convinced me I should go ahead and learn about doing it myself. That’s how I found this article, which I appreciate very much! I can buy my own camera for the same price as one product photo shoot. Your camera looks perfect actually, thanks for mentioning it. I can’t wait to start selling online!

Norah Underhill

I surfed over from your PR page and sent an email but want to make sure it will reach the right person. We’d like to discuss upgrading your photography equipment in exchange for your ongoing endorsement if you like it. I like your writing style & hope we can work something out. Cheers!

Darwin

Oh useful info on a blog…….what a novel idea! LOL That’s what I love about this one, NO DRIVEL ZONE. I’m sure I”ll be seeing better product pictures all over the web now.

Gerald Crane

I’m considering buying a camera for the office just to keep here. Nowadays there’s plenty of demand for office shots for the social web on top of the professional needs. Do you think your camera would be a good multipurpose choice for that sort of thing?

Ken

I’ve used Canon for many years and see no reason to change. However I do need a better quality and the digital SLR sounds perfect. My wife sells crafts on ebay and I take the pictures for her.

Kaylynn Litster

My next camera will be a digital slr. I can get good enough pictures with my digital cam but nothing spectacular. To compete with other sellers I need spectacular. Thanks so much for the help & suggestion for canon dslr.

Gary C

I agree, Canon makes a beautiful camera and I keep coming back to them as I search for a new one.

Nancy Brewer

I appreciate the tips as I try to build my own website. I’ll be looking for content when the site is ready and might get in touch with Melody for that. I want to do this right!

Rinaldo8

We had an amateur photographer on staff and thought we’d give her a try. If it didn’t work out we could always hire someone. Well she did a fantastic job and we love having her around whenever we need her. She enjoys the break from her usual duties too.

drew

Great tips! I’ve paid a photographer and did it myself and there wasn’t a big difference. I like doing it because I can do a billion versions if I want without worrying about cost. I can do it on the fly if I need a specific kind of shot for the market or just because I want a change. It’s worth learning for all that freedom of choice.