In today’s ever growing and changing economy. The need for clean, sleek product photography continues to grow. New businesses and products are popping out of the woodwork like crazy and quality photographers are becoming a hot commodity in the business realm.

Not to mention that advertising has pretty much taken over social media. You see it on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and even Snapchat! Businesses of all sizes are taking to social media for advertising because, in theory, you can advertise for free! But people don’t stop to look at big blocks of text. They want pictures that engage them, so that’s where you come in.

So, how do you take a successful product photo? Well, there are many different aspects of product photography to look at, but let’s begin by delving into the equipment that you are going to need.

The basics:

  • A camera. At the start, you can go with anything you’ve got. If you already have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, that’s great. But if you don’t, even a point-and-shoot camera will suit. The important thing here is to get familiar with your camera before starting with your product photography shoot. Experiment with its modes, capabilities, and limitations to find your best settings.
  • A photo-editor. Editing part is essential if you want to have an attractive, quality and clear photo. There are various photo editing programs options to choose from out there: stick to the one that suits your budget and skill level.
  • A backdrop. Having at least one backdrop is a good idea. Most people use a white backdrop, but if you have some creative colorful backdrop ideas, that’s even better.
  • A tripod for camera stability. Helpful for long exposures. Anything longer than 1/20 second will require stabilization or the image will be blurry.
  • External flash. Using natural light is good, but you’ll need additional light for studio work. Don’t use a built-in flash: it can badly affect your photo quality. Especially necessary if you are not going to purchase studio lights.

Other things you might want to consider purchasing:

  • Studio lights: helpful for creating images with even and balanced lighting. Studio lights help illuminate an object from more than one angle. Use studio lights to play with shadow.
  • Remote switch: allows you to stand away from your camera while taking a photo. This can be helpful if you ever need to be your own model.
  • Backdrops other than plain black and white: marbled backdrops or backdrops in other plain colors may come in handy, depending on the subject you are photographing.

How to Choose Which Photographs to Edit

Now that you have the equipment, let’s look at how product photographs should be selected. The first thing that you are going to want to focus on is choosing the best quality photographs to manipulate. Chances are that you took a ton of photographs, all from different angles and distances. Skip blurry, badly lit, or just poorly taken photos. You don’t want to spend tons of time to edit every single photograph you took. Otherwise you’ll spend way too much time on a single project. Just choose your top photographs. Make sure you don’t forget lifestyle and in-use photographs of the product when sifting through. Give yourself a little variety for choice, but don’t go too crazy.

Don’t Forget about Composition

Composition is important because it heavily affects how viewers engage with an image. When you look at your photo, ask yourself a few questions. Is the main subject of your photos clear to the viewer? Is there anything on a photo that may distract him or her? Are all the elements arranged in an appealing way? Did you manage to get everything you wanted in the frame? You want your photographs to be composed in a way that is interesting and will make people to stop scrolling and take a closer look.

One of the things that you will probably need to do to improve your composition is some cropping. Do it carefully: watch out for cropping out anything significant or important. Make sure to straighten your photo. When creating engaging compositions, a good tip is to follow the rule of thirds. It’s a general photography rule that say you should divide your photo in nine blocks with three vertical and three horizontal lines and place your subject not in the center, but on the intersections of the image. Here is an example from Nutella:

Learn Some Editing Skills

You are going to need to learn some basic photo editing skills if you want to be a product photographer. You will most likely need to learn how to manipulate color curves, white balance, saturation/contrast, color balance, and possibly erasing accidental spots or unnecessary objects. These terms may feel intimidating, but they are tools in most photo editors that are easy to use, and they make a huge difference. Some editors can do all the color adjustments automatically. – for example, Luminar’s auto photo edit option.

For example, experiment with curves to brighten your image

Then add some contrast and hue to improve colors

Or simply apply one-click filters

Just make sure you don’t overdo it with the editing. Most of the time less is more and you may not need to use every photo editing tool every time. When you are working with posting photographs on social media, keep in mind that DSLR cameras capture large images, so you may need to resize a photo for Facebook. Many social media websites will not be able to post the full-sized image because it has too much information. Use editing software to save a smaller version of your photograph.

Develop Style Consistency

As an artist, you may want to think about what your personal style is and keep it consistent. Product photography may seem stark and boring, but there is definitely still room for plenty of play in personal style. Small design choices that you make will create photographs that are uniquely you. Your brand will become recognizable.

For example, @nike Instagram profile. Notice the resemblance?

Make Sure to Show Off Features and Answer Customer’s Questions

While style is important, what customers are most interested in when they are looking at a product photograph is information. What does this product do? How big is this product? Is it just one product, or does it come in a pack? These are all questions that can be answered visually through photography. Try to think about how you can stage photographs to deliver the most information as possible. Feature products at multiple different angles and make sure to include what the product looks like both in the package and outside.

Beautiful lifestyle photo that shows the inside of the Kanken Photo Insert

In closing

There is a big market out there for quality e-commerce product photographers. There isn’t really much to it once you learn the basics and it can be a great, steady source of income—especially for the up-and-coming professional photographer. Just purchase the necessary equipment, choose and learn how to use an automatic photo editor, create photographs for your portfolio that show off your personal style, and start looking for opportunities!

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Bonnie Skott

Bonnie Skott is a creative writer who left her full-time job at a publishing company to pursue her freelance carrier. Currently she helps photography software company Skylum to manage their blog. She really likes planting, so if you want to chat about that or ask any questions, feel free to drop her a message at [email protected]

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