DIY Product Photography tips and tools for Amazon Sellers

They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, then a stunning product picture is worth a thousand website visits. Product photography can become valuable to your e-commerce website strategy.

Product photography isn’t as easy as people may think; it’s not just all about just pointing and shooting. The most basic products need the right equipment and space to produce fantastic images and the proper lighting that sells shoppers right from the purchase page.

You already own some items! So do not worry about how big and extensive the shopping list will be.

Below is a list of tips and tools that will get you started, along with real examples of product photos that demonstrate this advice.

6 Product Photography Tips (and Examples) for Taking Pictures That Sell

1. Make use of your smartphone camera

If you already own a good quality camera, you can use that to your advantage. It is ok to use your smartphone to take photos of many types of products. 

Some of the earliest smartphones had cameras that operated on fewer than 4 megapixels, making it challenging to capture critical visual elements of products where detail matters.

But the latest smartphones such as the iPhone 12, Google Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 boast 12MP and 13MP lenses along with numerous “temperature” settings to optimise your shots for the different types of light you might shoot.

2. Use a Tripod for Photo Consistency

Before I explain tripods, I’m obligated to start with a cardinal rule: Do not put your phone against something sturdy to aim your lens toward the subject. It’s just too easy for this makeshift setup to slide around during the shoot and cause inconsistencies in your photos’ appearance. If you place your camera on a stack of books, just be sure that setting the camera does not change throughout the shoot.

You don’t always have to use a tripod, and you can also hold the camera by yourself when you are taking a few photos of the product for your Amazon listing. As your business grows and you take more pictures of more products, it can be challenging to standardize the product’s orientation in each photo when you are shooting handheld.

To ensure consistency across your products, you’ll need a tripod.

Here are two types of tripods to consider and one accessory you’d need when shooting on a smartphone:

The straight one

The straight one is a traditional, extendable tripod stand, and the one that has curves is a flexible mount with legs you can bend to achieve the camera angle you want.

Mobile Grip

This mobile grip will hold your phone in place when you’re shooting from the tripod. 

Once you have decided on which mobile grip you will need, set it up in front of your product, and consider putting three pieces of tape on the ground to mark where you would like to keep each leg of your tripod throughout the shoot.

3. Natural Light vs Artificial Light.

Different types of light can either improve or hinder your product photography. Keep in mind that when a customer sees a product in person, they see it in its entirety; they see what they require before making a purchase. The proper lighting helps reveal those critical decision-making product features when all website visitors view the photo.

A lighting arrangement that works for some products might weaken the appearance of others. There are two types of light you can choose as your primary light source:

Natural Light

When we talk about Natural light, this means sunlight — simple as that. It’s also known as “soft light” because the sun casts a more prominent, softer range of light than a lamp shining directly on the product. Amazon product shots thrive in natural light if:

•The product is shot outside 

•The product is used by, worn on, or shot with a person (people tend to look better in natural light).

•You’re trying to emphasise the product’s surroundings rather than specific attributes of the product.

Artificial Light

Artificial light includes lamps, candles, fire, and more commonly, light bulbs. It’s also known as “hard light” because it produces a smaller but more focused light surface. This type of light caters to products with physical details that need to be highlighted to impress an online shopper.

The general rule is to stick to just one type of light per photo- artificial or natural. Adding natural light to an artificially lit image can soften a product that’s meant to look sharp, and adding artificial light to a naturally lit photo can sharpen a product that’s meant to look soft. 

4. Fill or Bounce Your Light to Soften Shadows

Whether you use natural light or artificial light, you’ll need to lessen the shadows any potential hard light casts on the opposite end of a product. There are three ways to do this:

Fill Light

Add another source of light (less intense) to supplement your leading light. This additional light is called your fill light and is used as a counterbalance to soften the natural shadow your leading light produces behind an object. Your whole light should be placed opposite your leading light so that your product sits between both light sources.

Flashbulb Bounce Card

A bounce card, or reflector card, is a small card that “reflects” or “bounces” the leading light back onto the surface beneath your product to reduce shadows.

Some sellers use bounce cards off a professional lens’s flashbulb to diffuse the light from the camera’s flash. This card splashes a softer light onto the subject from above your set — rather than straight at it, and you don’t have long shadows trailing behind the object you’re shooting. 

Standalone Bounce Card

If you take photos with a smartphone, a flashbulb bounce card isn’t an option since you don’t have a physical flash you can attach. Instead, position your standalone bounce card opposite your primary light source. For beginners to product photography, this bounce card can effectively replace your fill light, which counters the hard light from the camera flash or lamp that’s facing the front of your product.

Your goal is to reduce the shadow no matter which type of light counter you use. You will see a huge difference if you shoot just right.

5. Use a Sweep, photo lightbox or Portrait Mode to Emphasize the Product

You can position your product, bounce cards and lights in so many different angles depending on your background. But don’t choose a background based on what’s easiest to create. Backgrounds should resemble how you want your buyers to perceive your product when viewing it online.

Firstly consider whether you would want a dynamic real-world background or a white background. There’s an easy way to achieve each one.

White Background: Sweep or photo lightbox. For white backgrounds, it’s not as simple as setting up a table against white drywall. Even smartphone cameras can pick up minor blemishes on a white wall that you would overlook with the naked eye. To capture a perfect white background with no corners or marks, use a sweep or a photo lightbox.

A sweep is a large bendable sheet of paper whose bottom acts as the surface beneath your product and then curves up into a white wall behind the object. The sweep’s curve is invisible on camera and instead emphasises vital product details and allowing the item to own all of a website visitor’s attention. 

Also, you can use a photo lightbox sold on amazon. A photo lightbox is a contraption with translucent sides that diffuses light coming from multiple sources. This allows for even, nearly shadow-less lighting against a simple, solid background.

Real-World Background: Portrait Mode

Dynamic, real-world backgrounds are used when you are taking photos of products that have a specific use. Using Real-world background can steal the focus of the photo, giving the customer an unclear idea of which item you are selling.

Give your product depth and emphasis with portrait mode, a picturesque setting on most professional cameras and also available on many new smartphones. With this setting, you can blur the background so the context of the product is clear but not competing against the product itself.

6. Variety of Images

The final e-commerce tip is to not stop at one photo per product. Your website should have a wide variety of images so that it attracts more customers.

Let’s say you are taking photos of clothing, then you should capture the garment alone — that is, spread out on a white surface — as well as on a mannequin whose colour contrasts the colour of the product. Then, for additional photos, have someone model in the clothing, this will allow you to take pictures of the product from different poses and angles.

You should invest in every piece and tip of equipment at once. Apply these product photography tips gradually to see what makes your store look the most presentable, and change your approach as your photography chops get better.

In conclusion

It’s very easy to take photos of high-resolution product images using a few items from home or your smartphone. You could get a little product photography setup going with a small investment.

If you do not have sufficient funds to hire a professional photographer then, this is a great idea for you to get started. 

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