The Snap36 Blog
7 Parts of a Perfect Product Photo
Looking at a perfect product photo should be no different from looking at the item in real life. A high-resolution, high-quality image that shows the item from multiple angles gives shoppers the same level of detail that the human eye can provide.
Consumers today now expect this caliber of visual information for every product they look at online. More and more ecommerce brands are using images with rich media like 360 degree photography on their websites – which means the competition is stiff. Perfect product photos are becoming the norm.
So what goes into that perfect product photo? It takes the right equipment, techniques, and expertise. Here are the seven main ingredients.
1. The Product is Photo-Ready
Before you begin the photoshoot, you’ll need to prep your subjects. A perfect product photo requires a product in good shape and in the right position.
You’ll need to pick product samples that are pristine as possible. Generally, if you’re conducting a high-volume photoshoot, whether that’s on location at a distribution center or in a professional photography studio, you’re handling a lot of different products. This means they can easily get dinged or scraped – especially larger items and machinery. You’ll need to be careful not to damage your products when transporting them before the shoot.
Next, you need to set the product in the right position. But there are items that don’t have a big enough flat surface to stand on their own. In a photo, you want to see the item upright so that you can easily look at all of its angles. In these cases, you’ll need prop assistance. If you have a , for instance, you can attach a clear wire and hang it from the ceiling so that you can photograph its head and full body vertically. Or if you have a toothbrush, you can set it up with an invisible plastic prop.
2. The Product Is Set Against a Clean White Background
A product photo set against a sharp white background effectively draws the shopper’s attention to the product. If you’re selling on an online marketplace like Amazon, a pure white backdrop is a requirement.
But shooting a white-background photo is a little more complicated than it looks.
Using glass is one way to minimize the need for edits to your background later on. Set the product on glass with white fabric several feet behind, lighting it from behind as well. This creates a smooth white background that looks like Photoshop – so you don’t need to crop out the background with editing software.
In a bad product photo, you might see jagged edges around the product when you zoom in. That means that it’s been superimposed poorly against a digital white background. When you photograph against the white background, on the other hand, you won’t have to do any rushed editing.
Another option for creating an all-white background is to use a sweep, which is a large piece of white fabric.
3. The Product Is Perfectly Lit
A perfect photo conveys the product’s true-to-life look and colors. That means there are no shadows, reflections, or inconsistent colors.
Getting the lighting right in a photo takes knowledge of how different items react to light. Every surface is different, which means they’ll need to be lit accordingly with different lighting equipment and techniques. In a perfectly lit photo, the item should have even lighting throughout. And in a 360 degree image, the lighting should be bright and consistent from every angle.
There are three types of equipment you’ll need to light a photo:
- The type of lighting, such as a strobe light or a panel.
If you have a very reflective item, such as a bottle, you can set up white cards and diffusion panels. You might even tent the product in them. If you have a translucent product, you might use a lighter-toned gray background. From there, you can place black flags (also called curtains or cards) to the side of the product to give the item an edge.
4. The Image is Well Composed
There’s no need for skewed or fancy angles in a clean product photo. You want a straight-on, centered composition, and if you’re using 360 degree photography, you want the same composition from every angle.
A wide-angle lens is best to get this centered composition on larger products, and a macro lens works best for smaller products.
5. You Can Zoom In
According to one study on customers’ impressions of online product photos, customers’ trust increases when viewing photos they can zoom in on and rotate.
In order to zoom in and see sharp – not grainy – details, you need a high-resolution photo.
Getting a high-resolution photo comes down to having a high-end camera. These cameras usually have better specifications and different pixel ratio options. Having the right lens will maximize image quality, but the right lens depends on the product size (either wide-angle or macro).
To get an image optimized for zooming in, we recommend the Canon 5D IV camera, which is popular in many commercial photography studios due to its sturdy construction and 30-megapixel CMOS sensor. Its pixel count and 24-105 zoom lens allows for excellent zoom capabilities.
6. You Can Look at the Product from Every Angle
As mentioned above, rotating, like zooming, is important in building customers’ trust.
High-quality still images allow for zooming – but from just one angle. If you want to make rotation possible, static images won’t do the job alone. You need
A 360 degree spinning image usually consists of 24, 48, or 72 still images stitched together. Turntables are a required accessory for a 360 degree photography shoot.
7. It’s Cleaned Up in Post-Production (If Absolutely Necessary)
A great product photo shouldn’t need much editing after a shoot. But sometimes, a little bit of post-production is necessary.
One common edit is white balancing, which removes color casts and renders products that are white in real life white in a photo. You can do this by using a gray card. If it’s a highly translucent product, it’ll need some gray-scale edits.
You might also need a few “global edits,” or edits you apply to the entire set of images, such as upping the saturation and contrast to make the colors look sharper. Or you can do a bit of retouching to enhance color matching. Then you can also do a few localized edits to fix a scratch, for instance.
The Perfect Product Photo Should Be One of Many
Consistency is king on your ecommerce site. When shoppers look at multiple products, they want the same caliber of visual information for each item. When you provide this, they’ll have more trust in your brand.
The trick to a perfect product photo that drives conversions and boosts your bottom line, then, isn’t just to have one great looking photo – it’s to have these images for every single product on your site. That way, customers will not only be marveling at your photography; they’ll be looking at your products and adding them to their shopping cart.