Sell more products with great photography

Posted on 31-8-2010 by Leanne O'Sullivan

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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(With thanks to Smashing Magazine - for great information about making the most of your product images)

An often neglected part of any website is the calibre of the photography. It is not just a matter of picking up a digital camera and snapping away. Whilst you can get away with this perhaps in the content areas of your site the display of your products inside your online store is critical to the success of your online business.

We have some tips below on

Why?

"Without the ability to touch, hold, smell, taste or otherwise handle the products they are interested in, potential customers have only images to interact with.

Ultimately, the softer, tastier, flashier an d more attractive your products look to shoppers, the more confident they’ll feel about purchasing from you and the better your conversion rate will be.”


...smashing magazine

While any product can look great on a digital camera or in a frame, it is often harder to match your website’s overall look and feel and your company’s image.

Smashing magazine has pulled together some great examples of how some of the big e-tailers display their products, whilst you may not have the budgets of these organizations, sometimes that investment in either external resources or some great digital camera gear pays for itself!

Have a browse through some of these sites for examples of great photography.

Ties.com – great use of zooms and super clear photography
Made.com – images are shown from multiple angles and perspectives
Harry Winston-  - stripped back design that focuses your eye solely on the array of glittering gems before you!
Louis Vuitton  - Hi-res shots and zooms to highlight detailing.
CuffLinks.com– a great site to demonstrate how to showcase small images

So what are some of the key items to look for when taking your photos or better yet commissioning an external resource to do this for you.

Prepare Product

To take quality photographs, the complexity and time required will depend greatly on the type of product you’re shooting. Solid objects can be very easy to manage, they may just need a good clean!

Clothing and other items that can bend, stretch and wrinkle are much harder to photograph and could require hours of ironing and arranging to get a perfect result. Details, like whether a shirt collar is straight, will determine whether the photographs look like they were shot in a serious studio or by an amateur with a point-and-shoot camera. Are you an online business or just selling online at ebay!

Whatever the product, inspect it carefully for tears, stains, chips and other imperfections before beginning.

Get all your products ready to go, ensure that once have made all your camera settings right that you can easily swap your products around within the setting  - particularly important if you are going to use a professional to take your shots.

Organization will be the key to keeping this a cost effective exercise.

Light

To get a great-looking photo, lighting is crucial. Ensure that you are allowing for shadows and reflections – this is often the hardest part for the amateur and where you may decide you need to bring in the professionals to assist with this process as they can make use of light tents and reflectors to showcase your product in the best possible light.

Get your camera ready

Watch out for noticeable light reflections on shiny surfaces. Even though most product photos look very ‘staged’, you don’t want yours to look too artificial.

Obviously, you’ll need a camera to take pictures, so make sure you have a good one. It doesn’t have to be the best or most expensive on the market, but it should at least have manual focus and shutter and aperture controls. These are all standard on most SLR cameras. So the standard digital camera will not suffice for your product shots!

Do you need a tripod?

Most likely yes as you will need to keep the angles consistent for your shots. Your product photos, in fact your entire website will look much better in the long term if you keep your images consistent. Consistent backgrounds, size and angles all contribute to a smooth customer experience.
Once you’ve arranged the product and lighting equipment, take a few test shots until you get an exposure that isn’t too bright or too dark.

Photo Editing

Keep your photos a consistent size when cropping them – make all images either portrait or landscape – but make all of them the same. Portrait images tend to work best in a online store.

Note the size of both your thumbnails and your large image – as you may be able to run a little script to resize them all at once saving time. Talk to us about some solutions for image management.

Bring in the professionals

I have said it before - you do not have to do this yourself, we can recommend some good photographers in your area that have studios set up ready to go - perfect for staging product shots. If you are organised, then this can be a very worthwhile exercise and worth every cent.

Money spent at this stage could help generate thousands online for your store!

For more information on successful product images please visit Smashing Magazine or talk to us, we are happy to make recommendations or talk through how images can work on your site.

Visit  the online store section of our website to view some recent examples - Mary and Me have some particularly good supplier provided images and Woolerina - also has some great examples of images where the background has been removed to enure consistency

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About the Author - Leanne O'Sullivan

Leanne has been sharing her knowledge and the power of the web, social media and search optimisation with Bosweb clients for well over a decade. An accomplished public speaker, Leanne enjoys empowering people with the skills and knowledge to make their business an online success!  


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