In this study 67% of those surveyed rated product photography as very important. I'm inclined to think it is much closer to 100% than that, at least on a subconscious level.
If you haven't got photos of your products from a supplier (perhaps you're making them yourself), and you need to take them yourself, it can be a daunting task. But product photography couldn't be more important to the success of your new website. Quality is all important.
Get the right equipment
One of the most common mistakes in business is not having the right equipment to do the job. If you plan on taking a lot of product photos it makes sense to invest in a quality camera. You don't have to go overboard and spend £100s, DSLR cameras are becoming more affordable each year.
If you can't afford a new camera then you can use an iPhone (or similar) but make sure you get a good app (like VSCO cam) to help you.
If you are using a DSLR then keep in mind a few things:
• Don't use a wide angle lens - it will distort your shot
• Use a small aperture like f8 or f11 to keep your whole product in focus
• Use the correct white balance (the same Kelvin as your lights)
This leads us nicely into the next most important piece of equipment, good lighting. To get the best product photos you'll need to invest in some good lighting equipment. Again you don't have to go overboard but lighting is just, if not sometimes more, important than the camera.
Finally you do need to stabilise your camera so that you can take consistent shots, so invest in a tripod or (if not using a camera) you can improvise.
Setting up the shot
Start by figuring out the background that you want. As we mentioned above, its important to be consistent but different types of products will require different backgrounds. A good approach however is to just use a plain white background.
Amazon carry a range of light tents, but again if your budget doesn't allow you to purchase one you can easily get creative...
By taping some white poster board to the back of a white storage box you can easily setup something suitable.
Typically you should have two lights, one shining in from either side. You do need to make sure that the bulbs are identical though in order to produce an even coverage.
You can consider suspending the product in mid air using string (which you later remove with photo editing software) or alternatively place some plexiglass underneath the product to produce a subtle reflection.
Of course often a white background isn't the best look for your product and its better to show it in action. A great example of this is the imagery used for all of the products on notonthehighstreet demonstrated here.
Testing and refining the shot with just one product is the best way to establish the right conditions. Make a mark of some kind so that when it comes to photographing a different product, you are able to place it in the same position in the light tent.
If you're going to be dismantling your equipment, once you've got the right formula then make a diagram and take some measurements so you can be sure to replicate consistently across your sessions.
Taking different angles of your products is a must. You can either rotate the product in the lightbox or go freehand with the camera and take some different shots.
Whilst its important that your primary image (shown on the category page that lists all products) is consistent across products, you can get more creative with your additional shots.
After you've taken your photos its time to start editing them. Processing your images with image editing software gives you the opportunity to clean up and enhance them. Even if you made a mistake when taking the shot, you can easily edit it with the right software to produce that perfect result.
Probably the best image software is provided by Adobe either Lightroom or Photoshop, and it isn't expensive as it used to be (you can pay per month as well).
There are many instructional YouTube videos and other written guides on editing your images and it really isn't complicated when you get the hang of it.
Practice & Don't Rush
Practice makes perfect, be patient, don't rush and don't be afraid to test different setups until you get it right.
The best way to master product photography is to take a lot of pictures and see what works.
Take notes whilst you're doing it so that you don't forget what worked and what didn't.