Ideally, you should get a professional photographer to perform that well-calculated magic. However, if you’re working on a tight budget, or if you happen to be handy with the camera, you can definitely DIY so long as you read the following tips first. Here are 11 DIY product photography hacks that work on a low budget.
1. Get The Right Light
Natural light works best for any type of photo and should be used whenever possible. Typically, shooting your photos in the early afternoon will grant the best results. What matters is not only the quantity of the light, but the uniformity of distribution as well.
Hard shadow vs. soft shadow– Hard shadows are created when the size of the light source is small compared to the size of the subject. Conversely, soft shadows are created when the size of the light source is larger than the subject. For your needs you want to aim for soft shadows so go for big windows or the outdoors. To avoid a hard shadow, use a flash diffuser. A flash diffuser can be created by taking a white tape or a white plastic bag and attaching it to the flash of the camera. In turn, the light will be distributed in a softer, more even way in all parts of the object, rather than be centered in one spot.
2. White Works – AKA The Infinity Curve
Often in product photography, a clean white background looks best since it creates focus on the object itself. We’re sure you’ve seen this before and now you’ll know what to call it – The “Infinity Curve”. This enables photographers to shoot products against an endless white background that reveals no horizon in the back, only a clean and pleasant view. To create this type of background, place a piece of white paper or fabric and bend it to create a curve. Your product will be the center of the photo and the only item to capture the viewer’s attention.
3. Play With Angles
As you take photos, go for unusual angles. We recommend playing around with getting close ups and look for unique points of view that tells a story. You never know what angle will end up revealing the most impressive or attractive tale, so test different options. Do keep in mind that you still want to accurately reflect your products size, shape and quality to ensure sales and customer satisfaction.
4. Keep It Steady
As you take a picture, even the slightest vibration or movement can cause motion blur. Moreover, the closer you get to an object the more obvious the motion blur becomes. A tripod will assure you remain stable as you take the photo. Even an inexpensive tripod will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. Additionally, you can use the camera’s built-in timer to minimize camera shake and maximize accuracy. If you’re using the camera on your smartphone, consider leaning it up against a sturdy object to minimize movement.
5. Sense of Scale
Some products may not be easily recognizable by viewers. This is where giving a sense of scale can be very helpful. If you include an item in the image that people are familiar with, it can really help to visualize the size of the product. For example, if the product is a miniature doll, you could place an object like a standard sized pencil next to it.
6. Stay Natural
Take pictures of your product next to an item that will help people relate to it in real life. For example, if you take a picture of a watch, show it on someone’s wrist. If you are selling a coffee table book, take a shot of the opened book on an actual table with a small fruit bowl next to it. If you are selling jewelry or clothing, having at least one picture of your product on a model is great. Potential buyers will get an idea of how the item will look on them and also, it could show the type of target audience you’re aiming for.
7. Show More, Not Less
On many site images, people display a single item and then write under it “also available in blue and green”. If you offer a particular item in a selection of colors, don’t just tell customers about it, let people see for themselves. A set of photos showing the variety of colors will make the product look richer, more attractive and most of all will give you a greater chance of selling it.
8. The Delete Button Is Not Your Friend
Don’t get tempted to make quick verdicts about your pictures when you review them on the camera. Be patient and wait until you download the photos to your computer. Images look very different on a bigger screen and this is the way to decide which photos make the cut and which will move on to photo-heaven.
9. Filters Are So Last Year
Nowadays everyone is taking photos on their phones and using various filters to appear more stylized. While this is fun when showing off a night out with friends, it is not great for product photography. Filters, when noticed (and they often will be noticed) may make your customers question your product quality and trust in your representation. Keeping it clean and simple is the best way to go.
10. Bloom Like A “Flower” (Setting)
Most cameras have a “close-up” setting that you switch it to when you are taking a closer than standard photo. The “flower” setting is really called “Macro” and it appears on most cameras as a tulip-like icon. This is often used when your subject is a small item like a piece of jewelry or a flower. The result is a narrow depth of field and a different perspective.
Pro tip – If you’d like to take a picture of something very small, and even the “macro” feature is not enough, use an extension tube – it gives a focus for the tiny details. The extension tube is typically a tool used by photography pros but as you advance with your photo shoots you may find yourself developing an appetite for advanced tools and other photo instruments.
11. Editing Is Important
Taking a shot is often just the beginning, next comes the editing and the touch ups. As you prepare images for your site, make sure they are approximately the same size. Choose 1-3 different sizes from large to medium and small. Edit your photos to fit one of the pre-selected sizes so that you won’t have too much variation.
You don’t have to be a web designer or even computer savvy – simply upload your pictures into any photo editing software, and get to business. Things like cropping and color correction can make a world of difference in a photo.