When you’re just starting out or launching a new business, budgets can be tight and photography is probably the last thing on your mind for your product business. But a set of great product photos will give you a head start when you’re pitching for magazine features, exhibitions or craft fairs. And they’ll also help make you stand out online and bring more customers to your online shop.
Here’s my top five tips for styling better product photos for your online product business.
Get clear on your brand
Styling your own product photos isn’t just about buying props - although that can be fun too! It’s thinking about your brand story and the story you want your products to tell.
First things first, get clear on your brand values and story. Who do you want your products to appeal to? Are you selling a luxury product or something more budget friendly? Is it aimed at a certain age range, or a group of people with particular interests? Identifying your target audience is really important, and this will help you to create images that will appeal to those people - and ultimately result in more sales!
Once you’ve got clear on your audience, think about your brand and what you want your images to convey. Here’s some questions to help you get started:
● What makes you and your products stand out from your competitors?
● How long have you been making your products and running your business?
● Why have you chosen a particular colour for your products?
● Who is your ideal customer?
You could also think about creating a private Pinterest board to pin sample images that align with your brand in terms of colour, mood, and aesthetic. If you need some inspiration, check out my Pinterest Board here.
Choosing your props
One of the ways to help tell the story of your brand is to choose the right props. Styling your photos with different backgrounds or props can be fun. And it might fit with your business depending on your products and style. But you need to be careful not to clutter the image. The focus should always be on your product.
Take a look around your home or studio and think about which tools you frequently use to make your products. It’s a great way to show scale as well as giving your customers an idea about how your products were made. Think about how your products make your customers FEEL and think about the messages you want to convey about your brand. Try showing more than one product in a shot: if they like your product, they’ll love seeing a whole range.
Find the right lighting
Good lighting is essential in any kind of photograph, but especially when it comes to showcasing products. The best way to prepare for your product shoot is to test your lighting, test your lighting and then test your lighting some more!
Insufficient lighting will make it difficult for customers to even see your product properly! Harsh lighting will give you dramatic shadows that can be distracting or even obtrusive to the image - although you could use this creatively too. The simplest way to start out with lighting your product photos is to try and find a spot in your home or studio with soft natural light. Preferably near a window.
A simple rule for lighting is to remember that any light source whether artificial or daylight can be harsh and create shadows, loss of detail and glare. Although you can use this creatively, for more control and to soften the lightsource you can diffuse it with white fabric - like a sheet or a shower curtain.
If you don’t have enough natural light for your product photographs, a reflector is a good option. A reflector or reflective surface will bounce the light from the main light source onto your product.
Think about your colour scheme
A coloured surface, such as a wall, table top, fabric, card or shelf is great to use as a background to photograph your products. If you’re unsure of which colours would best suit your products, find a paint chart that includes the colour/s of your products and use it to select similar colours of the same shade. Or if you want your products to make an impact and stand out, experiment with opposite colours. Delicate pastel shades will create a soft, dreamy effect whereas strong colours create a bold statement. If you’re unsure, stick to natural backgrounds as they suit every product type.
Show your products in use
It can also be beneficial to show your products in use, so that customers can really get an idea of what it’s like. So if you sell clothing or accessories, it’s great to show those products on their own on a plain background. But people also probably want to see what those items look like on an actual person. So you can give them a few different views of the product both on its own and in use.
It’s important to shoot your product from all angles to display the most interesting features. As even though YOU really know your product inside out, your customers don’t! You need to try and recreate the experience of having the product in front of them as closely as possible. And include close ups, as this can give your customers a real idea of the quality of your chosen materials and the feel of your product.
Create a product shot list
Once you’ve decided on which products you want to shoot, create a shot list. A shot list is used to specify which products are in each shot, the camera angle, the background, and props you’d like included, and other styling you’d like to see in the photograph. Sign up to my mailing list and you can download my free shot list to get a good idea of what to include and start planning your styled product photography shoot right now. New subscribers get 10% off your first Launch package booked with me.
And if you’re thinking styling, shooting and editing your product photos are probably not your superpowers. Then book a free call with me and we can chat about how we can work together using my remote product photography service Send & Shoot.
Take care for now, Susan x