Yeshen Venema
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Blog for Photographer Yeshen Venema. Features tips, links interviews and behind the scenes stories.

Product Photography Basics

Go to any website and consider what your eye is drawn to. Is it the text or the images?

Nine out ten times, it will be the images.

The image is the first point of contact between your products and a sale - so you better make ‘em good!

The more you can get across through your product photography, the less someone will need to read.

Consider how you can show your product’s material, size, use and unique benefits through one image. Let your products sell themselves.

For example how much does the following image tell you about the product?

Click to image to view the original listing for this product.

Click to image to view the original listing for this product.

You can see it’s a tray and it’s rectangular. It’s black and has a floral type pattern.

However...

  • It’s badly lit, the white sheet (not even ironed!) looks grey, so how can the colours in the tray be realistic?
  • It has been shot with flash, rather than natural light, so the whites on the reflective surface are washed out - there's too much contrast
  • The angle is not ideal, with square and rectangular shaped products the angle of the shot is very important. It’s easy to get distortion and that's misleading
  • You can’t see how deep the tray is, or any detail of the handles.

Now, in comparison:

Click on this image to see the original listing for this product.

Click on this image to see the original listing for this product.

  • The tray is well lit using natural light so the colours are realistic.
  • It has been shot at an angle that clearly shows its shape and form
  • Also note, the use of a teapot and cups to show relative scale
  • The listing also includes a secondary image with the product on white.

It is worth clicking through the images above to read the product descriptions. The way you describe your product is very important. You should aim to eliminate questions from your customer's mind. The photo might hook them in, but well written text will secure the sale.

A few quick tips.

Never use flash
We are not talking about fashion photography here. Flash will wash out the image and add reflections in all the wrong places. Pro flash kits are also very expensive, don’t waste your money... spend it on quality lenses instead.

Check your white balance
This is especially important when shooting your products on a white background. Most DSLRs have the option of manually setting the white balance (you simply take a photo of the white background you’re using and save that setting).

Watch your ISO
This determines the light sensitivity of your camera. A high ISO (like 800) will enable you to take photos in dimmer conditions, but you may find grain and noise start to appear in the image. A lower ISO like 200 will give you the sharpest image, but you need good, even light to achieve this.

Get to know the ‘M’ mode
This means you will have full control over your ISO, aperture and shutter speed. A bit of trial and error will show you how small changes in settings will affect your images.

Use a tripod.
You might think you have a steady hand, but the tripod wins. This is especially important if you are shooting multiple products in variations of colour, because you need the angle to be consistant. 

That's all for now, see you next week for some more tips and examples of good and bad product photography!

Questions? Leave a comment or send a tweet.