Every e-commerce store owner is at times presented with challenges that are crucial to the success of their online store. Some of the key factors are of course your stores domain name, it’s visibility to search engines, and the design of your website. In case your own online shopping observations have not made it obvious to you, the images you display on your website that reflect the product your offering is also an imperitive element in communicating the level of quality and professionalism that is really behind your company.
Lets take a look at how you can approach getting some great images of your products onto your website.
DIY Solutions or Hiring a Pro?
Photography can be overwleming at first to someone with no background, and you may end up getting frustrated with results that don’t quite measure up to what you have seen online. Not only do you have to invest a little bit of time in learning how to operate your camera and lighting equipment, you have to also invest in that equipment in the first place. There is a nearly endless amount of material available on the internet to teach you about the basics of photography, if your willing to dive into it. If not, begin researching an experienced photographer offering services online. When shopping for a photographer, look for someone who has experience shooting the kind of products that you have for your store.
Attention to Detail
Considering the principles of great photography, the goal is to draw attention to the beauty of the product as well as the physical appearance. Visitors to your store may rely on the appearance of your products to determine if it is appropriate for them. For example, if you are selling hardware components such as nuts and bolts, it needs to be obvious which bolts are truss head, or countersunk. Ensuring these important physical characteristics are perfectly in focus is a detail that needs to be emphasized. However, also practice good lighting techniques and diffuse your light sources (such as a speed light or strobe light) with a large soft box to light your product from at least 3 light sources coming from different directions. This provides global illumination and soft shadows.
Being Resourceful Online
Like I mentioned earlier, there is almost an endless amount of information regarding how-to’s, DIY tutorials and video instructionals on how to operate your camera in Manual mode. And enough of it is free to walk away with only investing time into your learning process. Get creative and refine your Google searches with advanced search syntax, searching Youtube and Vimeo, accessing online support forums and social news and networking sites. I have taken some of this work out for you and compiled a list of what I consider to be concise and accurate guides to the craft:
http://goo.gl/UPwMs – Lifehacker.com’s guide to the basics of photography
http://goo.gl/U7WrF – A thorough article on shooting your products once you have established operating your camera
http://goo.gl/W5I5v – Adorama, a camera retailer, has created a wonderful Youtube channel. Here is a video of a light tent being used and the benefits of it.
Making the Most of What You Have
Not every e-commerce store has the budget to either hire a well outfitted studio or buy high end DSLR cameras, lenses and lighting equipment. It may be worth trying to get results using your point and shoot camera you brought on last years vacation with an on-board flash. If you are in a situation where this is the best option, I would advise to invest in an inexpensive light tent, or make one your self, as long as your products will fit in it. Also source a second and sometimes third light source. Sometimes using a lamp you have in your home or office could suffice, just place them on each end of the lightbox and sometimes from an above angle.
Almost every client seeking design for their Volusion and Big Commerce store provides examples of a competitors website who they think has a great design, in fact we request this from them to gain a bearing on what they might be looking for. I suggest doing the same thing for assisting you in what path you want to take to getting great product photo’s on your store. Inspiration will also help determine how your product photo’s will look; will each photo tell a story about your product with advanced efforts in photographic composition, lighting and environment, or if setting up a light tent with an infinity plane to produce a basic photo be in your greater interest. Here are some links to get your self thinking:
http://goo.gl/5AbU - Uncrate.com, a website that organizes products from various sources that generally a male audience finds appealing. The consequence of all of these products deposited in one place is convenient access to some great product photography.
http://goo.gl/92Cwf – A Pinterest Pinboard for product photography inspiration. These are mostly BeSpoke style photograph’s.
http://goo.gl/4r1Ur – A Flickr Group for product photography. There are over 43,000 images in this group!