Looking for some ideas on how to take amazing product pictures on a limited budget? Our clever tips will help you get the quality you need for a fraction of the cost!
Human beings are predominantly visual creatures. We actually remember approximately 80 percent of what we see and just 20 percent of what we read. This is an important fact to keep in mind if you’re the owner of an eCommerce website. Why? Because the of the quality of your product photos can make or break a sale. According to an interesting eye-tracking study by the Nielsen Norman Group, users paid more attention and often liked alternate views, clicking the links that enlarged photos.
Yes, if a picture paints a thousand words, quality product pictures might cost you thousands of dollars—but they don’t have to. You don’t have to shell out a ton of money if you know how to take amazing product pictures on a budget. Here’s a handful of ways to get started:
1. Check out used DSLR cameras.
The first thing you will need is, obviously, a camera. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy-looking cameras out there: with enough practice, you will find that professional DSLR cameras are very user-friendly and easy to use. And there are a lot of affordable used DSLR cameras sold online. Check out eBay, Craigslist, or other similar websites. Also, you may be surprised to find that both Canon and Nikon sell affordable refurbished DSLR cameras, lenses, and other camera equipment on their websites.
When using a DSLR camera, here are a few tips to remember:
- Never use a wide-angle lens as it will distort your product.
- Utilize the correct aperture for your shot. Aperture is one of the three pillars of photography—the other two being ISO and shutter speed—and refers the lens diaphragm opening inside a photographic lens. An aperture that’s too wide will narrow your depth of field, which might leave parts of your product blurred or out of focus. A smaller aperture will give you a wider depth of field, which will keep your product pictures crisper and more focused.
- Use the right lighting (we’ll get to that later).
2. Use your smartphone’s built-in camera.
A good photo is a good photo, no matter what it’s taken with… right? Because of that, you don’t even need a ‘real’ camera to take your product pictures. With the photo technology that’s built into today’s leading smartphones, many people don’t even bother buying cameras anymore. When used properly, and with the right apps, your smartphone’s built-in camera can take awesome product pictures. Check out your smartphone’s app store and download free camera apps and photo-editing apps with excellent photo post-processing features. Examples of these apps are VSCO Cam, Litely, Afterlight, FxCamera, and Open Camera.
When using your smartphone camera, here are a few tips to remember:
- Try to get close enough and don’t zoom.
- Ditch the flash as much as you can, as the camera flash on your phone is almost always too harsh and is rarely helpful in taking product pictures.
- Keep your phone’s camera lens clean all the time.
- Set your resolution settings at the highest (and make sure you use the back camera, not the front).
3. Choose the right background for your product shoot—it won’t cost you a thing.
As much as possible, try to showcase your products in a simple blank backdrop. To mimic a studio atmosphere with a blank background, you can create a backdrop out of any large, thick piece of paper and some duct tape. To do this, simply position the paper so that it makes a soft angle and doesn’t show the hard edges of the paper in your product shot. If you want a more artistic setup, consider photographing your products in an environment where they will be used. Examples of this are teacups and saucers shot on top of a table, sports sneakers or cleats in a basketball court or football field, a laptop in an office desk, etc. Using a white backdrop won’t cost you a thing, and looking for functional backgrounds should also be low to no cost—all you need is a little creativity and imagination.
4. Use natural lighting as much as possible, or set up your own studio lighting (don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be expensive).
Remember that when taking product pictures, you should always shoot with lighting in mind. When indoors, go near windows or doors to take advantage of the sun’s natural light. Use reflective surfaces to maximize and even out the lopsided brightness. For artificial studio lighting, opt for continuous “hot” (tungsten) or “warm” fluorescent lights. You can purchase two light stands with umbrellas and continuous light for a little less than 100 dollars combined.
5. When opting for a DSLR, use a tripod.
In the beginning of this post, we mentioned that to get the most depth your DSLR camera is capable of, you need to set it to a very small aperture. To do this, you need a very steady shot. Let’s get a bit technical here: in a camera, the width of the depth of field defines the area of sharp focus. In order to accomplish that, you need the largest f/stop number that you can obtain for your camera. Shutter speed and f/stop are related, and because a larger f/stop number like f/8 allows in lesser light, you will need to counter this by utilizing a slower shutter speed to let more light in. But when the shutter’s camera is slow, it’s not ideal to hold it in your hand as your product picture will come out blurry. The solution? Use a tripod. Don’t worry, there are a lot of cheap tripods available out there. Check out online eCommerce stores; you can get affordable but workable tripods for a little less than 20 dollars.
The importance of great product photography cannot be emphasized enough. The more appealing your products are to your potential customers, the more you will sell. Follow these tips on how to take amazing product pictures on a budget, and you might just see more shoppers finding themselves in your store’s shopping cart for checkout.