X Tips for Taking Better Product Photos
If you want to put together a persuasive catalog, you’ll need to take much better photos of your products. Human beings are driven by visuals, and will often form first impressions based on what they see; accordingly, if you can showcase your products in the best possible light, you’ll have a much higher likelihood of landing a sale. By contrast, if your photos don’t capture the aesthetics or functionality of your products, even the best product might go unpurchased.
So what steps can you take to improve your catalog product photography?
Invest in the Right Catalogs
While much of this article is going to focus on taking and polishing good photographs, we also want to stress the importance of investing in high-quality catalog printing. The weight of the paper you choose, the state of on-page color, and the finish of your pages can make a massive difference in how your catalogs are received. If you find a good catalog printing provider, you’ll be able to get a good per-unit price on the best possible features, and ensure that your runs are completed with few (if any) errors that might compromise customers’ impressions of your brand.
Hire the Right People
It’s possible to conduct the product photography yourself, especially if you’re a solopreneur or a startup trying to cut down on costs. However, in most cases, it’s better to hire a professional photographer. Professionals with years of experience tend to develop a keener eye for things like photo composition, and they have access to better equipment. More skilled, more experienced photographers will almost always produce better work, and they’ll be able to complete the job faster at the same time.
The real question is whether you want to hire someone full-time, hire an independent contractor, or work with an agency. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach; for example, hiring a full-time photographer can be costly, especially if you’re not in need of photography on a regular basis, but working with an agency forces you to surrender some degree of control. Make sure you consider your options carefully, and go with the option most likely to give you the photos you need.
Get the Lighting Perfect
Lighting is everything in the photography world, and it’s not the kind of thing you can restore or add in during post-processing. The most straightforward approach is to rely on natural light, since it’s powerful and abundant; it’s much easier to have too much natural light and tone it down with the help of screens and editing than it is to have too little light and try to add it in later.
Of course, you can also supplement or replace natural light with artificial light. Powerful studio lights, light tents, and other lighting equipment can help you illuminate your product in a way that highlights its best features. Just make sure you experiment with many different angles and levels of intensity, so you end up with the best possible combination.
Take Both Plain Shots and In-Action Shots
Most catalogs attempt to showcase their most important products in multiple ways. For example, they often have a “plain” shot and a shot of the product in action. Plain shots, which often have a white or similarly neutral background, are designed to showcase the item by itself, without the interference of other elements or strange lighting or angles. By contrast, in action shots are meant to demonstrate how the product looks in action. For example, you might showcase an electric guitar standing up straight, with a plain white background, and that same electric guitar being played by a punk musician on stage.
In-action shots require you to stage the action associated with the product, which presents its own set of challenges. However, this addition can instantly make your work more engaging, without losing the informative nature of your plain images.
Retouch Your Photos
Customers want to be able to trust the images they find in catalogs, so it’s important that you edit and retouch those photos sparingly. However, you can do slight retouches if you want your work to look professional and form good first impressions. Small changes, like color correcting, adding shadows, or fixing flaws, can take your photos to the next level.
Experiment and Test
Finally, make sure you take the time to experiment and test. Most professional photographers know to take far more photos than you actually need, so you can evaluate and compare them easily later. Try to take photos with many lighting variations and in multiple environments, so you can find the best possible combinations. Additionally, you’ll want to test different iterations with a focus group, ensuring that your target demographics are getting the best possible impressions of your products.