A lot of people have asked me if I have any tips for taking product photos. I’m not an expert photographer by any means, but I’m happy to share what I know.
If you have a shop, it’s important to have the best images you can. I tend to use a lot of digital representation because it works well for my product – I design everything on my computer so I already have all of the images available. I also like everything to be uniform and exactly spaced, but I’m a bit persnickety like that.
As convenient as digital images are, one can’t underestimate the power of a good photo. I tend to shoot products against a pure white background (to use on my home page, in blog posts, and in newsletters), but I’ve seen several other techniques used to good advantage.
What kind of background should you use?
It’s all personal preference. Think about your brand and the image you want to convey, think about how the images will be placed on your site, and keep bloggers and the press in mind…
I like white backgrounds because I like the way the photos look neat and borderless against a white page. When Modish had a shop, all of the products were shot against different fabric backgrounds. Erica Weiner photographs all of her jewelery against a black background and adds a vintagey frame, and it works really well for her brand. Think about what’s going to work for you, and then be consistent in implementing your ideas.
Hopefully your shop will attract the attention of the press, so you may want to keep that in mind as well. Magazines often ask for images to use, and they almost always prefer a white background. Bloggers like me often put together style boards, and photos with white backgrounds are easier to work with so that’s another good reason to use them. However, “lifestyle” photos (using pretty backdrops and props or models) can be very pretty, and there are a lot of people that prefer them. Three Potato Four has excellent examples (their photos are always well-styled).
So how do I take a good photo?
I’m going to focus on photos with a pure white background because I think that’s what people have the most trouble with. That’s coming in part two…