When selling products online, the quality of your product photos can make a massive, massive difference in whether your potential customers will or will not make that critical purchase decision.
To say nothing of how valuable great photos can be for promoting your ecommerce brand on platforms like Instagram and Facebook ads.
In some cases, the products you’re selling might already have great, professional quality images available. (Think of the images you see on Amazon.)
But that’s not always true.
Subpar photos are especially common with dropshipping suppliers like AliBaba and AliExpress.
A lot of times, the product is great, but the image they’ve got on hand doesn’t exactly capture its quality. In that case, you may want to take better photos yourself.
With the low prices from suppliers like that, getting your hands on a sample of a product isn’t usually a big deal.
But taking professional level product photos can actually be pretty daunting if you’re not a photographer.
The good news is, you don’t need expensive cameras and elaborate staging and lighting setups to get photos that really sell what you have to offer.
One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to get great photos is to take advantage of one simple, ever-present, and 100% free thing: natural sunlight.
Harness natural lighting
Great natural lighting is essential to achieving perfectly defined images. By controlling the shadows created from natural light, you can add an element of interest to your product photos.
But one of the most predictable things about mother nature is that it’s unpredictable, and so natural lighting is too, often changing from one minute to the next. You need to be prepared for every eventuality.
As the sun changes and moves throughout the day, it affects the way the natural light shines through the window. Finding the best light to shoot your product photos can be a challenge at the best of times. Keep an eye on how the light changes throughout the day to figure out when the sweet spot is for that particular location.
There are three terms you should know when illuminating your subject with natural lighting:
- Front-lit is when indirect natural light hits a product head-on.
- Backlit is when it hits your subject from behind.
- Side-lit is when the light comes from either side of the product.
Whatever angle of lighting you prefer, it’s important to note that each one casts a shadow on the opposite side.
To get started using natural light, place a table or chair next to a large window and prop a sweep (a large white sheet) against the wall. This will provide just the right combination of good lighting and soft shadows. The trick is to avoid direct sunlight as it will result in dark, unsightly shadows.
How to use a reflector to fill in shadows
If the sun suddenly decides to hide behind the clouds, causing the level of natural light to drop, make sure you have a reflector on hand to bounce and intensify light to fill shadows. A reflector can be a white foam board or any white screen. You can pick up white foam boards from just about any craft store or pick up a reflector on Amazon.
If you’re using a reflector for the first time, you can control the amount of natural light that bounces back by moving your reflector either further away or closer to your product. Using a white surface helps reflect natural light from the sun back onto the product.
Watch where the light is coming from, and bounce the light in the opposite direction. You should shoot directly next to your light source at a 90-degree angle, then reflect that light back onto the subject. This will give your image as much light as possible while also eliminating as much shadow as possible.
That’s all there is to it. With some trial and error, you can get Instagram-worthy photos in your own home.
For more great advice on DIYing product photos on a budget, check out the full article from Shopify.