4 simple tips to shoot great product photos on the cheap

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First impressions are formed in 0.05 seconds. This is why great product images are so important for any ecommerce brand. If engaging a professional photographer does not fit your budget, there is a great alternative – your inner shutterbug. Here are some tips to enhance the visual presentation of your products with simple equipment and tools that you might already have.

1. No fancy cam, use your smartphone

Photo caption: Natural light, check. Reflector, check. No professional camera? Fret not. Try this with your smartphone, and the results may surprise you.

 

Don’t have a professional DSLR or a mirrorless camera? Don’t worry. Your smartphone is in many ways just as capable at taking high-quality photos.

Phones come equipped with fancy camera settings these days. Experiment with the various modes on your phone such as HDR or portrait mode, and try out different angles. Toggle with the exposure setting as well – this determines how bright or dark your image is.

You could also get a smartphone tripod. This ensures that your phone is steady and your photos don’t turn out blurry.

Once you’re comfortable playing around with the functions on your phone, the next step is creating the right conditions for your photos to shine.

2. Light it up

Lighting is absolutely crucial in product photography, especially if you are looking to DIY your product shots.

You want your products to be shot under soft, natural lighting. For a start, try setting up your mini studio near a window with natural daylight. You can also use a reflective surface – something as simple as a piece of white paper would work – to redirect the light towards your product.

Or try this useful lighting hack: Drape a white cloth over your existing light sources to achieve soft, studio-lit images. The key is to create a more diffused light on your product and eliminate unsightly and harsh shadows.

If you’re heading outdoors for your shoot, avoid taking photos when the sun is high above you. This creates harsh shadows below your product. The best time of the day is with an overcast sky where clouds act as a natural diffuser to soften the harshness of sunlight, resulting in more flattering images. In sunny Singapore, this means heading out in the morning from 7.30 am to 9.30 am, and in the evening from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm.

3. Set the scene

Photo caption: Yes, this can double up as your backdrop too.

 

Have you noticed that product images are often set against a white background? The reasons are simple: It gives your products a professional look and uniformed style, offering the least distraction to your audience.

You can create your own in-house mini studio with a white background simply by using mahjong paper, or even a white bedsheet. Try taping them on a wall or draping them over a table, and you will get a makeshift white backdrop.

Photo caption: Recreate this professional studio setting in your home or office with a few sheets of mahjong paper.

 

The white backdrop isn’t your only option. There are many ways to jazz up your product photos. Check out the wildly popular flat lay trend on Instagram to get your creative juices flowing.

Photo caption: Creative “flat lay” styling for product shots.

 

Simple props can go a long way. For instance, if you are selling a product made from roses, scattering some petals can be a good way to present the item. Your wooden study table at home could also make a great flat lay background. Think of your photos as telling a story – every detail counts!

4. The finishing touch

Adding the finishing touch can elevate a photo from good to amazing. Professionals often turn to programmes such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to digitally enhance their photos. But if you’re on a shoestring budget, there are cheaper, and even free, alternatives available online.

Gimp is a popular Photoshop replacement. The best part is beginners can learn through a plethora of online guides, so you don’t have to sign up for a course to become a pro.

If you are shooting on your smartphone, there are free, easy-to-use apps to enhance your mobile shots. Snapseed and Adobe Photoshop Express offer a wide array of creative tools to make your photos look good. Experiment with creative filters and photo tweaks to obtain your desired look.

Remember that consistency is key. A cohesive look is better able to capture the attention of your potential buyers. Now, you’re ready for your DIY shoot.

 

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