The title "Social Media Manager" comes with a lot of responsibilities. We're not just managing social media accounts (as the title proclaims), but we're also providing customer service, curating content, writing blogs, and in my case, also taking product photography for clients.
Luckily, I do have a bit of a background in photography - starting from my high school's yearbook committee, to taking headshots and portraits throughout my university career. When I first started taking product photos this past year, I grabbed a few easy and budget-friendly tips and tricks to taking photos that truly look like they've been photographed by a studio professional. Little will potential customers know, they were simply taken with a digital camera, a tripod, and the backgrounds of your own home!
Find a Background
The first thing you’ll want to think about is the background of your photo. Do you want to keep it minimalist and shoot on a white background, or do you want to be creative and use patterned background?
While there is equipment that can be purchased exclusively for taking product photos, it’s not entirely necessary when you’re just getting your ecommerce business off the ground! Find two solid white, adjacent backgrounds (such as poster boards), and create your own light studio. Alternatively, for an endless white background, grab a long roll of white paper and tape it up to a wall while the remainder flows down onto a table with a curve.
Remember: with either method, make sure your background is large enough, with an ample amount of white space to create a border around your product.
Chances are, there are a variety of patterned backgrounds at your disposal, whether it’s in your own home, office, or even in your neighborhood. Find a wooden table and prop it up against a white wall - you immediately add a textured element to your photo rather than a simple white background. Alternatively, you can lay the product flat on the wooden table and the white wall will use as a reflector to brighten up the photo.
Brick walls and grass are also useful and easily found around various cities. Use these textured objects to create a natural element to your product photos.
Find the Right Lighting
When taking your own product photos, it’s likely you don’t have the necessary lighting equipment when you’re on a budget. Luckily, you don’t need it! These days, digital cameras have functions that can automatically brighten up your photo with a few clicks.
It’s important to remember to keep your lighting source, such as a lamp, to the side of the photographer. Depending on how your product is laid out and angled, the light should be modified to minimize visibility of all shadows.
Tip: Usually, one lamp on each side of the product is best.
Another trick to perfecting lighting is to not use artificial, warm-toned lighting. Cool colored bulbs are best for product photography and keep the object’s colors as authentic as possible.
Try Different Angles
Sometimes, the best photos are taken at strange angles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and angles - direct, bird’s eye view, left angle, right angle, etc. You might be surprised at how well your product is captured at different angles.
Test different options, but keep in mind that you still want to accurately depict your product’s size and shape.
Not all of us have steady hands - in fact, most don’t! Even the slightest movement can create motion blur in your photography. Invest in a cheap tripod to ensure that your photos come out as clear as possible. In addition, use the self-timer to truly ensure that no movement comes through in your product photos.
Don’t Forget to Edit
Don't forget to edit these baby's before posting them on your website! Now, if you followed the tips above, you might not even have to do much editing - just a bit of brightening, increasing contrast, and sharpening (these are the three that I focus on when editing!)
I know that most of us aren't photographers, let alone photo editors - but let me tell you... I learned the ins-and-outs of Photoshop and Lightroom from online tutorials! If I can do it, so can you.
Now go out there, buy a camera & a tripod, and shoot some amazing product photos!