Well hello there!
If you’re here because you don’t know your f-stops from your fish-eye, welcome! And please, don’t worry about the jargon – this page is here to give you a few useful hints on how to get great product shots, even if you don’t have access to a top-of-the-line camera or professional photographer.
Before you get started, you might find it helpful to browse some of your favourite sites and work out what it is you like about their photos. Observe the brightness, the background, how close or far away the subject is, what props they’ve used or if they at all, and how “busy” the photo is. A photo should feature the product clearly and the product shouldn’t be competing for attention from props and backgrounds.
Once you have an idea of what makes for good photography that suits your product, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the results you need to aim for.
As we’ve mentioned all over the place, your photos are extremely extremely important!
Some of you might want to make use of a professional photographer to do your pics instead of taking them yourselves. This will obviously take a bit of cash investment from you, and if you’re keen to go that route then you can’t go wrong. Just be sure to work closely with your photographer and communicate as clearly and in as much detail as possible, so that they can get your pictures just right for what you want. Have a look at our directory of South African photographers. We’ve broken them up between different cities in SA. If you have someone to recommend please tell us! This way others can benefit, and we can support other small businesses in the process. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some extra information for yourself, and to communicate with your photographer if you’re using one: when it comes to selling products that are handmade / made by a small business like most of you on Hello Pretty, it’s a good idea to have some styled photos in addition to plain product shots. You want to appeal to people on an emotional level and show that this comes from you, not a factory. You also want to communicate the details of your product clearly so people can see things like the quality and details of the materials you’ve used. Both types of shots are important.
First things First
- Square-cropped photos work best on Hello Pretty. That way, no detail will be cropped out of the pictures.
- Cellphone cameras have come a long way and at this point are better than many point-and-shoot cameras. You can safely use your smartphone to take your product photos.
- Become best friends with your camera – even good cameras can take bad photos, and vice versa. Learn what the various settings are for, and how to use them well.
- When composing the shot, make sure that your product will be recognisable even as a thumbnail – it needs to hold people’s attention from the first second.
- Experiment with different colours and textures for backgrounds, until you find what really makes your products “pop.”
- Let the composition answer questions about the product – What size is it? What colour is it? What does that fabric look like up close?
- Take shots from several angles, and a few close-ups of details on the item – remember, the buyer is counting on the photos to let them “feel” the item, since they can’t physically hold it.
- Consider using the macro setting for small items and close-ups.
Let there be Light
- Lighting is one of the most important factors in your photos. Make sure the lighting will allow you to accurately capture the colours and details of your product.
- Use diffused natural light as much as you can, and try avoid using the flash, as it will wash out the colours and details.
- Learn to use and adjust the brightness, white balance, aperture and exposure settings on your camera, if it has them.
- Otherwise, most cameras now have several default light/temperature settings for various locations – indoor, outdoor, etc. If you don’t want to experiment with the settings yourself, these are usually a good place to start.
- Use a lightbox for smaller items if you can – if you don’t have access to one, there are lots of tutorials online for making your own quickly and easily.
Hello Pretty sells a mini kit called Snap-Snap, that it includes a mini lightbox and cellphone & point-and-shoot camera tripod combo, which will help you get your lighting even and consistent. Click here to shop.
What Cellphone Apps to Use
Besides phone cameras having become such good quality, you can now download a range of incredible free apps for your phone to make your pictures extra special. They all take a bit of experimenting and learning to get used to, but trust us, invest the time. Sometimes you’ll even use a combination of apps on the same photo.
Here are a couple of pics that were taken with a cellphone and processed exclusively with cellphone apps:
Our go-to, favourite apps are these listed below:
Just bear in mind, adding a tonne of filters to your photos might be fun and tempting, but that’s not the goal with product photos. You want something clean, bright and “neutral”, and having over-processed filters on your photos isn’t ideal for product photos.
Search your phone’s app store for Retouch, Snapseed, Airbrush, VSCO, and Photoshop.
Last but not Least
- Don’t write off your photos until you have seen them on a computer screen – some tweaks and crops can work wonders on otherwise lacklustre shots.
- When selecting photos, try and make sure there is a good variety of shots.
- Editing software can be a helpful tool for making small enhancements and corrections. Just make sure the photo still looks like the real thing!
- Practise makes perfect!
Happy snapping, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour on Hello Pretty very soon!