How to Take Product Photos that Convert

Female hand holding an iPhone SE showing through the camera a green bag, pen and white background - by The Product Stylist

If you are selling in a physical location, you can engage all the human senses. From sight over smell to touch, taste and hearing. As an online shop owner, however, you are pretty much limited to sight as you are transferring your main sales argument via your product photos. And if those photos don’t capture your potential customer within a few seconds your chance at selling is over. 

But how do you capture your visitors? What does your product photography need in order to convert for you?

  1. It has to be pleasing to the human eye and capture your customers aesthetically,
  2. it has to be informative and
  3. it has to evoke desire.

I admit, the definition of “beauty” is highly individual, but there are certain elements that are universally pleasing to the human eye. Let’s look at the following two photos, for example. I’m sure that you will  find the first one, the one on the left, aesthetically more pleasing and more attractive. But why?

Good example of product photo with teal pencil case shot as a close-up on a white background.
Bad example image for product photography with a teal pencil case on a wooden background.
  • bright
  • sharp
  • straight lines
  • clean background
  • perfect composition
  • darker
  • blurry
  • distorted proportions
  • busy background
  • off-centered

All these factors also play a role in the second component of great product photography: providing information. Your product photos have to tell your potential customers at first glance what it is all about. A bright and sharp image shows to color, texture and details of the product. A clean white background makes it easy to focus just on the product. And straight lines, correct proportions and a good composition guide the viewers eye and help his focus.

Let’s have a closer look at the key factors that make an image both aesthetically pleasing and informative:


LIGHT 

Light is the key component of photography and, consequently, good light and good product photography stand in direct correlation. It’s about literally presenting your product “in the best light possible”.
But what is „good light“? It is bright but soft. If you shoot in natural light [like I do], look out for cloudy but bright days where the harsh sunlight is filtered through the clouds. A shaded area on a sunny day is also an option. Just avoid direct sunlight! It produces harsh and dark shadows that can obscure your product and distract from it.


FOCUS

Your focus has to be perfect so that your potential customers can see every detail of your product.

Depending on what type of camera you shot with, there is a large variety in the type of control you have over your focus. In any case, never just trust the machine but make sure that you tell it where to focus.

And, after every shot, check if the image is really sharp and if none of the details are blurred.


COMPOSITION

Most cameras [including phones] let you enable a grid that divides the view finder into its thirds. On the one hand, these lines help you hold your camera straight and at the right angle so that your product does not look distorted.

On the other hand, they help you with composing your shot. Experiment with placing your product either on the cross-sections of these lines or in the middle of the fields. Or, when in doubt, put it exactly in the center. It is, after all, the central aspect of your image.

Time to look at the third component of product photos that convert: They have to evoke desire. Not every single one of your photos will do so. This job falls to a certain category of images, the lifestyle photos. In general, product photography requires two different types of shots:

Simple product photo on a white background of a teal colored pencil case with the text "L'artiste by Printworks" in gold.
Lifestyle product photo showing a teal colored pencil case styled with a black pencil. a pencil drawing of a branch, a golden pencil sharpener and pencil shavings.

The product detail shots

which show your product from all the relevant angles and in detail to give your potential customer the specifics. They convey the information.

The lifestyle shots

which tell a story and show the product in use. By showing your potential customers how and where your product fits into their lives, they convey emotions and evoke desire.

Do you want to learn more about product photography that converts and deepen the knowledge that you have gained in this blog post?

In my Skillshare class „Mobile Product Photography for a Higher Revenue“, I teach creative entrepreneurs how to take gorgeous product photos with their phone and how to edit these photos right there on their mobile device with the free Lightroom app. You will learn everything from preparing your shooting and finding the best light situation at your place, over building your own mobile photo studio and composing and shooting your photos, to editing and exporting them.

Treat yourself to 2 free months of Skillshare by following this referral link and learn how to take your product photography to the next level!


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