PHOTOS THAT MAKE YOUR PRODUCTS SELL!
Product photography has been around since the dawn of cameras, and so has advertising and ad agencies. That’s good news for today because they’ve spent billions over the years determining what works best to convert advertising into sales. In some cases the beautiful setting surrounding the thing for sale makes it more appealing. In most cases though, the object is to remove all distractions from the scene and provide either a white or a black background.
White dishes and silverware don’t show up well on white backgrounds – they wash out, so black is the best choice. Most other objects will do best on a white background. The horizon should be invisible. Making the horizon invisible only requires that the white floor of the background not meet the wall white wall at a 90 degree angle. So a surface needs to be prepared that is curved. For my examples I’m using a wide roll of engineers drafting paper, Wide-Format Media, CAD Bond, 36″x150′.
You might think 150 feet is a lot, but as you work you’ll find that the paper gets spots of dirt on it over time so you’ll be glad you have more to create a clean surface cheaply.
For this post I’m using a makeshift setup at a nearby business that sells products in a set price eBay store. Used and consigned objects are for sale, so the work has to be done quickly. I’ve got four light sources. Two elevated (one left, one right) and two front left and right. They’re all using 100 watt semi diffused daylight fluorescent bulbs of the exact same color temperature and all other lights in the room are turned off during photography. The other lights are turned off because they are a different temperature wavelength and that will make white balancing impossible. I do work in post in my graphics editor whenever the situation allows or is warranted. Especially for the expensive items. Here are a few examples of what I’ve done this morning.
You can see the difference here at these last two – the “newer cast iron horse drawn fruits and vegetables cart” that the image fairly pops now that I’ve corrected the color balance for the black. There are still shadows in some of the images but that’s ok for these. Removing all shadows requires a much more elaborate setup with more lights, more diffusion, and arranging reflectors for each shot. It also requires more painstaking post work in the editor to remove any areas that are darker.
Now to show you how much of a difference we’re talking about, remember that chair on the top right hand side of this article? Well this is what it looked like before I edited it in post:
Yes it takes time to master the techniques of photography, lighting and digital editing in post, but compared to having to use an air brush in a dark room the ease of performing this work (and the cost of having a professional do it for you), both the time and expense are now far less than ever before.
Part of optimizing a site is optimizing transactions. And purchases often rely on packaging – so how do you package the photographs on your web site?
Just keep those rules of thumb in mind regarding the lighting temperatures, invisible horizon, and doing some editing in post and you’ll be on your way in no time to producing professional quality photographs of your shop products.