Taking Your Product Photos

Once you’ve set up your studio and camera according to the guidelines in Lessons 2 and 3, you’re almost ready to take your first product photos! There are just a couple more steps you should take to ensure the final photography goes as smoothly as possible: preparing your products and taking test photos. These steps will save you time in the long run and give you better results.


Organizing and Preparing Products for Photography

Product photography is best done by taking a systematic approach that will keep your inventory organized. The degree of organization you’ll need to do will somewhat depend on the number of products and variants you have, but certain steps must still be taken.

The point of preparing your products is to ensure that you know exactly which product number and photo applies to which physical item. This is especially important if you have a large number of products that are very similar. You need to know which product this great photo belongs to!

Product organization can be achieved in several ways, such as keeping products in labeled boxes or attaching small informational tags to them when possible. Tags or labels should include identifying information like product number, name, model, size, and whatever else is applicable. If you do use tags or labels, they must not be visible in the photos, so removable tags may work best.

Overall, the point is to arrange and catalog your products so you’ll know immediately which product, number, and photos go together. Your exact method for doing this will vary depending on the size and number of your products and the size of your work area.

You also need to prepare each product for its big moment in the spotlight. All obscuring tags or packaging should be removed, and be sure to inspect all products for even the tiniest defect. It’s important to use the best possible example of a particular item in the photo representing that product. Remember, you’re going to be taking high-definition photos in which even minuscule defects will be visible.

Needless to say, everything must be clean as well. Dust particles show up in high-resolution photos just as obviously as defects. Products should be in the best condition possible, so you may need to do some cleaning, polishing, ironing, or other tasks. With some products, you’ll need to do these preparations immediately before photographing them, e.g. shirts that will wrinkle again if placed back into storage. Some products, however, can be cleaned and prepared ahead of time and will be fine as long as they’re kept dust-free.

Remember that the better your products look, the more you’ll sell. Think of these photos as the job interview of a lifetime for your products!


Taking Test Photos

It’s time to test your photography studio setup by taking a few test photos. The purpose of this step is to ensure that your studio setup is ideal for capturing great pictures of all your products.

Your first images will be an experiment to help you find the best positioning of the camera, product, lamp, reflector, and everything else. Don’t be afraid to take several photos at once. If possible, connect your camera directly to a computer so you can send the photos directly to image capturing software like Adobe Lightroom. This makes it much easier to compare them on the fly.

This experimental phase is the time for moving studio elements and adjusting camera settings to get the best possible images. It’s important to do this now, and not while in the middle of shooting all the products for your online store. Too much change in the middle of the process will harm the consistency we’re trying to preserve.

While taking test photos, use a variety of products with different properties. Bright and dark colors, large and small objects, and other variables will help you identify weaknesses in your studio setup. For example, you might discover that your lighting arrangement causes a distracting reflection on a shiny product, which you wouldn’t have seen on a product with a matte finish.

Make adjustments with the goal in mind of arranging your backdrop, lighting, camera, and other elements to take equally great pictures of all types of products. Adjust your camera settings as described in Lesson 3 and fine-tune each setting until you’re able to take sharp, clear, perfectly lit photos of a variety of items.


Final Product Photos

Once you have your studio and camera setup locked down, you’re ready to take your photos! Arrange the product so it looks good and mimics the position it would be in while being used. For example, when photographing a pair of shoes that tend to collapse a bit when not being worn, stuff paper inside them to help them hold their shape. If using a mannequin, adjust articles of clothing so their fit looks natural.

For some items, you may need to use props to hold them up or help maintain their shape. If these props are visible in the photos, you’ll need to remove them during post-production. To make this step easier, use props that are transparent or the same color as your backdrop (preferably white).

While photographing your products, remember to take pictures from multiple angles as appropriate, to meet the objectives we covered in Lesson 1. When changing angle, move the product, not the camera.


Saving Images

When you save your photos, your image software should allow you to name the files to match the appropriate product information. Make sure you save and organize your files accordingly to ensure a smooth upload.

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