Are YOU Making These 10 Common Product Photography Mistakes and Losing Sales?
Taking truly stellar product photos really is absolutely vital to having a successful online handmade business.
It’s something many of us struggle with, because we’re not photographers… we’re knitters, or jewelers, or artists.
The product photography learning curve can be a steep one, and it can take us many years until we reach a point where we’re truly happy with our photos.
We all photograph different things, and we have different aesthetics for our photos that mesh with our brand.
However, no matter what our style or aesthetic, there are a number of common mistakes that I see people make with their product photos that prevent them from truly standing out from the crowd.
Are you making any of these 10 mistakes with your photos?
1. Poor lighting
Is your lighting letting you down? Maybe it’s too flat and dull – or, conversely – too harsh and contrasty. Make sure to use natural light wherever possible, and if you do have to use artificial light, make sure it’s white light, not yellow.
2. Color cast
Are you getting strange colors washing in from a window or a light? I’ve had this problem before when photographing my silver jewellery – sometimes it can end up with a golden cast if the lighting isn’t right, and I have to re-take all my photos.
3. Item too small in the image
This can be tricky to gauge when we’re editing our photos full-screen. We think we’ve cropped them enough… but then when we upload them and look at them at thumbnail size, we realize our product isn’t ‘big enough’ in the picture. Make sure that the product a large portion of the image – especially the main image. Secondary images can be pulled back to show more.
4. Not representative of the product
Strange angles, over-editing, and shots that don’t show the whole product can cause the photo to end up producing a skewed representation of the product. You must make sure colors are accurate and the scale understandable. Remember, these photos, while needing to be awesome, also need to be honest. You don’t want a disgruntled customer who ends up complaining that the colors in the real thing were vastly different to the photos of it. We often cause this issue when we edit, which brings me to the next point…
5. Under or Overexposed
If you have good lighting to start with, this problem shouldn’t end up happening… unless you go too far in your image editing. Don’t brighten up your image so much that there’s no detail in the highlights!
6. Models with bad poses or poor expressions
Digital cameras our our friend when it comes to photographing models – take as MANY shots as you can to ensure you end up with flattering ones. Your model should look natural and comfortable, not awkward or pulling a strange face.
7. Distracting backdrop
Make sure the backdrop does not compete with the subject. Sometimes people get a bit carried away with their styling, and the props end up obscuring the actual product. Or, they use a ‘busy’ background that does the same thing. Remember – your product needs to be the star of the shot. Any props or styling should subtly enhance it, not confuse the customer as to what is actually for sale.
8. Grainy images
If your lighting isn’t sufficient, you’ll end up with grainy images. Often, you can’t tell until you get your photo onto the computer and full-screen. And then… you have to take them all over again. Light is a photographers best friend, so make sure you have enough!
9. Dirty products
Dust is everywhere. Again, often you can’t see it until you’ve blown up the images… but once you see it you can’t un-see it, and editing often makes it more obvious. Make sure to clean before a photo shoot so that any dust is removed, because no-one wants to buy something that looks dirty and icky in it’s product photos. Same goes for the background.
10. Strong hard shadows
You need to avoid strong shadows that distract from the subject of the photo. Sometimes shadows can be used to effect, but most of the time they just end up making the image look harsh and uninviting. Of course, the worst possible thing you can do that results in hard shadows is to use a flash with your product photos. Don’t ever use flash, unless you have a whiz-bang professional setup that has multiple fill flashes… but I’m guessing 99.8% of you don’t.
Now, it’s time for a little practice! Have a close look at the following product photos, and see if you can spot any of the mistakes listed above. I’ve numbered the images for easy reference.
These are all actually my old, old (read – terrible) product photos from when I was *just* starting out back in 2008. You can see I’ve come a loooong way since then!
Tell us what you see in the comments….
Do you want to learn how to take truly stellar product photos? Then you need the Create & Thrive Guide to Product Photography, written by professional photographer Jeffrey Opp. It’s a plain-English, easy-to-understand guide for the beginning to intermediate product photographer. You can also grab a FREE copy of Jeffrey’s step-by-step guide to crafting your own ‘studio-in-a-box’ by subscribing to the Create & Thrive email updates
This is a guest post by Jess Van Den, the maker of Epheriell jewellery & the founder and editor of Create & Thrive, the site where you can learn how to turn your handmade hobby into a thriving business from those who’ve done so.