Your small business website holds a ton of power; it drives brand awareness and traffic, as well as showcasing and selling your goods or services. If you’re in the product business, having incredible images of your inventory is a necessity. However, many small business owners aren’t professional photographers nor can they afford to outsource product photography.

Luckily, there are a few simple product photography tips can take your images from amateur to professional, without breaking the bank.

Start with a simple background

You may feel inclined to set the scene for your products, but to make the greatest impact, rely on simple backgrounds. Let your product be the focal point of your image by using backgrounds that are on-brand, but not distracting. The entire point of photographing your product is to encourage sales; don’t let your merchandise get lost by having too many props or a patterned backdrop.

If you’re unsure which simplistic background is best for your business, a safe option is the infinity curve (a white background that has no breaks or a horizon). Get yourself a large piece of white paper or fabric and manipulate it until it is bent into a curve. This is a solid starting point and emphasizes your products in a consistent way.


Image courtesy of SHOOTFACTORY

Use natural lighting

Natural light is your product’s best friend. Not only is it free (bonus!), but it gives your products an even and three-dimensional quality. Avoid using artificial light in your photography as it dulls images and makes products look flat. This includes everything from the flash function on your camera and phone to rented lights.

Finding ideal natural light is easier than you think, too! The best settings with natural light have even lighting and with light coming from both sides of the area. Whether you’re shooting indoors or outside, keep this in mind so your images come out balanced.


Image courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

You can easily see the difference between the two images above. The one shot with a flash (artificial) is muted and lacks dimension, while the second image, shot with ambient (natural) light, is more defined and pops.

If your setting needs a little boost, an inexpensive option is to place white foam board directly across from the light source to even out your lighting.

When you’ve found a spot with great natural light, use it often! Your product photography is part of your brand, and consumers love consistency. Having a consistent background makes it easier for you and projects a cohesive brand to your target audience. It’s a win-win.

Get click happy

Once your products are set up, it’s time to take pictures, and we mean a lot of pictures. Use everything available to you in order to get a robust representation of each product. Try different angles, get extreme close-ups for product details, and if possible incorporate some sense of scale, if it is a consideration for your customers. Take more pictures than you think necessary because from there, you can whittle down to your favorite images and not have to reshoot the same item.

If you’re wondering how to stage a product photo shoot, consider the following questions. They’re sure to guide you in the right direction:

  • How can you highlight the product’s features in a picture?
  • Can FAQ be answered through a picture? If so, how can you capture that image with your product?
  • Where and how will your product be used? Can you feature your product in that type of scenario or environment?
Edit your heart out

This is the fun part: editing your photos. Photo editing may sound like an extremely technical skill, but there are free tools available that turn any novice into an editing pro. Edits allow you to take your image from good to great through cropping, adding light or contrast, and other functions. You can play with your pictures until you’ve created your perfect image. It only takes a few minutes and the different will be noticeable and appreciated by your customers.

One tip: always save your original photo files. This way you can always revert to the original if you don’t like how you’ve cropped or contrasted an image. It’s a back-up that you’ll be happy to have.

Try any of these four free editing tools to set you on your way to picture perfect product photography:

With these four product photography tips, you’re well on your way to creating amazing images. Give them a try and see how the quality improves – as well as your audience’s response to professional-looking images.