The product photos are the online face of the item. While the customer can’t see the product in real life, merchants provide them with photos, and as a substitute they should be very informative and meet certain requirements.
In this article I’m going to describe some very popular product photography mistakes and give tips on fixing them. The post will be useful for those who don’t want to outsource product photography and make the pictures themselves. Let’s go!
Unprepared messy looks
Before taking pictures of your products, make sure they look nice and clean. For example, these gowns need ironing, and without it they look rather untidy. It’s natural that things get creased when being folded, but a nicer picture would definitely make a better impression and raise your conversion rates.
Here’s another example: the jewelry piece was photographed on a messy cloth with lots of hairs and dust. Such neglecting attitude will definitely scare your clients off. And the time stamp should be gone as well!
The background should be in contrast with the item you’re showing to your customers. Have a look at this example: the dark items are shown on a dark background, so we can hardly see anything. Plus, the picture is too small and you can’t click on it to see the bigger shot, and when you zoom you see only a tiny part of the picture, which is low quality and pixelated.
With product photography it’s important to remove any unnecessary items out of the shot so they don’t distract attention from the product itself. Plus, use your fantasy to find a flattering position for the items. Although the pictures are pretty okay with showing the boots from different angles, still we’ve got the impression that the product was photographed in a hurry somewhere in the shop or warehouse.
So, respect your customers and show them you’re serious about your business.
Good light is an essential part of any photograph, including product ones. Pics with bad light look gloomy, often not very clear and with a lot of greys, plus the colors can be faded as well.
When photographing the products, make sure you’re close to the window or to another source of light, such as a lamp. To have even light across the shot, use a lightbox, it’s a cheap solution which will serve you for years and is good for photographing any small and middle-sized products.
Poor presentation of the product (no details, single pic, etc)
For some products, it’s important to show the details. Take this purse as an example: only a front shot is definitely not enough. You also need shots from other angles, plus some pics showing the details, the insides of the product and the product with a model to show the size and the scale of it.
An absolute no goes to low resolution, pixeled shots. Such pics can’t be zoomed, and you are not able to see any details, such as the material texture. Remember the rule: if you have the product and sell it, you’re able to take a good picture of it. By not showing everything about the item, you’re virtually trying to make the customer buy something he or she doesn’t want.
With contrastive shots, or items with very vivid color (especially blue, green and red), you may see that some cameras don’t catch up with the color balance.
To avoid this, make sure you read the manual for your camera to set up exposure and white balance, of if the camera still fails, there’s an option to correct the colors with any decent graphic processor (such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom).
When fixing the shot, always have a real product beside you, so that the final shot colors are as close to reality as possible.
Here the camera got confused with bright reds and blues, and we can see this by the color of the white-to-be background.
When you’re shooting with poor light, some cameras automatically tune up the ISO number (photo sensitivity). In more simple cameras, it causes grainy shots. While this may look stylish on Instagram, the grain isn’t suitable for product images. To avoid it, search for a place with better lighting or use a different camera.
This may happen if your CMS is sensitive to picture dimensions. In general, apart from the fact that distorted images can’t show the product properly, it may also make an impression of a messy, neglected store, which is a number one reason not to buy from you.
If you’ve got distorted product images because of your CMS features/settings or because the pictures where exported in bulk without setting display options for each image, take your time and upload the right images manually one by one or fetch a specialist to solve the display issues.
Wrong lead picture choice
The lead picture is the first picture a customer sees on the page, and normally it also appears on category, tag, and search pages as well. It should be the best product image from your range, plus it should illustrate the product in the best way.
The following example isn’t a very good choice, and here’s why: it shows the slip-ons in a strange position. Some slip-ons have bottoms of that shape so they stick on feet, but it’s not obvious here. For this case it would be better to put a picture of a model’s feet with the slip-ons.
No model show/product in use
Some products just need to be showed in use, on a model or a mannequin. This rule is extremely important for shoes and clothes, because the customers want to see how the product will look like on their body.
So, the main mistake of this product page is that it doesn’t show the silhouette of the skirt after putting it on. The customers will have no idea about its style or length, and who wants to buy a pig in a poke?
Zoom issues: no zoom, ‘useless’ zoom
If you don’t have pics of the product details, it’s a must to use zoom/magnifying glass and upload a bigger picture which will be used for it.
What is more, a zoom which actually doesn’t zoom anything is an extremely annoying detail. Look at this picture, the detail tool doesn’t help at all because there’s no bigger picture uploaded:
And here when you click zoom, it shows a lightbox with even smaller image. Very frustrating!
I find that this mistake is often when the merchant uses only images he or she could find on the Internet or got them from the manufacturer. If you don’t have bigger images, make them, and if zoom or detail tool isn’t available on your website, install it.
No need to explain why a blurred picture is bad – you just can’t see the details of the product, and because of this photography mistake your customer won’t be able to know whether he likes the product or not. Plus, here we can see that the photographer was very inconsistent with lighting.
To give enough information, the product should be a dominant detail on the picture. If there are too many other details or items on the pic, the customer won’t be able to actually build an impression about the product.
Apart from bad lighting and clarity, this picture has wrong cropping and the earring should be bigger.
You’ll need Photoshop or other graphic processors only if you need to retouch, tune up the colors, clear small defects and such, but you definitely don’t want to experiment with drawing, effects, copy-paste traced objects, and such. These techniques will make your picture look very cheap and untrustworthy.
Borrowed images (especially with wrong logos)
Borrowing images can be tricky. Of course, it’s easier to take the pics from the manufacturer. Or even search for them on the web – but first things first you should be aware of the copyright issues.
Now, when you’re sure there are no law issues (I believe no one is going to sue you for borrowed iPhone pics), avoid using shots with someone else’s watermarks. This picture is watermarked with another website’s URL and looks unprofessional:
While you pay attention to technical stuff, details shots and such, don’t forget about old good common sense. Have a look at the pics and ask yourself: would you buy this product?
The sad fact I’ve found a good illustration of this mistake rather fast. Why on earth there’s a huge white skull on the product picture of a headband?
Common product photography myths busted
I need and expensive professional camera to make good pics
Not necessarily. If you can’t afford to go for a pro camera, most smartphones or amateur cameras now have a decent number of megapixels, several preset modes for various conditions and a manual mode where you can fix a couple of things such as color balance, exposure and ISO. With these options plus reading the manual and a couple of articles on setting the light and correcting issues in Photoshop, you’ll get nice and crisp pictures far better than the ones showed in this article.
And did you know that some of the best YouTube bloggers record their videos with iPhones?
I don’t know how to take product photography pics and I’m not a professional photographer.
Right, you aren’t. But taking a clean picture isn’t rocket science, just browse through your Instagram feed, and you’ll see that most people can cope with it! Here are a couple of clues what to Google in the first place:
- Your camera’s manual. You’ll want to read about preset and manual modes and the explanation of the main settings.
- Basic information on composition and cropping.
- How to set some good light for your at home photography.
- How to do basic Photoshop retouching and correction.
The next step is experimenting!
This is too time consuming and expensive.
The trick is that it is actually time consuming, especially if you have a larger number of products and no pics from manufacturers. The other side of the trick is you have so think about it as investing.
Good product pictures raise your conversion rates, because people understand better if they want this particular item. Which basically means that better photography brings you more money!
When it comes to the price, it’s wise to invest into a camera, one or two lamps, a lightbox and an image processor only once. Later these things will work for you for months, if not years – and you don’t have to spend a fortune on the instruments. For example, a lightbox can be available for lower than $50, and if you want, you can do a DIY one as well.
I hope that now you’ll never make these product photography mistakes again, and nicer, clearer product pictures will help your e-commerce store prosper. Good luck!
Ksenia is a devoted marketer with special love to blogging. She believes that content with several pinches of SEO and social can be a brilliant daily special. When she’s not working on Amasty updates and blog posts, Ksenia runs a blog on movies and books and helps animal shelters.