Great Photography For Great Sales
Having professional photography taken is expensive and although photographing your own shop or surroundings is easy, getting great product photography results is difficult. From lighting to positioning to equipment and settings, it all takes a lot of time to get the perfect shot and hence the cost.
Although I cannot overstate the importance of quality photography for successful sales, in these difficult times I understand the need of clients who want to try to save a little money by doing their own product photography. So below I have included a few pointers on how to get the best results.
It should be stressed that this is a VERY top level overview of the elements to consider, so if the below simply confuses you or you’re not happy with the results then you definitely need to hire a professional photographer. But if you can work your way through this then you should be able to take shots that are of reasonable quality and good enough for web use:
Camera & Lenses
You CANNOT get great shots using a compact digital camera. You really need a Digital SLR camera, which will give you the level of control you need to get the best shots. Expect to spend up to €1,000 for a half decent one, but you can easily pick up a second-hand Nikon or Canon for a couple of hundred euro. You are also going to need a macro lens and wide angle lens to give you the flexibility to take any shot.
You are going to need LOTS of light. Roughly double the amount of lighting that you would comfortably work in is ideal. The best way to achieve that is to buy specific photography lights. These are not flash units but constant lights with special bulbs. Type “photographic lighting” into Google and you’ll find what you need. You should find a set of 3 for about €150, but in terms of the benefit to your images it will definitely be money well spent.
Turn it off – it will stop the image looking so harsh and flat. The only way to use flash in a product photography environment is in a multi-flash studio setup. Don’t worry, following the rest of the instructions and using the equipment above, your image will look OK.
Shutter and Aperture
You need to set your camera to “Shutter Priority” (If your camera doesn’t have this setting then you definitely need a better camera). Then set the shutter to as slow as possible without the image being massively overexposed. Your camera will show an exposure meter which will look something like this:i i i i I I I I | I I I I i i i i
You want your exposure meter indicating one or two bars to the left of the middle bar. The best product photographs are all just a little brighter than normal. Because we put the camera into Shutter Priority mode it will increase the size of the aperture to compensate. This will have an impact on what is called “Depth Of Field”, but that’s a little too technical for this article.
SLR cameras have an option called “White Balance” and typically have a number of presets. Take an A3 sheet of white paper and photograph it. Keep changing the white balance settings until the paper in the image is as close to the white of actual paper as possible. Look in the manual for your camera for instructions on how to change this.
Get the whitest sheet you can find, iron it, and hang/tack it to the wall and drape it over the table you use. This will provide a clean and uncluttered background for your photographs. This is also known as “isolating” your images.
All digital images require sharpening. Your digital SLR camera will have an option for sharpening, so turn it on and set it to medium. If you are planning to use Photoshop or some other application to sharpen the images then turn it off on your camera.
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