How to Take Fantastic Product Images

How to Take Good Product Images?

The human brain processes visuals in 13 milliseconds. In business terms, that’s not a lot of time to impress your customers. Product photos can make or break a business, and are one of the most important marketing investments you can make—but the costs of professional photography can be prohibitive to a small business owner. Fortunately, with a little time and effort, it’s possible to do it yourself.

Don’t count yourself out if you don’t have a fancy camera. Creating high-quality product images can be done with very low upfront costs and minimal equipment. In this guide, we’ll show you how to take product photos that boost conversion and dazzle your customers on a budget.

How to Take Great Product Images

Step 1: Do your research

Don’t waste your time on outdated visual styles or tired branding strategies. Your first step should always be competitor research. Look for successful brands that are as close to your niche as possible and learn from their expertise—no need to reinvent the wheel. Pay close attention to detail here: observe the type of angles they are shooting at, the backdrops they are using, and their styling. Look at the kind of images they use for banners, social media, and product pages, and how many images they display for each product.

Step 2: Identify your photography needs

Before you begin, make sure you know what types of images you’ll need. Below are the most common types of photos you might want for your business:

  • Individual (individual product photos for banners, catalogs, and online marketplaces)
  • Group (shots of multiple products for social media and advertisements)
  • Lifestyle (photos showcasing the product in action, often using models)
  • Flat-lay (shots that give a bird’s eye view of the product)
  • Scale (shots that show your products next to everyday objects to illustrate their size)
  • Close-ups (shots that highlight special features and details)
  • Packaging shots (shots of product packaging and labels)

Step 3: Select Your Equipment

Cameras

There’s no need to spend big on fancy DSLRs. Any recent generation smartphone will get the job done, as smartphones today come standard with high-quality built-in cameras.

If you do have access to a dedicated camera, here are some extra considerations for shooting with a camera:

● Set your white balance temperature to the Kelvin temperature of your studio.

● Adjust the aperture depending on the type of photo you are capturing. Want a sharp focus? Set the camera to a smaller aperture for a wider depth of field.

● Shoot in RAW. If there’s no RAW setting, shoot in the largest available JPEG setting.

● Turn off the flash.

Lighting

Natural light is the best way to get great lighting if you’re on a low budget. Try to photograph your products during the day when the sun is at its peak for optimal lighting. If the lighting is too intense, try diffusing it with a white sheet or piece of paper.

Artificial lighting is a great option if you can afford to splurge on studio lights and want to shoot when natural lighting is poor. You will need at least two softbox light setups and some LEDs to get started. Depending on the shape of your product, you’ll want your lights positioned all in front or two on each side. Usually, a triangular setup (three lights) is a good approach for product photography. Try using sheets or white cardboard to soften the lighting if the shadows are too intense.

Tripod

Eyeballing your pictures will never yield results as consistent and replicable as a tripod. If you’re just starting out, there’s no harm in holding the phone or camera yourself, and it’s possible to fix small issues with rotation in post-production. However, as your business expands, a tripod is a cheap investment that will be enormously helpful in making your photos consistent and reducing the risk of blurry photos due to unsteady hands. It’s better to go with flexible tripods as these will give you the most options for shooting at different angles and in different environments.

Step 4: Choose your background

Getting the right background keeps the focus on your products and reduces the hassle of post-production. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to find a suitable backdrop, as there are plenty of affordable options.

In the studio

If you’re conducting multiple photoshoots, a white sweep is a great investment. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own chair-mounted sweep, particularly for smaller products. However, if you’re selling larger products like furniture or photographing apparel on models, you’ll want a stand-mounted sweep.

Outdoors and in nature

You can get creative with lifestyle photos and dynamic product imagery, choosing outdoor and indoor backgrounds that match your products. Think of greenery and natural beauty for cosmetics, gyms for energy supplements, beaches for summertime accessories, etc. Keep in mind, though, that it’s much easier to control lighting conditions in a studio environment, so it may be more challenging to capture outdoor photos.

Step 5: Set up the product

Place the product in front of your chosen background and make sure it’s centered on a flat, stable surface or elegantly displayed on your model. For accessories, it’s a good idea to use busts or figures to better display the product as it would appear on a model.

When photographing smaller or more intricate details, you may need to invest in a few tools, like:

  1. Glue dots and tape to keep everything in place
  2. Clips and pins for styling apparel
  3. Hangers to show products from different angles

Step 6: Take tons of photos

Always take more photos than you think you need. Inevitably, some of them won’t turn out, so it’s best to go overboard: capture the product from all different angles, perspectives, and positions. 

Organizing your photos by product and category as soon as they’ve been uploaded will save you a headache in hunting down the right images later.

Pro tip: Remember to clean your lens before starting the photoshoot! It may not be obvious while you’re snapping pictures, but a dirty lens can completely ruin your photos.

Step 7: Retouch your photos

Post-production is where you’ll take your photos from good to great. Pay special attention to each photo’s exposure, color balance, and look for issues with blur or unwanted elements in the frame. To edit your photos, you can use editing software to do it yourself or go with an affordable image-editing service. Here’s a comparison of two such options:

  1. Photoshop:

From minor corrections to substantial changes, this software does it all—it’s the industry standard for a reason. However, you will either need strong editing skills or be willing to study up and follow tutorials to use it effectively. To use Photoshop, you’ll need to purchase a subscription plan.

  1. autoRetouch:

If you haven’t mastered editing on your own and want a cost-effective alternative, autoRetouch is a great option. It’s an AI-powered tool that automates the entire editing process, from skin retouching to making ghost mannequins (an advanced technique that involves creating 3D product photos without a visible model or mannequin). It can batch-edit up to 100 images simultaneously.

Pro tip: If you are unsure how to get started with retouching software, YouTube has tutorials on just about every process imaginable.

Step 8: Optimize your images

The larger your images will be, the slower they will load. Digital buyers expect speedy load times and aren’t willing to wait around for massive images to display—not to mention that your website may look awkward as the images slowly load in. Make sure to keep file sizes as low as possible without sacrificing quality.
Lastly, name your images descriptively and include metadata and keywords to improve SEO (search engine optimization) and make your images accessible with alt text.

Bottom Line

It may take some time to learn the ropes, but for the enterprising business owner, learning to build out a store with your own product photos is a hugely cost-effective and rewarding process. Modern cell phone cameras and affordable editing options have made photography more accessible than ever, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot (no pun intended). Plus, you’ll have full creative control over the look and feel of your store, and have the satisfaction of knowing you did it all yourself!

8 Post-Processing Secrets from Professional Photographers

The Secrets of Post Processing Revealed For Professional Photography

Every job has its secrets, and photography is no different. Pro photographers might make it look easy to capture dazzling shots, but in reality, there are years of experience and technique behind every picture. Great photography is much more than shutter speeds and aperture settings.

So what makes the difference between your regular old vacation photos and the glamorous travel photos snapped by professional photographers? Even better—what can you learn from them? In this blog, we dive into the post-processing secrets of the pros to find out what makes their photos click.

The 8 Secrets of Professional Post-Processing

1. It takes more than good equipment

Just because the pros have shiny DSLR and mirrorless cameras doesn’t mean they spit golden photos with every click. In the hands of a professional, even a cell phone camera can capture incredible images; conversely, all the good equipment in the world can’t save a poorly composed shot. The real secret to success lies in the photographer’s technique and a skillful hand in the post-processing stage. Remember: without you, the camera is just an arrangement of metal, glass, and plastic.

2. It’s not all about the photos

We tend to believe that photos represent reality—after all, how can an image lie? But if you’ve ever spent an hour trying to find the perfect selfie angle, or fixed a mediocre photo with a snazzy filter, you already know that reality sometimes needs a little sprucing up. Even the pros sometimes rely on movie magic to fix an unflattering or uninteresting photo. What you might not realize is just how much can be done to elevate your photos in the post-processing stage—everything from simple fixes like lighting and color balance to changing or removing backdrops and more. Sometimes what makes a great image isn’t the original image itself, it’s the effort poured into making it great in post-processing.

3. Simplify, simplify

Reducing clutter in your shots is essential to sharpening your focus on the elements that matter. Learn to style, stage, and frame your photographs with a “less is more” approach and don’t overcrowd your subjects. It’ll make your photos cleaner and easier to edit later. 

But wait, what if it’s too late to declutter—the photos have already been taken? In many cases you can fix it in post! Post-processing can include tidying and even completely removing the elements you don’t want, whether it’s flyaway hairs or random objects you thought were out of frame.

4. Taking the right photos saves a lot of time

Okay, so it’s possible to fix a bad photo. But no one likes to spend hours in post-production, trying to save a mediocre image. You’ll save yourself time and improve your photography skills by taking the time to eliminate distractions, practice your composition, perfect the lighting, and take the best photos you can. Why spend hours removing an element in the post-processing stage when you can do it before hitting the shutter? 

Think about taking photos and post-processing as part of the same flow. Investing more time in one area reduces the time you’ll need to take later. Plus, developing an eye for issues that you’ll need to fix in the post will make you a sharper photographer.

5. Establish a workflow for every photo

It’s easy to get carried away in editing one element of your photos, but there are many steps that you should include in the post-processing workflow for each image. Following a checklist will help ensure a balanced and consistent output and prevent you from fixating on any particular issue.

Everyone’s process looks a little different, but these are the 7 core steps any post-processing workflow should include:

  1. Cropping & straightening
  2. Checking white balance
  3. Checking the exposure
  4. Fixing vibrance & saturation
  5. Checking for unintended noise
  6. Adjusting sharpness
  7. Editing the backdrop

6. Don’t overprocess your photos

It’s easy to go overboard with post-processing. Particularly when you’re learning new techniques, you might think you’re fixing a photo when you’re really ruining colors, destroying textures, or spoiling the exposure. Our advice? Make sure to give yourself time to review each photo. Walk away from the monitor and come back with fresh eyes or ask a trusted colleague for their opinion. You might find that you want to make subtler, softer changes that preserve the character of the original image. Remember, post-processing works best when it allows you to draw out the best of your photos, not cover them up. 

7. Don’t bother with watermarks

Everyone loves a time-saver, and this is one post-processing step you can almost certainly skip. Watermarks distract from your images and, in many cases, do not meaningfully protect your work from copyright infringement. These days, it’s possible to remove watermarks with only a few clicks with the right technology. If you’re concerned about the security of your photos, you can get a valid license from the US Copyright Office.

8. You don’t have to do everything yourself

Plugins and editing services can help simplify post-processing by making certain steps in the process easier or even automatic. But if you can do everything yourself in Photoshop, why bother? Simply put, time is money, which is why the pros consider it a smart investment. Why go through the hassle of editing countless images when an editing service could do many of the edits in bulk in minutes? Plugins and integrations can help you get value for time and money by accelerating the editing process. After all, the time you can spend investing in other areas of your business is time well spent.

Bottom Line

You might not be a pro photographer, but the great news is that you don’t need to be—you can still benefit from the same post-processing magic that the professionals do, all while brushing up on your photography skills. With a good eye and a willingness to practice, you can be well on your way to capturing eye-catching, highly marketable images with your own two hands.

10 Professional Photography Hacks for New Photographers

10 Hacks for Newbie Photographers to Beat the Best Photography

Do you consider yourself a photographer? If not, why not? Nowadays, even if you don’t have a dedicated camera, you likely have a smartphone—which means you have everything you need to start taking pictures like a pro.

If you think you’re a lousy photographer, fret not! As Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, Your first 10,000 photos are your worst. And between vacation photos and selfies, you’re probably well on your way to 10,000 already. In the digital age, there are almost no barriers to taking countless photos. Along the way, be sure to study up on techniques to improve your photos. In this blog post,we’ve gathered a list of hacks that professional photographers use to create gorgeous images—hacks you can start using right now.

10 Professional Tips for Beginning Photographers

Discover how pro photographers beat the best!

1. Use natural light

Don’t have a studio? Not to worry—the world is your studio. Daylight is an amazing light source for photography lighting, especially on overcast days when there isn’t as much harsh direct sunlight. Remember, excessive light may create harsh shadows around your subject. 

In the absence of natural light, photographers can use studio lights and LEDs, which is recommended if you need to take photos at all hours of the day or if your shooting location has poor lighting. Capturing photos at dawn and dusk can also make for beautiful, visually interesting images.

2. Your backdrop is as vital as the subject

A background will always do one of two things to your picture: it will either accentuate the image or detract from it. Some photos will benefit from interesting, dynamic backgrounds, while others are best kept clean and simple. Think of it like this: if you’re trying to have a deep conversation with someone, you don’t want to be in the same room as a crowd watching football. Cluttered backgrounds can have the same kind of effect when you’re composing an image. On the other hand, sometimes a lush and visually interesting background can add texture and personality to your images. It all depends on what’s important to the photo in question.
The great news is that even if you later realize you want to remove some or many elements from the background of your photos or even cut the background out completely, you may be able to use photo-editing tools to do just that.

3. Experiment with angles

Don’t shy away from crouching, lying on the floor, or climbing a ladder to find interesting and evocative angles for your photography. Utilizing different angles can help you bring a fresh perspective to your subject and highlight elements that wouldn’t be seen from a straight-on view—for example, if you’re an e-commerce retailer and want to make sure your product and marketing photos capture every detail of your products.

4. Keep it sharp

Do you find it challenging to hold your camera perfectly still? Great news—you’re just like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with snapping photos without a tripod, but you may risk capturing blurry images if you can’t hold your hands steady. And if you want to take a set of photos where the framing and angles are consistent, a tripod is very helpful. But if you’re holding the camera yourself, there’s still plenty you can do to keep your photos sharp. Practice improving your posture and stability to make sure you’re able to hold as still as possible. And when photographing a person, focus on the model’s eyes to make sure the image is crystal clear.

5. Get the exposure right

Pro photographers put a lot of work into mastering exposure. As a new photographer, you likely don’t play too much with these settings—and in many cases, neutral exposure is a perfectly good choice. However, it’s not always the best option. For example, when taking pictures on a bright sunny day, neutral exposure will likely result in a dull subject and a loud, distracting background. Getting to know which exposure settings will serve you well in diverse lighting conditions will help train your eye to anticipate potential exposure issues that could ruin your photos.

6. Gear doesn’t really matter

You can own $10,000 dollars in fancy equipment and still take terrible photos. And that’s a great thing: it means the power to take amazing photos is in your hands, not your camera’s inner workings. Dedicated cameras can take you further and give you finer control over your photos—but in the end, all you really need to do is learn how to get creative, even if your only tool is a smartphone.

7. Proper depth of field

Depth of field is a hallmark of professional photography, especially when it involves models. Learning to adjust the depth of field properly can quickly transform your amateur photography into professional portraits.

To incorporate shallow depth of field into your photography, follow the instructions below:

  1. Place your model far away from the background
  2. Put on your longest lens
  3. Set the camera to aperture priority and set the aperture to as low as possible
  4. Step closer to the subject and let the lens focus
  5. Snap the photo!

Side note: if you’re using a smartphone, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to adjust the depth significantly, but you may be able to fake it; see this blog post for a thorough explanation. 

8. Add shadows

This tip is especially important for photographers who are looking to take photos of products for their e-commerce stores. In product imagery, shadows add realism and a sense of dimension. They can also add drama and interest. Conversely, photographing a product against a white backdrop with no shadows makes it look like it’s hovering, which will feel unnatural to viewers. Fortunately, a few AI-powered tools exist to let you automatically add ground shadows to your photos.

9. Use leading lines

Leading lines are a compositional technique that subtly uses paths or lines that lead to the subject. Pro photographers use it because it guides the eyes of their viewers to see images exactly as intended. 

10. Don’t forget about post-production!

As we’ve mentioned in the tips above, there are all kinds of tricks you can use in post-production to elevate the quality of your photos. Retouching isn’t cheating—it’s a skill unto itself, and professional photographers know that it’s essential to bringing out the best in their work. From minor changes to major revisions, retouching is a major component of pro-quality photography, whether you choose to make those changes yourself or hire an editor or automated editing service.

Bottom Line

There’s more to professional photography than fancy equipment, and you can master the skills you need with nothing more than a smartphone. Whether you’re looking to produce product imagery for your small business, capture dazzling portraits of your pets, or launch a new photography career, the tips above will help you along the way. Photography is complex, but also simple: train your eye, learn your equipment, and eventually you’ll be snapping stunning photos without a second thought.

Tips & Tricks to Ace Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

When it comes to selling clothes online, the conventional methods don’t cut it anymore. Smart sellers are constantly innovating, seeking the latest strategies for crafting a brand identity that stands out from the crowd. If you’re in search of an enticing new way to represent your apparel to shoppers, the ghost mannequin effect might be just what you’re looking for.

If you’re not already familiar with the ghost mannequin effect, it’s a technique that involves photographing apparel on a model or mannequin, then erasing the mannequin to produce sophisticated, realistic 3D product images. It can be tricky for beginners since it requires some advanced photography and editing skills, but never fear—this guide is designed to help you master the art of ghost mannequin photography. 

Tips to Ace Ghost Mannequin Photography

1. Choose the Perfect Fit and Pose

Whether you’re working with a model or a mannequin, you want your garments to look runway-ready. Make sure your garments fit as well as possible (though don’t worry if it’s not picture-perfect—we’ll cover tips for perfecting your fit in step 4!). 

Resist the urge to give your mannequin or model a natural or relaxed pose. Uneven, comfortable poses don’t work well for ghost mannequin photography—everything must be symmetrical, taut, and stable for the best results.

Pro Tip:

i) Select mannequins with removable arms and shoulders for a better, more customizable shape.

ii) If a garment has sleeves, make sure they drape downwards.

2. Choose the Right Camera and Equipment

You can try out ghost mannequin photos with almost any camera, but if you’re looking for that extra polish, here’s what experts in the industry recommend:

i) Canon 6D Mark II –- suitable for all kinds of product pictures.

ii) Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens – for taking pictures without distortions.

iii)  Well-built tripod to ensure the stability of the camera.

Optimal lighting will be soft and evenly distributed. It must be sufficient to create a depth of field on your products.

For the background, it’s always best to go with a plain white backdrop. Unlike colorful or complex backgrounds, white backdrops are easy to erase in the post-production stage.

Pro Tip:

i) Do not place your mannequin or model too close to the backdrop, as it will create harsh shadows.

ii) Conduct a test photo session to ensure the lighting is even.

iii) For best results, use the following camera settings:

  • ISO:100
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125
  • Flash Power: 3.0
  • White Balance- Auto

3. Shoot for Symmetry

When capturing ghost mannequin photos, symmetry is your best friend to ensure an easy editing process later. This is easiest when photographing from shoulder height, as other angles can be unflattering or distorted—not what you want when introducing potential customers to your apparel!

It’s difficult to measure exact symmetry with the naked eye, so use the grid overlay on your camera to make sure that the hems and other lines of your garment are straight. 

4. Stock the Studio and Accessorize 

Not every garment will fit your mannequin perfectly—but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a less-than-perfect photo. Make sure you have plenty of pins and clips on hand and use them to style your apparel. You can clip up the back and armpit areas of your garments to make them look sleeker. However, try to avoid pulling the outfit too taut as it will emphasize the shape of the mannequin instead of the apparel. Try the following tips to further level up your style game:

● Use crepe paper to stuff areas that need to be emphasized or shaped.

● Add belts, scarves, jewelry, etc. to make your mannequin’s style pop.

5. Take Your Best Shot

When shooting shirts or dresses with collars, ensure the camera is at the garment’s chest height. For bottoms, position the camera at hip height to capture pants, skirts, shoes, etc. 

Make sure to keep your camera steady with a tripod to avoid odd angles. Photographing your attire at an angle will cause the garment to look tapered, which will make it very challenging to edit the photos together properly later.

Don’t forget to rotate the mannequin and take pictures from different angles. You want to capture the back and front of the garment, but you’ll also want detail shots of the fabric, lining, zippers or buttons, and other standout elements of your apparel. Remember, customers want to shop with confidence, and detailed product photos help them choose your apparel over the competition.

Pro Tip:

Use a telephoto lens to reduce distortions and capture intricate details.

Why Choose Ghost Mannequin Photography?

By now you might be thinking This sounds like a lot of work. Why go to the trouble of mastering ghost mannequin photos when you could hire a model or choose a simpler approach to capturing your apparel, such as flat-lay photography? It’s a good question—as a business owner, you want to choose the most effective and cost-efficient approach. Here are a few reasons why ghost mannequin photography is worth the investment.

  1. Clarity and Focus

Don’t let anything distract from your products—even the best model can steal the focus from your attire. Meanwhile, flat-lay photos don’t capture how your garments fit, so they aren’t as helpful or representative for customers. Ghost mannequin photos are the best of both worlds, placing the focus on your products while representing their shape and style on the human form. 

  1. Increased Professionalism

Make it as easy as possible for customers to have faith in your brand. Using 3D images that fully capture the fit of your garment makes your products look compelling and trustworthy. The sleek ghost mannequin effect looks sleek and modern and emphasizes your professionalism. 

  1. Consistency

Ghost mannequin images remove the inconsistencies that can come with model photos and create a uniform visual style regardless of the style or type of garment being photographed, helping you brand your e-store across all your products. 

  1. Time & Budget Efficiency

Although it requires some investment upfront, the process for creating ghost mannequin photos can be streamlined to make it just as efficient as other types of product photography. And when it comes to your editing budget, there are some great options available to keep time and costs down, like autoRetouch’s ghost mannequin tool, which can automate the entire post-production stage and generate finished images in just a few minutes.

Bottom Line:

Impressing your customers with high-quality images is essential to capturing their attention in the online space, and ghost mannequin photos are both striking and beautifully detailed. There’s no better way to represent your apparel online

Like everything else, ghost mannequin photography requires practice. Start by ordering a good-quality mannequin and play around with the basics until you feel confident in taking the next steps. Ultimately, ghost mannequin photos are a cost-effective and exciting way to promote your products.