What every ecommerce business needs to know when it comes to product images

Selling online requires a focus on visual experience more so than running a brick-and-mortar store. People can’t physically touch the product, so you must recreate a tactile experience with images.

Experts predict that by 2024, e-commerce will account for 21.8% of retail sales. The pandemic forced some businesses to go digital sooner than they’d planned to survive the changes in how people shop. Now that more companies are online, expect them to become more competitive over time.

Product photography

You’re competing with companies like yours from all over the globe. If you want to grab consumers’ attention, you must put some extra effort into taking the best product images imaginable.

Here are our top must-dos for taking photos of what you sell.

1. Plan your shots.

Don’t just throw a product inside a lightbox and snap a bunch of pictures. Instead, think about the story you’d like your product images to tell. While you don’t have to have other items around your product, you can certainly use props to tell a story.

Even if you only have the item in the photo, think about the angles you’d like to use and present it in the best light possible. Plan ahead so you don’t miss any crucial details during your shoot.

2. Perfect your lighting.

Have you ever seen a product image with way too many shadows or not bright enough to capture the details? While you can fix some issues in editing, it’s better to learn lighting techniques before taking the pictures.

You can even use backlighting to put the focus on specific parts. Backlighting can also help you show the presence or absence of certain details in your product. Imagine shining a light through a clear bottle to highlight the text on the front. It isn’t right for every occasion, but it can make a massive difference in the finished product.

Pay attention to shadows and reduce them as much as possible. Long shadows can distract from the item you’d like the user to see. Adding lightboxes and using reflectors helps even out the tones of the photo.

3. Shoot close to perfect.

While editing is a vital part of taking product images, you should also try to take a raw image as close to perfect as possible. Starting with stellar photos saves you time and money in post-production efforts.

You also can’t fix everything wrong in a shot, no matter how hard you try. It’s better to take an excellent photo and make minor tweaks.

4. Invest in equipment.

Today’s smartphones have high-definition cameras and can provide all you need to take amazing photographs. The key is understanding their capabilities and adjustments you should make.

You could also purchase a DSLR camera to take high-resolution images. You’ll want the right equipment. A tripod and lighting are both musts. In addition, you’ll need backdrops, props and editing software.

5. Zoom in on details.

Since people can’t hold a digital image, you’ll want to show the item up close. Taking high-quality photos allows you to break down the features of the product by zooming in on details.

If you want to show the pattern in material, you can zoom in and showcase what’s available. Have a gadget with an easy on/off switch.

Highlight the feature in a breakout image.

6. Meet customer expectations.

If you want to truly engage people who land on your site, you must meet their expectations for product pages. They want to see certain details that relate to your description of the item.

If you explain there are three buttons on a shirt, share a photo of those three buttons so they can see them in detail. If you offer multiple colors, include the option to click through the choices and see how it looks on a model.

Think about the information you’d need to decide on whether to make a purchase. It’s better to include more shots than fewer. Think about what you’d need to make an informed decision and provide it.

7. Create a style guide.

Consistency helps you build a brand image. Not only should you shoot high-quality photos, but try to use a similar size and lighting for each one.

Think about the voice you want for your brand.

Is your company fun and hip? You might include props that highlight your zany side. Come up with a style and stick to it.

Your style guide should cover everything from sizing to product placement. Think about whether you want images to be on a solid background or create a scene.

Try to make them as consistent with one another as possible.

8. Optimize images.

The ideal page loading speed should be two seconds or less. The more time your site takes to pull up, the more likely users bounce away.

Images and scripts can drag down your speeds, though. One way to combat this on an e-commerce site is by optimizing your photos so they load faster.

You should first reduce the file size. There are many online wizards you can use to optimize photos for free. You could also use photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to reduce file size.

Look into using a content delivery network (CDN) to cache photos. Cached images load more rapidly when a person revisits your site.

Talk to your customers.

Take the time to ask customers what else they’d like to see from your photos. Are there any missing details you could share? Is the size appropriate for the devices they use to access your site?

With time and some split testing, your product pages will outshine the competition.

Published by Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing agency before becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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