When selling online, photographs can be powerful. There’s nothing quite like a photograph to showcase your product, catch some eyes, and generate sales.
I’m writing this, grudgingly, as a copywriter. Words are important, of course, but when it comes to getting your products noticed, photography and video are key.
But eCommerce photography is a double-edged sword.
Do it right, and reap the rewards. Do it wrong, and well, people are going to notice for all the wrong reasons.
While photography remains an art, we’re thankfully living in an age where even bad photographers can take good photographs.
Smartphones, filters, and software make it easier than ever for a newbie photographer to take professional-looking photos with just a little bit of research, rather than a degree and thousands of pounds worth of kit.
In this article
Why is good eCommerce photography important?
Ultimately, the quality of your photographs are going to influence a customer decision on whether or not they’re going to buy your product.
How much or how little influence differs between business and industry, but for most businesses, the quality of photographs can make or break a sale.
Let’s take a look at the why in more detail.
Breaking through the noise
While we’re talking about the visual rather than the auditory senses today, ‘breaking through the noise’ remains an appropriate if not slightly confusing metaphor.
The internet is noisy – there’s hundreds and hundreds of advertisements, photographs, notifications, and other noises competing for attention on our screens each and every day.
An interesting, unique, and high-quality photograph can help you stand out from the crowd.
Filling in the gaps
When buying online, customers don’t have the luxury of physically picking up a product. It makes it harder for customers to get a sense of whether it’s the right product for them, as it’s more difficult to make a connection.
While a photograph can’t teleport a product to your customer for them to hold, it’s the next best thing. High quality photographs from various angles and distances helps customers to make a buying decision.
In some cases, a flattering photograph may even result in customers buying a product they might’ve never seen or considered before.
Building a brand
Quality photographs can help you build a better brand. They can help make your brand more recognisable and trustworthy, and help you to tell stories.
Customers can usually smell a stock image from a mile away, and such photos can often come across as generic and boring. These are some of the worst adjectives in the English language to describe a brand.
On a more positive note, photography can be an excellent way to cost-effectively build a better brand. Focus on what makes your company unique, whether that’s your people, your building, your story, or your personality.
Being the real deal
Perception is important. If a customer arrives at your website and finds amateur-looking photographs, first impressions take a beating.
Tips for taking better eCommerce photographs
Create a studio
Setting up a studio or designated area to take photographs can result in better quality photos and more efficient photography sessions.
You don’t need to hire a professional studio space or spend thousands of pounds on high-spec equipment and peripherals. Here’s what you should consider for your studio:
- Camera: A DSLR camera is handy, but by no means essential. Most modern smartphones have fantastic cameras that are more than up to the task.
- Tripod: A good way to keep your camera still as you snap, and makes it much easier to get the desired angle and focus.
- Window: The more natural light you have in your scene, the better. While lighting equipment allows for a bit more flexibility in where you set up, it’s an unnecessary expense. Natural light works better anyway, so set up next to a window if you can.
- Surface: A simple, sturdy table or desk is perfect for most products. Bathe your table in as much natural light as possible.
- Background: A plain, white background is best for product photography, as it keeps attention focused on where you want it – the product!
Experiment with different shots
In the spirit of creating a good variety of photographs to display across your website and social channels, it’s important to experiment with different types of shots. Here are some of the most common shots:
- Individual shots: A single product within the frame. These are useful to showcase best-sellers and high-margin products across your website, including banner images, featured images, and more. Perfect for flagship products that you want to shine in their own light.
- Group shots: More than one product in the frame. Group shots can be useful to show off bundles and collections, or show comparisons between different products. For example, if you sell hand cream in a variety of different sizes, you might want to photograph them next to each other so customers can compare.
- Close-ups: Perfect for drawing attention to the details and intricacies of your products. They’re particularly useful for jewellery, certain hand-made goods, and other items where the devil is in the details.
- Context shots: Showcase your products in action. That might be a model wearing your apparel, using your appliance, or eating your food. Context shots can tell a story, and make it easier for the customer to imagine themselves using it.
Backgrounds and props
While we’d always recommend plain backgrounds on your product pages, sometimes it can be a good idea to get creative with backgrounds and props for marketing material.
The best way of doing this is to grab some props and head to a real location to do a shoot. Depending on the product, it could be on a beach, in the big city, inside a forest, or a million and one other places that make sense for your product.
Location shooting is a luxury not everybody can afford, however. It’s perfectly valid to digitally add a background to your products, or grab a few props to add to your studio. It’s a chance to get creative!
Add a watermark to your eCommerce photographs
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out there who, given half the chance, would copy your photographs for their own website. This is especially true if you’re selling products that can’t be identified by a logo or another element that’s unique to your business.
Thankfully, a watermark can be easily added to the images you’ve worked long and hard to perfect, preventing unsavoury folk from copying your hard work.
A watermark is an extremely faint overlay on your image, usually displaying your business name or logo, that acknowledges you as the original owner of the image.
There’s lots of free software out there that can do this for you.
Optimize eCommerce photos for your website
Once you have a batch of great photographs, it’s time to display them on your website. If you’re using a website builder, most photographs will automatically be scaled correctly so they don’t stretch or pixelate when you upload them.
That said, you may need to manually scale or crop images appropriately to meet the recommended specifications of your theme or page builder.
It’s also important to ensure the images don’t take too long to load on your website. Images that don’t load instantly are a recipe for a poor user experience and negative SEO. It might be necessary to reduce the file size of an image.
Most CMSs have plugins available that will automatically do this for you when you upload an image. Failing that, there’s plenty of free tools out there that can do the job for you, before you upload the photograph.
Finally, don’t forget to add some alternative (alt) text to your images when you upload them. It makes your website more accessible for impaired users, and has enormous SEO benefits.
How to give yourself more time to take eCommerce photos
As we’ve covered here today, you needn’t break the bank in order to produce some high quality, professional, and interesting eCommerce photography.
But one thing that is definitely required is time. This rings especially true if you’ve got a lot of SKUs or stock that changes regularly.
We understand how difficult finding the time can be, especially when there’s hundreds of other day-to-day aspects of running a business that demand your attention.
Fulfilling orders is probably one of these time-sinks. That’s where we come in.
James and James Fulfilment
James and James are an industry-leading 3PL with fulfillment center across the world. We can take care of every aspect of fulfillment for you, including storage, picking, packing, shipping, and returns management.
We put time back into your pocket while creating a fulfillment experience that’s scalable, reliable, and FAST. We’re confident that your customers will love what we do, too.