Ever been discouraged to buy something, because you just aren’t sure what to think of the product photo? Or have you ever ordered something that looks COMPLETELY different than what you saw online? Product photos are sometimes the first and only chance a brand has to make an impression on someone, and so important if you sell products online. In this post, photographer and educator Megan Leigh Acosta walks you through creating consistent product photos using what you have at home
My name is Megan and I am an experienced photographer and educator here to show you how to take product photos at home. Imagine the experience we could create for spouse-ly customers to scroll through with a consistent feed of high-quality product photos. We can elevate both individual brands and the overall spouse-ly community this way!
The goal when taking a product photo is producing images that represent your product accurately, right? So let’s ditch the filters and get down to business (even if you are working with a smartphone!). Let’s start with a nice clean product photo on a white background. Head over to a window. If your window is getting harsh light, you can use a white sheet to help diffuse it, or white curtains if you have them.
I am using three inexpensive white foam boards for this, which I found at my aafes exchange overseas, so, you can find them anywhere, in various sizes. I could have also just jerry rigged this with white paper on cardboard. If you don’t have a table to get yourself closer to the height of a window, use a chair and other flat objects stacked on top. Basically you want to create a little box next to your window so that the light coming in reflects back all around your product. Make sure you cut off any other lights inside so you just have one light source. I’m going to pretend my product is a little planter, and place it in the center of my box. (See set-up a few paragraphs below).
Then I actually rested my phone against the edge of my desk, so that I know I am holding it nice and level and can avoid any distortion caused by tilting because most phones are equipped with slightly wide-angle lenses now. Then tapped to focus, and dragged my finger up to increase the exposure.
Here is the image I was able to create with just an iphone:
Next I created an image with a seamless white background. Because I decided the line where my foam boards meet is distracting for this product. So, I grabbed a piece of white paper from my toddlers drawing pad, and I tapped it to the foamboard so that half of it lies on the bottom board (see below).
But now I can’t get my phone to be level with the product, so I actually flipped the camera upside down! That allows me to move my lens more freely and not have to tilt the phone to see my full product. You can also switch to the telephoto lens or view (hit the 2x button) if you want so there is even less wide-angle distortion. Just know if your phone isn’t equipped with a separate telephoto lens then switching to the doubled zoom will produce a lower quality image. From here I can do the same tapping to focus and dragging the exposure up but this time there is no line in the background from where my foamboards were meeting.
Here is the new image I was able to create with a phone:
Here it is with a DSLR:
If you really want to take this to the next level, consider adding some props to create a lifestyle image. If your customer can easily envision themselves utilizing or needing your product, they are even more likely to purchase, right? Adding props or modeling products also helps them gauge the size which is really important. I just moved this to a shelf in the same office so I know I had relatively the same lighting. It’s a little hard to tell exactly what size those big photos are, but at least you get a sense that this is a small pot.
We also could have also just added props to our existing set-up. Think about props that make sense with the product you are selling but don’t confuse the buyer. One technique you can use is to crop any props out of the frame. Props are strictly to help them understand the size and help them envision the product in their life.
You can make your photo even better by editing right inside your native photos app (no filters, needed!). There are all sorts of things you can adjust when you open the edit panel on your image. Just remember that whatever you do in post-processing, your goal is to make sure you are accurately representing the product in your photo. The most important thing to adjust in my opinion is the color temperature. You need to adjust this as best you can so that the whites are truly white which allows the other colors to be represented correctly as well.
Now let’s talk about what to do if you only have time to take your photos at night because let’s be real, that’s just how it is sometimes! You can use those same foamboards and just a regular old desk lamp as your light source. My lamp is pointing up at another foamboard, so that again, the light is bounced around and hits my product a little softer. I even added a fourth foamboard in front so that more light was directed toward the front of my product. You can see the only light source on in this room is the one desk lamp, and I have tried my best to basically make a little light box. An actual box with white paper would work, too. Flip your camera upside down again and voila! Another clean, consistent product photo with your phone!
I hope that helps you see how simple it can be to achieve consistent product photos in your work. If you are interested in more photography tips for your business, check out the article I wrote for Spouse-ly about creating flatlays here, or head to my main blog for a full archive of free resources and information about my photography courses!