Over the years, eCommerce has completely altered how people explore and buy products. Visiting a store in person was once the norm and the idea that the experience could be recreated from the comfort of your own home was seen as far fetched. However, online shopping in 2023 has become closer to the experience of visiting a brick-and-mortar store than ever before.
It’s no secret that many companies – both new and experienced in the world of eCommerce – are trying to provide the easiest, most immersive and most comfortable experience for online shoppers. This is unsurprising considering that, according to Statista, approximately 2.14 billion people buy products online and the value of eCommerce sales is predicted to exceed USD $6.4 trillion (UK £5.26 trillion) by 2024.
Therefore, more companies are looking at ways in which they can make their eCommerce stores a panacea for their customers by showing existing and potential buyers how great their products are. This is only possible with high-quality eCommerce product photography that showcases the products in the best way possible.
What Is Product Photography?
Commercial product photography involves capturing images of a product in the best light, to be used for marketing campaigns, website product pages, social media, or printed brochures. eCommerce photography is exclusively reserved for eCommerce stores, which will often accompany a product description.
A product photographer would take photos of a product from various angles and in several settings, to ensure that it looks attractive and enticing to customers. The most reputable and reliable commercial photographers use professional equipment.
Why Is ECommerce Product Photography Important?
The only arguable drawback of online shopping is that shoppers can’t see, touch or examine the product(s) before them. This is where product imagery is so crucial to provide them with something that shoppers can digest with the eye.
There are many benefits of investing in product photography and sprucing your eCommerce store with high-quality images. In a nutshell, eCommerce photographs can:
- Create a positive first impression
- Increase click-throughs, conversion rates and sales
- Establish your brand identity and authority
- Influence shoppers down the sales funnel
- Impact shopper’s decision-making
- Make your customers’ user experience easier and more positive
- Instil customer trust, fulfilment and faith
- Complement your website and marketing materials
- Convince your customers that your product meets their needs
- Showcase the intricate details in clear and eye-catching ways
- Be used effectively at various stages of marketing campaigns
- Provide more accessibility for mobile shoppers
- Allow customers to gauge size, dimensions and materials of products
- Add extra SEO value to your website
- Compensate for a sensory experience
Types Of ECommerce Product Photos
ECommerce sites vary from business to business, with each store featuring a plethora of unique products, bundles or packages. Many will be standard, while others will be reserved for special occasions. Therefore, it’s fair to say that product photos can’t be considered ‘off-the-shelf’.
Many eCommerce businesses might want to maintain consistency across their online stores, or carefully select a handful of photo types. However, when launching an eCommerce store for the first time, it’s easy to make mistakes when considering the visuals. Whichever your aim, it’s important to understand the core differences to ensure you’re aware of what you’re investing in.
These photos only contain one object in a frame, usually with a white background to create a crisp, simplistic look and not detract from the focus of the image. Individual product photos with white backgrounds occupy swathes of eCommerce stores, as well as catalogues or social media advertisements.
Group product photos bring multiple products together into a single frame. These photos, also regularly shot with white backgrounds, offer more insight into a product range and give customers more food for thought. These images also make excellent store banners or social media marketing campaign material.
Smaller products – anything from microSD cards to earrings – have highly technical or intricate details, many of which could be considered the USP of the item itself. Therefore, the imagery will require additional focus to highlight these features, as a standard product photo might not capture them as effectively.
Lifestyle photography is all about capturing moments as they happen. In an eCommerce world, that would involve showcasing the products in action, often with somebody using them for their intended purpose. Lifestyle product photography can be effective for a store, but also have much more of a marketing impact, creating a sense of relatability for viewers and shoppers alike.
While many customers will likely view packaging as unnecessary, there are many who care about it. In terms of imagery, sometimes the packaging is crucial for consistency, brand reputation and presentation, working wonders at creating a positive first impression. Depending on what you sell, product packaging alongside the product itself can create additional sensations of realism and evoke positive emotional responses.
Picking The Right Professional Camera
Product photography may seem a little daunting to those of you that have never invested in high-quality DSLRs, mirrorless cameras or professional photography equipment before.
Luckily, most people use a smartphone, many of which have respectable and impressive high-quality cameras built into the hardware, so taking good photos is easy. So for those of you who are on a strict budget, it’s easy to get some eCommerce photos taken without much hassle.
Most marketers consider professional photography equipment a good investment that is crucial for their long-term aims. Therefore, picking a professional digital camera – and supporting equipment like tripods, macro-lenses, filters, or backdrops – can be an asset to your company. As business grows, your stock and inventory might grow, and your marketing aims may change, so you may need to replace images sooner than you think.
Understanding The Importance Of Lighting
Lighting is everything when it comes to photography. Many companies may wonder whether shooting in natural or artificial light would work better.
While natural light can work for certain products and settings, sometimes it isn’t the answer, especially in times of bad weather. Businesses on a budget may feel they have limited options in this regard, but artificial studio lighting (such as softbox lights) does not always cost the earth. Artificial photography lighting can help soften shadows and diffuse light which can make product imagery more impactful.
Creating the ideal lighting setup and positioning for your product shots may take a little pre-planning. However, once you finish your setup, taking a consistent stream of product photos becomes much easier and less time-consuming.
Getting Started With Product Photography
Although you don’t have to be a photography expert to create some engaging images, you may find yourself with some limitations. Preparing adequately for this kind of project can eat up many hours and so it’s not unusual to hire a commercial photographer with proven eCommerce product experience. If you have the budget, it’s worth the investment especially considering photographers usually factor in time to professionally edit the photos post-shoot.
Creating consistent and professional product photos takes time and requires some preparation, and it’s unlikely you will see perfect results instantly. Once you are in the swing of things, you’ll be on the right path to achieving improved sales, better customer experiences, and creating a successful eCommerce brand.