I've been having a lot of product photography questions, so I thought I'd run a blog on a few basic tips. I'm going to try to do a quickly camera tips blog as well on different settings as well. If you have something specific you'd like to learn about, please e-mail me your questions and I will try to get to answering them here as well.
A few things that come in handy when I’m photographing product:
1. A light box with simple backgrounds. This keeps most reflections from around the room off your product. It also helps filter the light. You can build your own light box http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent (which didn’t go well for me and I didn’t like the fact that it didn’t clean up nice and compact). You can also purchase many different types from most photography stores.
2. A tripod and a remote shutter release. This ensures a still camera and results in a non blurry photo. Most cameras can be mounted to a tripod, however, not all cameras are compatible with a remote. You can also. Try using the timer on the camera.
3. Bright lights. Try to get the most natural lighting possible. Some lights will give your object a bluish look, while others will throw more of a orangey-yellow look to your objects.
4. Photo editing programs. I use photoshop to touch up minor blemishes and get the coloring just right. There are many types of photo editing programs available for a small cost. I use Photoshop Elements which is a editing program that has more options than a lot of people will ever need. Picasa and Gimp are free downloads available online.
5. Focus...make sure you focus on your object, not on your other props!
6. TIME. Don’t rush yourself. Take the time to get things right!
Take pictures of your items at different angles. Stage your product with something that lends to it, not takes away.
Simple backgrounds are often best as your main focus is on the product itself.
I do tend to shoot in manual mode, rather than in Auto, giving me a lot more control over how my photo is going to turn out. This means adjusting your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and sometimes even the white balance.
The biggest thing for me when I browse items online that I’m considering purchasing is the photos. If they aren’t clear and crisp or well lit, I will usually go on to the next shop. It may sound a bit bias, but how do you really know what the quality of the product is if the photo isn’t quality. If you don’t feel confident in producing quality photos, hire someone to do this for you that is experienced and has the equipment to do it.
Just a few questions I've had in the past year and a half...
Q: Is there an easy way to minimize the glare or hot spots from the ceramic glaze or glass?
A: Use a light box or white cloth to filter your light do you are not putting direct light on your objects.
Q: I have a problem with zooming in on jewelry and getting focused pictures. When I zoom, it gets out of focus. Any suggestions?
A: Use a tripod and try a manual focus. Also, you may be too close to zoom in depending on the camera equipment you are using.
Q: Is "white balance" affected by the MACRO setting?
A: White balance is taken into consideration no matter what setting you shoot in.
Q: I use a light box, my photo's seem to have a yellow hue to them and look a little flat. I do not use my flash and I set the macro setting. What am I doing wrong?
A: Use extra lighting, and again adjust the white balance!
Q: how do i make the jewelry sharp and crisp and the background blurry?
A: A higher aperture will take care of that. Also allows for a faster shutter speed depending on your lighting.
Q: How do I not get the dark backgrounds in photos?
A: I would recommend trying more lights to light up your background. Try using a large piece of paper or a flat sheet to keep the background looking smooth and flawless. A paper would probably reflect light the best.
Q: How to crop pics for thumbnails?
A: etsy recommends the photo to be a minimum of 570 pixels on widest side. Remember to keep your product somewhat centered to it shows on the thumbnails. For vertical photos, you may need to leave some white space on top and bottom so that your focal point shows on the thumbnail.
Q: Can you think of any reason why my photos have been turning out with a lot of blue tint lately? I use a manual white balance setting and is it possible for that to go wacko or something?
A: White balance. You can adjust according to your inside lights, sunny day, cloudy day, etc.
Here is an example of a photo shot in auto white balance versus manual set white balance.
REMEMBER that your customers can not pick up your product to view them as in a brick and mortar store. Your photos need to be a selling point! Quality photos equal sales!
Another option, for those that just don't like to use the camera, or would rather be creating that shooting is to send your product to a professsional photographer. I have worked with a few different types of products and have a waiting list for those that are interested in being notified when I have an opening for a new client. I will be opening a portfolio of my works for this in the near future for potential customers to view what I have already done for other customers.