If you’ve been reading Diana’s blog you probably have a healthy interest in online arbitrage, and perhaps you’ve even had success buying low and selling high. But if you want to buy lower and sell higher, the next step is creating your own products!
Though there are huge profits to be made, there are many challenges involved, too. As a photographer my interest is in the images – I’ve seen stats that say a product’s photo is even more important than its reviews. So it always surprises me when I see terrible product photos on Amazon. Even if those sellers are making money, to me it feels like they are leaving money on the table.
Let’s pick up some of that money, shall we? Here’s what you need to take great photos on your own, followed by a handy checklist of what to consider before snapping the shot. And if you agree with me that product photos are critical but don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself, well, I know a man with a service that might help you…
The 4 Elements of Great Product Photos
1. The Best Camera You Can Afford
If the product you’re selling is large – a shirt, say, or shoes, then a simple ‘point and shoot’ camera will do just fine. If what you’re selling is small or detailed – jewelry, a Swiss army knife – then a DSLR is best.
Point and Shoot
A good example of this is the Sony D-220. (For the price you can’t go wrong.) A really useful feature to look for is a remote. Remotes avoid the situation where you put the camera on a tripod and still get a slight wobble when you press click. In short, you’ll avoid getting blurry pictures. One reason I recommend the Sony is that there’s an app for it that turns your smartphone into a remote. It’s fairly standard these days but do check other models you might be looking at.
You might have heard camera nerds like me talking about DSLR, but for your purposes all you need to know is that the important settings are the shutter speed and the aperture. The shutter speed determines how much light gets into the lens. Controlling that lets you take good photos even when the light isn’t great. And the aperture is all about getting the entire product into focus. A good DSLR is the Nikon D3400.
2. Light It Right
It’s fairly simple to get a decent lighting set up but each comes with its own pros and cons. Box lights are like the ones you see on movies – they are big and bulky but they’re actually quite flexible in terms of what you can use them for. You can use them to light a model wearing your great new merch, or bring them close to a table and film your dainty little pieces.
A smaller option is a tent-like setup. The upside, obviously, is that they take up less space in your apartment. The downside, as you might be able to guess, is that they’re less powerful and you end up supplementing them with other light sources. That said, a bit of Photoshop wizardry can hide a multitude of sins.
It always amazes me how shaky cheap tripods can be. It’s really worth spending a little more on this unloved, unglamorous object, because as well as being unstable the cheaper ones are clunky and fragile. The Manfrotto MTPIXI-B PIXI Mini Tripod is your best budget bet.
Diana is no slouch with PhotoShop Elements, as evidenced by this tutorial she put together! As you may know, Amazon requires the main product photo to have a white background. Thanks to Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) you don’t need to get that right when you press click on the camera – you can remove the background digitally.
There are many courses you can take, and also lots of free tutorials on YouTube. There are also services who will remove backgrounds for you at a reasonable price.
Product Photo Checklist
Do I Have the Right Background?
The main product image must have a white background, but your other images aren’t so restricted. You can show the product being used in different ways. A rubber boot in a puddle, a plastic duck in the bath – you get the idea!
Is My Product in Focus?
A lot of Amazon product pictures are rejected for being blurry – perhaps the sellers associate blurry with artistic. But you want the image to be crystal clear. Keep things simple and make sure the whole image is in focus.
Have I Shown the Right Level of Detail?
If you’re selling a shirt, include at least one close-up of the buttons. If you’re selling a computer, people like to see where the USB ports are. Think about what features the product has and think how you can show that visually.
Have I Shown the Right Color?
Another tip that seemingly goes without saying yet very often turns out wrong. If the color is different in real life to what people see on your listing there’s a risk they’ll return it. So do your best to get the color on your screen to match the actual color of the product – and check your work on as many different screens as possible.
Are There Any Shadows?
Try to eliminate shadows via lighting or Photoshop – they are distracting.
Do My Photos Show the Size of the Product?
A simple trick for this is the standard ‘banana for scale’ method, where you show your product next to a coin, or a credit card, or some universally understood size. (Note – I don’t actually recommend using a banana…) Helping people understand the product’s dimensions is sure to boost sales.
Do My Photos Show the Product Being Used?
It won’t always be possible, but in the majority of cases you’ll boost conversion rates simply by having a model wearing the jeans/holding the iPhone case/smelling the candle.
Can I Show Off My Packaging?
Include one photo of the packaging so people know what to expect – strange as it may seem, some people might be buying your cement mixer as a gift!
That’s a brief guide that just scratches the surface of product photography, but I hope they prove valuable in making the most out of your Amazon FBA dealings. I wish you the best of luck!
Author Bio: Ash Moosa a product photographer at JewelryShoot.com. His niche is in photographing jewelry but also works with other tabletop products. For more product photography tips, subscribe to his blog.