Ecommerce Product Photography on a Budget
An ecommerce product image is more than just the photo itself. It’s an emotional way for you to convey to customers what the product is about and how it can benefit them. It’s also a way to showcase your brand and what it stands for—and that’s why you need to know what you want the images to say and represent.
Taking good product images can be costly if you choose to hire a professional photographer, and this can be a limitation for some store owners who don’t have the budget. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because there’s a way to take good, professional photos for your product images yourself on a budget.
How to Take Ecom Product Images Yourself
To take high-quality ecommerce product images yourself, equip yourself with tools that can help you take professional images.
1. Smartphone or digital camera
These days, a smartphone can take very good pictures because their cameras are more and more advanced. You do still need a good smartphone with a 12-megapixel camera (and more) to take high-quality product images for your ecommerce store.
You can also use a good but inexpensive digital camera. Use a DSLR or mirrorless camera to take pictures from different angles so customers can get an idea of what the product looks like from different views.
2. Artificial or natural light
To capture amazing product images, you need good lighting. Whether natural or artificial, it must help you bring out the original color of the product and make the product features clearly visible.
To get the most out of natural light, take your photos in a brighter room, closer to a window. The larger the window, the brighter and more natural the light that flows into the room.
You can also buy an artificial light, which usually comes with an umbrella reflector. The reflector evenly reflects the light stream, which makes the product stand out. The entire photo studio light kit usually costs around $120.
Note: If you choose to use natural light, you are limited to taking product shots in daylight because you’re relying on the light from the sun, but artificial light can be used at any time.
3. Mini photo studio lightbox or cheap studio
A mini photo studio can be key to taking high-quality product photos, although it’s mainly used for small products such as watches, jewelry, headphones, and so on. Modern mini photo studios come with lighting, and this can really help because it’s adjustable, letting you capture the product color for your image that is most faithful to its actual color.
This portable photo booth kit is easy to assemble and can be used to take pictures from multiple angles. The cost is typically $16 and above, giving you a variety of options to choose from depending on your budget.
An inexpensive light studio can be used for large products, like home or office furniture. They can also be used to take lifestyle photos where models are wearing your products. If you choose to purchase one like that shown above, the kit comes with a number of backdrops (which I’ll describe below).
4. Tripod stand
This is a good investment. Because a tripod stand is stable, it helps reduce image shake and the blurry images that result. There are different types of tripod stands available in the market, but I recommend buying a flexible one as it allows you to take product pictures from different angles and can be attached to many surfaces.
A backdrop creates a continuous color background for the product. It helps eliminate distracting areas in the background, creating a seamless white, blue, black, green, or color-of-your-choice background. This makes photos look very professional and of great quality. Backdrops can be used in both a mini photo studio lightbox and a large light studio.
6. Photo-editing tool
When you’re done taking product photos for your ecommerce store, you need to analyze if their original quality is satisfactory or if adjustments are necessary.
You can use tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or other photo editing tools like GIMP (GNU image manipulation program) and BeFunky, which charge varying amounts for use of their tools. These photo editing tools help you adjust the lighting of the photo by increasing or decreasing vibrancy and saturation, crop out unwanted parts of the photo, or combine different photos that highlight different product features into one photo.
When you want to take product photos, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a professional photographer (who, according to Pixpa, typically charges very high hourly rates, ranging from $75 to $250 per hour). All you need to do is equip yourself with a variety of shooting and editing tools. These can help you take high-quality product photos that convey your message and product features to customers in an emotionally based way.
Singh, G. (2021). Photography pricing guide: How much do photographers make in 2021? Pixpa blog.