How your brand looks on social media matters now more than ever because we’re in the era of social commerce. About 130 million Instagram users report that they tap on shopping posts monthly to learn more about products. But people may be less likely to tap on your posts if they aren’t visually appealing.
Enter product photography.
We live in a world where smartphone access allows small business owners to DIY their photography for all types of products from skincare to food, clothing, and many other ecommerce goods.
In this article, we’re sharing nine tips that can help you create better product photos for your influencer campaigns. But first, let’s look at why high-quality product photos matter.
Why High-Quality Product Photos Matter for Social Media
Online purchases made via social media totaled an estimated $560 billion in 2020, according to Statista. This figure is expected to increase to $2.9 trillion by 2026. Social commerce is on the rise, and the only way to stand out on visual-heavy (and crowded) platforms like Pinterest and Instagram is to publish high-quality product photos and videos.
High-quality product photos matter because:
- Consumers are more confident they’ll get what was promised. About 5% of consumers who return online purchases do so if the item they receive isn’t what was described (or pictured).
- Consumers can focus on the message you’re trying to convey. Bad photos are distracting and take away from your message.
- Your product shots give your brand a unique identity. Consumers will more easily recognize your brand in their social media feeds.
It’s important to bear these points in mind as you work on your influencer marketing strategy, since influencers are integral to the success of social commerce and you want to effectively measure the ROI of your influencer marketing campaigns.
9 Tips for Taking Instagram Product Photos That Sell
Stunning product photos pull in potential buyers to learn more about what you offer and follow through with a purchase. Here are nine product photography tips that will help both you and your partnering influencers stand out in this era of social commerce.
1. Use Natural Lighting When Possible
Lighting plays a crucial role in a photo’s quality. It’s what helps a photographer set the mood and tell a story without words. You want your product images to come out perfectly, so it’s easy to become obsessed with getting the right lighting equipment to produce studio-quality product images. However, natural lighting offers a more cost-effective and true-to-life alternative without the need for a complex lighting setup.
Alternatives to Natural Lighting
Natural lighting can be unpredictable — and that’s not comforting for a product photographer who needs the best possible lighting to capture great photos. With natural lighting, it can be sunny now and overcast an hour from now.
This is why it’s important to have a lighting kit as a backup. There are many affordable lighting kits on the market, so you don’t have to break the bank on expensive equipment. You can even use a mixture of natural and artificial light to get attractive shots.
2. Flat Lay Your Products
Flat lay photography involves staging products that go well together against a flat surface and photographing them from above. This creative form of product photography helps brands tease new products, which piques consumer interest and directs more traffic to the brand’s website. It’s also easy to set up a flat lay and take a picture with your iPhone (or any other smartphone you may use).
3. When in Doubt, Use a White Background
White backgrounds are popular for Instagram photography in the ecommerce space for three reasons:
- It’s cost-effective. Even if you use a lightbox for photos of your products, the cost is significantly less than a studio product shoot by a professional photographer.
- It reduces lighting costs. White backgrounds provide excellent light reflection, reducing the need for an elaborate lighting setup.
- It removes confusing and distracting backgrounds. A white background keeps the focus on the product without the distraction of things around it.
4. Keep a Consistent Photography Theme
The types of photos you use on your Instagram profile will impact its visual appeal. Choose a consistent photography theme and stick with it. In the example above, the photographer sticks with a consistent Adobe Photoshop edit of the photos he takes, although the background colors are different. There are many Instagram themes that you can use, just ensure your Instagram photos showcase your products in the best way possible.
5. Take Pictures From Different Angles
Consumers want to see products from different vantage points. If they’re viewing a navy dress and considering buying it, they likely want to see what it looks like from the back, front, and side to determine whether it’s the look they want — no surprises.
Looking at product photos shot from different angles helps consumers imagine themselves using your product. There are six main product photography angles that you can consider:
- Profile (side)
- Top (shot from above)
- Macro (close-up shot)
6. Unleash Your Phone’s Professional Camera Tools
Don’t be fooled by big-ticket social media campaigns from huge companies and mega-influencers — you don’t need a fancy DSLR camera for a product photoshoot. Nor do you need all the resources of a photo studio: A smartphone with a good camera can do the job perfectly. You can get the look of professional product photography from your smartphone or camera with the following add-on hardware and apps:
- Tripod or stand
- Wireless remote
- Add-on lenses (optional)
- Adobe Lightroom app (which has a free version, or you can opt for the paid version which comes with additional features)
- Lightricks’ suite of photo editing tools (Facetune, Filtertune, and Photoleap)
If you don’t want to invest in paid third-party apps, most smartphones come equipped with some decent native photo-editing tools. Experiment with your phone’s built-in contrast settings, creative cropping, portrait mode, and more to create some stunning effects — without professional photography skills!
7. Understand the Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a principle used in both photography and video content creation. Imagine cutting your image into a grid with nine equal squares, which you would do with two evenly spaced vertical lines and two evenly spaced horizontal lines. With the rule of thirds, the most important elements of the photo should be placed along where these imaginary grid lines meet. The result is that the photo’s subject is off-center, falling into either the left or right third of the image, leaving the other two-thirds open.
Applying this rule in product photography helps create a natural focal point that attracts the customer’s attention and creates visual interest. Best of all, most smartphones have a rule of thirds grid mode that you can activate.
You can turn on the rule of thirds grid on your iPhone by following these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Click Camera.
- Toggle on the Grid option under Composition.
Here are the steps for turning on the rule of thirds grid on an Android device:
- Open the Camera app.
- Click Settings.
- Turn on Assistive Grid.
(Note: The grid lines only appear while you take the photo and don’t transfer to the final image.)
The rule of thirds is a tried-and-true method and works well across all industries, whether your Instagram account features food photography, images of skincare products, or anything in between. Try taking some photos with and without it and see which have greater visual appeal. Remember, there is a time and a place for perfectly centered product shots, but experimenting with the rule of thirds can really up your product photography game.
8. Use Those #Hashtags
There are a lot of brides who use Instagram to find wedding accessories. We typed #weddingaccessories into Instagram’s search field and saw this product photo that stood out from the lot:
We wouldn’t have found this stunning photo if the creator hadn’t included the hashtag in the post. The lesson here is to always add relevant hashtags to your posts so that your small business can get the visibility it deserves — regardless of your niche.
9. Set Your Pixels Correctly
Pixel count impacts how detailed an image can be, and goes hand in hand with photo resolution. A billboard-worthy picture requires a much higher pixel count than an image that you plan to display on your fridge as a 5 x 7 print. However, pixel count matters even for social media: The higher the resolution, the more details are visible. Likewise, you can see less detail in a low-resolution photo.
With product photography, you want to capture crisp images with the highest level of detail possible, so you’ll want a higher pixel count and higher resolution. Any camera you use should be able to shoot from 10 to 20 megapixels, but there are some smartphones on the market that can shoot up to 40 megapixels.
Turn to Popular Pays for More Social Media Tips and Influencer Content Strategies
Product photography helps your products take center stage and attract more customers. Providing influencers with stunning product photos that they can use during your product launches will help your products get the visibility they deserve. Your Instagram profile will also have an attractive mix of product photography that highlights what makes your brand unique.
Ready to launch your next social media campaign? Turn to Popular Pays to outsource your content creation to talented Instagram influencers to increase product awareness and further increase your sales. Influencers have the photography skills and the reach to help get your brand’s products in front of their audience, giving you greater reach.
Popular Pays connects you with the perfect influencers for your small business, allowing you to vet potential influencers and manage your influencer marketing campaigns from start to finish. Start your influencer search with a Popular Pays demo today!