Amazon product photography can be a daunting task, especially when you are anything but a photographer. Like any other skill set, product photography takes patience, time, trials, and errors. Explore these fool-proof ways to improve product photography.
Read the manual
Reading the manual is the most basic, simple, obvious thing that 99.9% of camera owners do NOT do. This may be the best initial investment you can make as a photographer. Knowing which button is responsible for what function is priceless. Make the time. The manual is there to help and reading it will make you feel like less of an idiot in the long run. Don't have your manual? The manufacturer probably has the PDF on its website. Drop it into your Kindle.
Push the button halfway to focus, then all the way to take the shot
You may think this is a no-brainer, but I assure you it is not. So many people complain about unfocused images after purchasing a fancy new camera and this is almost always the reason why. Regardless of the type of image you are capturing, properly focusing is the key. While I specialize in product photography, understanding this simple focusing function will serve you Friday night at your son's football game too. Pushing the button halfway to focus, then taking the shot with a steady hand, increases the chance of a focused, clear result every time. By the way, you would know this if you had read the manual, ha!
Get under the hood
Investing $10-$30 on a hood for your camera lens will up your game tremendously - and it doesn't even have an on/off switch, easy! Putting a hood around the end of your lens decreases glares and increases the color saturation of photos. If you invested in just one extra accessory for your camera, even with its stock lens, this would be it. The difference between images taken with and without a lens hood is obvious.
Hold your camera properly
A left hand cupped under your lens like you are about to eat a footlong sub sandwich, right hand on the trigger, bend your elbows and pull the camera back to your face - doesn't get easier or cheaper than this!
Use the camera's self-timer
The more you can separate yourself and your body movements from the camera, the better the result. While we may use the self-timer in our personal lives for the best family photo or selfie, the self-timer is also great for product photography and beyond. A self-timer allows you to capture the product imagery with less chance for camera shake since you are not physically pushing the button. A self-timer pairs well with a tripod for your photographs, which is our next suggestion.
Use a tripod
A tripod is the third arm you wished you had. Utilizing a tripod separates you from the camera even more. It also provides you the freedom to make last-minute adjustments while the camera is set up. The third arm provides additional angles and stances of shots. Use it as an extension of your vision for the product, as well as the means for accurately using the self-timer.
Incorporate wireless shutter release
The third and final way to remove yourself and your body movements from the resulting image. This is how the pros do it, but triggers are cheap and not very difficult to operate. Wireless shutter release triggers allow you the freedom to walk away from your camera, direct and re-position subjects, and fully manipulate the scene without ruining the shot. Let the product stand for itself, let the camera do its job, and you get the heck out of the way!
Utilize hot shoe flashes
A hot-shoe flash is a great add-on to your current camera. One of the good options is Canon Speedlites. This type of flash projects lights onto the focal point of the shot, providing various lighting techniques while on-the-go.
Hot shoe flashes can operate in tandem with your camera, but do not have to be directly connected to it. Because of this, they are very versatile and easily moved into different positions. A great technique is to mount a hot shoe on a base (some flashes include a base, others require you to purchase one after-market) and place it around the product you are photographing. Different flash positions produce different effects. You can also position your hot shoe behind different diffusers like paper towels, card stock, and fabric.
Hot shoes are fantastic when taking lifestyle images of your products in use. This additional flash increases your lighting and provides crisp, clear photos.
Leverage LED continuous lighting
The last and final simple way to improve your product photography is through LED continuous lighting. Product photography is often shot in small, confined spaces that can heat up quickly. LED continuous lighting provides the whiteness and clearness of actually seeing the product in person without the heat of traditional bulbs. The LED continuous lighting also allows a chance for you to learn and become comfortable with flashes and professional lighting techniques.
LED continuous light is an up-and-coming product space, so keep an eye out for a lot of predicted innovation as photography and video lighting jumps on the Eco-friendly, cost-saving bandwagon.
These simple ways to improve your product photography skills will help even beginners to feel like pros. Most of these recommendations can be enabled, plugged, powered, and mounted for immediate use. The next busy eCommerce season is right around the corner, so now is the time to start showing off both your product, as well as your new-found photography skills.