Nailing Your Imagery

When your target audience has the attention span of a goldfish and they are accustomed to getting things online in 250 milliseconds, it is vital to follow your parent’s shopworn advice: make a good first impression.  

Sorry to disappoint all you librarians around the world, but people DO judge a book by its cover. Human beings are naturally visual creatures, it is built in our DNA to make first impressions from the imagery we see around us. Your imagery is what people will see, experience and love even before they’ve read a single word. We are living in a world where people are moved by looks first and function second, a world where people tend to judge a business based on its website and social media presence within the first 20 seconds of stalking them. Moral of the story: your visuals matter.

Investing in a pro can be expensive, but in our opinion, it’s worth every damn penny. Your website imagery needs to catch their eye, move them to read on and entice them to dig in. Having original photos that tell your personal brand story will score you some massive brownie points and allow your audience to really connect with your brand in all its shining originality! However, if hiring a professional is a little out of your budget, then boy do we have some good news for you – here are some quick tips on how to nail a DIY photoshoot for your products without the hefty price tag!

Be Prepared
There’s nothing better than a colour-coded excel spreadsheet to get a project into gear. Make sure you have a list of all the products you need to shoot as well as the different angles, close-ups and detail shots that might be needed. Also make a list of any accessories, props or equipment you might need throughout the shoot. There is nothing worse than having just the right amount of natural light shining through and realising you’ve forgotten that one thing that is going to make this shot perfect *face palm*.

Know your skills (and equipment)
With a new iPhone being released before you have even had the chance to snap up the last one many people think the ‘high-res’ phone camera can make the cut. This might be acceptable for social media posts, but please do us all a favour and put it away for the website imagery. There is nothing worse than being greeted by a low-res image on the homepage of one of your favourite sites. Ask around and see what your friends and fellow business owners use when it comes to photography – everyone’s skill level and eagerness to learn is different so make sure you buy (or borrow) a camera that suits your skills.

Lighting is key
If we have learnt anything from Kimmy-K, it’s that lighting is key (and never wear diamond earrings in the ocean). In order to keep things nice and simple, the best thing to do in terms of lighting is to use natural, available light. Unless you are super confident with studio lighting – leave that one to the professionals. You’ll want natural brightness, but not direct sunlight. If you’re battling with direct sunlight and it’s showing no signs of dulling, a thin, light coloured cloth or curtain over your window should diffuse and soften its harshness.

The tripod is your bff!
Call us a broken record, but we’re going to say it again, consistency is key. When shooting products, you’ll want all your shots to be framed up nicely without having to adjust your camera each time. Enter stage left: the tripod. This means no wonky horizon lines, no blurred shots and no sore arm (win). It also means that if you’re shooting a bunch of products all in one go, you’ll be able to capture the same angles, same lighting and same killer shot for each with ease.

Getting techy
Three things you’ll need to set up on your camera once you’ve secured it in position are the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO. Okay people, we are about to get real techy but trust us, it is worth it. Aperture determines that amount of light that travels into the camera, this is measured in f-stops. An f-stop sitting around f/6-9 will nicely sharpen the whole product and reduce overall blur in the background. Shutter speed is how long the lens stays open for, the higher the fraction, the more light you are letting in. Finally, ISO is the film speed. You would use a higher film speed when shooting in low light and vice versa. The perfect combination of the three features lie in fiddling with these settings and taking lots of test shots. Once you’re happy with how a shot looks, you’ll have your settings right and can smash out all your product shots. (Note: write down your favourite settings so next time you do a shoot, it will be easy-peasy).

Nail the framing or Setting the Backdrop
What would you say if I told you that you could create the ultimate background with only a couple dollars. You’d say I was lying, wouldn’t you? Well prepare yourself because you can! Invest in some white cardboard if you want a crisp background that will really make your product pop. Brick walls and concrete floors are also killer backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to change things up once you start doing test shots. What looks amazing in real life might not translate through the camera lens, and that’s okay. Just make sure that whatever background you choose allows for your subject to shine.

The edit
We all know the life-changing experience of adding a filter, changing that tired-face-selfie from drab to fab in 0.5 seconds. If you’ve got Photoshop or Lightroom, you might like to make a few tweaks, brightening and sharpen where you need to. Don’t stress if you can’t use these programs, it just means spending a little more time perfecting the lighting when you’re taking the photos. It’s also a great idea to mark down your favourite shots and all the settings that you used to make your next shoot even better!