How to take good product photos for your website, on a budget

When buying online, you can't pick up and feel the products, hold them in your hand and turn them around to see them at different angles. All you have to go on are the photos (or even better, a video).

So when selling online, your photos are vitally important.

The big mistake that most e-commerce companies make is to just use the stock photo from the manufacturer.
These photos are usually very professionally produced, but when all of your competitors are showing exactly the same photo, what makes you stand out?

By all means, use the manufacturer photos, but you should add your own too.

The best case scenario is to use a professional photographer with experience of e-commerce product photography. They'll have all the right equipment and will take some great photos.

But your budget won't always stretch that far. So what can you do on your own?

Firstly, forget about your mobile phone unless you want visitors to think your professionalism only stretches as far as your camera phone. Camera phones are getting better, but you should really use a proper digital camera. It doesn't have to be brilliant, but if it has a real zoom lens, that's probably a good indicator of a half decent pocket camera. Something that has some kind of cover for the lens when it's not in use so that you don't have scratches all over it like a camera phone.

It is usually important that the background of the photos isn't distracting, so a plain background is ideal. Obviously for some products, seeing them in-situ is important too, so use your judgement. If your photo isn't intended to be in-situ, use a plain background. The easiest way to do this is to use large sheet of paper as the background. If it's big enough, you can put use a single sheet of paper on the floor and curve it up the wall. Don't create a crease in the paper, just let it curve naturally from the floor to the wall. A crease will show up in the photo, but a curve will not be noticed.

Don't take the photo too close. Almost all pocket cameras have a lens that works from about 1 metre up to infinity. Any closer than that and the image will be blurred. Some more advanced cameras will have a close up feature which may allow you to get a little bit closer, but it will still be blurred if you try to take a photo at 15cm.

People like to see the product from lots of different angles, so take lots of photos.....and use the best ones. With a digital camera it doesn't cost anything to take too many photos.

These are just some basic tips to stop an amateur looking like an idiot. Obviously for the best results, we recommend using a professional. Subscribe to our newsletter (using the form to the left) to keep informed about other useful e-commerce tips.