Website Product Photo Tips & My Pet Hate

Given it’s 2013, I suspect the vast majority of you have been to at least ONE website which has product photos on it.

Whether it’s Ebay, Amazon.com, Gumtree or Fred Nerk’s Gift Basket Shop (!), I’m sure you have seen product photos on their site, and today I want to discuss my do’s and don’ts when it comes to this often unthought-of element of website design.

Firstly, my PET HATE is sites that have small photos only (even just thumbnail sized).

In my opinion, they’re even worse than sites with no photos…

You see, if you believe the pages on your site need to have a photo, then I suggest to you that they need more than one photo AND they also need BIG HIGH QUALITY photos.

Ask yourself why on earth someone would be inspired to order from your site if you can’t even be bothered to give the site visitor some great photos to see what the product is.

Most people are visual, and when they are in a buying situation and cannot pick the product up and handle it (i.e. when it is for sale on a website), to see what it looks and feels like, then the next best option you have to capture their attention and engage their senses is to give them big beautiful high quality photos to look at.

Possibly the best example of this online has GOT to be our friends at Apple. Now, putting aside the fact that I moved away from the iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Android phone last year, I still totally ‘get’ the aesthetics and high quality look and feel of all of Apple’s products.

If you haven’t visited their website recently, I recommend you take 5 mins to have a look over their site and see how big and beautiful ALL their product photos are. There is NO WAY you could look at their site and not be wowed by the beautiful imagery, regardless of whether they are showing the crisp quality of their phone screens, or something as simple as demonstrating the small size and high quality finish of the phone body, like this image:

Apple iPhone beautiful photo

Go look at all the product photos on Apple’s site and ask yourself, do your site photos even come close to this standard? If not, then it’s time to do something about it.

IMPORTANT: I totally “get” that you might not have Apple’s budget nor a staff of professional photographers on call to re-do every photo on your site.

Everyone’s budget and circumstances are different, BUT do not let this stand in your way of improving your product photos.

These days, even a basic smart phone has a decent quality camera on it, which should allow you to take as many photos as you like, all at a decent resolution. And even a good quality Digital SLR camera starts for well under $1000 these days, if you want to get more advanced than using your iPhone or Android mobile.

Best of all, you can take as many pics as is needed until you find the ones that are the very best of the bunch. You’re not forking out money for film or developing, so go crazy and take heaps. Just delete the crappy ones and use the good ones.

There should be NO reason for not having multiple great photos on your website, with the possible exception of you being locked into an inferior CMS or ecommerce software system that does not allow you to upload multiple photos that are large sized.

If you are stuck with that, it’s probably time to start considering upgrading to a better quality ecom shop/CMS.

Going back to the photos, you should be taking multiple shots from different angles, so people can get a sense of what your product looks like if they were turning it over in their hands to look at it in person.

If it’s clothing (or wearable) products, you should definitely include some photos of a model wearing the item, so people can imagine how it looks on a person. Selling clothing online is a LOT tougher than selling many other products, because you have to overcome issues like sizing and fit.

Just because it says it is a size 10 doesn’t mean someone of that size is going to find it is a good fit, nor that it will even look good on them (ladies, I am right about this, correct? I know 99.99999999999999% of you have had this happen to you before).

So, the photos of the product on a model will help people imagine how it fits and looks on a real person.

AND, just a comment (based on a real life situation with an old client of mine). Make sure that if your clothing is for plus sized customers, use a plus sized model (and vice versa) for your photos. I can’t tell you how ridiculous it was to get this specific client to see the folly of using skinny models to promote their products to the plus sized market.

BIG FAIL!

Moving on to another site example, let’s consider Ebay.

Now, on Ebay all the product photos are supplied by the seller, and you can tell straight away which listings are going to do poorly compared to those that will do well.

Almost without fail, listings with lots of large sized, quality photos allow buyers to really see what they are getting for their money, and help sell the product.

I randomly found a listing for a men’s wristwatch on ebay. Take a look at the photo below. It is high quality, very easy to see what the product looks like and the seller has 7 different photos to look at (the little boxes at the bottom of the main image). Do these pictures help sell this watch? You bet they do!

Photo of watch for sale on Ebay

Now, one item you should purchase if you are taking your own photos of hand held products is a “photo tent” or “light box” (or even photo box or light tent 😉 ).

These come in many different sizes and are designed to take professional grade, close up photos of objects. Light boxes are designed to filter light to prevent reflections and hard shadows.

There are HEAPS of light tents for sale on Ebay or from your local photography online store, and most of them are cheap. Plenty of them are well under $100, so don’t be a tight arse – just buy 1 or 2 and use them for taking photos of your products.

Understand this – a HUGE component of the success of your product photos will be lighting. Get that right and the photos will help sell. Get it wrong and you’ll reduce your sales big time.

Big Tip: If you have no photography experience or have never used a photo tent before, go to YouTube and search for videos of people demonstrating them. For example, search for “light tent photography tutorial” and you will find heaps of great videos.

Even a beginner can improve the quality of their product photos in 1 short day with a photo tent, some simple lights and a cheap camera.

Getting started, you do NOT need a $5000 professional camera and thousands of dollars worth of lighting kit. Do it on the cheap but just make sure you buy the right sort of equipment and learn to use it properly, and you will be pumping out great snaps in no time, and enhancing your site product photos like a pro!

OK folks, well that’s it for another day. I hope this article has inspired you to re-think your product photo situation and put some more time & effort into adding more, higher quality and larger sized photos to every listing. If you have any questions or want to mention your situation, leave a comment below.

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