For many brands, visual content has become a critical part of the marketing mix. In fact, a recent study found that visual content is the fastest-growing segment of digital marketing among marketers. However, shooting and editing photos of your products can be challenging. Unless you have a professional photography studio in your home or an absurdly spacious secondary apartment as your personal photo shoot space, it can be tricky to get clean, crisp images. Even if you do have ample space, lighting and props aren’t easy to come by for in-home shoots. As such, many brands find it difficult to create visually appealing product images that are also unique enough to stand out from the competition online. That said… If you’re struggling with how to shoot and edit flat lay product photography for ecommerce like a pro, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with these five tips from leading industry professionals.
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Know your product
This one might seem obvious, but you have to know your product inside and out before you start shooting. This way, you can use your product knowledge to create visually appealing, authentic images that truly reflect your brand. If you’re a restaurant, for example, you should know everything about your food — from ingredients, to cooking methods, to plating. This way, you can use your knowledge of the food to create visually appealing images that truly reflect your brand.
Use natural light
Natural light is generally easier to work with than artificial light because you can control where it’s coming from, how intense it is and what color temperature it has. That said, natural light can be a bit finicky, depending on weather and time of year. When you’re using natural light, the goal is to have the light be as unobtrusive as possible, so it doesn’t overpower your product or cast unwanted shadows. You can do this by keeping the light source as far away from your product as possible while still capturing the image you want. Additionally, you can also use reflectors and diffusers to alter the intensity of the light and add more light to specific areas if necessary. Finally, if you’re using artificial light as well, try to match the light source to the natural light source by dimming artificial light or adding more light.
Plan your shoot
Before you even think about picking up a camera, you should have a plan for your shoot. This includes working out the details of your shoot like your desired shoot location, what time of day you want to shoot, what props you want to use (if any), what kind of lighting setup you’ll be using, etc. Planning ahead like this will ensure that your shoot goes as smoothly as possible, and you don’t run the risk of missing out on a good photo opportunity — which happens more often than you might think.
Utilize a shutter release
Using a shutter release will help you maintain consistent exposure and avoid shaking the camera while shooting. Professionals use shutter releases, and they are a great tool to have in your arsenal, especially if you’re new to photography. If you’ve ever used a shutter release, you know that they have a manual setting, which is helpful if you have a tricky product to shoot. This allows you to set a longer exposure time to allow more light in. So if you’re shooting in an environment that has a low light source, a shutter release can help you capture more light.
Edit for color and exposure
While you are editing your images for color and exposure, you don’t want to go overboard. You want to make sure the image is still accurate but that it also looks appealing to the eye. If you see that a product has too much light and is blown out, you’ll want to use an adjustment layer to bring down the exposure. Alternatively, if you want to bring out a specific color (i.e. your brand’s color palette), you can make an adjustment layer focused on color.
And finally, don’t forget the basics
Finally, don’t forget the basics. Make sure you avoid the dreaded vignette (a dark fringe around the edges of your photo) by using a tripod to keep your camera steady. If you’re shooting in low light, try to use a slower shutter speed to let in as much light as possible. And remember to keep your camera at eye level. For lighting, make sure to use natural light whenever possible. If you need to supplement it, try to use warm light sources, like tungsten bulbs or LED lights, as they’ll enhance the look of your product.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re planning your next photo shoot, and you’ll be well on your way to creating visually appealing product images that are sure to impress.
And lastly, make sure you’re looking at examples of flat lay photography in your feed. It’s the single best way to learn what makes a good flat lay photo, and it will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls.