Why are quality images important?
You've probably noticed amateurish, poor quality images on the web or in your local paper before. Straight away they put you on the defensive, and you start making judgments. Does the quality of the images reflect the quality of the products? Is the company as unprofessional as their images make them out to be?
Investing in quality images and presentation is worth every cent. Think Apple products and their packaging. You know the product's expensive, but it's worth it because you're reassured by the professional presentation, the quality of the packaging and the beautiful artwork.
If you've ever searched for a product on eBay, you'll know what customers are looking for. They'll want visual proof that the product's in good condition. They'll probably want to see it from the back and sides, and maybe underneath. And they'll want a close-up to check out the detail. Basically, you need to provide a clear, unobstructed view of the product that mirrors how they'd interact with it if browsing in a bricks and mortar store.
The following sections will help you get great images for your website.
- Tips for photographing objects
- Tips for photographing people
- Buying the rights to someone else's images
- Use a neutral background—make sure there s nothing distracting behind or around your subject. A neutral background will place the focus solely on your product.
- See the light—make sure there s lots of light around your subject, but know the range of your flash as shiny surfaces can bring out a reflection in your photos. If the light is uneven, bring a lamp in close and maybe set it high, say 45 degrees to the subject. See where the shadows go and adjust the lamp for the best look. Remember that shadows describe shape, and help your customers understand what you're selling.
- Get closer—it seems simple, but zooming in until your subject fills the viewfinder can really bring out the details!
- Keep steady—rest your camera on something to avoid camera shake. Even better, invest in a tripod.
- Use a light tent—At some point you may have to photograph an object with a shiny surface such as chrome or glass. Sometimes, it turns out great. But often, a close-up photo will have very distracting reflections, or the shiny chrome surface will appear black. This is often the case for certain types of jewellery, such as diamonds and gold.
In such cases you might want to use a light tent, which will help remove the reflections of dark objects and replace them with bright highlights all around your subject. If you're likely to photograph objects with shiny surfaces often, consider investing in a light tent from a photo supply company—they're only a couple of hundred dollars. Or, you can make your own with sheets of white plastic, making sure to leave an opening for the camera lens. Light the tent from the outside and the reflections will mostly disappear.
Need to photograph people for your website? Perhaps you're a consultant of some kind, or a business owner that needs to ensure a professional image. Whether you're a real estate agent, a naturopath or a lawyer, if you need to feature people on your website, these additional tips will help you out.
- People look best when they're relaxed—consider putting your subject in their natural work environment to encourage candid shots. Similarly, most of the time you'll want to see someone in action rather than just facing straight into the camera, so have some fun. If you're using a flash and movement isn't a problem, ask them to suddenly turn towards the camera and engage with a happy expression. Or, get your subject to walk towards the camera—it's a sure way to help them look relaxed.
- Choose a plain background—choose a plain wall for your background, but bring your subject forward and off the wall to avoid the appearance of shadows. This will also help keep the wall (and any marks on it) out of focus.
- Hire an expert—if all else fails, you can always hire an expert. There are some great professional photographers out there—just find one that you feel comfortable with, and discuss your requirements with them so they know exactly the look you're going for.
If your photos just aren't up to scratch and you really need some professional looking images to put on your website, you might want to consider buying the rights to someone else's images. There are numerous websites that sell images at reasonable prices—one of the most popular is iStockphoto.com. Once you've found a site to buy from, just enter some relevant keywords and search for images that fit your requirements.
You don't need to buy a heap of images, just start with a few and see how you go.