Nothing captures the essence of an object better than photography. This is especially true for retailers and e-commerce websites. Since the customer cannot smell, touch or feel the product, photography and sight play a crucial role in the art of sales. Luckily with the resources available today, you do not need to spend precious marketing dollars on professional photography. By learning the areas below, you can take amazing product photographs by yourself and a simple camera.

Lighting

When you have a choice, always opt for natural light and take photos outdoors if possible. Early morning and afternoon lighting works the best. Avoid the noon-hour sun, as that tends to be the brightest and harshest, and can wash out your photos. If the weather is not cooperating and you need to take photos, place your products near a window and capture whatever natural light you can get. And don’t worry if you don’t have a backyard or outdoor space. Consider using a public park as your photo ground.

Equipment

You do not need an elaborate Cannon or Nikon camera to take great shots (of course, those cameras can’t hurt either). With the right supplementary equipment, any digital camera can capture images. Don’t forget your iPhone or iPad as Apple tools take great photographs.

Smashing Magazine recommends using a tripod to ensure your photos are sharp and professional, especially if you do not have a fancy camera and complimentary lenses. Tripods are especially helpful in preventing blurry photos from even the slightest natural hand shaking. And even if your camera and tripod are heavy, always tape or weigh down the legs to the floor.

Shooting

Now that your lighting is set and you have the right equipment, get ready for the fun part. It is important to take several photos and from many different angles. Photojojo offers great suggestions for staging your photos and the shots you want to capture.

  • If you are creating a tutorial, document every step of the process, even if you don’t think you’ll need the photo at the time you’re shooting. For cooking photo spreads, take a picture of all the ingredients together before you start, and take a few nice shots of the final product. There is a reason cooking and food blogs that illustrate the recipe process with photos are so popular.
  • Always photograph items such as clothing and jewelry on a real person (rather than a straight-on shot of the product itself). You want the buyer to picture herself wearing the beautiful necklace or fancy scarf.

Editing

The photo editing process is almost as important as taking the photos. Simple photo editing can help you play up certain product points, change the focus to different areas, enhance colors, and even strip out unintended red eye. Make the colors pop and emphasize brightness. Photoshop is a great tool to use if you are familiar with the software. But even simpler and free web programs, like iPhoto and Picmonkey, work wonders on your photos.

Next time you need professional looking photos, try using the tips above to take your own pictures rather than hiring an expensive photographer. Editing, using the right equipment and getting great light will help you sell more products and assure your images pop off the page.