How Do Quality Product Photos Help My Business?
Product photos are the only visual confirmations a user has when they visit your blog or webstore before they pay.
Good product photos can tell a story, persuade, inspire, and much more. It is no wonder that 67% of consumers consider image quality “very important” when making a purchase online. For instance, adding a photograph to a restaurant menu can increase sales of an item by as much as 30% – the image can make or break the sale.
1. Build credibility and trust to increase conversion rates
Imagine now, that you are looking to purchase a pair of leather shoes. You click on a Google ad into a premium shoe retailer’s nicely-designed website featuring a handmade leather oxford, on sale for $300. On the product page, however, the only shot of the product was a frontal shot.
What is the toe shape? What does the back of the heel look like? What do the laces look like from above? What kind of sole does the shoe have? All these important questions went unanswered, you decide parting with $300 to find out is too much of a risk, and the site loses a sale as well as the advertising cost it took to attract you there in the first place.
Having product photos that depict your product from various angles reassures your potential customers about what they are getting and build trust, helping to drive sales. Product photos can either develop a high-class brand image for your product, or could completely ruin all your promotional activities.
2. Differentiate your brand from the riff-raff for larger market share
With the streets of Orchard Road emptying out, more businesses are migrating online. This means that whatever you sell, there’s going to be a myriad of other sellers out there offering the same product, potentially at a lower price point. Sites like Ebay, Amazon, Carousell, Shopee, and Etsy also enable casual sellers to take similar products to market very easily, again making it more difficult for your e-commerce business to stand out.
Because these casual sellers usually hold a full-time job and are only looking to supplement their income, they can afford to sell at rock-bottom prices without concern for quality.
The only way to thrive in this environment is to differentiate yourself: invest in good product photos that showcase the superior make of your product and convince customers that you have a better deal.
Below are 2 real product images of swiss army knives taken from online retailers, alongside our reconstructed versions of them. Which will you buy?
Poorly lit. Amateurish. Taken from Carousell.
- The knife blades are unevenly lit, making them look like cheap metal.
- Light is reflected off a yellowish ceiling onto the knife blades and body, making their colour inaccurate.
Reconstructed in our lightbox with a smartphone – under 45 seconds.
- Lighted evenly by a proper lighting system, highlighting the product and minimizing shadows for a glamorous effect.
- Enclosed within a white studio with white lights, ensuring colour accuracy.
Resembles a spam ad. Taken from a Qoo10 shop.
- Product pictures look ripped off – causes doubt over whether the merchant actually has the product on hand.
- Too many products in a single frame confuses the visitor and does not make it instantly clear to him if he can find what he is looking for.
An eye-catching photo that allures, builds trust, and sells.
- Natural but minimal shadowing makes the product feel more realistic.
- White background can be adjusted in seconds to blend seamlessly into the page.
- Singular product draws attention to its full myriad of features – truly a picture that speaks a thousand words.
Even on a cluttered “flea” e-commerce sites like Qoo10, Carousell etc, good product pictures can make a big difference. We did an eye tracking study with a screenshot of a Qoo10 search results page for “pedometers”, with a proper product image photoshopped into it.
Which result catches your attention first? Here is what others thought:
As expected, the clean, uncluttered, professional image we photoshopped in instantly caught the attention of visitors. Notice that visitors gave it the most attention even though it was ranked second, totally ignoring the first-ranked result.
Also interesting to note is that the third-ranked listing also got some attention because its picture has loads of white space, minimal shadowing and glare, and minimal clutter – characteristics of a professional photo from a trustworthy seller.
If a good product photo can differentiate a listing on a overcrowded “flea” site like Qoo10, imagine the positive impact they can have on your own e-commerce site and brand image.
3. The human brain understands visual information better
90 percent of all information our brians process is visual. Our brains process visual information more than 60,000 times faster than text, which is why we tend to remember 80 percent of what we see, but only 20 percent of what we read.
What we learn
- from imagery (90%)
- from text (10%)
How fast we process
- illustrations, videos
Information retention from
Imagery and Videos
In fact, you’d have understood and remembered plenty from the illustrations above reaching this point, but only scanned through the paragraph before them – so quickly in fact, that you didn’t notice I misspelled “brains” as “brians”. This is exactly what is happening on your product page: potential customers form 80% of their impression from your shoddy, blurry picture, proceed to skim through a huge chunk of text explaining what you couldn’t show in your picture, then leave remembering only the unreliable brand image they got from your picture – never to return.
For example, this product page gives us a wealth of detail in the product description – a sign that the merchant knows the product intimately – but we still instinctively distrust it because the messy product photo that makes it look cheap and unclean.
Product photo and product description taken from real independent sources
We are left confused because the photo does not seem to support the “thick, durable glass that will stand up to the rigors of use” claim or even that it is suitable for food such as “freezer jellies, jams and other foods”. In fact, it looks like a used bottle that has been picked off the floor.
More studies have reaffirmed that online audiences react best to attractive visual content. Today, Instagram and Pinterest users have increased dramatically. Twitter, notorious for optimizing traffic, imposes strict character limitations on users posts to encourage outstanding imagery rather than wordy content.
If your product page is a blurry, copied photo that has to be substantiated with huge chunks of text, you’ll want to heed the advice in the rest of the article.
Features of a Good Product Photo
Before we learn how a lightbox can help you achieve it, let us identify what makes a product photo “good”.
A good product photo educates customers about your product by showcasing its best traits in a flattering way – essentially a visual sales pitch.
1. Lots of white space
“White” space refers generically to blank space. If your product is also white, a black background could be used to provide contrast. However, the colour white is used 95% of the time because it helps the photo blend into web pages, which are commonly white, to create a ‘seamless’ effect. Notice how the pair of cufflinks above seem to be floating on the page.
White space declutters the photo and guides the viewer’s attention towards your product and the story you are trying to tell. To achieve this effect, you should start with a pure white backdrop and pure white light. Otherwise, you’ll never be able achieve this white background with accurate product colour without manually editing every single background pixel. Gently curve the backdrop up instead of folding it to make the white space look like it stretches infinitely.
2. Evenly lit
If your product is unevenly lit by a small light source from only one direction, this will cause the surface on the opposite side to be dark and shadowed. While the contrast can be great for certain artistic shots, obscuring part of your product in the shadows is not what you want when showcasing your product. If you increase the exposure to reveal details in the shadow, the lighted part will become overexposed and become a bright glaring patch.
An evenly lit photo reveals all the intricate details of your product to your customer, driving him towards purchase. Use multiple light sources of equal power to illuminate your object from different directions – The basic set up uses 3 identical lamps on the top and two sides of the object. However, strip lights such as those in our lightbox are preferable as they provide many more points of light from all the angles in between, which increases product detail as well as reduce shadows. Strip lights also take up almost no space, in contrast with the space required for 3 lamps.
3. No glare
Glare is when hard light – or highly directional light – reflects off your object or background, creating an unevenly bright, even blinding, patch. An example is seeing the reflection of a bright lamp in your computer screen (one of those glossy ones). Glare is bad because it obscures a large part of your product detail in, basically, a reflection of the light source. Highly reflective surfaces such as metal and glass are particularly susceptible to glare as they can practically have the silhouette of the light source in it’s surface, and your customers will essentially be trying to distinguish your product detail with a very bright light shone in their faces at the same time.
Glare can be eliminated by diffusing, or softening, the light rays by reflecting it off matte surfaces. This is why only matte-finished plastic boards and foam backdrops are used in the construction of our lightboxes. The uneven surface of our lightbox reflects the incident light randomly and scatters the silhouette of the light source, so that it seems like the light is coming from everywhere. This creates an evenly lit photo with no glare, exposing all the beautiful intricacies of your product. Notice how the cufflinks in the photo above is evenly lit by diffused light reflected off the foam backdrop so that they seem to glow beautifully without glare.
4. Minimal Shadows
If your object is evenly lit by soft light, shadows will automatically be minimized as light reaches all parts of the scene. Because they lack the set up, some people take a photo with very harsh shadowing and resort to cropping out everything but the product – but this is not ideal. A complete lack of shadow can make your product picture look artificial and less ‘relatable’.
A very light amount of diffused shadow around the product is the gold standard: it makes your product look more realistic, tangible and less edited.
When used in conjunction with a white background on a white page, it creates a ‘floating’ effect – customers feel almost as if they can reach out and feel the product on their screens, making your sales story more relatable and ultimately increasing purchase intent.
5. Accurately coloured
Accurately coloured photos drive sales by conveying the message your product is supposed to. Inaccurately coloured ones can cause unhappy customers to return products.
It is essential to use
- white light
- an environment with white walls and roof
This is so that light that reaches your product, directly or reflected onto it, is white (which contains all colours of light). Only when all colours of light reach your object can you produce its true colour. If you were to use yellow light, or a studio with yellow walls, the colour of your product will be tainted yellow. If you shine blue light on a red object, it will appear black because there is no red light to reflect into your camera.
If your product is highly reflective e.g mirrors, jewellery etc, it is essential to use a white floor or base or the coloured floor will be visible reflected in the shiny surface.
6. Sharp and high-resolution
Parting with money is always painful; customers will always want to examine the product up close before purchase, just as in a physical store. You should use high-resolution pictures that can be zoomed in to reveal smaller details such as texture, hinge mechanisms etc. This reduces the experience gap between online and physical shopping, otherwise your customers will leave for another merchant who can provide that assurance.
High-resolution photos are simple enough with today’s smartphone cameras frequently capturing in above 10MP – more than enough for substantial zoom. However, smartphones aren’t sophisticated enough to capture photos with all the aforementioned characteristics without some sort of complex set up and technical expertise. Luckily, our point & shoot lightbox is ready-made to capture great product pictures with default settings on your smartphone camera.
You’ll also want to get a tripod and remote trigger to eliminate camera shake when holding and triggering the shutter. While it may seem insignificant in day-to-day photography, minute camera shake can cause edges to become less defined when zoomed in.
7. Taken from multiple angles
Unless your product is flat, a single photo can never fully describe a 3D product. Make sure you capture your product from every angle so potential customers feel assured that they are getting what they want. You should have at least 3 different angles: front, back, and side. Score bonus points by including a 360° product view so that visitors feel almost like they have the product in the palm of their hand! This can be easily achieved by fixing your camera angle with a tripod stand for smartphones, and rotating your product as you capture.
You’ll also want to include photos of your product in use – this helps visitors frame your product in a lifestyle context, driving them towards purchase.
Why Haven’t More Merchants Invested In Good Product Photography?
You may be wondering if product photos were so important, why are your competitors still using cluttered, blurry photos to sell their products? They have not invested in proper product photos for the same reason you haven’t: costly set-up and a lack of technical know-how. This is a classic case of being “penny-wise and pound-foolish”, seeing how proper product photos will recover more than its worth in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, such thinking is not uncommon and many people fall prey to their emotions – do not be that guy.
With our all-in-one lightbox bringing product photography to your smartphone at 20% the price of a traditional DIY set up, it can no longer even be considered “costly”. Bonus: you can use it even if your experience is limited to snapping selfies.
Find out why a lightbox is essential to outdoing your competitors, or go ahead and purchase one now!