This is a guest post from our friends at Jumpstory, a fantastic resource for millions of authentic, creative stock photo images to elevate your brand!
Go to a stock photo site that has free images, download the images that are kind of relevant to the content, or if you’re in an adventurous mood, pick images that have no meaning but are kinda witty or interesting… That’s all it takes to pick stock photos, right?
Well, let me tell you, if that’s your approach to choosing images for your content, then you will definitely fail in your venture.
We’re experiencing a time in visual marketing, in which choosing images that convey the same message as your content is as important as the content itself.
According to the MDG blog, content featuring compelling images averages 94% more views than those without.
So, it’s easy to choose inauthentically, staged, shouldn’t-this-come-with-a-picture-frame stock images. But the right ones are the ones that will not make you wince, and they’re out there!
A Mini History of Stock Photos
Stock photos actually have quite an interesting story. The first stock photo agency was launched in 1920 and it was founded to help publishers and newspapers.
The idea was to help them get relevant images for their content without having to organize a photoshoot!
In the 90s, the digitization process started, which means the stock agencies started getting replaced by online platforms providing the same service.
Around the 2000s, stock photos started becoming more accessible and affordable. The uses were also not limited to publishers and newspapers anymore! Advertising agencies, creative designers, web designers, and even individual users started using stock photos. Around the same time, the stock photos started becoming vaguer and non-specific in their qualities.
The reason for this was that they wanted to fit the needs of an ever wider clientele. It worked for a while, too. But soon people started getting bored of these cliché and staged images for their products and services.
Brands started realizing how real emotions, candid pictures, and clean images have better chances of connecting with their customers.
Plus let’s not forget about the evolution of the customers themselves and the fact that they’re not as gullible as they used to be.
But, that’s a different topic for a different article. Good stock photos are out there. Here are some strategies for finding images that won’t ruin your marketing efforts:
1. Select Images That Reflect Your Content
As we’ve mentioned, generic stock photos will usually fail to engage with your audience and serve the purpose of your content. So, set off in search of authentic stock photos! You have worked hard to create the content and the right images can improve and elevate it. After all, visual elements play a very important role in grabbing the readers’ attention.
Good photography keeps your readers intrigued. So, even if you’re overwhelmed by choices, don’t forget to choose something that accurately represents you and your brand.
There are billions of photos available online for use, and there’s definitely one that suits your content. Keep an eye out for images that show life as it is, not generic or too polished. Candid pictures often work the best!
“A picture can trigger a buried memory and recall a precise moment in time much more rapidly than words.”
What do you want the memory to be? Usually, a generic image of a person in a suit with a fake smile and awkwardly shaking hands won’t inspire good memories, but something more candid and authentic can work. Here’s a comparison!
Posed Stock Photos
Authentic stock photos
2. Use Good Quality Images
As the old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. But if that image is pixelated and blurred, those 1000 words will remain unheard. The right stock photo for your content is about more than grabbing the least expensive option to tick a box.
Most readers have short attention spans and visual stimuli that break the monotony of text and help readers understand the topic better are simply invaluable.
For example, if you’re looking for a technology photo, rather than using a cropped image of someone’s hand on a keyboard or table, find a picture of an entire person interacting naturally with a device in an authentic setting.
3. Use Images Legally
When using stock photos, make sure you are using them legally. It’s important to understand the licensing system provided by the stock photo website.
Most of them say that you can use their photos with complete freedom. But more often than not, you can’t use them as freely as it seems. Licensing policy changes when you use images online and offline. And trust us, you’ll find it harder to make any money if you are being sued.
According to Copytrack, 85% of all images on the internet are stolen. This means that using images online has become much riskier than it used to be.
So, choosing a platform that gives you access to photos instead of selling them to you at a particular cost can save you from these legal complications. Also, look for the ones that provide insurance for the images’ use.
It’s very important to choose a stock photo provider who sources images only from quality partners. Again, a reputable site will clearly state what their photos may be used for.
4. Choose Images That Aren’t Overused
A good stock photo site makes sure that new photos are being added to its database. This ensures that you don’t have the same few photos that the entire world is using.
It all begins with choosing a good stock photo site and one that doesn’t always have to be expensive. At JumpStory, we have one of the most competitive pricing structures.
With a premium stock photo service, you can narrow down your search. These sites use filters and have categories with curated collections to refine your search.
This means access to images of lifestyle, people, emotions, nature, traveling, marketing, health, food, holidays, landscapes, wallpapers, countryside, and cities. At JumpStory, we’ve developed an AI that only shows you high-performing images, enabling your content to drive better results.
2022 is seeing an increased interest in:
Simple and elegant compositions with bright colors
Because of the rise of travel bloggers on Instagram, beautiful landscapes and exciting travel images are making a huge splash in the stock realm
Photos that show social issues in their raw form
Images focused on diversity but in a tasteful and not overly staged manner
Taking photos of updated robotics interacting with humans in a pleasant manner
Candid images are becoming more and more popular. Portraits that are not overly posed or photoshopped. Companies are leaning towards photos that have more organic expressions
When you choose the right stock photos for your designs, you bring everything together. From your branding to your messaging, to your call-to-action! Need a place to start? Check out Jumpstory for millions of authentic images of real people with real emotions. Happy hunting for that perfect photo!
All eyes are on ecommerce like never before. We are in a time where anything and everything is at our fingertips, and we can purchase with a simple tap of a button. It’s hardly surprising that more than 75% of people shop online at least once a month. With a pool of potential customers that big, how do you ensure you’re not only capturing the attention of your target audience but driving them to purchase?
It’s simple: your visual content.
Think of your product photos and videos as your resume. No matter where your consumer first comes across your brand, your content is your photographic first impression. Your visual content is their introduction to who your brand is, what product you’re selling, and how it will impact their lives. In the scrolling era, it’s vital to any ecomm business to have content that stops the scroll and encourages customers to learn more.
So, how do you get scroll-stopping content?
Here are 10 things to consider when creating your content in order to reach maximum effectiveness, no matter what platform you use:
1. Make a plan
Before diving into creating your content, it’s incredibly important to create a plan. This means doing a little introspection and analysis on what content you currently have, how it’s working, and where you want to go next. It’s not as daunting of a task as you might think! Start with answering these questions:
What is currently working? What is not working?
What goals do you want to accomplish with your new content?
What type of content is missing? Do you have product-on-white? Product-on-color? Lifestyle?
Is there a primary location this content is going to live? (Think: Amazon has specific requirements that you don’t have to follow for social media or Shopify.)
Do you have group or collection shots?
How effectively do you feel your images are telling your product story? Could it be better told with use of a model or fresh ingredient props?
From social media, to paid media, to website, to email, to other selling platforms: is your content consistent throughout the entire customer experience?
Once you have your answers, you’ll have a pretty good grasp of what content you’re missing and what content you’ll want to capitalize on. From here, you can create a mood board and shortlist to organize your thoughts and execute on your new vision.
2. Be Consistent
Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram and seen a product image that stopped you in your tracks? You’re suddenly so excited to learn more about this product that you’re almost ready to purchase without investigating further. You go to the company’s profile and see more amazing images that are ramping up your excitement even more! You get to the website to purchase and you’re not seeing those same awesome images but now you’re questioning if this is too good to be true. You begin to doubt the company and feel like you were duped.
This is why consistency is so important.
Online shoppers operate on blind trust, which is why making the sale can be so difficult. One chip in that trust foundation and you may have lost that customer before having the chance to prove the value of your product. Having consistency throughout your entire customer journey gives consumers the feeling they are purchasing from a company they can trust.
3. Tell a story
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which is more than enough to tell your entire product story.
We’ve all heard the phrase “product storytelling” being tossed around, but what does that actually mean? At the most basic level, it means you are setting expectations of your product.
Through your product photos and videos, you should be demonstrating exactly what your customers can expect when they receive your product, from texture to smell to durability to functionality.
Look at your current set of photos and videos. What message are they sending? What feelings are they invoking? If your answer was nothing and none, then it’s time for a content update!
4. Engaging the senses
One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re conveying a message and inspiring a feeling through your content is to engage the senses.
Imagine you have a new moisturizer. If a customer was shopping for your product in a brick-and-mortar store, what would they do before purchasing? They would test it. They would check out its consistency, its texture, how long it takes to absorb, how it smells, and how it looks on the skin after being rubbed in.
According to BigCommerce, 58% of people don’t purchase because they aren’t able to try a product. When shopping online, customers don’t have that testing luxury, which means it’s up to you and your content to bridge that gap for them. Having photos of the moisturizer next to a beautifully styled set of ingredients provides the shopper with a mental connection to what it will smell like.
This is also where video becomes a big player. Showing a model applying the moisturizer will answer all those pre-purchase questions a shopper might have. It’ll give them confidence that they know exactly what to expect when it arrives.
Learn more about how to engage the senses with your content here.
5. Introduce color
Product-on-white is a necessary box every ecomm seller has to check. It’s a great place to start with your product-only shots. It’s distraction-free and simple. But it’s not always memorable. That’s why product-on-color can be a great tool.
Product-on-color serves the same purpose as product-on-white. It can showcase your product in a simple, clean way. The biggest difference is, product-on-color allows you to show off your brand personality more than a blank background.
You can experiment with colors, too! Adding in two or three complimentary (and on-brand!) colors to your backdrop can change the dynamics of your content in a big and valuable way.
6. Play with props
Props are a great way to add depth and show context to your content. They also serve as supporting characters in the story you’re trying to convey. Let’s say you have a line of spa products. You want to send the message that your products are the must-have for ultimate relaxation. To do that, embrace earthy, stress-reducing colors and feature one of your products styled on a soft, textured towel surrounded by driftwood and a pale green air plant.
7. Explore lifestyle shots
Lifestyle shots are the one-two punch that can take someone from browsing to purchasing. These kinds of shots engage the senses through props and show your product in use and in context. Talk about painting the full picture for your customers!
The best way for someone to imagine your product fitting into their life is by showing them.
8. Get the fam together
Similar to product-on-white, product-only shots are essential to your ecomm business. But, oftentimes, group and collection shots are forgotten. Mixing and matching your line of products together helps your customers think bigger about what they need. Maybe they came to you for shampoo, but if you show them you have shampoo, conditioner and a heat protectant, they’ll be more inclined to purchase the entire line.
Group and collection shots are also a key component to holiday gift buying. If your products can be used as a gifting opportunity, you may be leaving money on the table by not including collection shots in your marketing.
9. Add movement with GIFs
Did you know? According to a recent report published by Facebook, adding subtle movement to your digital ads can improve your conversion rate by 17%? That’s a huge leap for hardly any extra work! Adding GIFs into your marketing strategy is a great way to stop the scroll and highlight some of your product’s best features.
10. Optimize for mobile
No matter what content you have or create, it must be optimized for mobile. These days, shoppers are buying more often through mobile devices than through computers, and that balance is only going to continue to lean more and more toward mobile shopping.
“As users get more used to digital tools and products due to the pandemic they will get better at interacting with ads and demand a better user experience. That means no broken links, confusing CTAs, slow pages, or desktop-only websites,” says Google’s brand manager, Bruno Delfino.
In other words, buyers have a new standard of what they are willing to deal with when it comes to their online shopping experience.
The great thing about content creation is, you don’t have to do it alone! Working with companies, like soona, that specialize in professional photos and videos can make the content creation process so much easier.
soona is the fast casual content revolution you’ve been waiting for. soona makes creating professional photos and videos easy and affordable.
If you’re located near Denver, Minneapolis, or Austin, you can book an in-studio shoot. Not near one of those cities? soona also offers virtual shoots that are changing the content creation game. All you have to do is book your shoot, ship your product, and join your shoot live from anywhere.
You can collaborate with your soona crew and provide live feedback as you watch your images appear in your soona dashboard in real-time. Photos are $39 each and videos clips and GIFs are $93 each, and you only buy what you love. Once you checkout, your edited content is returned to you in 24 hours. Learn more at soona.co.
In Ecommerce, a product photo doesn’t produce a thousand words; instead, it hopefully produces thousands of clicks resulting in sales.
Getting product photos right doesn’t need to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming, but it’s essential for business growth. About 93% of consumers value visual appearance as a key deciding factor in their purchase.
Regardless of whether you’re snapping shots with a phone on the fly or working with sets and a fancy camera, these product photo basics from our friend Ray Ko at Shop Pop Displays set the foundation for sales success.
Light it right
Consumers want to have confidence in your product without touching it. A product shot can do that, and lighting the item properly is the first step.
The great thing about lighting? You don’t have to buy it. Just use natural light!
If you’re new to product photography, avoid working with flashes. It’s a subject that can get very technical and complicated. As you work with natural light, remember these basics:
Place the product on a table as close to a window as possible. You can also shoot outdoors or in a garage with the door wide open
Place the display at 90 degrees to the window, adjust as needed
Turn all the other lights off in the room off; light mixing is an image killer
Avoid direct sunlight on the product; it creates a harsh glare
Early morning and late afternoon are the ideal times
Go with a white backdrop
A clean white backdrop works for all product types, and you can play with context shots later. If your business sells on Amazon or creates Google ads, for example, a white backdrop makes it easier to stay within guidelines.
To make your own white backdrop, start with a white poster board. Tape it at the end that’s on the table and place the table against a wall or something else that creates a 90-degree angle.
Then, tape the poster board on the wall so that the board arcs cleanly up the wall. You’ll want to adjust the table so that the arc is subtle enough on the table side of the poster board so you can place your product in the center. Some people also create photo boxes with white walls. Either way works, as long as the backdrop is white.
Steady shots, angles
A tripod is not necessary, but some people will either make their own or invest in one to keep the camera steady. If you’re using your phone, consider a bracket that attaches to the end of a table.
When you don’t have the lens locked down in the same place, so to speak, your products might look unprofessional because they’ll be shot from inconsistent angles.
You can also play with the right angle for the product. A 45-degree angle is common for showing depth, but you can adjust your product to see which angle is best. Some products may require a flatlay, or overhead, shot, too.
Adding, subtracting light
It’s a hack many pros use. Get some inexpensive black and white corrugated cardboard (the thicker kind that doesn’t bend) and cut it into roughly page-size (8.5- by 11-inch) pieces.
These cards add (white) and subtract (black) light. When you hold the white card at an angle to the object you can add light to remove shadows. A black card absorbs the light and can extend a shadow, if needed. Some also use a diffuser to scatter light. Experiment with any of these tools.
In addition, if you can adjust shutter speed on your camera, try it—you’ll allow more light into the shot the longer the shutter stays open. Some cameras allow you to adjust this feature so you can see what the product will look like in a preview screen ahead of time.
It’s important not to paralyze yourself with information. Once you have good natural light and a stable white backdrop, be liberal with the number of shots you take. Compare images, experiment with angles and shadows, and get a grasp of your capabilities to reflect and absorb light with your white and black cards.
When it comes to taking great product photos, it’s important to display your product in an interesting way that grabs the attention of your audience.
Display aids like risers or boxes can help users better visualize your product images while adding some interesting visual elements as well.
There are plenty of ways to use display aids to create creative product images.
Take the image from Mitch Payne for example! Risers are used to highlight the product and create a more visually interesting, eye-catching image.
Once you settle on the photos you like, you’re going to want to retouch and edit. There’s plenty of online content to teach you some photo editing basics that covers subjects such as proper cropping and aligning, as well as adjusting exposure, tint, brightness and a variety of other photo elements.
Conclusion: Explore and learn
Like anything else, you will refine your technique, angles, lighting and work area as you go. It’s also important to keep learning by studying products and brands you appreciate. You’ll start to find manufacturers that may be using the same techniques you are.
Remember, perfection comes in time. Chances are you’ll stumble across ways to improve photos you’ve already published. You can always update those photos. It’s important to just keep snapping and growing your knowledge base. And as your knowledge grows, sales will, too!
It also greatly increases engagement on your online platforms since the customers know the person they’re interacting with, not just mysterious pixels on a screen.
Brand Photos Help You Communicate Your Story and Mission
Another story your brand photos tell is your mission. Why do you do this? Why do you believe in it?
By having a solid aesthetic, such as color and objects, your brand’s unique signature comes alive. You stand out from the crowd.
Brand Photography Examples (+ Where You Can Use Your Shots!)
There are so many kinds of brand photography. Headshots, product photos, and lifestyle photos are just three of the options!
Stock images, such as from Unsplash, can also be used to solidify your aesthetic.
For example, if you’re a writer, you may choose photos of books or notepads. If you’re a chef, you’ll want to show some of your recipes’ ingredients.
But…where exactly can your brand photography go? Here are some ideas:
Social media: profile pictures, posts, and stories
Your website and blog posts
Business cards and any print material
Webinars, interviews, and guest speaking opportunities
Media Kits and PR packages
Features, videos, and course content
Now, lets talk about how to plan your first brand photography shoot – step by step!
Step One: Identify Your Story
The first thing to keep in mind, again, is your brand’s story. It’s probably tied into your personal story a bit, which is powerful for creating an authentic brand.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to hone in on this story:
If your brand was a color, what would it be? (The site coolors.co is useful for choosing a brand color scheme.)
If it was a song, which one?
How about a movie?
All of the above have specific thoughts and emotions associated with them.
Even songs can paint pictures in your mind!
With these inspirations in mind, an easy way to fine-tune your visual aesthetic is to create a Pinterest board of photos you feel best describe the vibe of your own brand.
You can always remove any that don’t fit after you build your collection!
Step Two: Browse Similar Brands and Photographers for Inspiration
What kind of photos do you need, and what works best to convey your story?
Research other brands in your industry and niche for inspiration. Write down any ideas you have!
When you run across images that really spark something in you, add them to that Pinterest board you made.
You can share this board later with your brand photographer to stay on the same page!
Step Three: Create a List of Must-Have Shots
Look at you! Now you’ve got a clearer idea of the shots that will support your brand’s story.
Whether they’re product images, headshots, or photos of you in action, they’re all important.
Put a star beside your “must-have” photos so you know that, at the end of the day, you’ll have the ones that matter most.
Step Four: Source Props, Items, and Wardrobe
You may need props for your brand photoshoot. Before you schedule a shoot with your photographer, list out all the props you’ll need.
Now is also a great time to plan your wardrobe, too: lay your outfit(s) on the bed and snap a photo.
These are helpful for your photographer to know in advance so they can plan for the shoot’s lighting and setup.
Step Five: Select a Branding Photographer to Work With
How do you choose a brand photographer? One simple way is to search on Instagram for your city + photographer.
From the results, you can easily browse the work of photographers in your area to see who would fit best with your style.
It’s very important that the photographer you choose is someone you feel you can relate to, that way you’re relaxed on the shoot day—which, of course, makes for the best photos!
Step Six: Work With Your Photographer to Determine the Right Location
You may already have an idea of where you want to do the photoshoot. Your photographer will also know great locations, so you can work together to pick the best ones.
If you’re shooting at home or at an office, it’ll give you time to get any necessary permissions, clean the area, and set up the props.
This prep work makes the shoot infinitely simpler on the day!
Step Seven: Show Up For Your Personal Branding Shoot and Have Fun!
Congratulations! The legwork is done, and now it’s time for fun. You’re going to get the photos that help make your brand even more relatable, trustworthy, and confident.
Stepping in front of the camera may feel daunting. You can always practice at home: try on your outfits and have a mini-photoshoot with yourself using your smartphone to determine which angles (and smiles) work best for you.
It may also be fun to hire a professional makeup artist or hairstylist to look and feel your best!
Don’t forget to take deep breaths before and during the shoot. You’ve got this!
Conclusion: 7 Steps for the Perfect Brand Photos
Now you know the importance of strong brand photography to create trust and tell a story, as well as how to plan and prepare for a shoot.
From deciding your brand colors, gathering visual inspiration, and planning locations and props for the big day, you’ve got the hang of making the most from a personal branding photoshoot.
These images will serve you well in years to come as your success grows. And just remember, even though brand photos are a professional asset, you should relax and have fun!
After all, you’re breathing your brand to life with images for the world to see!
Want to switch up your aesthetic or showcase your products and services? Flatlay photography is a fantastic way to do both!
In this article, we’ll go through the whole process of creating a scroll-stopping flatlay product photo. First, we’ll brainstorm the visual story, arrange your objects, and then edit the final photo.
And even if flatlays aren’t part of your style,this is a great process to follow when fine-tuning your photo styling skills, too!
What is Flatlay Photography?
A flatlay is a photo of objects taken from directly above.
You’ll organize props and your main subjects on a flat surface, then stand directly over it to snap the picture.
The props are used to tell a story and create a feeling based on that main subject. Common main subjects of flatlay photos are books, clothing, food, art, and other small- to medium-sized objects.
Flatlay Photography Set-up: A Checklist of What You Need
Before you gather the equipment for your flatlay, here are some things to consider:
What color scheme do you want your photo to have? If you want some inspiration for color combinations, use the free color palette planner coolors.co.
What will the main lighting source of your photo be? Natural light is best for flatlays, so you might set up near a window or even outside.
What will your background be? This could be a hardwood floor, your desk, a patterned cloth, or whatever best fits the aesthetic you’d like to create in your flatlay. Make sure it’s a clean, flat surface.
What will you stand on to take the photo?
This may seem like a lot, but don’t let that stop you. It’s so much fun to experiment with different backgrounds, lighting, and color combinations!
Once you do one flatlay, you’ll know exactly what to do next time.
Now, let’s gather some essential items:
Your primary object (the “hero”)
Props: think about how your photo’s main subject makes you feel, and pick props that help tell the visual story.
Light sources: you can also “dress up” your photo by having a secondary light source, such as fairy lights or candles.
Textures: for visual interest. This could be a scarf, crumpled paper, ivy vines—anything!
How to Create a Stunning Flat Lay Photo (8 Tips!)
You’re ready to take stunning flatlay photos for your brand! Let’s start with the story behind your photo and create a set based on that.
Create a Story for Your Photo
A great flatlay photo is much more than throwing some objects down and snapping a picture. Each element helps tell the story of your main subject.
The props should add to the overall vibe you want the photo to have.
If a book is your main subject, think about what objects showed up throughout the story that were important: perhaps a map or a key.
If your focus is a cake, some measuring bowls and a spoon may work.
Set Up Your Surface
It’s time to build your set! You may choose to set up on the counter, table, or floor. Make sure to clear any clutter and give it a good wipe-down before arranging.
The background is a key element in the story of your photo, but if you don’t like it as is, don’t worry.
Example: if you’re featuring cookies but don’t want to show your countertop, you can hide it using cloths, cutting boards, or baking pans. Get creative!
Check and Adjust Lighting
As in all photography, good lighting is crucial.
Like we mentioned before, natural light works best for flatlays rather than harsh, artificial light. Do you have a window that gets indirect light? Take some test photos to see how the lighting works in different places around your home.
You could even set up outside (overcast days work best because the light is more even). Don’t forget: you can also play with shadows.
Too dark? Think about other ways you can brighten up the photo. Fairy lights and candles are commonly-used props and secondary light sources in flatlays.
Place Your Product
It’s good for the “hero” object to differ in size and/or color from the props so it stands out. (This is called “visual hierarchy.”) The question is, where do you put it?
In the middle of the frame is a simple option, but there are so many ways to change it up while still making sure it’s the main focus of your flatlay.
One option is to use the “rule of thirds.” This means that your photo is divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically, and you place the hero object where the lines intersect. It’ll be slightly off-center.
Your hero object doesn’t have to be fully in the frame, either; it can be partially out of view as well. It might also be situated diagonally rather than perfectly straight.
Place Your Secondary Props and Items
Arranging your props and secondary objects may take some time, but it’ll really make your flatlay photo stand out. The rule of thirds will definitely come in handy here, as will the “visual hierarchy” we talked about a minute ago.
Create “leading lines” with your props—that’s when they lead your eye straight to your hero objects. Your hands and arms make wonderful leading lines!
Texture is important to maintain visual interest as well. Successful flatlays contain many textures to keep the viewer’s eye engaged.
You can also put objects on top of one another. Stacked objects come closer to the camera, even being out of focus, creating depth, and making the photo seem more lifelike.
Shoot From Above
Standing on a chair might be able to get you to a good height for shooting. Alternatively, you could use a tripod or even a ladder.
Be sure to double-check that your camera or phone is as flat as possible before taking the picture.
Include Shots That Leave Room For Text
Using your flatlay photos for other social or sales channels, like Pinterest or Facebook? If so, it’s a good idea to photograph multiple versions of your flatlay, sometimes leaving a blank space to add text or graphics later.
Like with the hero objects, you can leave that space in the middle, along the intersecting lines of the rule of thirds, or around the edges of the photo.
Now that you’ve taken some gorgeous flatlay photos, it’s time to edit. This is the last step and it’s where you’ll make the aesthetic come to life. Oftentimes, this includes reducing shadows, increasing brightness, and adjusting HSL.
If your chosen colors are warm and cozy like browns and earthy greens, you’d increase the temperature and tune them using HSL. Or, if you’ve chosen clean whites and grays, you’d decrease the temperature, desaturate a bit, and up your highlights.
Conclusion: How to Get Perfect Product Photography Flatlays
Flatlays are perfect for showcasing your products and services. Practicing is the best way to figure out what fits best with your brand!
Follow people and brands on social media whose photos inspire you to keep experimenting. Take loads of pictures of your set, rearranging your hero objects and props to find what works best visually. Spend a little time making new sets, and you’ll become a flatlay master in no time!
Question: do your Shopify product photos dazzle your customers and increase sales, or do they leave shoppers unimpressed and unsure of what they’re buying?
As shopping at e-commerce online stores skyrockets, your images play a huge role in sales. However, sometimes you’re at the mercy of product photos provided by the manufacturer if dropshipping is your main source of inventory.
Good product photos not only showcase your products (hopefully) in their best possible light, they also give subtle indicators of quality, trust, and lifestyle fit.
And there’s nowhere these product photos are more important than on Pinterest!
Devise simple contest rules and give suggestions for capturing photos in the best light.
Once you get a pile of UGC, toss out low-quality, blurry, or overly filtered photos.
Where necessary, you can lightly edit the images to remove shadows or remove the background for use in your branded design.
Schedule Your Pinterest Product Pins with Tailwind
Sharing fresh content is vital to increasing Pinterest views. By starting with good Shopify catalog images, you can easily create Product Rich Pins.
Save yourself time and delight shoppers by scheduling your product image Pins with Tailwind for Pinterest. Tailwind automatically pulls over product information, like price and description, so you can spend more time creating fresh new content!
Get your [sc name=”free-trial-of-tailwind-for-Pinterest”] no credit card required, and boost your Pinterest views and Shopify sales today!
Struggling to showcase your products in their best light without a professional camera setup? Great news: you don’t need a fancy DSLR to capture breath-taking product photos. In fact, you can take great product photos with an iPhone!
We’re giving you everything you need to know on how to take product photos at home with an iPhone.
Psst… Check out all the tips we cover on the left. Skip ahead to get answers to your burning questions!
Ready to learn all about taking product photos on your phone? Let’s get snappin’!
Tip 1: Find the Right Camera Settings On Your iPhone
Understanding your camera settings is key when it comes to how to take good product photos on your phone.
These iPhone camera settings and functions are especially important to know. You’ll find yourself using them over and over again!
How to Turn on Grid Lines in Your iPhone Camera Settings
The iPhone Grid overlay is incredibly helpful for composition, especially when it comes to the Rule of Thirds.
(We’ll cover this more in Tip 6!)
iPhone camera grid lines allow you to line up your shots with ease.
You can find the toggle switch to turn them on and off in your settings. Here’s how:
Tap your iPhone settings
Scroll down the list of settings options until you find “Camera”
Find “Grid” and toggle the switch on the right to On
And done! ✅
The next time you open your camera, you’ll see your Grid.
It looks like several faint gray lines dividing your screen into 9 squares.
Check out the example to the right for a visual! →
These lines will help you balance your product photos for the perfect shot.
And if you ever need to turn off the Grid, just revisit your Camera settings and flip the switch to off.
Understand What AE/AF Lock Is, And How to Use It!
The iOS camera comes with AE/ AF Lock, an exposure and focus locking feature.
This tool allows you to select the focal point of your image and lock it in while you frame your shot.
The AE/AF lock tells your camera what the main focus of the image is, decreasing the odds that you’ll have a blurry picture or lose detail in your shot.
This is important when you’re taking a photo in changing light, with moving subjects or in high-contrast settings!
To use the AE/AF lock on your iPhone:
Turn on your camera
Select the focal point of your picture by pressing and holding it on the screen.
A yellow square will appear on the screen.
AE/AF Lock will also appear at the top of your screen, letting you know your focal point is locked in.
You can also drag your finger up or down to adjust the exposure of your image.
You’ll see the little sun to the right of the AE/AF lock square move up and down with your adjustments.
In the image to the left, you can see that I’ve increased the exposure, bringing the sun towards the top of the bar!
Tip 2: Prep Your Product to Perfection
Prepping your products for photos is an important step that we all too often miss in the hustle and bustle of the day. But nothing is worse than capturing the perfect product photo on your iPhone, only to see dust or tags visible in the shot!
No guide to how to take product photos at home is complete with this simple but key step.
That’s because prepping your products makes all the difference when taking professional-looking product photos on your iPhone.
Before you get ready to shoot, make sure to do the following:
Clean the product to make sure no smudges, dust or debris are visible
Remove any excess labeling and packaging from the product
If you’re shooting clothing or apparel, make sure to remove wrinkles and creases
While you’re at it, make sure to clean the lens of your iPhone camera to keep your shots crisp and clear!
“Underexposed and overexposed photos will lack detail.”
Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix
Relying on the lighting you have available when shooting product photos at home can be tough. However, with a few lifestyle photography tips, a basic intro to exposure and some tools, you can make any light source work for you.
Shoot By a Window
Natural light is your friend, especially when shooting product photos on your iPhone. Why?
In most cases, direct sunlight results in overexposure or harsh lighting that cuts detail from your photo.
The same is true when you shoot in dark rooms or shadowy locations. That’s because underexposure results in flat, underwhelming images.
Most household lamps also add a yellow hue to your lighting, which is difficult to correct in editing.
Don’t worry, there is a secret weapon in every house: (I hope) windows.
Windows provide the perfect mix of filtered sunlight and just enough shade to bring definition and soft shadow to your photos.
Don’t have a window readily available?
Just search for a shaded or covered spot outdoors for the same effect.
Make sure to put your window to the side of you or your subject for optimal photos on your iPhone!
Purchase a Photo Lightbox Kit
If windows and natural light just aren’t an option in your home set-up, you can still get great lighting with a softbox or photo lighting kit. Amazon has a ton of options for all price ranges, like this handy tabletop photo tent set-up for $32!
Most photo lightbox kits come with a white photo tent and crisp white LED lamps to provide clean, bright lighting for your product photos.
If you’re still struggling with heavy shadows, invest in a bounce card to reflect light onto your photo subject. If you’re on a budget, a white foam board from a craft supply store will also work nicely!
Add More White To Your Photo
If all else fails and your photos are still coming out too dim for your liking – just add more white! Add white to the background, to your model’s clothing, or to the flooring in the backdrop.
This will help brighten up your image – and be easier to manage in the editing phase.
Do Not: Use Flash Photography
Before we dive into a complete list of additional equipment to make your at-home product photography studio complete, let’s cover one major lighting don’t: using flash photography!
Flash photography may cause distracting light reflections in your images, wash out detail and flatten your subjects.
Although it may be tempting to boost your lighting with the flash tool, it’s not the best source of light in photography.
More importantly, it won’t do your product justice!
Tip 4: Purchase Additional Equipment
We’ve mentioned some of the gear above that will make the puzzle of how to take product pictures with an iPhone even easier.
Rest assured, you can take amazing product photos with just an iPhone, but having these items in your arsenal will make the whole process a breeze!
So what gear should you consider to become a pro iPhone photographer? Here’s your shopping list:
A tripod to steady your shots and eliminate blur
An attachable macro lens to capture close-ups and detail
Platforms for easy-breezy flat lays
Solid backgrounds for scenes
A photo lightbox kit to create a popup studio on the go
Artificial lighting to capture photos in low-light areas
Bounce cards and reflectors to eliminate pesky shadows
And speaking of backdrops… that takes us right into our next tip all about the importance of what’s behind (and underneath!) your products in photos.
Tip 5: Create a Clean Backdrop
Want to take a great product photo with just your iPhone? Then spend a little extra time planning and polishing your backdrop!
A clean backdrop highlights your photo subject and doesn’t steal attention.
If your backdrop is cluttered, messy, or busy, it could draw attention away from the product. That’s the last thing you want when promoting your goods!
Some things to keep in mind when planning a backdrop for an at-home iPhone shoot:
Plan your colors and textures around your photo subject
Tidy up! Take a moment to dust or remove smudges or imperfections that might distract
Less is more. The more staged, complex or downright busy an image is, the more focus you’re pulling from your product!
We’re in love with this product photo from Sol de Janeiro. The product is front and center on a flattering color background. Not to mention the patterns around it are made with the product itself!
Tip 6: Photograph From All Angles and Compositions
One of our favorite tips to share with members learning how to take professional product photos with an iPhone is all about angles and composition.
In fact, Kayla of the Ivory Mix has some great hacks for experimenting with angles and compositions in our webinar. We’ll give you the overview of her wisdom below – tune in to the webinar for even more!
Fill the frame with your subject
If you want to make your product photos stand out on social media (see: tips for Pinterest product photos), here’s a hint: experiment with unexpected angles and perspectives.
One of the key compositions to keep in your back pocket is filling the frame with your subject!
“A lot of us just tend to point and shoot at a subject without thinking ahead of time how we are capturing, and what we’re capturing in the image itself.”
Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix
In the webinar, Kayla uses the example of a historic building she took a photo of on her smartphone. Our first instinct is to fill the frame with the entire building, but the details that make it interesting or unusual are often lost this way.
When she got close to the building and filled the entire frame with the facade of the building, the architectural detail and intricacy took center stage. This took the entire look and feel of the image from a basic photo to a work of art!
Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to get close to the subject and frame it, even if you’ve styled an entire set around it. It makes all the difference!
Do Not: Use the Zoom Feature on Your iPhone
Seems counterintuitive, right? If you want to capture detail, why not just zoom in on your iPhone to fill your frame?
Here’s why: Professional camera set-ups often have an expert telephoto lens that physically extends to zooms in and out without reducing image quality.
Your iPhone lens doesn’t have that.
When you zoom in, you start losing detail. The image quality will reduce, and you’ll get that unpleasant blurry and pixellated look.
Instead of zooming in, just get physically closer. You’ll thank us later!
Use the Rule of Thirds
Remember that rule we briefly mentioned in tip 1? Here’s how the iPhone photo grid helps with your composition.
The Rule of Thirds is a handy photography hack that helps structure photos, where the focal point of an image is placed at a point along a 3×3 grid.
You can structure a photo any way you like using the grid, as long as your subject is centered along one of the lines or intersections.
For the best effect, try centering your subject on one of the vertical or horizontal lines, or offset your product by placing it at a grid intersection in the upper or lower corners.
We recommend that you try multiple shots with different compositions and angles.
You want to provide yourself with options in the editing process for the very best shot you can get!
Be Funky, for resizing, blemish removal and touch-ups
Photoshop Fix, for removing unsightly parts of your photo
Snapseed, for easy-to-use photo editing tools
VSCO, for lighting and color editing, as well as stylish filters and effects
“Editing can make all the difference in the world. Editing really creates the finishing touches. Don’t neglect this because it can really turn a bad photo into a great photo.”
Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix
Editing your photos may seem intimidating, but it’s simpler than it sounds! If you’re new to toying with exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. we recommend you start out with Lightroom Mobile.
It’s free, and you’ll have access to the full suite you need to understand how to touch up the lighting of your photos! Here are the steps you should take when putting the final editing touches on your iPhone product photos:
Judge Your Exposure
Ask yourself, is this photo bright enough?
If it’s not, you’ll want to brighten things up a bit first. Here’s how:
Tap “Light” in the Lightroom menu (at the bottom of your screen)
Push the middle of the curve up slightly using your finger
This brightens all the elements of your photo more evenly. The light curve encompasses all the lighting in your photo. The top of the curve adjusts all the lightest elements, and the bottom adjusts the darkest elements.
That’s why the middle is your safest bet – it covers the majority of the light in your photo!
You’ll also want to adjust:
White Balance (if the lighting is looking a little too yellow or blue)
When making edits, start small. Overdoing any of the above can result in an overexposes, harsh, or flat-looking image. You only want to add just enough to bring out the best elements of your photo.
Try not to change the natural state of your photo too much, for best results! ✨
Share Your Photos on Social Media
Congratulations, you’ve done it! Your product photos are picture-perfect and ready for the world to see.
Now it’s time to share your product photos to your social media platforms.
Promoting on Instagram? For the best times to schedule, handy auto-posting features and an easy-to-use hashtag finder, prep your images with the Tailwind Instagram scheduling tool.
If you’re creating beautiful Pinterest boards chock full of your amazing products, load up your Pin-worthy photos into the Tailwind Pinterest scheduling tool!
Check Out Our Webinar For More Product Photography Tricks!
Did you learn a lot of valuable photography tips from this article? Would you believe there are even more tips and tricks packed into our Smartphone Photography Pro webinar?
Kayla Marie Butler of The Ivory Mix is dishing on all the tips you need to be an iPhone product photography pro.
As a dazzling stock photo creator and interior designer, she knows her stuff, and trust me, you should too! For:
Product photoshoot planning tips
More on working with lighting and shadow and
In-depth tutorials (with screenshots!) on editing with Lightroom Mobile,
This is a guest post from Holly Cardew, founder of Pixc.
Increasingly, people make purchasing decisions based in large part on images they see online. So, if you’re looking to sell products on Pinterest, you’ll need beautiful product images. This is not news to you! The good news is that this does not need to be complicated or expensive.
I know how powerful a picture can be; as an eCommerce expert, I help online retailers sell their products by creating optimized product images. And today, I’m going to show you how YOU can, too.
How to Make Your Product Images Stand Out on Pinterest
Remember, every Pinner is a potential customer!
First, the basics:
Images should be high resolution and in-focus. Portrait-oriented images work best for Pinterest feeds, as they take up more real estate than a wide image. When it comes to attracting the widest-possible audience and to figuring out what will work for you, variety is key.
Why Product Image Variety is Key for Pinterest
Pinners use Pinterest for building personalized wardrobes, planning the layout of their new house, organizing their wedding, planning a party, and so many other reasons. Your job is to create images that they WANT to Pin to their Boards, and in doing so, share with their followers.
Generally, Pinners, like to mix it up to include product images, contextual shots of the product, and also general lifestyle photos. Check out this “Kids” board:
Types of Product Images for Pinterest That Drive Traffic
Because Pinners use Pinterest for inspiration and planning, you’ll reach more potential customers when you branch out and try different types of product images. For example:
Product Images with a White Background
Often, products really stand out on a white background. The image is free from distractions and lets users (or potential customers) visualize a product. (Don’t know how to take these well? We’ve got you covered!)
In-context shots or lifestyle photographs gives a customer a feel for the product. It helps them decide where and how to use or wear the product.
It also allows you to show off your brand vision and creativity – and often generates more engagement than a straight product shot! Jumbled uses a creative approach – half way between lifestyle and product shot:
Whenever possible, lean into a seasonal aspect of your Pin – Pinterest found that results in a 22% sales lift.
Close-up images for Pinterest
People Pin images for different purposes. The pattern on a summer blouse could inspire home decoration or a party theme, not just an outfit. This image gives you yet another way to attract visitors to your site – remember, every Pin saved provides another opportunity for someone to discover your website.
This “Pineapples, Please” board is an example of how a Pinner has pinned all different types of images. She includes product images (shoes, a tote bag, and an ice mould), along with table setting images, quotes and general pineapple photos. Even if she’s Pinned your pineapple wallpaper just because she likes the design, one of her followers may spot it as the perfect choice for their bathroom makeover!
Photographing your products from a variety of angles and from different distances will also help increase your exposure in Pinterest’s visual search. It allows users to search for images, instead of entering in keywords.
How to Create Pinterest Product Images that Drive Traffic and Sales
A Detailed Pin Description Can Drive a Sale
Your Pin description is so, so important. Not only is it useful for telling Pinterest what your product is (and thus helping it be surfaced in appropriate searches), they can be a powerful tool in motivating Pinners to visit your site and purchase!
Descriptions should be clear, concise and easy to read. It should tell the customer what they are looking at, how they can use it, and anything else relevant to making decision to purchase.
Then, explain to the customer how they might use the product. Would it look good on the beach? Does the summer dress go perfectly with a white open-toe sandal?
Is there a seasonal or event-based aspect to the product (or MIGHT there be?)? If so, create some Pins with those keywords in the description, too.
Using Hashtags on Pinterest
Hashtags are a relatively new feature on Pinterest – and their popularity is growing. You can use up to 20 per description, but Pinterest now suggests 3-5 maximum. No one wants to be bombarded with hashtags!
Relevant hashtags could include the type of product, the brand, and season. Remember to use popular search terms to increase your search result ranking and discoverability. Go for more complex hashtags rather than simply using #fashion or #fall, which may be too vague for you to stand out.
Following these simple steps will help you take your product images for Pinterest to the next level, get repinned, and drive traffic to your eCommerce store!
Do you have any other best practices for Pinterest? Let us know in the comments section!
This is a guest post from Kayla Marie Butler of Ivorymix.com.
E-commerce businesses can sink or swim based on product photography. And while lifestyle photos tend to dominate e-commerce photography on Pinterest, gorgeous flat lay product Pins can appeal to users in a different way that works well with the “inspire, plan, and shop” mindset of a Pinterest user.
What flat lay photos can offer your products is a way to show off the closer details of and quality. In a split second, product photos convey values such as brand, way of life, and state of mind — however they can also impart subtle, but important, elements for your products, for example, item material details and quality.
As a photographer, and e-commerce website owner myself, I can attest to the fact that the success of your online store depends in large part to having great-looking photos which make your products irresistible. The quality of these photos can have a big impact on traffic from Pinterest, and more importantly, on how much you sell!
Whether you’re looking for new ideas to approach your product styling, or gathering some techniques to try on your next photo shoot, these concepts for flat lay photography will help you create stunning flat lay photos, enabling you to showcase your products beautifully on Pinterest and elsewhere.
Photographing Flat Lay Backgrounds
As you begin to plan promoting a new product on Pinterest and prepare for your photoshoot, it’s best to start with the background.
You can utilize any surface you like – a table, a cloth, a chair, a foam board, paper or almost anythin else. In most cases, it’s best to stick with simple backgrounds as it helps products take center focus, particularly if the products are small. Avoid using anything with a pattern or heavy texture; it will distract from your product. And since most Pinterest users are on mobile, clarity and sufficient whitespace is an absolute must.
In some cases, the background can become part of the overall composition that can help accentuate an element of the story of your product that you want to convey. An example of how the background can enhance an element of the story is shown in the below images where I’ve used a marble top, which might be on the consumer’s vanity where they would use this makeup. Just don’t go overboard with background details or your photo can seem too fussy – and it will be hard to decipher on Pinterest!
Color Palettes for Great Flat Lays
When an artist chooses colors of paint for their paintings, they take many things into consideration. Since colors define mood, if their painting is to convey a happy mood, they’ll likely choose more bright and saturated colors. Although it may seem like there are many colors in some paintings, these are often thought out and well-planned color schemes.
As a photographer, be deliberate with the colors you use before you begin. Much like an artist would choose a scheme, you will need to pick a color scheme and plan for your photographs according to the mood, story, brand and products. Take some time before you pull out your camera to pick distinctive tints, hues, and shades that go well with your product. These can be shades of only one color, black and white, or your own delightful blend of on brand colors.
When choosing colors for your photos, consider what emotions you want to evoke with your product photos. If you are going for comfortable and cozy, you might choose dull blues and perhaps delicate blush pinks.
Then again, fresh greens and white are a good choice if you are going for an inspiring and airy feeling. You can read more about the meaning of different colors in this blog post from Canva.
Props for Flat Lay Pin Photos
Think about the items you’ll use to tell a story about your product. In some instances, this may come down to the color of the objects; but in almost all cases, the objects and props should be related to the subject matter. For instance, if you sell recipe books, you might include ingredients, utensils, and linens as props for your photos. If your product is high-end and comes with a higher price tag, you’ll most likely want to match that quality in the props you choose.
When I make decisions about what props to use for the photos I create or the product photos I take for clients, I ask myself this simple question. “Would the ideal customer also own this and have it by their side when using the product I am photographing?”
Lighting Your Flat Lay Pin Photography
With all photography, good lighting is essential. Though I prefer natural light, I generally utilize studio lighting for consistency. Keep in mind that being closer to the light source (like a window) will mean a more brilliant and brightly-lit photo. Getting further away from the light source will mean a photo that may appear a bit more moody and dim.
For a flat lay photo, it’s best to think about where your shadows will land when photographed. I’ve found that it’s better and more pleasing to the eye for the shadows to land left or right of the objects as opposed to the shadows landing above the object. In these examples below, see how shadows can be either a large or small component of your photo – depending on the effect you desire.
Adjust to create long shadows or short shadows by varying the height of the light source relative to the surface you are shooting. Generally, and you’ll find it feels better and more natural when the light is diffused.
In very few cases you may prefer to use direct lighting (direct sunlight or an exposed light bulb). It’s all about the way it looks and the feelings it evokes.
Effective Flat Lay Composition
First, consider how you will use the photo in your marketing. If you know you will only use your photography on Pinterest, then you can go ahead and choose a vertical format. But if you’ll also use it on Instagram, Facebook and other places, make sure you layout will work for square and wide images as well.
Knowing if you need to add text to your product photos or where your product photos will be used can help you make better decisions about how you frame the photo, which will make your life much easier from the start. Effective Pins often do utilize text on the image, so make sure you leave room for that.
The rule of thirds is a simple technique that can increase the visual interest of your photo. Simply visualize a concept that uses a grid of 3 x 3 squares and suggests that you can create more visual interest by place keying objects on the intersecting points.
Most cameras and phone cameras can display a grid when taking your photos. This option is usually located under the camera’s settings menu. The grid comes in handy when using the rule of thirds to help with your composition.
The fun in photography is hardly found in following rules though, which is why some photos require what I like to call “freestyling”. Freestyle photography is often referred to as “lifestyle” photography where objects are more scattered in an image to help your products appear usable as they are viewed in a more natural environment than in a clearly structured and styled scene.
Freestyling is about finding a balance and flow between your props and products. When styling, think about the placement of the larger items. When you make an effort to scatter larger objects through the frame, it can appear more pleasing to the eye and draws you in to take a closer look. It encourages viewers to absorb the details and while smaller items sit between the larger ones to create balance it helps our eyes bounce from one larger object to the next.
Another thing to consider in your composition is the texture of the items you choose to photograph to create interest. You can do this by mixing object textures – consider using some hard (ceramics, metals, glass etc) and some soft (linens or flowers).
Choosing the Focus of Your Product Flat Lay
In most cases, your product will be the main focal point of your photography. Meaning they will be larger in the frame. The largest object or product in a flat lay is often referred to as the hero of the image. Since the hero should to take center stage, it’s your job as the photographer to only place supporting props and elements in your scenes that don’t distract from the product.
The rule of thirds can help you think about where you place the main focus of your image and help you decide whether it should be in the center or on one of the intersecting cross hairs in your 3×3 grid of square. When aiming to place your main focal point in the center of the grid, it’s best to ensure the center is perfectly center and not “close enough.” If you find that you’ve taken your photo with the object slightly off center, remember that you can crop and finetune your framing when you edit your photos.
Storytelling with Flat Lay Images – Perfect for Pinterest!
Your product has a story and like all good stories, the photo you create will have heros and supporting characters. But, it can be a challenge to choose props which contribute to your story, rather than detracting from the attention due your hero.
If your product is, say, a course or ebook on creating floral arrangements, it might seem like taking photos of finished arrangements is enough. However, if you consider the objects used to create a floral arrangement, you might start thinking about scissors, string, a vase, and maybe a jug of water. Suddenly, as we start to add these supporting characters, a story of your product and hero begins to take shape.
Beyond that, Pinners love a good story. To motivate them to buy, they need to picture themselves in the story, and showing the product in its natural habitat is the best way to do that! One visually inspiring way to tell a story about a product on Pinterest is to show a stack of photos that demonstrates the product in use. Just make sure to stay within Pinterest’s ideal image ratio of 2:3.
The story you choose to tell could be one about how the product is made or how it’s used on a daily basis. In some cases it can also be as simple as a color story where every object in the photo shares a similar hue.
Photos can make or break a sale in just a few short seconds – and long before anyone even clicks on your Pin. Using stunning flat lay images on Pinterest is one of the best ways to clearly highlight the details and quality of your product before shoppers get to your e-commerce website.
You’ve now got some great ideas to approach the planning of your product styling on your next photoshoot. Armed with these seven handy styling tips, you are ready take a spin at styling your own flat lay product photos to help you achieve better traffic and sales on Pinterest!