In the world where pictures speak louder than words, decent inventory photos are a crucial component to a successful eCommerce shop, as well as brick and mortar businesses. And not just decent photos—pinnable, 'grammable, shareable photos. Professional commercial photographers can make just about anything look like a million bucks, but unfortunately they come with a large price tag that many small business owners can't afford. However, with a little ingenuity, good lighting and oodles of patience, you can snap your inventory photos in a flash. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your photos on a budget.
1. Find the light—the natural light. Natural light is your best friend, because it saves you from renting or buying potentially expensive lighting equipment and also can save editing time. The best light is going to be indirect but bright enough to keep your images sharp without using a flash. Move around your shop, experiment with different locations and try shooting at different times of day to find your favorite light.
2. Set the scene. If you aren't able to take your photos during the day for some reason, it might be worth investing in a white photography box. Amazon sells a few different starter kits that are great for capturing products and maintaining good light when natural light isn't an option. If you prefer to make your own, check out this DIY light box tutorial. If you aren't using a box, bendable white backgrounds are still a classic, consistent and easy to put together with a few supplies from the craft store.
3. Use a camera you love—and most importantly, a camera you know how to use. It doesn't have to be the fanciest or most expensive DSLR on the market, but it should be able to take high-resolution, close-up photos. A tripod will also come in very handy because you'll be busy styling your "set" and a steady camera will maintain consistency and avoid blurry images.
4. Take a basic photo editing class. This is the single most effective way to polish your images and make them look professional, so it's worth investing in either online or inexpensively through a community ed class. We recommend learning the ropes of free (or nearly free) photo editing software options like Adobe Lightroom, Pixlr and PicMonkey before you put a lot of money into expensive software that might be overwhelming for your needs.
5. Hire a photography student. For the folks that simply never want to DIY anything photography-related, local schools are full of budding camera junkies. Students have a chance to add to their body of work and you have a chance to make friends with an affordable, but likely still very talented professional photographer before they make it big. If your budget is thin, barter!
Let us know if you have any other great tips for product photos—we'd love to add to this list!