In my last article, I divulged four mistakes that many novices make when starting out in product photography. For those of you who felt those tips were a little bit elementary or too few, here's a list of 4 more errors that may be preventing you from creating images that make customers want to buy. Your client's success is, after all, your success in this business.
Using the Wrong White Balance Setting
The best representation of a product's color comes from matching your camera's white balance setting to the light source you're using. It's surprising how many photographers simply leave their WB setting in automatic mode, no matter what they're shooting. What's not surprising is that you're probably not going to notice a color shift when you're shooting, but your clients will notice it in the images. Always be aware of the approximate color temperature of your lighting and match it with your camera's WB adjustment.
Mixing Light Sources
Trying to balance window lighting with tungsten bulbs, using a fluorescent main light with a tungsten accent light and similar lighting mash-ups happen far too often in some studios. Unlike your brain, the camera can't adjust to mixed color temperatures and there's no way to split the WB adjustment, so the color differences will show in the final images and will be very difficult to fix.
A single main light with white bounce cards is an ideal setup for making sure your color stays balanced, or accent lights that are matched to your main light. In the previous article, I introduced you to a tabletop studio from ProCyc's MyStudio® line. I'm going to drop another plug for them here, and tell you that you can eliminate both of the problems we've just covered and then some with this kit: MyStudio VS53 VersaSweep. If you're looking for the ultimate tabletop product photo studio, this is it. See it in action in this video:
Shooting Only One View
For a shopper, the next best thing to being there is being able to view a product from multiple angles. In fact, I recommend specifying the number of views when pricing your packages for your clients. Even if a catalog only has room for one photo per product, you'll be offering your client a choice of angles to display.
You can always look for ways to show multiple angles in the same image, as in the shot above. Otherwise, make sure your camera setup is solid and your studio evenly lit, then shoot each product from the front, side, ¾ profile and from the back if necessary. Shooting tethered can be a big help in keeping your shots aligned, especially if you have an assistant.
It's important to crop your images so that they'll fit consistently into the layout they're intended for. This becomes extremely important when you shoot multiple views of irregular objects. Know the format your customer needs, plan your images accordingly and build yourself a template for cropping during post-processing. Make sure your images will align correctly and space evenly. Driving the layout editor crazy probably isn't a good way to ensure repeat business.
These aren't the only issues that might keep your product images from selling as well as they should. If you're struggling with selling your product photography services, though, there's a good chance you're making at least one of them. If you're just getting started, avoiding these and the four in the previous article will help you create the kind of images that make shoppers want to buy. That's the "secret formula" to success in product photography.