Quality product photography can go a long way toward creating a positive online shopping experience. How you style your product, the lighting and background in your studio, your camera settings, the angles you shoot from, and your post-production processing will impact whether your product images convert visitors into customers.
Footwear photography, especially, comes with its own special set of dos and don’ts. Learn from our experience, and start your next photography session off on the right foot.
Don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. Do follow our tips and create DIY footwear product images that look professional and help optimize your online store.
1. Styling Footwear
Don't let footwear droop.
Limp, lifeless footwear is unflattering and conveys little accurate information to the customer. Don’t try to come up with a new arrangement no one has ever seen before — make it easy for your customers to visualize wearing your footwear.
Position your footwear to look like it’s being worn.
Do help footwear stand.
Make sure that every piece of footwear looks its best by creating the illusion that the shoe is being worn. This shows both the item’s true shape and allows your customer to envision themselves wearing it. You can communicate shape and help a shoe stand up by stuffing it with crumpled paper, or tying dental floss to the shoe’s straps to hold them up in the frame.
Dental floss lifts straps and is easy to remove in post-production.
Don’t clutter the frame.
In most types of product photography cluttered backgrounds are a big no-no. A busy background will distract your customer from what you actually want them to look at: your product.
A bold background pulls attention away from your product.
Do use a clean white background.
Keep everything in your frame simple and clean to draw maximum attention to your footwear. It’s always best and most convenient to photograph each product alone, with a clean white background behind.
Don’t use harsh lighting.
Lighting is one of, if not the most, critical parts of product photography. You must have appropriate lighting or your product will not look appealing to your customers. Harsh, direct lighting that casts deep shadows is the worst type of lighting for product photography.
The wrong type of lighting can highlight imperfections and warp colors.
Do use soft lighting.
Natural light is one of the best and cheapest options available; take your photos inside next to a large window, diffusing sunlight with a sheet if it’s too strong and direct. For more control and longer hours, rent a studio softbox setup for soft artificial light. If you must take photos outside, find a thickly shaded area to get the most even light and don’t even think about taking photos midday.
Take photos that put your product in the right light.
Don’t use blurry or soft focus.
Soft focus can be artistic in many photography genres, but in product photography customers regard soft focus as a nuisance. The more your image is out of focus, the less your customer will see of your product.
Soft focus makes it harder to see the details in a photo.
Do use high aperture for full focus.
Be sure to use a higher aperture like f/11 on your DSLR camera to get every aspect of your footwear in focus. Also, make sure to use a tripod; this will minimize camera shake and give your images maximum crispness.
Show every detail in full focus.
Don’t crop inconsistently.
Inconsistent cropping is one of the easiest mistakes to make in product photography. Images on your website are side by side, and inconsistencies attract the eye. Your customers will notice if some of your footwear images are more zoomed in than others, and they will notice if products the same distance away from the camera are higher or lower than each other. They will notice differences in lighting, differences in focus, and so on. All such inconsistencies divert attention from the product.
Don’t let inconsistent cropping cause misalignment.
Do develop a cropping template.
Maintain strict guidelines and keep your images consistent from frame to frame. Abiding by a template will speed up your shooting and post-production workflow and enhance the professional appearance of your website.
Many online channels require certain web standards for cropping and sizing, so take note of their Image Guidelines and incorporate them into your template.
Do use software to crop consistently and align your images.
Don’t provide too few angles.
One of the biggest mistakes in product photography is displaying very few angles of the product on the listing. Customers want to see every side and face of a product as they decide whether or not to invest in it.
Do capture as many angles as possible.
Take straight-on side shots, shots from the front, shots from the back, the top view, angled side shots, detail shots, and all variations of those suggestions. As long as the angles are flattering, you win!
Each quality product image you provide makes it more likely your product will sell.
Don't remove shadows in post-production processing.
It's standard best practice in ecommerce to place products on a pure white background in post-production. However, if you remove the whole background including the shadow, you're often left with a final image that lacks depth.
Removing the shadow creates what we call “the fridge magnet effect.”
Do keep natural shadows in your final product images.
Footwear images in particular benefit greatly from a little bit of natural shadow. Retaining the natural shadow in post-production processing grounds the item in the frame and creates a much more professional result.
Follow Our Tips And Find Do-It-Yourself Success
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Do follow in our footsteps, so you can avoid making painful and time-consuming mistakes. If you style your footwear, use a clean, uncluttered white background, soft lighting, full focus, multiple angles, and consistent post-production processing. You'll give your product its best chance of getting purchased.
Good luck, and happy shooting!
About The Author
Thomas Kragelund is the CEO and founder of Pixelz, a leading product image solutions partner for internet retailers, bloggers, designers, photographers and webmasters worldwide. He has been working in ecommerce for the last 15 years. Sign up today and get 3 product images edited for free.