By Juan Calvillo
Small businesses focused on online success need to keep in mind the importance of quality and consistency for product photos, said Jorge Ortega, community manager at Shopify. He said photos are important for a business presentation. For products, the types of shots, style used and editing should be taken into account when posting online.
Ortega said that image consistency is about the lighting, color editing and aspect ratio. The idea is to make sure that all products on a small business’s website have a consistent look throughout. He said this begins first with the hero image. This is the main picture that is usually at the top of a website’s homepage. The main takeaway is consistency at all levels.
Keeping consistency across a small business website and its social media platforms is another step for its advertising and selling of products. Chris Chin, professor in the Business Administration Department at East Los Angeles College, said social media is not next level because so many businesses are already using it.
“In its infancy, social media was just used to advertise. But now you are even able to directly purchase through some social media platforms,” Chin said.
Ortega said white background photos are great at eliminating surroundings. This type of photo is used to focus entirely on the product.
“Those photos are made to showcase the details and showcase the product itself. Show you things such as color, texture and features,” Ortega said.
Taking lifestyle shots is great for showing products in the real world. Ortega said this type of shot shows a company’s product while also giving scale and context as to how a product is used. The idea is to make the product pictured become part of a potential customer’s life.
“One of the main purposes, or main things, that lifestyle photography is good for is to connect with your target audience,” Ortega said.
Ortega said choosing which type of photo depended on how a small business wanted to show the product. There are some tools that will help create photos that despite the choice in style would help create good photos.
There are five tools that are essential for creating good photos: a camera, proper lighting, a backdrop, a tripod and a reflector. Ortega said any type of camera from a phone camera to a professional one can be used. There are certain pros and cons to each. Using the camera on a phone is easy because it’s always on an entrepreneur’s body, but the quality is not the best. He said cameras have better sensors which help with higher quality images, and cameras also have a variety of lenses for different types of photographs.
“At the end of the day…the best camera is the one you have with you,” Ortega said.
When it comes to lighting there is natural light, constant light and strobe lights. Each comes with positives and negatives. Natural light is free but it’s not always available. Constant light, for example ring lights that TikTok users use to illuminate their faces, can light a product from different angles as you move it around. This gives different shadows and looks of the product. Ortega said this type of lighting is somewhat affordable, but it produces a lot of heat and can easily change how the product looks. Strobe lighting is the most expensive and the photographs can’t be checked until after the shot is taken.
Reflectors, backdrops and tripods are essential as well. Ortega said reflectors and backdrops can be as easy as paper or foam boards. For reflectors, the key is to use something that bounces light back onto the product. Tripods are about consistency. Every product should fill the same amount of the frame chosen.
Ortega said when possible to use models that are in line with themes of the products and the business. If the business is big on inclusivity then choosing models that are of all shapes, sizes and color is important. He said when shooting photos, it is good to take shots from different angles. Eye level, 45 degrees and the Flat Lay Method were all useful types of shots to use on a product. The Flat Lay Method uses a flat surface where the product can be neatly displayed and the photo is taken from directly above the displayed area.
Ortega said that photo editing could be done using programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom, both of which are Adobe Programs. While on smartphones programs like Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop Mobile and Snapseed were good choices.
Ortega’s presentation was part of a series done by Shopify, Continuing Education Workforce Development and the Business Department at ELAC for Small Business Week.