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In Product Photography for E-Commerce, designer Dane Howard shows how to take professional-looking photographs that showcase products and build buyers' trust. Using a practical approach, Dane covers objects from collectible coins to real estate, and the lessons can be applied to just about anything that can be sold online. When it comes time to capture images in the studio, Dane discusses how to select a camera and other equipment on any budget. He shares his favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of camera angles, backgrounds, and scene lighting. He reviews image editing basics, such as cropping and retouching photographs, and explains how to take a presentation beyond a 360-degree view with the integration of rich media.
I wanted to spend a few moments talking about clothing for E-Commerce. Now the most exciting thing about clothing is that it's a personal relationship of how someone might imagine themselves in the garments themselves. A few things I offer up to think about. The imagination of a buyer is very important. You want to suspend that imagination so they start to see themselves in the clothes themselves. The cohesive look and feel is not only important across your line but the cohesive look as how it's presented in the E-Commerce result set. You are lineup in the results at itself is critical as you compare and contrast against other sellers and other types of garments that are in the result set.
We will talk a little bit about that. I'd say, probably, the most important part is the human connection part. This is where you want to photograph the items in such a way so that they come across as they can be worn. People are going to imagine a lifestyle of themselves in your garments and in your clothes. You have to have this come across. Let's get started. Now let's take any general commerce site you usually start with a search, may start with the browse path. In this scenario, we are going to search for a scarf. Now I am going to basically generalize the type of results that you'd see.
Now let's talk about that. With any result set you may have a first read, what is that hook? Now one of the trade-offs to think about in each one of these is how they are shot and how they're compared against other shots in that search result. Here you've got a garment that on a live model, that's consistently lit. There's also one that's against a mannequin and then you've got something that is just folded. Now depending on the site that you are on and depending on the type of merchandise that you have in your store, you have the opportunity to establish a look.
If they've purchased from you before, and you always present your scarves or your garments in this configuration, you'll want that continuity. They'll have no idea that this may be your garment at first read, if they've purchased from you before. This is the very beginning of what I call the first look or first read into your garment itself. Let's go ahead and pretend that we are going to click on this one right here. Now this is a generalized detailed view. This detailed view is really where you've pulled them in. You are giving them information.
Now the next step, most likely, is going to be that they want to get closer to it. They want to see maybe the fabric. They want to see these details. Here is a very typical type of experience that they may receive, an overlay. The overlay to a gallery, depending how it goes, is a reinforcement of your first read. Now the most important parts are over here in your gallery on what you are going to show next. Let's talk about that. What you are seeing is the diversification of the live model. You are starting to see it used in a lifestyle way. Notice the cropping. This square cropping fits the template really beautifully.
This is a great shot, but also notice that within an automated system it's going to crop to the width here in the aspect ratio and notice the space down here, keep that in mind when you're shooting. Again, great shot, vertical orientation. This shows off the model and the scarf really beautifully and I can imagine this type of shot doing really well. Vertical orientation, there is some open space here. Just keep that in mind. Every commerce site moves its way into an automated way. You want to think about that with regard to aspect ratio.
Now, your style is going to come across really lovely. Depending on your setup, you can have an indoor point of view, or really an outdoor point of view, each is fine. You want to think about that in terms of shots that you have over continuity over time. Now what is continuity? Continuity is about the light. It's about the model, and the angles by which you shoot. All those are critical for your style as you start to accessorize and move past that initial image. This topic is all about contextualizing your work next to each other and in the E-Commerce site itself.
Now I did a couple of these things on purpose. You will start to see that when these images came in, they get automatically put into squares. I enlarged them so you could see them. The other thing you'll notice is the continuity between the images themselves. Anything that's out of place is immediately shown up here. This is a nice configuration where you have one shoe overlaid on the other. That's great for flats, but it's not going to work so great for boots. When you start to put these types of things next to each other, you want the general visual direction all to be cohesive.
That's how this works pretty well and matches the boots down below. This is pointing in a completely different direction. It's also clipping off the toes and the heels. Keep this in mind and it's very important that you don't look at your photographs just by themselves. You need to constantly put them next to each other. Now even though these were shot all within the photo tent, the photo tent itself had a little wrinkle underneath it. Now ,this didn't require any touch-up work. This is just a color correction where you try to blow out some of the white.
That would have taken extra time. Now I am going to suggest that there is no rules in E-Commerce photography right now. Whatever draws you in, whatever is the type of style. I see professional companies de-constructing their shots. I see some companies that are moving more towards traditional E-Commerce photography. It's all about continuity. It's all about context and style. Let's go to the next one. Now these have different aspect ratios and they are raised against a backdrop. Now this is a completely different type of look-and-feel.
You may upload your foot into this E- Commerce engine and it will totally turn into something different. This is critical because as you are floating things against this white, look at the nuances between the color. This is not a pure white. This is not a pure white. This is not a pure white. You start to see all this discontinuity. Maybe things are shot correctly, everything is pointing to the lower right, but there's clipping and there's actually some artifacts that are going on here. Very, very important when you start to put some of these things next to each other. Now here's something that's a little more breathable.
This actually was brought into Photoshop as well. Not only was this color corrected and lightened, you can start to see that some of the shadows were removed and some of those wrinkles were removed. As you move visually, there is continuity. This is more of what we see on the web. Now as soon as we fade in some of the artifacts, you can see the benefit of the system. There is no angled or line elements surrounding the pieces. It's all against a white background. This is more in line of what we'd come to expect in E-Commerce. Now depending where you are going to upload these to, as soon as you have an image that doesn't have a white background, it's going to stick out like a sore thumb, good, bad, or otherwise.
You have to think about the products themselves and drawing them into the details. They may be distracted by the background and not these cool laces or some of the details that you see here. Let's go to the next example here where a format is actually redefined by the presentation layer itself. What do we see? A bunch of great dresses. Now one of the aspects was keep it human. Well, I would say this actually delivers on this because it actually dresses up the mannequin really lovely and it really participates in how the dress falls on the figure.
Now I'm not distracted by the model or the smile or any of the other things, I am looking exactly at all the different items themselves. Now watch what happens when I do this. I fade in some arrows left and right. Well, all of a sudden, what's implied is that there is more left or right. This is a great view where cropping, planning and web experience is all brought together, where there's continuity and comparison built into this very viewer. Where might this be? Well, this could be anywhere on the web, but this is showcasing some really lovely pieces.
Now let's slightly represent it a little differently where it's smaller, maybe in HTML, but I totally benefit from just having this vertical format here. Look how many I can fit on the page. I can quickly accessorize, and I can go down and see what's going on here. Let's take it one step further. If we go in and think about all the different things that will be important for comparing dresses, we may want to think about getting closer to it. As I move closer into it, this is common practice on the web. If I shoot one great shot but I have great resolution, I may be able to zoom around the particular garment and see all the nice details.
I can see the seams, I can see the color, all the stitching, and that is critical. That's on this particular image. Now your next shots as they relate to lifestyle might be some of these additional shots that you see in the gallery. Keep this in mind. One great shot can take you a long way. Let's talk a little bit more about style. Here we've got an indoor shot, very clean lines and we've got it draped beautifully and we've got a really nice shot that allows us to be almost accessorized into an outfit.
Now, as soon as I fade in some E- Commerce pieces, look what begins to happen. I've got the great title of the dress. I've got a simple description, and this really nice language that you're starting to see online, 'Shop this look'. As you constantly think about your shoots, think about what's implied here. You've done one particular set up, you know that's your hook. Then you've got your consistent model that you can quickly move into a gallery scenario where you could start to imagine different types of outfits going on with this dress.
Use this to your advantage. You want to be able to coordinate and collect the items from one model to the next. Now think about this as a really clean way to accessorize and to juxtapose the garment to the style image. Visually, things look great. The lighting is consistent, I love it. Next shot. Same set up, different presentation. This is to what I see here a completely different idea. This is where you've got a really clean garment, but when it's presented against this notebook, you start to see things a little differently.
Look at how this may have an effect on the deconstruction of the garment itself. Is it handmade? Who is it made by? And this is the type of thing where you have complete freedom on how you shoot and then possibly present your work. Use this to your advantage and take this a little bit farther. Now let's summarize a few things we just talked about. Clothing, shoes, and accessories have absolutely a lot to do with imagination of the buyer. They need to see themselves in the cloths and imagine that. You have to bring a cohesive look to all of your shots.
Now this is cohesiveness not only in putting together a brand in a point of view, it has a lot to do with seeing it altogether. That brings your work into context. The context is critical. You want to be starting to visualize and pre-visualize your work in a result set as well as the detail views and bring it altogether. Those are just a few things to think about when shooting clothing, shoes, and accessories.
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