February 13, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 6 Comments

Product Photography Services Part 2 – GQ Studios Put to the TEST!

It’s no secret how much importance I place on product photography – in fact anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that in my opinion it’s one of the most important factors when selling online, be that on eBay, Amazon or your own eCommerce store.

Professional, high quality product pictures, combined with high end and creative branding allow you to charge higher prices to your customers and therefore make more profit!

I can’t stress this point enough, and I don’t care if I’ve said it a thousand times, I’m going to keep repeating myself.

But the problem is that most people find product photography very difficult – they simply don’t know how to take good pictures, never mind have the equipment or expertise required (a quick search on eBay will show just how true this is!).

So what’s the solution?

Well one option is to simply learn how! I’ve created an extensive 5 part guide to product photography on this very blog which explains everything you need to know, in simple terms.

But of course this option doesn’t work for everyone as it does require an investment, both in terms of time and money. To do things properly, you need:

  • At least an entry level DSLR camera

  • A good lighting kit
  • A suitable backdrop

And this is going to set you back £400-£500+ so it’s not a miniscule amount and is simply out of reach for some eBay and Amazon sellers. (more…)

November 8, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 8 Comments

Product Photography Services Compared – YOUR Chance to VOTE!

product-photography-services

To me product photography is an integral part of your branding and that all-important perceived value of your product – which is the difference between a small online seller making a little monthly profit and a REAL business.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and on eBay/Amazon that couldn’t be more true… you can hire a professional copywriter to create a perfect product description but at the end of the day most buyers use the product pictures to help them decide whether to purchase or not.

So I’m sure you’re now thinking something along the lines of “well that’s all well and good Andrew, but what point are you trying to make today?”

And that’s a fair question, as most of you already know this and I’ve already got extensive guides on product photography on this very blog, including guides on your camera set up, lighting and background, actually taking pictures and finally editing your pictures to make them web ready!

But what if you don’t want to invest time and money in creating your own product photography set up – after all to get good results you really need a lighting kit, a decent DSLR camera, a backdrop, somewhere to actually take your photos and the expertise and knowledge to do a good job, etc. etc.!

Well there is another option, which I’ve spoken briefly about before – product photography services! Yep, that’s right – you can always outsource your pictures to a specialist company.

What are product photography services?

Basically they are companies who take high quality product pictures FOR YOU that you then use to sell your product on eBay, Amazon or your own online store.

How do they work?

The process is incredibly simple – you send them the product(s) that you need pictured, they get to work doing what they do best and then deliver the final edited images to you, and return your product. Nothing more to it!

How much do they cost?

Aha, now that’s a very important question and one to which the answer obviously varies.

To put it blankly, the majority of product photography companies that you find online are not geared towards eBay sellers. They’re for big companies who need a whole professional team and studio and the pricing for this will of course be way over what the majority of eBay sellers are able or willing to pay. (more…)

May 21, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 19 Comments

How to Watermark eBay Product Pictures?

watermark-ebay-imagesIs there anything worse than seeing an eBay competitor take and use your product images in their listings? You have put so much time and energy into creating those pictures and then suddenly someone else just STEALS them for use in their own business!

In cases like these, you should immediately inform eBay about the photo infringement and in most cases eBay will pull those listings down.

Sometimes though you may be asked for proof that you’re the actual image owner and if your images are not watermarked, it may be hard for you to show eBay that these are actually your photos.

For this reason alone, I highly recommend you watermark ALL your eBay product pictures!

But what’s the best way to do it? How can you watermark your eBay product images so that they actually protect your intellectual property?

The easiest way would be to use eBay’s built in watermarking service, which is free to use.

However, in my opinion, it’s not the best way to do this because:

  • You can only use your seller ID OR a camera icon in watermarks created by eBay.
  • eBay watermarks are very small and placed near the edge of images which means that anyone can still easily take your image and use it, simply by cropping out the watermarked part.
  • Yes, according to eBay’s rules, watermarks CAN’T obscure the product BUT this is one of those rules that eBay doesn’t really stick to as everyone does this, including some of the biggest powersellers. So I don’t think this is an issue, especially if you follow my approach of placing the watermark so that it only covers a small part of the product.

Speaking of watermark rules on eBay – there are a few other things you have to keep in mind: (more…)

May 12, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 30 Comments

Don’t Mess Up Product Pictures on eBay!

ebay-product-picturesOne from every two eBay listings I look at has some sort of issue with product pictures… in fact it’s probably even more common than that!

It’s unbelievable that so many sellers simply don’t understand the basics of image editing, re-sizing and saving correctly for web and eBay use. The most common problems I see are:

  • Wrong image file type
  • Wrong image size
  • Wrong image file size
  • Wrong image resolution
  • Wrong proportions

You have to get all 5 of these RIGHT to have perfect product images on eBay! By messing up only one of these things, you’ll do a lot of harm to your listings which will also affect your conversion rates and sales.

In today’s blog post I want to cover this problem once and for all and give you a clear plan to follow so you can FIX your existing product images and do everything correctly for all future listings. While this may sound like a complicated and overly technical subject, when you know the basics behind it, it’s actually very simple and straightforward. So let’s get started! (more…)

October 29, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Product Photography, Part 5: Outsourcing

 

We’ve finally reached the 5th and final tutorial in our Product Photography blog post series – Outsourcing.

In the previous four articles I covered these topics:

1) Cameras

2) Background & Lighting

3) Taking Pictures

4) Picture Editing

So the above four tutorials are suitable for anyone who wants to learn to take pro quality photos themselves, but…

What if you don’t want to learn product photography?

What if you don’t have money to invest in equipment?

What if you’re selling highly complicated products and just can’t get decent pictures on your own?

What if you have just 2 or 3 products and don’t want all the hassle?

There’s a solution! We all know that nowadays everything can be outsourced and product photography is not an exception – you can pay a professional to take high quality product pictures for you and not have to worry about doing it on your own.

There are several advantages to outsourcing product pictures: (more…)

October 23, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 9 Comments

Product Photography, Part 4: Picture Editing

Welcome Back!

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve covered these product photography lessons:

1. Cameras

2. Lighting & Background

3. Taking Pictures

And today we’ve reached the final stage of product photography – picture editing.

No matter how well your background and lighting is set-up or how expensive a DSLR camera you’re using, some sort of post-production work will still be needed, even if it’s just cropping and resizing. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Picture Editing Software

There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of different photo editing software programs available nowadays – from free desktop applications all the way to full-blown professional editing systems that cost several thousand pounds.

I’ll make your life easy though and share with you just two pieces of desktop software which I believe are the most user friendly and affordable, whilst still offering all the features you need to create outstanding product pictures.

1) Photoshop Elements.

Elements is the little brother of the premium photo editing software with the almost same name, Photoshop CS. But while Photoshop CS is an expensive, feature loaded software meant to be used by professionals, Photoshop Elements is a smaller, cheaper and easier to work with version which still has plenty of useful features.

You can download a 30 day free trial of Photoshop Elements directly from Adobe by clicking here. The trial has all the features of the original/paid software.

Once you have played around with it and are happy to go ahead with the purchase, I recommend just searching for it on eBay or Amazon as you’ll often find better prices on these two platforms than by buying from Adobe directly.

Be aware of fake/bootleg copies though! A genuine Photoshop Elements package will cost roughly £50-£60, depending on where you purchase it from. On eBay and Amazon, only buy it from reputable sellers with a high feedback rate; otherwise you could get a Chinese made copy. (more…)

October 17, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 8 Comments

Product Photography, Part 3: Taking Pictures

Finally, the fun part – taking pictures! We’ve covered cameras + background & lighting in the previous two blog posts so it’s now time to put it all together and start taking those perfect product pictures!

Before we do that, there are some additional important tips I want to share with you.

A tripod is a MUST HAVE accessory when taking product pictures. If you don’t have a tripod, then there’s simply no point in starting this process. If you absolutely cannot invest 10 pounds in a cheap tripod, then make your own (there are plenty of DIY ideas for this which you can Google)! However you do it, you MUST have something to hold your camera in a fixed position when taking product pictures.

You won’t be able to get sharp pictures if you hold your camera in your hands (unless you have a really good lighting set-up that allows working with low ISO settings and a high shutter speed at the same time). But just don’t over-complicate this process, and use a tripod.

All digital cameras these days have a built in LCD display where you can preview pictures BUT these displays are relatively small and you won’t see all the details of your items without extensive zooming in which isn’t very practical to do.

To fix this problem, I recommend connecting your camera directly to your PC/laptop via a USB or mini USB cable so that you can check the images on your computer as soon as they’re taken. Modern operating systems will automatically detect attached cameras and treat them as external USB devices (like memory cards) so you can access an image and open it right after you take the picture.

This set-up is also very handy for checking right away if you can fix a particular problem with your images in Photoshop. For example, you take a picture and see that there’s one small shadow around the product you can’t get rid of… what you do is open up that image in Photoshop with all your equipment still set up and see whether you can fix it. If you can’t, then you can just go right back and try to better position your lighting to get rid of the shadow (more on that later). (more…)

October 10, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 40 Comments

Product Photography – Part 2: Lighting & Background

Following up on last week’s post (Product Photography, Part 1 – Cameras), today we’re taking a closer look at the lighting and background set-up needed to get those perfect product pictures.

In my opinion this is actually the most important post in this product photography series and it’s something most sellers completely overlook. But with just a little education on the subject, you’ll be able to create a mini photo studio that helps you create stunning product pictures! So without further ado, let’s get started.

Backgrounds

To create beautiful product pictures, you need to use some sort of background. Why? Well to get rid of distractions and background ‘noise’ and allow your product to be the only feature of your pictures. Okay, if you’re selling something like a car, you won’t need to put it on a white background, lol, but in most cases you’ll want to use it – be it for small, medium or large products.

If you take a look on eBay, you’ll find plenty of amateurish looking pictures of products on wrinkled bed sheets and while this may be okay if you’re just selling some unwanted items from around your house, business sellers should really take more care in how they present their products. And the key to this is a good background set up!

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds are so called Lightboxes – you can get them on eBay and online shops in various sizes and settings – with the cheapest starting at just £20 or so and the most expensive, super-sized versions costing several hundred pounds.

Lightbox from TableTopStudio.com

Here’s the thing – You DON’T NEED THEM!

That’s right; you don’t need to purchase a lightbox to take outstanding product pictures. I’d actually recommend you stay away from them as they will only complicate your life, seriously! Theoretically they work ok BUT only if you have very powerful lights to get the box well exposed. And even then, I can’t see any reason why you would want to use a lightbox at all. (more…)

October 2, 2013 by Andrew Minalto - 62 Comments

Product Photography – Part 1: Cameras

Product photography is a topic many eBay and eCommerce sellers struggle with and for good reason – it’s a highly technical task that requires you to have a good background knowledge to get it right.

In this series of blog posts I’ll take a closer look at product photography and share with you some tips on how to create great looking product images for your eBay listings or online shop.

We’ll start with the camera – as without one, there are no pictures, right? And even though lighting, which I’ll cover next week, plays an integral role in the quality of your pictures, the camera is still of course the most important element.

Luckily these days we have digital cameras which are quite affordable and even with some lower end models you can get very good results if you know how to make them work for you.

Digital cameras can be categorized into three large groups:

1) Point & Shoot Cameras – these will be your everyday cameras most people already have and use for travel or birthday party pictures. Small, lightweight and relatively cheap – such cameras can be bought for as little as £30-£40 with the higher end models running into hundreds of pounds.

With the cheaper digital cameras you’ll really struggle to get good quality pictures as they won’t have the necessary functionality, especially in low light conditions. Also, they usually don’t work that well for highly complex items, such as jewellery, glass products and super small products where a good macro mode feature is a must have.

2) Compact (bridge) cameras – prices for these start at around £200 but can go up to £1000 or more for the best models. Compact cameras will give you much better pictures in comparison to small digital cameras as they have better optics, a larger sensor and overall their functionality can be compared to more expensive DSLR cameras.

Many bridge cameras nowadays come with interchangeable lenses too which is great if for example all you need is macro shots. These will also be perfect for people who want to get functionality of a DSLR camera but can’t afford the higher price tag.

3) DSLR cameras – the best of the best! DSLR cameras offer the best image quality, interchangeable lenses, great pictures even in limited lighting conditions and the widest options of available settings, all of which can be manually adjusted. Prices for DSLRs start at just below the £300 mark and can go up as high as £5-£10k+ for professional models.

When it comes to product photography, DSLR is the way to go! Product pictures are crisp, highly detailed and look very professional EVEN if you’re not a photographer!

Just to make a quick comparison – here are two images taken by a Point & Shoot type of camera and my Nikon D300 DSLR:

Point & Shoot type of camera

DSLR camera

Same product, same lighting conditions but the results are so much better with my Nikon D300, which is a DSLR camera!

So which camera is best for product photography? (more…)