By Linda Courtney
Whether you are selling your merchandise on eBay, Etsy or your own store, you will need a photograph that will show your item to its best advantage. The picture is what the customer will most likely see first before reading the description. If your photo is not clear you will not gain the attention of potential customers and gain a sale.
One of the most important tools for capturing a clear image is the camera. The camera that is included on your smart phone or tablet may be fine for snapshots of your family and friends, but you should invest in a better quality digital camera to show your items off to their best advantage. The lenses in your smartphone camera are not good enough for this task. You do not need an expensive digital SLR camera. A simple point and shoot camera will work just fine. One with macro mode should be considered if you have small items to photograph.
A tripod for your camera can be a handy device when photographing your merchandise. It will help to keep your camera steady and avoid blurriness. If you have situations that call for low light and require a long exposure, a tripod will be essential. Most are not expensive and are easy to find.
The lighting you use to highlight your products can have a big effect on the quality of the picture. The flash built into the camera can be too bright and create shadows. Some external lighting should be considered. Two or more photo floodlights will do the trick. You can position them to the side or rear of the item to highlight its best features. Consider lighting with softboxes as these can create a diffused and softer light. A light tent should be used if you photograph small items on a regular basis. This is a box enclosure for your items with white and sometimes translucent sides. The light will shine through these sides creating the diffused light needed for your small items.
When taking the photos, make sure the lighting is off to the side at a 45-degree angle. Always make sure your lighting is diffused for a softer image that does not show glare or shadows. You can take pictures outside in natural lighting, but choose a day that is partially cloudy. Shooting in direct sunlight can wash out the items so the coloring and features are not clear. You will not need a high resolution for merchandise pictures. Some auction sites have limits on the amount of resolution they will allow. Keep it under 2000 x 2000 pixels for best results.
The background of your picture should be a solid color that will show off the item and not detract from it. Colored cardboard or fabric can work well and are cheap. If you want to be more professional, you should invest in a roll of colored background cloth or paper. This will give you a seamless background with no distractions. The background cloth or paper should also be placed under the item so it looks continuous throughout your photo.
Photo editing software is another good investment for your online auction or store. Some of the most well-known are Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Photo Express and Picasa. If you are looking to save some money, Picasa is free at picasa.google.com. All of these programs will help you to crop your photos or fix any little flaws that show up in the photograph. Always keep in mind that potential buyers want to see the true product, so do not fix imperfections in the merchandise itself. You will have some angry customers if you hide the true flaws.
When shooting your merchandise, try to shoot from an angle. Using this method will give the buyer an idea of the depth instead of just a flat straight-on view. Center the item in the frame and make sure it fills in a good part of the image to highlight the item only. If it is a little off-center in the shot or there is too much background, you can correct this with your photo editing software. Try shooting a number of pictures of the same object and choose the one that shows it off to its best advantage.
Taking photographs of your merchandise for sale does not require much expertise. If you plan on selling many items and earning some money on this venture, however, you should invest in decent photography equipment. Ensure that your camera is up to the task and has a nice lens. Proper lighting is essential and an excellent investment if you want to sell your merchandise for the best price. With the right equipment and some practice, your pictures will look professional and lead to higher sales.