The 10 Most Common Web Photography Mistakes

When marketing your product online, you have only a few short seconds to convince your viewers that your products are top quality and that your company is trustworthy. If your product photos look bad or are nonexistent (especially when your competitor’s photos look good), then a potential customer may not give you a chance to get to know you and your products better.

Below are the most common mistakes made concerning online photography—and how to avoid them:

Blurry or distorted photos. This is caused by too much JPG compression, by stretching an image larger than it should be shown using the IMG tags, or by an out-of-focus camera (many point-and-shoot cameras have a hard time focusing on objects up close). Whatever the cause, the result is not acceptable for any company that wishes to be successful selling online. If your customer cannot clearly see your product, he will probably not buy it.

Strange or dull colors. This problem is caused by using a wrong color profile (Web photos should have sRGB), improper lighting, or an incorrect white balance during photography. Getting a product to look as good in a photo as it does in real life is not as easy as you might first think.

Slow-loading photos. Using large photos instead of properly resized photos can cause this setback. Most cameras today take very large photos that are great for making 4” x 6” or even 5” x 7” prints; however, when these photos are used online, these large files can bog down even the fastest Internet connection.

“Jagged scissor edges.” This is caused by trying to remove a product’s background in order to get a pure white background without really knowing how to. Most professional product photographers shoot products against a properly lit white background that does not need to be removed. And while there are a number of very good image editing products available today for a reasonable price within reach of most people, owning image-editing software does not make somebody a professional photo retoucher.

Too dark or too bright. Photographing the product without the proper camera settings (shutter speed and aperture) will cause this problem. This is where the skills and knowledge of a photographer really make a difference.

Product photos that are too small. This problem is often the case when good quality product photos are not available or when the product photos were put online several years ago (when people had smaller monitors and slower computers). The better the source image, the better the final image usually will be online–although it is important that your Web designer also knows how to not damage your product photos while preparing them for online use.

A distracting (or just plain ugly) background. This problem usually caused by trying to get a photo taken in a hurry,and can be seen most often in eBay auctions.

A lack of “drama” (or sales appeal). Most people do not realize that if you were to photograph the exact same product on the exact same background but with different lighting (directional lighting vs. top lighting, for instance), the product would look totally different–and in many cases much better under one type of lighting than another. Add in different background options.

A lack of “prestige.” If you look at any of the very large retail sites (think Godiva, J. Crew, Restoration Hardware, Best Buy) you will always find some interesting “prestige” photos on their home pages. These images express quality, and as all these large companies know, these product photos lead to more sales. This is especially true when all your competitors are using the same old “on white” product photos; using some prestige shots will really make you stand out.

Having too few product photos. The more products a company has, the more difficult it is to get all of them photographed. It is quite common for companies to get so carried away with production, distribution, and packaging of a product that they underestimate the importance of getting quality product photos that will sell. This is a terrible mistake that your competitors can and will exploit.

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