This article is for those who are looking for some advice on how to get started with 360 product photography in general and for Shopify storekeepers in particular.
Before we go through the list of tips & tricks itself, first let’s get aligned on “360-degree photography” term. In fact, there are few meanings and all of them are pretty similar from the first look, but let’s get closer.
Nowadays, the most common meaning of “360-degree photography” is a description of panorama creation process — in other words, a scenario when camera is spinning around its axis (horizontal usually) to take a bunch of pictures with surroundings.
But also, this term is used for product photography where subject of the photo is spinning around its axis while camera’s position is static. Each photo reflects the subject from different angle of view. Then, again all photos to be composed into one image. Usually, photographer takes 20–40 photos which allows to make spinning smoother while viewer is rotating the image. Here is an example:
Sometimes, such technique is also called 3D photography, however it’s not quite correct.
In this short article we will discuss 360-degree photography in terms of product photography — the configuration where camera’s position is fixed and subject is spinning its axis.
First of all, who is it useful for?
As of now, more and more products are being purchased online. It does work perfectly for the services and some goods. But when it comes to physical products, like a backpack, it gets more difficult because sometimes customers would like to hold a product in the hands before make a decision on purchase. In such cases, for online stores it’s hard to compete with “traditional” physical retail store. And here 360-degree photography could really help.
Just because online customer can interact with and see a product from every possible angle, it makes customers confident and boosts online sales.
Wondering what is needed to start using 360-degree photography in a store?
Firstly, you need to take product photos. Below, we will go through important aspects of this process. Secondly, photos should be stitched into one image using one of the many available tools.
Take a picture!
Generally speaking, you have two options here.
Option 1. To hire local photographer. All you need is to provide photographer with all products you want to customers interact with online. This is a simple way, but still could be quite expensive for some products (i.e. jewellery may require more efforts to setup the light equipment to avoid undesirable reflections).
Option 2. To arrange own studio for 360 product photography. It may sound as something complex, but is it really? Let’s figure out what sort of equipment you gonna need for making a high-quality 360 product photography.
Camera. Obviously, you will need a camera to take a pictures. In fact, you can use any camera you already have — DSLR, mirrorless or even your smartphone.
The key requirement here is to have an ability to switch a device to “manual mode”. This is essential as camera settings need to be the same for an entire series of shots. Any DSLR/mirrorless camera has manual mode, in case with smartphone you may use any application from the Google Play or App Store if default camera app does not support manual mode.
Recommended settings are the following:
- Aperture: F8.0 (it makes a subject sharper)
- ISO: 100 (less value you have, less noise it will bring)
- Shutter speed: 1/10 sec (it could vary depending on camera)
Tripod. It’s really crucial to keep a camera perfectly steady during photo shooting. You may use any suitable tripod for your camera or smartphone.
Lights. There are so many ways to arrange a light for in-house studio. You may use some expensive solutions which are synchronized with a camera, but still inexpensive options will still work nicely. For example, you may buy 3 desk lamps (150–200 watt each) instead of expensive flashbulb.
Turntable. Again, there are different options available on the market — from professional motorized turntables (like 360 Turn Table from Noxon) to even self-built rotary table based on $10 “SNUDDA” tray from IKEA. The point is that product should be placed in the center of the turntable and rotated in few steps for taking pictures of it from different angles.
Background paper or lightbox. Depending on size of your product, you can use just a sheet of white paper or purchase a lightbox like AmazonBasics Portable Foldable Photo Studio Box with LED Light — in this case you do not need to buy a light equipment separately.
Well, that’s all you need to build an in-house studio for product photography.
Once you have a set of photos, you need to process using any photo editor just to adjust the pictures a bit (we will touch this topic in details in the separate article).
Stitch and publish it!
Now, the final and most interesting step. Prepared set of photos needs to be stitched using software or online service. You may pick up any of available tool for Windows or Mac (free or paid).
Speaking about tool for the Shopify platform, you may use 360 Product Spinner, a simple but powerful tool for showing your products in 360 degree. All you need is just to add the 360 Product Spinner app into your store, create product spinner just in few clicks, upload the photos and choose the target products from the catalogue — the rest will be handled by the app. It will automatically embed 360 product spinners into product pages which allows customers to interact with products instead of just looking at ordinary images of products.