When you’re a small business owner with a limited budget, DIY is the name of the game. World-class photographers with professional models might be in your future, but for now, it’s up to you to bring your goods to life on camera. Here are five ways to help make DIY product photography a breeze!

Phone it in

Pump the breaks, shutterbug. Before you blow your budget on a high-end digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera and a bushel of lenses, check out what your smartphone can do! The DSLR-versus-smartphone debate is a favourite of photographye-commerce, and tech bloggers, but often the results are a draw.

In a perfect world, every small business would have a brilliant photographer with a fancy rig on staff, but your phone can offer convenience, cost-effectiveness, and many current models, the ability to take darn good photos. Also, your phone can’t be beat when it comes to sharing capabilities — the ability to upload photos seamlessly to your social media channels can be a major time saver.

Draw a Blank

It may not sound exciting, but a clean photo of your product against a white background may be the most-important shot in your arsenal. A study by Carleton University in Ottawa showed the average person forms their first impression of an image in 50 milliseconds — that’s not much time to make a sale.

A simple white background ensures your product is clearly visible to consumers. Also, if you have plans to partner with one of the big shopping portals like Amazon or Houzz, you’ll need to provide this style of image for listings.

If your items are small to medium sized, creating your own white “infinity cove” backdrop can be done at home in minutes. All you need is a roll of white paper, some tape or clips, and a little patience. Just fasten the paper to the back of a chair, a wall, or a photo table, curve it under your product, and voila!

Easy on the filters

Filters can be fun for your personal social media accounts, but for your business you might want to keep it “real.” According to ReadyCloud, 22% of e-commerce returns are due to cosmetic differences between the physical product and the image displayed online. Although you might enjoy seeing your goods in a different light, those filter effects can obscure fine details and even misrepresent items to your consumers. Save yourself the cost of returns and not-so stellar reviews, and let your product look like it will when your customer receives it.

It’s a lifestyle

In the digital age, lifestyle photos (pictures featuring people) can be game-changing for small businesses. Not only do images of people interacting with your products provide you with exciting visual content for social, but they can also tell a cohesive, compelling brand story to your target consumers. If you’re worried that all of those party people in the shot will be in the way, don’t, they may be your ticket to boosting engagement. 2014 research by Yahoo Labs and Georgia Institute of Technology showed that social media photos featuring faces racked up 38% more likes than those without. Call your friends (the ones who will model for pizza) and start snapping!

Go app shopping

Need a few extra tools in your belt? There are plenty of affordable smartphone apps out there that can make your visual content shine its brightest. Whether you need to remove content from your images, make them sharper, or farm out the photo editing to someone else entirely, there’s an app to help you get the job done. You can also find user-friendly graphic design software like Canva (available on iOS devices) to help you add text to your images, create ads, and build awesome sharable content for social media.

While a professional photographer can give you photos that will take your breath away, they could come with a bill to match. If your small business budget is more burgers than bubbly, DIY product photography may help you save a few bucks and learn a few tricks. Hey, it’s worth a shot! 😉