Like other industries, photography is not moving into the 21st century—it’s already there. Having progressed beyond portraits and weddings, tech-savvy photographers are taking advantage of the lucrative industry trend involving spin photography.
What is spin and 360 product photography?
Spin photography comprises interactive photos that provide a viewer a 360-degree view of the subject matter. In short, the photo spins. Also known as 360 product photography, this type of photography is already ubiquitous. However, many people already take it for granted because these product shots exist across the internet. For instance, if someone is shopping for shoes or tents or toasters or cars, those products exist in the form of a rotating photo.
If viewed on a computer, a user can often drag a mouse and rotate the photo 360 degrees. Doing so allows the user to view the photo from all angles. If viewed on a phone, the photo can be rotated with the touch of a finger. Alternatively, the photo might automatically spin as if on a rotating display.
Benefits of spin and 360-product photography
- Increased Engagement: 360 product photography is among the most important promotional techniques because it allows shoppers to digitally preview the product as if they were holding it or walking around it and inspecting it.
- Visually Stimulating: Simple product images don’t entice shoppers the way an in-store experience can; adding 360-degree and 3D product photographs can help e-retailers reach bricks-and-mortar levels of engagement.
- Increase Sales: Companies who include this type of photography on their websites or on their apps can give shoppers a more confident buying experience. In doing so, they convert shoppers into buyers at a much more frequent rate.
- Increase confidence in your brand: The extra visual information in 360° product photography builds customer confidence for making payments online at your website.
- Reduce Return Costs: You will find your level of product returns will drop considerably, as a better-informed customer is less likely to be unhappy with their purchase.
Five tips to get the best 360-degree product shot
Spin photography begins with 360 object photography, which itself begins with a camera. In previous decades, the right camera would involve a high-resolution camera capable of 4K resolution. Currently, this type of technology exists in just about any entry-level or prosumer camera. It also exists in many smartphones. Consequently, learning how to shoot 360 product photography and achieving the best 360 product shot involves not so much the camera but the subject, the environment, and the software.
The best subjects or products for spin photography involve those that have little or no transparency. Such things as windows, cups, wine glasses, or spectacles will not allow the software to properly discern between the background and the object. The background will also show through the object while the reflective nature of glass will create reflections. Objects showing through the object and reflections will mar the final quality of the 360 product photo.
The best lighting for 360 product images is diffuse lighting. Diffuse lighting is direct lighting that has been softened by either a white semi-transparent material or direct sunlight that has been softened by the clouds. The reason diffuse lighting is important is that it reduces hard shadows, which create different angles of light and dark that 3D photo software cannot splice together without creating harsh transitions that will be visible as the photo spins.
If a photographer is on a budget, quality 3D photography can be accomplished outside on an overcast day. For indoor environments, photographers can achieve overcast light quality using an on-camera light diffuser or a diffuse umbrella.
Consistent high-volume angles
3d photography involves taking multiple photos from different angles of a single object. For best results, a photographer needs from 12 to 36 photos.
Worse results stem from hand photography and few shots. Even if a photographer steadies a shot by propping his or her elbows into the sides of his or her chest, such hand photography will still create slightly different angles.
For professional photographers on a budget, a single tripod and a product turntable will accomplish equidistant shots at precise angles. However, the size of the product turntable will ultimately limit the types of product photography.
For professional photographers with large products, the best results are achieved through the use of a tripod set on a circular dolly set on a track. The tripod, dolly, and track allow the camera to remain at equal distances and heights from the object.
Whether someone uses a tripod and dolly or whether a product turntable is used, the photos arising out of these more precise setups will create uniform images that the software can better interpret and splice together into a smooth 360 product spin.
Additionally, a photographer must ensure the shooting process ensures a centered product. If the product is off center, even the best camera setups will create photos of different sizes at slightly different angles. – Bill Ross, CEO of Project 320
Evenly lit background
Depending on the compositing software, the background should be bright white, green, or blue. Often, the website background is white, so the actual background during the photoshoot will also be white.
However, when a website design incorporates a dark or image-based background, products requiring a translucent alpha channel are best shot in front of an evenly lit green or blue screen. Software programs then key out the green or blue screens, producing a single high-quality 360 product spin.
Regardless of the type of background required by the software, the background must be evenly lit and without shadows.
For best results, 360-degree photography software should include the following functionality:
- Able to process hi-resolution photos of 4K or more
- The final product image should render quickly
- Batch capability for processing multiple images
- Integrates with content management software such as WordPress
- Operates equally well on a computer or on a smartphone
- Responsive spin shots that size according to the user’s screen size