Mastering Product Photography: Shoes and Footwear

When selling shoes and footwear online, your product images should showcase every minute detail -- from the quality of the material to the design of the shoe.

When capturing product photography with footwear, it’s crucial that your image showcases the product in every miniscule detail -- from the quality of the material to the design of the shoe tread. The more you can improve your digital customer experience, the more likely you are to increase sales and reduce returns overall. This is where having a suitable product photography kit for footwear and knowing how to use it comes into play. Dive into this guide to learn about how to improve your footwear photography with PhotoRobot kits and automation software.

Getting started: utilizing the best product photography kit for shooting footwear

Improving your footwear product photography all begins with the right product photography kit for the job. This is especially true if capturing 360 degree photographs, but also remains vital if only capturing photos from a given set of angles. Ultimately, what you are trying to create is an image as rich in detail as the product would be in the customer’s hands during the in-store shopping experience.

At PhotoRobot, we strive to offer state-of-the-art product photography solutions for e-commerce stores, websites, and distributor and retailer channels. Our robust and versatile hardware, coupled with our software for automation and post-processing provide studios with the tools photographers need for high-volume, high-quality product photo shoots -- no matter the size of the product or the company. Read on to learn more about PhotoRobot’s approach to footwear and the equipment we use for the job.

Components of the 360 degree footwear photography kit

The PhotoRobot 360 degree product photography kit for footwear consists of industry-leading photography equipment, PhotoRobot hardware, and a single or multi-camera setup for spin photography. 

In our footwear kit, the MULTICAM BOW has three high resolution Canon cameras mounted to it, all suspended in an arch over the NARROW GLASS TABLE. The MULTICAM can support up to 13 cameras, but for shooting shoes and footwear, 3 cameras does the job well. The pinpoint triggering of the cameras and the strobes, along with the rotating table allow precise image capturing in short time.

A single rotation, for example, allows photographers to capture 24 images around, or every 15 degrees, and, for footwear, this provides 72 angles of the shoe. The system also captures 3 images at every stop (or more should you decide to utilize more cameras), so there is no need to repeat rotations each time the cameras move over the product.

Advantages of improving your footwear photography

With perfect product photography becoming the industry standard, especially with footwear, to truly compete in today’s market it’s crucial to produce product photos that not only stand out but also create the in-store experience online shoppers are seeking. 

Success in e-commerce marketplaces revolves around customer trust, and to win this trust perfect product photography is key. Online shoppers want to view products in real detail, from various angles and zoom, and all at high quality resolution. When a marketplace can execute this and provide customers with flawless, visually-rich product experiences, not only does trust increase but it also builds brand loyalty, and increases conversions and revenue.

Equipment and accessories to improve footwear photography

PhotoRobot’s MULTICAM hardware

The MULTICAM is PhotoRobot’s solution for capturing multiple overhead camera angles in a single rotation of the accompanying Narrow Glass Table.

Consisting of a structural arch or bow that extends outwards from the narrow glass table to the upper structure, this apparatus can hold multiple cameras that can be installed in various angles in 7 different 5 degree increments, from 0 to 90 degrees.

This setup can raise or lower according to the product’s height at the command of the software. This software allows photographers command of the workstation, as well as image capture, presets, image reporting and management, and tools for quick post-processing. 

Overall, with these tools, production time is cut by up to two thirds due to the extreme speeds at which you can accomplish routine tasks -- providing photographers more time to set the perfect scene, brush up the entire footwear setup or shoot more products.

Strobe lighting and the right softbox

The next component to getting the best footwear product photos is in the lighting and softboxes. 

Especially with 360 degree photography, broncolor Siros S strobes are known to produce consistent color accuracy and overall output. By producing a lot of light, these strobes can keep every shot in focus, even with the deep depth of field which is necessary when producing spin photography. Combine this lighting with the legendary Chimera Softboxes, and light is evenly distributed across products and all details are distinct and in focus for spin presentation.

Camera synchronization

The next tool in the footwear kit is the camera synchronization box. This is paired with the MULTICAM in order to command the cameras to trigger precisely when the strobes fire. With the PhotoRobot web interface, photographers can control all the  cameras with camera-specific millisecond adjustable sliders. These sliders provide users accurate and consistent control over when shutters will open and in what order to capture photos in the illuminated during the flash duration.

The right cameras for the job 

One of our go-to cameras for shooting shoes and footwear in the studio is the Canon 5D IV. It is well-renowned for its durability and its 30-megapixel CMOS sensor, and provides high quality photos with deep zoom capacity. Its zoom lens at 24-105 is also perfect for making quick adjustments in the studio based on the size, shape, and overall design of the shoes and footwear.

PhotoRobot’s Narrow Glass Table

PhotoRoboto’s NARROW GLASS TABLE is fully configurable, with many options to choose from to control table rotation and the amount of images captured in every spin. You can, for example, designate the table to capture 24 images around, or at every 15 degrees, and it’ll do that and more in under one minute, including uploading imagery to the cloud, image postprocessing and even automated publishing directly to the web! 

The tempered glass plate is 850mm, rotates 360 degrees, and is operated by a stepper motor controlled by a computer. This, together with an encoder wheel which is capable of reading back the glass’ position for accurate and fast movement.

Considerations before installation and set up

Area

Before starting any product photography operation, it’s important you have the space for the job. There needs to be areas for receiving products, vetting, temporary storage, and, then, there needs to be space for product preparation and photography workstations. How well this space is organized greatly impacts product photography studio workflow, and, ultimately, efficiency, throughput capacity, and revenue. 

Then, with 360 product photography or heavy equipment, there are extra concerns. There needs to be solid, level floors, ideally concrete for the heavy machinery. There also needs to be enough space allocated to ensure systems operate smoothly and maintain optimum calibrations. 

Electricity

With all of the photography equipment, cameras, workstations and computers, a photography studio can consume a lot of energy. This is why, before beginning any photography operation, all circuity should be considered and chosen to enable day-to-day activities without risk of complication.

Thankfully however, with modern solutions, a single workstation can operate smoothly on a regular 230V / 16A socket (and with PhotoRobot units also switchable to 115 / 230V), meaning that energy consumption can be reduced to lower than that of an electric kettle. Then, when you add more robots to the studio, energy can be distributed in phases and with other tricks to keep consumption to a minimum. 

Climate

When choosing a warehouse or studio space, it’s important to consider the products being photographed. While some products can be shot in a dusty warehouse, other more sensitive products need to be in a pristine, clean and climate-controlled environment. 

Then, there’s also the issue that hot environments can damage not only electronics but also lighting equipment, so, overall, it is always best practice to find an environment suitable for your specific, long-term photography operations.

Logistics

The next consideration for studio workflow is proximity of product storage to the photography stations. Ideally, you want to have the products as close to the photography stations as possible, making it easy to transport them to and from each photo shoot. If the products are off-location, time is lost in packing and shipping, so it’s always best to consider the distance from your product to the photographers.

Also related, consider devising a sound sorting strategy for your products. When effectively sorted, similar setups can be used for entire groups of objects, ultimately reducing overall production time. You can also use trolleys with castors to feed machines, or other tools to help save time transporting your products from storage to the workstation.

Network accessibility

With the PhotoRobot footwear kit, you’ll also need network accessibility so the photographer’s computer can communicate with the cameras. This is done through traditional computer networks or LAN connectability, and allows for teams to easily install and manage multiple systems. Also, with internet access and use of the proper network protocols, the units can find and install firmware updates as well as allow the workflow tool to distribute final product images.

Improving footwear product photography with PhotoRobot

When selling anything online, the product showcase matters. This is especially true with shoes and footwear, as the best way to inform shoppers about the product is through photography. The stronger your images, the more likely they are to sell shoes!

At PhotoRobot, our solutions are designed to complement any studio warehouse, large or small, or any product photography project. With versatile hardware and equipment capable of fitting just about any space, and PhotoRobot automation software, we strive to deliver customizable, plug-and-play solutions to reduce overall production time, increase throughput, and to ultimately generate more sales for online sellers and marketplaces.

To learn more about our process, our robots, and our software, reach out to us today for a free consultation with the team.



Published:

18.8.2020