8 tips for getting great product photos

27 March 2017

Business Insight

When shopping online consumers rely heavily on the images and descriptions on the screen when deciding whether to buy. As a seller you want your products to look as good as possible. Of course, in addition to photos looking alluring, you also want the photos to show your product in as much as detail as possible so that customers can make up their minds more easily. You also want the photos to accurately show all the relevant details so you avoid returns later due to the product not being as expected.

There are two types of photos you might take of the products on your e-commerce site: editorial photos and product photos. Editorial photos are pictures you see of the product in context which are designed to elicit an emotion and show the product in use.

Here is an arty example from the Christian Louboutin website.


Source: Christian Louboutin website


Editorial photos are creative and show the product in use or with props, models and interesting backgrounds, such as in the photo above. These photos are aimed at people who are in the consideration part of the buying process, rather than in the stage where they are selecting the exact product they will buy. These photos will draw your buyers in but then you need more detailed product photos to help them make a final decision.

The product photos are those you see when you are looking on the product page. These photos help guide your customers in making a choice and if customers don’t like what they see or don’t see enough detail to answer their potential questions, they might not go any further. Instead preferring to visit a competitor’s site.

You can take great photos which convert customers by paying attention to a few important details.


1: Take several photos

Take several photos to show the product from different angles, such as in the series of shoe photos from Amazon.


Source: Amazon


The potential buyer can then check out different aspects of the product. Such as whether the shoe above has grip, in the photo above. Notice also that Amazon allows the buyer to zoom in on the photos and the very first photo which appears is a simple and clear representation of the product.  


2: Choose the best photo as your lead photo

In the example above, the first of the seven photos is the photo from an angle which reveals the most information about the product. Customers might not look at any of the other photos so having the best, most relevant photo, which can show the most about the product, will help grab the customer’s attention.

The picture below provides some valuable information but does not give as much information as the lead photo. We cannot see the height of the heel or that the shoe has a platform. 


Source: Amazon


Consider your photos to find the one that makes your product look great and shows off the most features possible.


3: Use a plain white or grey background

You will have noticed that most product pictures you see on sites have a plain background. This is for two main reasons: to provide a clear contrast with the problem and to avoid distracting the buyer with unnecessary details. 

You don’t have to spend a lot to take photos with a neutral background. You can simply buy some white or light grey craft paper and pin it up so that it makes a sort of ramp and take photos in front of this. In this way you will avoid lines.

In the amateur photo below our attention is drawn to the background rather than being focused on the shoes.


Source: Le Bon Coin


Keep your background simple so your customer can just focus on your product.


4: Arrange the product attractively

Pay attention to the composition of the product. In the photo above you can see that the shoes are not arranged in a flattering way. They are wrinkled and not balanced. Compare this with the picture below of a similar pair of boots sold on Amazon, which is centred and balanced and shows the boots straight.


Source: Amazon


Just as you would choose a good angle if you were taking a portrait photo of someone, experiment with the composition of your product photos so that they are flattering and appealing.


5: Use good lighting and a tripod

You don’t want your product to be in shadow so take the photos with bright lights. You can buy lights just for taking pictures or rely on sunshine. Using a tripod will allow you to use a longer exposure to get a great picture and avoid the blurry photos that can occur when you hold the camera in your hands. Also be careful to avoid unfortunate reflections on the product.


6: Take a clear photo with accurate colours

Use the best camera you can get and take pictures which are focused and properly cropped. Be careful to avoid grainy or blurry photos. Also consider the colour. Sometimes a colour will appear differently in a photo to in real life and this can result in dissatisfied customers if the photo is of a product. You can find many product reviews with people complaining about the colour of the item they purchased not matching the colour in the photo. Ideally the photos will be as close to reality as possible so customers are satisfied and leave positive reviews. This will also avoid avoidable returns.  


7: Show clothing on a model

Some items need to be seen on a person. If you are selling clothing people will want to have an idea of how it looks on someone wearing it.

Here is a picture of a skirt sold by Uniqlo. When we look at this photo we are not sure if it’s long or short.


Source: Uniqlo


Compare this to another photo of the same skirt. Here we can see it on the model and have an idea of the fit and the length.


Source: Uniqlo


Customers buying clothes are wary of them not fitting or looking good on them so take a photo which will help the customer imagine exactly how the product looks on.


8: Show scale

If your customers cannot guess the size of your product from the photo and it might be a factor for purchase, such as with a handbag, you can take photos with another object just for scale. Here is an example of the Logitech mini mouse.


Source: Amazon


Here we see the mouse on a hand for scale and the receiver next to a coin. Any customer can clearly visualise the size of this product to decide if it is right for them.



Like any other useful skill, learning to take great product photos can take a little time to master but it will pay off with more sales and less returns. 

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