11 Tips to Perfect Your Product Photography

Deirdre O'Donoghue
Deirdre O'Donoghue  |  October 11, 2019

How do shoppers gain trust in the e-commerce world? 

You may think that if your products are good enough, then they’ll sell. But without the right product photography, potential customers will buy from the competition. Product photography on an e-commerce website is meant to engage potential shoppers, show them what they are getting, and sell them on the product itself. 

When your product photography is accurate and engaging, shoppers will learn to trust your brand. Typically, in brick-and-mortar stores, you can trust the product because you can touch and feel the product itself. This type of physical trust is lost in e-commerce stores. 

Product photography uses techniques to showcase products in an enticing and informational manner. But how do you portray quality and value in a single photo? I’ll give you a snapshot of how to perfect your product photography with 11 tried and true tips. 

Product photography tips 

Not only is product photography imperative to an e-commerce store, but it’s also an integral part of advertising campaigns. Whether you’re selling on Amazon, selling wholesale, or have your own e-commerce shop, it’s important to prioritize your product photographs. Not only do they show up on your website, but they also form your brand identity through social media. 

Photos of products are needed to show people what they would be getting when purchasing a specific item. In fact, 93% of consumers consider images essential in purchasing decisions. Follow these tips and tricks to ensure your picture is worth more than just a thousand words. 

What do you need for product photography? 

There are some items that are necessary for getting the right shot. Keep in mind that this list is just the basics in order to keep costs lower. If you have a higher budget, you can invest in more high-quality products. 

Smartphone camera

You don’t have to buy a fancy, new camera to take photos of products. In fact, the iPhone 11 has a dual-camera system with an ultra-wide camera with 13mm focal length, 𝑓/2.4 aperture, 5-elements lens, 120° field of view, 4x more scene, and a 12MP sensor. 

What this means is that the iPhone 11 can take very clear, high-quality photos of wide scenes. 

And if you don’t have the iPhone 11, not to worry. All other smartphones have high-quality photo-taking abilities.  

With an iPhone 4s, desk lamp and a couple of light sources professional photographer, Tilo Gockel, took the below product photo. 

product photography with iPhone

A tripod 

Using a tripod helps stabilize the camera when taking photos. Because product photos need to be clear and focused, a tripod eliminates the possibility of uneasy hands ruining a photo. Tripods also help standardize your photos. For example, if you’re taking pictures of different water bottles, you wouldn’t want all the different colors to be shot from different angles. Luckily, tripods are relatively inexpensive and the difference they make is worth it. 

The right surface 

Depending on the product you’re photographing, you’ll need to find the right surface for the photoshoot. I recommend a standard, 24-27 inch wide table. If you’re photographing a product in-situation, then you may want to consider other surfaces. 

Bounce card 

Light is one of the trickiest things to master when it comes to product photography. A bounce card helps fill light into the shadows. You can do this by positioning the card facing the natural light, which causes the light to reflect into the shadows. 

A white background  

Unless you’ve decided to shoot a product in context, more times than not you will need a white background for the photoshoot.  You can use a white poster board from a drugstore or you can buy a paper sweep off of Amazon. 

White backgrounds make the editing process much easier. Freelance graphic designers and art directors can then easily edit your product photo, cut it out of the background, and place it wherever needed in the future, like an advertisement or website homepage. 

You can also use a light tent to ensure you have control of the light, background, and environment. A light tent, also referred to as a lightbox, is a box lined with white paper that where you can strategically place lighting. 

How to take good product photos 

Some people are naturally skilled photographers, but if your bread and butter is the business side of things and not the art, there are some steps you can take to ensure you take quality product photos for your website. 

Follow the specifications 

If you’re selling on Amazon, there are very detailed specifications each photo must fulfill. Similar to other e-commerce platforms, each of these platforms have a variety of requirements for photos. Before you start shooting, integrate these specifications into your plan so you are ready to upload the photos right after they’re retouched. 

Are you debating whether or not to build your own e-commerce website? Check out these e-commerce platforms that allow you to build and manage your very own storefront. 

Compare more than 340  E-Commerce Platforms.  Explore 10,000+ Reviews, FREE → 

Make a plan 

Whatever you do, do not begin a shoot without making a detailed plan. Before the photoshoot, sketch out what photos you want to capture. Be sure to note any props needed, necessary angles, and certain lighting. A simple sketch will do, but without a plan, you will end up wasting more time and money either reshooting or retouching. 

Find the right lighting 

First, you must choose between natural light or artificial light. Natural light is light that comes from sunlight, even if it’s through a window. Since you cannot control the level of natural light, using tools like the lightbox, a white background, or a bounce card can help control the light. It’s always better to have too much light than too little. 

One aspect of photography people oftentimes forget is shadows. Your product is the hero, not the shadows, so do all that you can to use tools to minimize shadows. 

If you don’t have any natural light, then you will have to create artificial light. Have a key light placed in front of the product, then fill the back with light either using another light or a bounce card. 

Be realistic  

There are two types of shots– product-only images and in-context images. For both types of shots, make sure that your photos are realistic. For example, don’t make a bag of candy look much larger than it actually or you will have disappointed and angry customers. Or in context, don’t show a cleaning product doing more than it actually can do. The more realistic you are with your images, the happier your customers will be. 

Product-only product shot of a Yankee Candle
Product-only shot of a Yankee Candle 


In-context product shot of a Yankee Candle In-context product shot of a Yankee Candle 

Shoot more than you need 

You never know what angle might turn out as the best shot or what needs you may have down the line. If you have a plethora of photos to choose from, then there’s a lower chance you’ll need to do a reshoot in the future. 

Retouch your photos  

In order to achieve a polished, and professional photo, you must retouch the photos. If you are not retouching photos yourself, then this process will be the most expensive part of the product photography process. 

Lindt retouched photoRetouched photo 

Lindt product photography not retouched Not retouched photo 

Looking at the way Lindt LINDOR Truffles are represented on Amazon you can tell that there’s a good way to do product photography and a bad way. 

The first image was retouched and they added text to the photo to tell more of a story that the shopper may need. The second image with the large box of truffles leaves shoppers with more questions. What kinds of truffles are in the box? How many truffles? Will they all be melted once they arrive at my home? Think about the shopper first and any questions they may have before they purchase. 

If you’re looking to retouch the photo yourself, find the best photo editing software for you. 

See the Highest-Rated Photo-Editing Software →

Take a picture, it’ll last longer 

There are whole classes dedicated to product photography. Photography is an art, but with these 11 tips, you’ll be on your way to mastering the craft and selling more products than you could’ve imagined. 

One type of product photography is food photography. Learn the dish on food photography with some simple tips. 

Deirdre O'Donoghue
Author

Deirdre O'Donoghue

Deirdre O’Donoghue is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. She brings her passion for research and creativity to her writing. In her free time you can find Deirdre fostering puppies or exploring the Chicago foodie scene.