7 Best Practices For Product Photography (and more!)

“That looks terrible, not a chance I’m buying that.”
“The product looks nothing like the photos, I’m never shopping here again!”
“If the product looks cheap in the photos, I’m not interested!”

Your customers might not actually say that to you directly, but if your product photos are lacking, they could be thinking it.

Ecommerce product photography is so important. Some shoppers can be wary of shopping online, which makes good product photos one of the biggest factors that will convert the user. Product photos communicate the trustworthiness of your company to your customers; shoppers judge the quality of your business by how you present what you sell, so be sure to make the best first impression

93% of consumers consider images imperative in their buying decisions.

Not sure how to get started? Check out our tips on product photography best practices.

7 Best Practices for Product Photography

1. Avoid Busy Photos

You don’t want your product photos to be cluttered. Negative space is important to ensure customers focus on the product and don’t get distracted. Busy backgrounds can detract from your product and potentially confuse customers.

This product photo is cluttered and confusing. It’s unclear which item is supposed to be featured. It could be the mirror, the chair, the rug, the shoes — anything. This is fine to use as a lifestyle photo, but should be mixed with other images featuring the product on its own.

2. Use Large Images

Zoom features on ecommerce sites are usually only enabled if your image is large enough. Being able to see details of the product is important to many shoppers; they may want to see the fabric or material used, the cut, or other finer details. Including this feature can help your customers make a more informed purchase and reduce returns due to misaligned expectations.

3. Use Light Photos

If your photos are too dark, shoppers won’t be able to see what the product looks like. Using spaces with a lot of natural light or a product photography light box is the best practice to ensure bright photos.

4. …But Not Too Light

Always keep in mind that bright photos are essential to display the product clearly, but too much brightness could make the image look washed out. You need to balance the light and work with editing tools to ensure the photo has a nice balance of shadows and brightness.

5. Make Sure Your Photos are Reliable

It’s important that your photos accurately represent your product, especially showing the colour of the product as exact as possible. To do this, avoid using filters. Also, if the product changes in any way, you should reshoot new photos. If customers receive a product that isn’t what they expected, they will leave negative reviews.

6. Have Various Photos for Each Product

Make sure to show the product from multiple angles. It’s always good to include a couple of lifestyle photos along with the standard white background photos. This shows the product in use and adds an emotional element to it. This type of photo is also preferred for social media posts or banner images on your website.

7. Have Images for All Product Styles

If you have a product that comes in different styles or colours, make sure you have pictures for each one. Customers want to see exactly what they’re ordering and if you don’t include photos for every style, you could be missing out on a sale.

Other Tips

Natural vs. Artificial Lighting

It’s best to use natural light if the product is meant to be used outside, you’re using a model (people tend to look better with natural light), or you’re trying to show the product in context rather than specific features of the product.

Artificial light will focus the light on a surface in a specific way. This light is best used when you want to show a lot of details on the product.

When deciding on which type of light to use, a rule of thumb is to only use one type; artificial or natural, never both.

Photography for Website vs. Social Media

Product photography on your website and social media platforms should differ in style and tone. Your website should contain more formal images that display the product and its features. Website product photos should be focused on providing shoppers with an experience as close to “real-life” as possible. You want to make it easy for consumers to get an idea of what your product is like without actually touching it.

Product photography for ad platform shopping feeds, like Google Shopping and Facebook Product Catalog, have specific requirements for product photos. Their rules include specific size requirements, how to display the product, avoiding the use of text overlays, borders logos, and more. Refer to Facebook and Google’s rules and best practices to ensure your ad gets displayed.

You should be using lifestyle or user-generated photos featuring your products instead of standard product images. This is a chance to give your brand a personality.

A general rule for brands on Instagram is to keep it informal, fun, creative, and human.

Instagram and other social media platforms are less formal but the quality of photos shouldn’t be sacrificed. Companies should make sure that their profile has an aligned aesthetic for every post. Just two years ago, Pepsi’s Instagram account had a mix of low quality photos and high quality videos that reflected a disorganized and confused brand.

Pepsi’s Instagram account in 2016

Now, Pepsi’s profile is fully aligned, featuring influencer-type photos that reflect the brand’s personality and will be attractive to their young target audience. Each post still features a Pepsi product, but they do it in a non-intrusive, cool way.

Pepsi’s Instagram account in 2018

Whether it’s your website, Google Shopping, or any of your social channels, product photography is critical to get right. It directly reflects the credibility of your brand and the perceived quality of your products. Make it a priority!