How to Take the Perfect Product Photography

Published on August 3, 2022
Written by
Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 9 Minutes

When shopping online, you’re not able to hold products in your hands or examine them up-close or in-person. That’s why it’s crucial that you get the perfect product photo to help bridge that physical barrier between your online customers and build trust for your brand. According to a study by the National Retail Federation, 67% of online shoppers say the product image is “very important” when shopping online. It’s time to take a gorgeous photo to show off your product–follow the guide below to get started.

Make A Shot List

Making a shot list for your photoshoot is often an overlooked first step–but it can save you a lot of time if you first plan out the photos you are looking to get. What is your goal with the photos? You’ll want to decide if you’re going with the studio or lifestyle and choose your location to shoot and decide on the appropriate equipment to use for that scenario. From there, start planning out the shot framing and composition:

Now, there isn’t just one type of picture; depending on for what you’re using your product photos, you need to have different kinds to fit different needs. Here are some examples, from some of our ShipStation users:

Individual Shot:

Shots with a white background are clean, unbiased, and effective at showing off your standalone product. These shots are perfect for your online store and marketplaces, for cutting and adding to promotional ads, and for when you need your product to take the spotlight. Having a plain white background on your shots also helps you a ton when editing your photos.

The Burlap Bag

Group Shot:

If you sell some of your products in bundles or kits, it’s important to take individual shots of each piece, but also a cohesive picture of all of them together. Experiment with the placement. Maybe designate one particular product as the ‘focus’ of the group. Arrange the products to give them some depth by overlapping or positioning at different angles.

Simple Sugars

Component Shot:

If you sell a product that may include additional components as part of the product or as add-ons, consider taking a picture of the individual accessories, components, or even a pre-assembly shot. Craft your photo to reflect how the parts work together or express the simplicity of your product design with a creative layout or ‘knolling’ style shot with a clean background.


Detail Shot:

Shoppers want the ability to closely investigate your products online. Take a few shots of your products from different angles and at a very close range to show detail, durability, and quality. Give customers the best possible chance at truly understanding what they are buying.

Use a macro lens for close-ups (usually it’s the flower setting on a point-and-shoot). There are macro lenses available for smartphones.

The Whiskey Ball

 Scale Shot:

Sometimes it’s difficult to get a good idea of how big something is from an individual shot. If feasible, take a shot that gives your shoppers a true sense of size and placement–if it’s furniture, jewelry, pottery, etc. In this photo, the stool and mug give the tree stump table a relatable scale to the online customer.

Offerman Woodshop

Lifestyle Shots:

Whenever possible, you need to give your visitors an aspirational shot of your product at its best in a real-life setting. Show clothes and jewelry on models that are having fun and looking good. Show tech products at work in a business setting. Take advantage of different locations, angles and expressions to convey your product as part of a story. This will draw an emotional connection to your customer’s personal feelings of your brand and the product–so be sure and make it reflect your company’s mission!

Siete Family Foods

Use this list, along with information from our article on DIY Product Photo Essentials, to start creating or upgrading your product shots.

Be Creative & Flexible

Your shot list is a good way to have a to-do list when doing product photography. You might also want to make notes of some go-to camera settings as well before going into the shoot. Depending on the camera you’re using, you’ll want to consider brushing up on how to take better photos with these DSLR settings. Just remember that you’re dedicating this time to take great photos that could increase your sales and reduce your returns. Be prepared and take your time to get the perfect product photo!

Take Several Different Shots

It’s common for the beginner (and sometimes professional) photographer to get comfortable with a style that works. However, it’s important not to get hung-up on the same shot throughout your photoshoot. Try different angles, lighting, shot types, depth-of-field, composition and placement. You’ll have much more to work with in the long run than your immediate need to get your product on your website. Experiment and have some fun with it!

Always Consider the Medium

You might be an expert at taking a cinematic shot – but are you considering where you’ll be publishing that photo? You may only need a simple individual shot of your product but there are still factors to considering when framing your shot composition. If you plan on having your product fit within a square image (1:1 ratio), then be sure and take some shots where you have enough space around your product that you can crop it later. Consider other dimensional needs: a website banner, twitter post, or an online ad. All will have different sizes and you may need to shape your shot list around those requirements.

Don’t Rush Your Shoot

The key here is to be patient, especially if you’re just getting started. Take the time to make a clean setup, adjust the lights, and to test when applicable. Although product photography can be simple, no one is a master overnight. Knock out your shot list but give yourself the time to also be creative on-the-spot. You may be tempted to rush through the process, but take time to get the shot, review, and repeat if necessary until you get the perfect shot.

Sell Online?

If you’re an eCommerce seller, great product photos are key to getting sales and reducing your returns. A nice touch to your customer’s online shopping experience might be to incorporate your product photos beyond checkout. With a shipping software like ShipStation, you can promote your brand and wow your customers with additional places where your product photos can live like a Branded Tracking Page, your shipping confirmation emails, your packing slips, and more. If you want to use your product photos to their best advantage and save time and money when shipping your products, try out ShipStation free for thirty days.

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Written by

Adam Foster

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