The Beginner’s Guide to Product Photography

Carter McCue

10 mins read

As the famous adage says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the world of e-commerce, a great one may be worth a thousand likes and sales or even more. In today’s digital age, where online shopping has become the norm, the importance of high-quality product photography cannot be overstated. Whether you’re a small business owner looking to showcase your products or an aspiring photographer interested in the lucrative field of commercial photography, mastering the art of product photography is a must.

Product photography plays a pivotal role in capturing the attention of potential shoppers, establishing brand identity, and ultimately driving sales. A visually appealing and well-executed product image can convey an item’s essence and unique features in a way that words alone cannot. It lets customers visualize the item, assess its quality, and make informed purchasing decisions.

In this beginner’s guide to product photography, we will delve into the fundamental principles, techniques, and tools required to create stunning product images. Whether working with a professional camera or simply using your smartphone, this guide will provide valuable insights and practical tips to elevate your product photography skills. Let’s get into it, shall we?

What Is E-Commerce Product Photography?

E-commerce product photography refers to the art of capturing images that showcase products in the most appealing and informative way possible. These images serve as the visual representation of the products being sold on online platforms, such as websites, marketplaces, or social media.

This could include product photos on a seller’s website, Instagram account, or online marketplace listing. The primary goal of e-commerce product photography is to engage and entice potential customers to explore the product further and ultimately make a purchase.

The Importance of Product Photography in E-Commerce

High-quality product photography becomes paramount in the absence of physical stores where customers can see, touch, and examine products firsthand. It fills the gap by providing potential buyers with a virtual experience that simulates the tangible aspects of a product. The goal is to entice and engage viewers, inspiring them to make a purchase. 

Think of your favorite brick-and-mortar store. When you walk in, you can touch the fabric of a garment, feel the weight of a gadget in your hand, or examine the intricate details of a piece of jewelry. These sensory experiences help you assess the product’s quality, functionality, and appeal. But how can e-commerce replicate that experience?

This is precisely where product photography steps in as a powerful tool. It allows online shoppers to visualize the product, understand its scale, and examine its features up close. High-quality product images provide a level of detail and clarity that can rival the in-person shopping experience.

What Items Do You Need for Product Photography?

what items do you need for product photography?, product photography for beginners

Compelling e-commerce product photography goes beyond simply displaying an item. It involves strategic decisions regarding lighting, composition, styling, and editing, all aimed at presenting the product in its best light and capturing the target audience’s attention. A well-executed product photograph communicates not only the physical attributes of the item but also its unique features, benefits, and potential uses. This is why having the right equipment and item is a must.

Here are some of the most important ones you should have in your arsenal:


Having a reliable camera with manual controls is crucial for product photography. Modern smartphones can capture impressive images; however, a dedicated camera gives you more control over settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Look for a camera with good resolution, image sensor quality, and the ability to change lenses, as different products may require varying focal lengths.


A sturdy tripod keeps your camera stable and minimizes the risk of blurry images caused by hand movements. Using a tripod allows for precise framing and composition, especially when longer exposure times are needed.

White Background

A clean, white background is a go-to for product photography as it provides a neutral and professional look. You can use a seamless white paper roll or a dedicated photography backdrop to achieve this. This can help your product stand out and allow easy background removal during post-processing if needed (you’ll thank us later!).

White Bounce Cards Made of Foam Board

Unlike the others on the list, these bounce cards are very cheap yet highly effective tools for product photography. They help control and manipulate light by bouncing it back onto the subject, reducing harsh shadows and creating a softer, more diffused lighting effect. Place these white bounce cards strategically to fill in shadows and achieve even lighting on your product.


If you want a seamless experience taking flat lays and capturing products from an overhead perspective, having a sturdy table or surface is necessary. Ensure that the table is clean and free of distracting elements. Depending on the size and weight of your products, choose a table that can accommodate them comfortably and provide enough space for various angles and compositions.


Tape may seem minor, but it can be incredibly useful for product photography. It can help secure backdrops, hold products in place, or create makeshift props or supports. A roll of tape ensures you can address any unforeseen challenges or adjustments during your shoot.

The Right Room

And, of course, where it all happens— the fitting room. The room or space where you conduct your product photography is significant in the final outcome. Look for a room with ample natural light or good artificial lighting options. Consider factors such as the size of the room, available wall space, and the ability to control lighting conditions. A dedicated photography studio or a well-lit room with neutral-colored walls is ideal for product photography.

How To Take Product Photos That Sell

How To Take Product Photos That Sell, how to set up for product photography

So let’s say you’ve already got all those items and equipment. How exactly do you now take images that sell? Here are some surefire tips:

1. Add Your Product To a Relatable Scene

Relatability is key! Place your product in a context that resonates with your target audience. For example, if you’re selling camping gear, show the product in a campsite setting to evoke a sense of adventure and outdoor lifestyle.

2. Showcase Your Product Authentically

Capture your product naturally and realistically in a way that accurately represents its features and benefits. Avoid excessive editing or filters that can mislead customers. Authenticity builds trust and helps potential buyers make informed decisions.

3. Do a 360 Degree in Product Photography

Provide a comprehensive view of your product by incorporating 360-degree photography. This interactive feature allows customers to rotate and examine the product from all angles, enhancing their understanding and confidence in what they’re purchasing.

4. Create an Immersive Experience Using Augmented Reality

Implement augmented reality (AR) technology to let customers virtually place your product in their own environment. This allows them to visualize how the product would look in their space and helps bridge the gap between online shopping and the in-person experience. For example, you can make a virtual version of a closet available on your website or app, allowing customers to virtually try on different outfits and see how they would look. This immersive experience helps customers make more informed purchasing decisions and increases their engagement and satisfaction with your brand.

5. Feature People in Your Product Images

Including real people in your product images helps potential buyers relate to and envision themselves using it. Whether it’s models, customers, or influencers, featuring people in your photos can evoke emotions, demonstrate product usage, and showcase the benefits and lifestyle associated with your product. This human element adds authenticity and creates a stronger connection between the viewer and your product.

6. Create a Pattern Using Your Products

Arranging your products in a visually appealing pattern or composition can grab attention and make your product photos more eye-catching. This technique works well for items that come in various colors, shapes, or styles. By arranging them in an appealing pattern, you showcase individual products and create a visually appealing overall image that entices viewers to explore further.

7. Use Props To Elevate Your Composition

Strategically chosen props can enhance your product photos’ composition and visual impact. Consider selecting props that complement your product and its intended use. For instance, if you’re selling kitchenware, including fresh ingredients or cooking utensils as props can add context and create an appealing visual story. Props help create a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing composition that enhances the appeal of your product.

8. Think of New Ways of Highlighting the Product Features

Your products and their functionality should always be the star of your photos. Explore innovative ways to showcase your item’s unique features, functionalities, or design elements. Experiment with different angles, lighting techniques, or close-up shots to emphasize specific aspects that set your product apart. Highlighting these features creatively captures potential buyers’ attention and helps them understand the value and benefits your product offers.

9. Work With a Product Stylist During the Photo Shoot

This is a great idea if you have the budget and you want to level up your game. Collaborating with a professional product stylist can significantly enhance your product photos’ overall aesthetic and visual impact. A product stylist brings expertise in arranging products, selecting props, and creating visually appealing compositions. They can help you create a cohesive visual brand identity, ensure consistency across your product images, and elevate the overall quality of your photography.

10. Experiment With the Fishing Thread Technique

Want to truly wow your audience? The fishing thread technique involves suspending your product in mid-air using transparent wires or fishing threads. This technique can create a sense of weightlessness, add a dynamic element, or showcase the product from unique angles. By carefully positioning and suspending your product, you can create an intriguing visual effect that captures attention and sparks curiosity. This technique works particularly well for products with intricate details or interesting shapes, such as accessories, bags, and tumblers.

10 Product Photoshoot Ideas

Product Photoshoot Ideas, product photography ideas, creative product photography ideas

Ready to try out your skills and take some awesome pics to wow your shoppers? Here are some ideas we’ve got for you!

1. Using Fishing Line

Explore the creative possibilities of using a fishing line to suspend or float your product in mid-air. This technique can create a sense of weightlessness and add a dynamic element to your photos. For instance, you can suspend a product like a necklace or a pair of earrings to showcase its intricate details or capture a sense of movement.

2. Shooting With Colored Gels

Add a splash of vibrant colors to your product photos by using colored gels. Attach these transparent colored filters to your light sources, such as studio lights or flashes, to create a unique and eye-catching atmosphere. Experiment with different color combinations to evoke moods or highlight product features.

3. Shooting on a Reflective Surface

Use reflective surfaces like mirrors, glass, or water to add visual interest and create captivating reflections in your product photos. This technique can create a sense of elegance and sophistication while emphasizing the product’s details and providing a unique perspective.

4. Making Your Own Shadows

Control the lighting in your photoshoot by creating intentional shadows. By using a combination of natural or artificial light sources and objects strategically placed between the light and the product, you can cast intriguing shadows that add depth, drama, and visual appeal to your images.

5. Creating Depth

Enhance the visual impact of your product photos by incorporating depth. Consider using props, layers, or different focal points to create a sense of dimension and make the product stand out. This technique adds visual interest and draws the viewer’s attention to the key elements of your composition.

6. Taking Macro Shots

Capture intricate details and textures by using a macro lens or setting on your camera. Macro photography allows you to showcase the finer aspects of your product, revealing its unique features up close. This technique is particularly effective for products like jewelry, cosmetics, or small accessories.

7. Incorporating Lifestyle Elements

Go beyond the traditional product-only shots and create lifestyle-oriented images that showcase your product in real-life scenarios. Consider photographing your product in use, capturing the moment it adds value to someone’s life or complements their activities. This approach helps potential customers envision using your product and tap into their aspirations and desires.

8. Using Outdoor Shots

Take advantage of natural lighting and outdoor settings to capture your product in a different environment. Outdoor shots can provide a fresh and appealing backdrop, whether it’s a picturesque landscape, an urban cityscape, or a serene beach. Experiment with different times of day to capture the desired lighting conditions and mood.

9. Using A Bokeh Background

Create a visually pleasing and dreamy atmosphere by incorporating a bokeh background. Bokeh refers to the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas in an image. By using a wide aperture and positioning your subject in front of lights or other light sources, you can achieve a beautiful bokeh effect that adds a soft and magical touch to your product photos.

10. Lighting Your Backdrop

Instead of focusing solely on the product, pay attention to the lighting of your backdrop. Experiment with different lighting techniques, such as backlighting, to create interesting and atmospheric effects. This can help create a mood or highlight specific elements of the product or the background itself.

How To Take Product Photos At Home With Your Smartphone

How To Take Product Photos At Home With Your Smartphone, product photography with iphone, product photography with your phone

Don’t have a professional camera? No problem. Here are some tips for taking product pictures with your handy-dandy smartphone.

Use a Room With Good Lighting

Find a room with ample natural light or use artificial lighting to create a well-lit environment. Position your product near a window or use diffused lighting techniques to avoid harsh shadows and ensure even illumination.

Get a Mini Tripod

Invest in a mini tripod or smartphone holder to keep your phone steady and minimize camera shake. This will help you capture sharper, more professional-looking images.

Set Up Your Backdrop

Choose a clean and visually appealing backdrop for your product. A solid-colored wall, a seamless backdrop, or even a plain sheet can work well. Ensure the backdrop complements your product and doesn’t distract from its features.

Use White Bounce Boards

Enhance lighting and reduce shadows by using white bounce boards made of foam board or cardstock. These boards reflect light back onto the product, helping to fill in shadows and create a more balanced lighting setup.

Set Up a Diffuser Sheet if the Sun Is Too Bright

If the sunlight is too harsh, soften it by using a diffuser sheet or curtain to create more diffused and even lighting. This helps to avoid overexposure and harsh highlights on your product.

Product Photography Tips for Instagram

Want to start your new-found hobby on the gram? Here are some tips:

Take Inspiration From Brands You Love

Look for inspiration from successful brands on Instagram that align with your aesthetic or niche. Analyze their photography style, composition, color schemes, and use of props. Adapt and incorporate elements that resonate with your brand identity while maintaining your unique perspective.

Get To Know the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle in photography composition. Visualize your frame divided into a grid of nine equal sections by two horizontal and two vertical lines. Position key elements, such as your product or focal point, along these lines or at their intersections to create a visually balanced and engaging composition.

Use Simple Props

Select props that complement and enhance your product without overpowering it. Consider using everyday objects or elements related to your product’s theme or story. Simple props can add context, create visual interest, and make your product more relatable to your target audience.

Take Multiple Shots From Varying Angles

Try experimenting with close-ups, overhead shots, side views, and tilted angles. This variety provides a comprehensive visual experience for your audience and helps highlight different aspects of your product.

Put Your Product in Context

Instagram isn’t just about pictures–it’s about lifestyles. Showcase your product within a context that resonates with your target audience. This can be achieved by incorporating relevant settings, backdrops, or lifestyle elements. Consider how your product is used or fits into everyday life, and create a story or narrative around it to evoke emotions and connect with your audience.

How To Resize Your Image for the Container?

How To Resize Your Image for the Container?, how to resize images

Finding it difficult to resize your images precisely? We’ve got you covered.

Figure Out the HTML Container Size

Before resizing your image, you need to determine the size of the HTML container where the image will be displayed. This could be the space allocated for the image on a webpage, a social media post, or any other digital platform. Measure the width and height of the container or refer to the specifications provided by the platform.

Resize the Image

Once you know the dimensions of the HTML container, you can resize the image accordingly to fit within that space. Use image editing software or online tools to adjust the image’s dimensions. Maintain the aspect ratio (the proportional relationship between the width and height) to prevent distortion or stretching of the image. Ensure the image fits comfortably within the container without being too large or too small.

Compress the Image

Compressing the image helps optimize page load times, especially when displaying images on websites or other digital platforms. Use image compression tools or adjust the compression settings in your editing software to find the right balance between file size and image quality. Aim to reduce the file size without compromising the visual integrity of the image. But, be mindful not to over-compress the image, as it may result in a noticeable loss of detail or image degradation.

Boost Your Sales With Some of those Artsy Clicks!

E-commerce has never been this exciting and competitive, and the power of product photography is undeniably significant. By implementing these tips and techniques, you can elevate your product images and create a visual experience that captivates your audience and boosts your sales.

So grab your smartphone or camera and get started!

For more digital marketing and e-commerce tips and tricks, check out our blog!

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