Ultimate Guide to Product Photography for Your Ecommerce

It wasn’t long ago when photographing products for your eCommerce website was an expensive affair. Online business owners needed to pay a pricey sum to hire a professional photographer for product shoots.
Nowadays, things have changed. Thanks to the huge advancements in phone camera technology, handy online tools, and a pinch of creativity, you can get a good quality product shoot done yourself — for almost nothing.
Importance of Product Photography: Before we move on to learn about product photography, let’s slow down a bit and understand why it’s so important.
In a survey conducted by Etsy a few years ago, over 90% of online shoppers said the quality of product photos is extremely important to them to make a purchase decision.
That means the higher the quality of your product photos, the better the chances of people buying from you.

What Is Product Photography?

Product photography is commercial photography to display a product in the best possible way for customers.
You should use specific techniques to present your products enticingly so that potential buyers will be encouraged to buy from you.
Effective product photography considers sufficient lighting, background materials, ideal camera angles, usage of props, and much more. Let’s go into detail and learn these techniques thoroughly.

8 Product Photography Ideas for Your Ecommerce Website

1. Use Sufficient Lighting

Without enough lighting, your product will not appear to your customers how it does to you in person. But to use proper lighting, it’s important first to understand natural and artificial lighting.

Natural lighting

Natural lighting is one of nature’s greatest gifts to photographers. If it’s a sunny day and you have a good space with windows, you can make the best use of the available light.
However, since it’s natural light, you will lack control. You can only shoot during the day, and even with that, you sometimes have to adjust to low or harsh lighting conditions.
That’s why you need to get the placement of all the objects right — which means you have to place the product, align the camera and the windows at the correct angles to get a great shot.

Some important tips below:
  • Do not allow too much light to fall on the product. It can blind your camera.
  • If the light is too harsh, place a white sheet or white curtain near the window to diffuse the extra light.
  • If you’re shooting a dark-colored product, use a reflector to reflect the light on the product.
  • While using sunlight, turn off any electrical lights in the same room. The colors from both of these sources can conflict with each other and disturb your final shot.
Artificial lighting

Artificial lighting is most useful when you need better control over your shoot. A lot of expert product photographers recommend using three (at least two) light sources.
Key light : This is the main light source. It should be aimed directly at your product for good illumination.
Fill light : You should place this light source on the opposite side of the key light. Its purpose is to pick up what the key light leaves. So depending on the intensity of the illumination, adjust the distance between the source and the product.
Backlight : This light source comes in handy if your product has fine edges. It provides great attention to detail for products like a fur jacket or gemstone jewelry.
Note : A white background in low light will not appear white in the final photo. It will appear gray.

2. Use a Plain Backdrop

When you look at products on eCommerce websites, you’ll find that most of them have a plain backdrop — either white, gray, or a shade of a lighter color. And there are good reasons for it.
Lighter backdrops reflect the light on your product so that its details are clear. They also have no distractions, so the focus will only be on your product. Also, having a solid background color makes it easy to do the final editing of your photos.
To place a backdrop, you’ll need to set up a “sweep.” It is an object that lets you hang a backdrop over it.
Depending on how big your product is, you’ll need to select the size of the sweep.
Note : Use a white-colored backdrop for non-white products.
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3. Take Photos of Your Product in Use

You have to show potential customers how your product looks like in action. Many people would like to picture using the product before making a buying decision, especially with apparel products.
For example, if you sell wristwatches, show how they look like when somebody wears them.
People would like to know how big the dial is, how the hands, buttons, and knobs look.
Pro tip : While taking product shots in use, place commonly used objects or have a person pose with the product.

4. Take Photos From Multiple Angles

Before making a buying decision, your potential customers would like to observe the product from various angles. So why not let them do that?
You don’t always have to take a shot of your product straight from the front or top. Instead, take shots from multiple angles. It allows you to show off its various dimensions — how tall, short, wide, or large your product is before it is in the customer’s hands.

5. Display the Product Details

It may be convenient for you to talk about the nitty-gritty product details in text form. But it won’t be as convenient for your website visitors. A lot of people cannot create mental images of text in their minds.
They’d be more comfortable with visuals.
To be more clear about your product to your consumers, spend time taking photos of each important detail. That way, you won’t leave anything to inaccurate assumptions.
For example, if you sell women’s dresses, your product listing should include photos of all the important details — the shoulder area, the waist area, the close-up fabric shots, etc.
The more details you provide, the better your chances are of making a sale.

6. Show a Close-up Explanation Shot

Speaking of displaying the details, show close-up shots of the product’s most important features. These need not be actual shots. Even illustrations like the one below are useful to explain your product in detail.
These kinds of illustrations are especially helpful to explain any technical aspects your product might have.
Even if the product doesn’t need a technical explanation, close-up shots help to show off the material, textures, etc., like in the picture below.
Close-up shots also show your visitors the type of fabric they can expect to feel before it falls on their hands.

7. Show a Comparison Chart

A comparison chart shows its viewers how big or small an object is when compared to another object. Your potential buyers will better understand how big your product is to make sure they have the right size.
For example, when somebody is looking to buy a couch online, they will expect to know how long or wide it is compared to the average human height.
Information like this is so simple but can be the difference-maker for a purchase decision.

8. Use Props

Props are useful if you want to add some more flavor and creativity to your final shot. The kind of prop you want to use in your photos can vary depending on the product you’re selling.
Sometimes showing props alongside your product is another way to let people know how they can use the product. But don’t go overboard with it. What you’re selling is not that prop; it’s the product.
Pro tip : If your brand sells various products, you can use some of them alongside the product in focus as props for your shoots. In other words, say you sell wristwatches and pocket watches. You can focus on one of them in the shoot and use the other as a prop.
This tactic can even help you sell your other products.

9 DIY Product Photography Tools

Now that you have all these photography techniques under your belt, let’s talk about the tools and equipment you need to execute them.

For Product Shoots

1. Your Phone Camera

Let’s start with the most important tool first — a camera.

Source : Unsplash If you are on a tight budget, your existing phone’s camera will get the job done. It’s crazy how far phone cameras have come these days. Even a mid-range smartphone can capture good (sometimes even high-) quality photos.
Add some good lighting and creativity to the mix, and voila! You will have some great product photos to show.
And even if the final output is not satisfactory, you can always edit your photos later.
Note : Use a phone camera that has at least 12 megapixels. An autofocus feature will be a great add-on.

2. A DSLR Camera

If you want to capture the tiniest of details well and get some higher quality shots, use a DSLR camera. Its camera is more powerful and capable than that of a smartphone.
One of the most popular DSLR cameras is the Nikon D7200. It has an advanced autofocus feature with great battery life.
Important tips for DSLR photography:

  • Avoid using a wide-angle lens. It will distort the focus.
  • Use an aperture that is suitable for the shot. For closer shots, a wide aperture range between f2.8 and f4.5 is not recommended. Experts suggest f8 or f11 for better focus.

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3. A Tripod

With free-hand photography, you can sometimes end up with pictures that are blurry and out of focus. Use a tripod to keep your camera steady.
And tripods are not necessarily expensive either. You can buy one for less than $20 on Amazon.
It’s useful to invest in one if you plan to do a lot more product shoots. And if you use a DSLR, it’s worth buying one.
Note : If you are shooting with a wide depth of field using a DSLR, you need to keep your camera stable. A tripod comes in handy during such instances.

4. A Shower Curtain

The purpose of a shower curtain is to use it as a lightbox. A lightbox is a piece of equipment that photographers use to improve lighting on products. It looks like an empty white-colored box with translucent sidewalls and a smooth backdrop.

Now, how can you turn it into a lightbox? It’s very simple.
Just turn a table upside down. Drape a shower curtain over the upturned legs. That’s it. Your lightbox is ready!
The curtain is usually made of PVC. So it can diffuse unnecessary light and create an evenly distributed soft light when used with a balanced light source.
You can even use the shower curtain as an infinity cove.
An Infinity cove is an all-white space with no corners, which gives the impression that it’s limitless. Just drape the curtain in front of a window to diffuse any natural light. And you’ll have an Infinity cove. You can use it to shoot larger products that need more space.
Note : Make sure that the shower curtain is white, plain, and clean. Any patterns or dirt can affect the final output.

5. Foldio2 - Portable Mini Studio

While we’re on the topic of building a lightbox, let’s talk about Foldio. It is a portable and foldable mini studio that has several capabilities. It is a 15 X 15 X 15” plastic-box-like structure that can act as a lightbox for small products.
It also comes with dual LED strips with brightness controllers.
Foldio is designed for DIY photographers who rely on smartphones, DSLR cameras, tablets, or compact camera devices.

6. Reflectors

As the name suggests, a reflector bounces existing light back onto something, and in this case, redirects it back to the product.
If you are photographing a product with one light source, it can create dark shadows in the background. Unless those shadows are important to the photo, you would want to eliminate them.
A reflector is useful in such situations. It can be a white card or a foil, or any other material that can redirect the light back to the product.
For Photo Editing

7. Fotor

Fotor is an online photo editing tool. It’s ideal for basic editing needs.
It can perform simple adjustments like cropping, adjusting brightness and saturation, applying touches, adding text, etc.


GIMP (one of the best free alternatives to Photoshop) is an open-source photo editing software that stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is more advanced than Fotor.
Source : GIMP It is a powerful editing tool that has some learning curve. But with the tutorials on its website and many learning resources at other places, GIMP can be easy to use.
The tool can do almost everything that Adobe Photoshop does — ranging from cleaning up a background, adding text over images to more advanced editing tasks.
There is so much you can do with this tool. And with its ever-growing community that pushes in regular updates and features, the possibilities are endless.

9. Pixlr

Pixlr is one of the best online photo-editing tools out there. Just like GIMP, it looks similar to Photoshop.
The free version of the tool lets you perform basic photo editing. At a nominal monthly fee, the paid version has many features like advanced photo editing, readymade templates, thousands of assets, overlays, etc.
Unlike GIMP, you can download Pixlr to your phone as a mobile app.

Product Photography for Ecommerce - FAQs

Q1: What Are Some of the Best Practices of Ecommerce Product Photography?

A: Here are some of the best practices to follow for eCommerce product photography.

  • Focus on the product.
  • Ensure the photos are of high resolution.
  • Make sure that there is enough lighting on the product.
  • Use a white backdrop for any non-white product.
  • Show some photos of the product in use.

Q2: What Are the Best Online DIY Photography Guides?

A: There are a lot of great DIY eCommerce photography guides available online. Here is a list of some of the best:

  • DIY Photography, by A Better Lemonade Stand (helps you set up a photography studio in under $50)
  • Digital Photography School Guide, by Darren Rowse (helps you make use of day-to-day materials as props for your photos)
  • Strobist (helps you learn about lighting)

Q3: Can You List Down the List of Best Camera for Ecommerce Photography?

A: It depends on the level of quality you’d want to show in your final product photos and your budget.
If you just want to get the job done, any of these smartphones can be a great choice.

  • iPhone 13 and beyond
  • Google Pixel 6 and beyond
  • Samsung Galaxy S22
  • OnePlus 11 Pro

Q4: Do We Need Any Basic Skills to Do Product Photography?

A: The basic skills required for great product photography are a mix of hard skills and soft skills. Not limited to the ones below, but they are some of the most important:

Q5: If You Specify Them and Link Back to That Page?

A: It’s not a good idea. It can even result in a copyright violation. The owner of the website you took it from can take action against you. There are a few more problems like:

  • Legal action for copyright infringement
  • The site owner can also file a complaint with your hosting company, who can then shut your site down.
  • Adding a source or link doesn’t cut it unless the site owner explicitly states that it is acceptable in their terms and conditions.


It may seem daunting, but product photography is an important skill for you as an eCommerce business owner. So you must take it seriously.
Hopefully, these ideas, tips, and best practices were helpful to get you started. You need to also invest in the right equipment to execute these ideas.
Remember: your product photos are the first thing your website visitors will look at when they land on your site. Make sure it’s worth their time. Get in touch with us now!

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