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The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Product Photography and Visual Content

Last Updated on 30th May, 2024 | Ecommerce

The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Product Photography and Visual Content

Ecommerce Product Photography Guide 2024

Product photography and visual content play a crucial role in ecommerce. High-quality images, videos, and other visual assets can make or break online sales. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to develop an effective visual content strategy for your ecommerce business.

Visual content is one of the most important factors influencing consumers’ purchase decisions when shopping online. In fact, multiple studies have shown that product images are one of the top motivators driving sales on ecommerce sites and apps.

Key Takeaways:

  • Product photography and visual assets drive conversions and sales for online stores.
  • Optimized, high-quality images build credibility and trust with customers.
  • A cohesive visual brand identity makes your ecommerce site look more professional.
  • Well-executed lifestyle photography and videos help showcase products in context.
  • A/B testing visual content is key to improving performance over time.

Importance of Ecommerce Product Photography

Product images give customers a detailed visual representation of items for sale. For physical products especially, customers rely on images to understand the look, feel, and specifics of a product before making a purchase.

Proper product photography provides enough information for customers to make informed buying decisions. Low-quality or inaccurate photos can lead to returns, disputes, and damage to brand reputation.

Role of Visual Content in Online Sales

Visual content allows customers to engage with products and brands on a deeper, more emotional level. Lifestyle shots, videos, and other visual assets help tell the story behind a product and showcase it in context.

Effective visual content marketing generates more brand awareness and buyer interest. Studies show it can improve key metrics like dwell time on product pages, click-through rates, and conversions.

The Basics of Ecommerce Product Photography

Before diving into best practices and strategies, it’s important to understand some ecommerce product photography fundamentals.

Ecommerce Product Photography Equipment

The Purpose of Product Images

Ecommerce product photos serve customers’ functional and emotional purposes. The key goals are to:

  • Accurately showcase details like design, materials, size, and features.
  • Capture the style, look, and feel of the product.
  • Help customers visualize using or wearing the product.
  • Align with branding and elicit the desired styling.
  • Spark interest, desire, and action to click and purchase.

Keeping these goals in mind will help guide your photography decisions and execution.

Different Types of Product Photography

There are four main types of ecommerce product photography:

  • Packshot – Simple imagery on a plain background showcasing just the product itself.
  • Lifestyle – Products shown in real-world settings and contexts.
  • Flat Lay – Products arranged in an artistic, editorial style.
  • 360° Spin – Allows customers to rotate a 3D view of the product.

Certain types work better for your specific products and brand. Using a mix is recommended to tell a more complete visual story.

Equipment Needed for Product Photography

While advanced gear helps, you can start with a basic ecommerce photography setup using:

  • Camera—DSLR or mirrorless cameras capture the crispest, highest-resolution product images, but smartphones or point-and-shoots can also work.
  • Tripod – Essential for stabilizing the camera and getting clear, non-blurry shots.
  • Lighting – External lights reduce shadows and ensure colors look accurate. Continuous studio lights or flashes work.
  • Product Tables/Stands – Help position products at the right height and angle.
  • Props & Backgrounds – Help stage lifestyle shots or add color and style to pack shots.

Invest in higher-end gear as your photography skills progress and your business grows.

Technical Requirements for Ecommerce Platforms

To ensure your product images render properly on your ecommerce site or app, follow these technical specifications:

  • Resolution – 1000×1000 pixels is optimal for product thumbnails. 3000×3000 pixels for zoomed views.
  • File Format – WebP, AVIF, JPEG, JPG, and PNG are the most commonly used image formats on the web today.
  • Color – Shoot RAW images and edit to sRGB color space. Use all image types.
  • File Size – Compress files to 100-500kb for fast page loading.
  • Aspect Ratios – 1:1 ratio for thumbnails, 4:3 or 16:9 for zoomable product images.

Refer to your ecommerce platform’s guidelines for detailed image requirements.

DIY vs. Professional Product Photography

Should you handle product photography yourself or hire a professional? Here are the main pros and cons of each option:

DIY vs Professional Product Photography

Pros of DIY Product Photography

  • Lower costs – You avoid photographer fees and buy gear slowly over time.
  • Faster turnaround – You have full control over scheduling and timing.
  • Creative freedom – You can style shoots to match your brand aesthetic.

Cons of DIY Product Photography

  • Learning curve – Developing photography skills takes significant time and practice.
  • Inconsistency – Maintaining consistent quality as the product catalog grows takes a lot of work.
  • Limited equipment – Producing truly professional shots requires a financial investment in gear.

Benefits of Professional Product Photography

  • Saves time: Frees up your schedule to focus on other business priorities.
  • Guaranteed quality: Experienced photographers deliver visually appealing, technical shots.
  • Added value services: Assistance with lighting, staging, editing, and image optimization.
  • Consistency: Uniform imaging across all products in your catalog.

Cost Considerations


  • Gear – $500-$2000+ for a starter camera, lighting, props, and more.
  • Your time – Hours of learning, shooting, editing, process refinement.


  • Per image fees – Typically $25-$100+ per final edited image.
  • Per product fees – $50-$500+ depending on the number of angles needed.
  • Full catalog shoots – $2000-$15,000+ based on total products photographed.

Evaluate costs against value delivered and ROI when deciding between DIY and professional product photography.

Capturing High-Quality Product Photos

Follow these best practices when shooting ecommerce product photography yourself:

Capturing High-Quality Product Photos

Lighting Techniques for Product Photography

Proper lighting is crucial for attractive, accurate product images. Common lighting setups include:

  • Two-point lighting – Place key and fill lights at 45° angles to illuminate details, ensuring a balanced and well-lit product image.
  • Three-point lighting – Add a backlight to create separation from the background, enhancing the product’s definition and depth.
  • Reflectors – Use reflectors to bounce light, soften shadows, and fill in crevices, achieving a more even and appealing illumination.
  • Ring lights – Ideal for small products, ring lights wrap even lighting around the item, minimizing harsh shadows and highlighting details.
  • Light Boxes – These boxes with diffused light work well for certain product types, providing uniform lighting and reducing reflections.
  • Use continuous studio lights so you can clearly see lighting effects while shooting. This allows for real-time adjustments and better control over the final image.

Choosing the Right Background and Props

Keep backgrounds simple, neutral, and non-distracting. White, gray, and black backdrops work for most products. Add props and surfaces to help stage the scene and add color:

  • Acrylic platforms – Use these to lift products off the background, adding dimension and a clean presentation.
  • Mood boards – These are great for showcasing accessories like jewelry on visually-appealing displays.
  • Hanging props – Suspend items like clothing with clips or wires to show their full shape and drape.
  • Themed backgrounds – Incorporate scenes relevant to your niche, such as nature or urban backdrops, to create a contextual and engaging setting for your products.

Editing and Retouching Product Photos

Post-processing makes a big difference in image quality:

  • Cropping and straightening – Remove unnecessary background elements and adjust product alignment for a more focused and professional look.
  • Color correction – Fix white balance, exposure, and hues using editing tools to ensure the colors in your photos accurately represent the actual products.
  • You are sharpening. Increase structure to make details crisper, enhancing the overall clarity and appeal of your images.
  • Noise reduction – Minimize graininess for clean results, which is especially important for high-resolution images viewed on larger screens.
  • Retouching – Remove small imperfections and flaws for refined-looking products while maintaining realistic representations to avoid misleading customers.

By following these best practices, you can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of your ecommerce product photography, creating images that not only attract but also convert potential buyers.

Creating Visual Content That Sells

Expand beyond standard product photography to tell a richer brand story with lifestyle shots, videos, and other visual content formats.

Using Lifestyle Shots to Showcase Products In Context

Lifestyle images put products into real-world settings and capture shoppers using them:

  • Environment – Kitchen for cooking tools, nature for outdoor gear, office for electronics.
  • Activity – Apply makeup with beauty products and drink from coffee mugs.
  • Style of Use – Model headphones around the neck, holding the phone case in hand.

This helps customers envision using your products themselves.

Incorporating Videos and Interactive Elements

Videos and interactive visuals allow you to showcase extra product details:

  • Product videos – Show how to use or assemble a product.
  • Customer videos – User-generated content and testimonials are highly engaging.
  • 360° spins – Allow viewers to rotate a 3D model of a product.
  • Augmented reality – Let customers digitally preview products in their space.

Videos have the added benefits of being SEO-friendly and easily shared on social media.

Optimizing Visual Content for Different Devices and Platforms

Tailor your visual content so it displays effectively across contexts:

  • Web – Hero banners, large product images, auto-play video.
  • Mobile – Vertical images, short-form video, parallax scrolling effects.
  • Email – Inline photos, animated GIFs, personalized product recommendations.
  • Social – Square and vertical photos, carousels, and short video clips.

Best Practices for Ecommerce Photography

Follow these guidelines to ensure your product photography aligns with industry best practices:

Consistency in Product Image Style and Branding

Maintain a consistent style, tone, and quality across all product photography:

  • Use similar lighting, angles, cropping, and color grading for all images.
  • Style products to fit your brand aesthetic – props, backgrounds, accessories.
  • Include your logo or brand watermark if desired.

Showcasing Product Details and Features Effectively

Photograph enough angles and close-ups to display all aspects of the product clearly:

  • Hero shot showing the full product.
  • Close-up details of materials, textures, or unique attributes.
  • Multiple angles like top, side, front, and back.
  • Variations where relevant are colors, configurations, and use cases.

A/B Testing and Analyzing the Impact of Visual Content on Conversions

The most effective ecommerce photography is informed by data:

  • A/B test variations like backgrounds, angles, and cropping.
  • Track engagement metrics on product pages – clicks, zoom-ins.
  • Monitor conversion rates by traffic source to see the impact.
  • Survey customers on reactions to visual content.

Visual Content Beyond Product Photography

In addition to product images, leverage other types of visual content in your ecommerce marketing.

Utilizing Infographics and Data Visualization

Creative infographics turn your brand’s data and information into visual stories:

  • Share product comparisons, features, specs, or FAQs.
  • Create visual representations of your company values or mission.
  • Design illustrated guides and tutorials related to your products.
  • Visualize demographic data and trends relevant to your customers.

Incorporating User-Generated Content and Reviews

User generated content (UGC) from customers adds authenticity:

  • Photos of your products in use by real customers.
  • Video reviews, unboxings, and tutorials created by users.
  • Visual customer quotes and testimonials.
  • Customer selfies and engagement using a branded hashtag.
  • With permission, re-share UGC on your site and social channels.

Integrating Visual Content in Social Media Marketing

Engage audiences through visual social content:

  • Dynamic visuals tailored to each platform’s algorithms and audience.
  • Leverage influencer content and hashtags.
  • Share behind-the-scenes photos/videos of your brand, office, or employees.
  • Go live on social media with product demos, Q&As, or launch events.

Case Studies and Examples

Seeing how other successful ecommerce brands leverage visual content provides useful models for inspiration.

Case Study 1 – Men’s Fashion Ecommerce Site

  • Problem: Generic product photos lack the need for unique style and branding.
  • Solution: Consistent lifestyle photography with refined, masculine props and styling.
  • Results: Created elevated brand image and 15% lift in converted traffic.

Case Study 2 – Furniture Retailer

  • Problem: Cluttered catalog images do not highlight product quality.
  • Solution: Clean, minimalist lifestyle shots in modern homes with lots of natural light.
  • Results: Decreased product returns due to accurate visual representation of items.

Case Study 3 – Consumer Electronics Company

  • Problem: Heavily relied on static product photos.
  • Solution: Added 360° spins, interactive demos, and customer review videos.
  • Results: On-site engagement time increased by 40% on product pages.

Final Thoughts

Good product photos are essential for building trust with online shoppers. It’s important to use high-quality lifestyle shots and videos that can create strong emotional connections with your potential customers. Consistency is key, so make sure that the visual representation of your brand remains uniform across different photos.

Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that your visuals are optimized for viewing on various devices and platforms. Testing different visual elements is also important to understand what resonates best with your target audience. Remember, great visuals have the power to significantly improve product sales, so investing time and resources into creating compelling visual content for your online store is definitely worth it.