In today’s world of online everything, effective product-based ecommerce websites need to immediately convey the value of their products. The average online shopper’s attention span is only around 10 seconds or less. To stand out, websites need to show potential customers what a product looks and feels like—and convince them it’s something they really need. If your store is on Shopify, you’re already off to a great start because you have access to a user-friendly site builder and robust ecosystem of business tools.
But spending all that time, energy, and even money designing and developing your Shopify site quickly goes to waste with low-quality product photos.
Plus, when you have great Shopify product photography, you’re already set up to maximize sales on channels like social media, Amazon, and other online marketplaces.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know to create eye-catching Shopify product photography.
What is Shopify product photography?
Shopify product photography is a visual representation of the physical goods that an ecommerce brand has for sale on its Shopify website.
Examples of Shopify product photography
Many Shopify merchants do an excellent job at visually representing what they have to offer to potential customers thereby increasing sales and growing their brand recognition. Here are a few that really stand out:
Outdoor Voices is a fitness and outdoor recreation apparel brand for men and women. In a sea of many different clothing brands that do a lot of different things, OV is singular in its focus of promoting fitness and recreation.
The Court Dress product has a combination of lifestyle photos as well as white background product photos with a model. These photos show the product in a contextual use case—getting outside and enjoying an active lifestyle.
It also uses a product specific hashtag (#DoingThings) to promote brand awareness by featuring additional photos of the product in its intended use.
Outdoor Voices also believes the outdoors are for everyone. As such, its product photos are inclusive and promote body positivity making it further stand out in the outdoor apparel industry.
Because it’s all about technical apparel for recreation, they want to inspire potential customers to be #DoingThings.
Poo-Pourri brands itself as the purveyor of natural odor eliminators and its tagline “Life is about to smell wayy better” speaks to this message. From its physical product branding to the product shots, Poo-Pourri is promoting the idea that we all want our houses to smell better and be odor-free. It uses white background product photography to showcase the aesthetic appeal of its products and let the images do all the talking.
Poo-Pourri also does a great job with color, proving that white background product photography doesn't have to be boring or mundane.
Rocky Mountain Soap
Rocky Mountain Soap company sells handmade, sustainable, natural skincare products on its website. Its product photography is a mix of white background as well as lifestyle photography to showcase all the different kinds of products it sells.
The product photography is clean and crisp and follows its brand voice perfectly of using nature and natural ingredients for well-being.
Shopify product picture size and file type
You can—and should—use a mix of different types of images to showcase your products. Shopify supports media such as images, video, 3D models, 360-degree product views, and even augmented reality (AR). This mix can help customers understand features, specifications, and even textures—which in turn leads to a better customer experience and effectively more sales.
Shopify recommends square images which tend to look more professional and polished and also render better on mobile screens.
A key thing to remember: quality matters more than quantity. Shopify uses product images to display products on your online store and across your integrated sales channels, so make sure the images you use are the best of the best.
Shopify supports a variety of image types and sizes. You can add up to 250 images for a single product, and your photos can be any size up to 4472 x 4472 pixels, or 20 megapixels. The only thing to keep in mind is that the file size needs to be smaller than 20 MB to be added to Shopify. Plus, smaller file sizes will reduce page load time which also boosts SEO. Shopify also automatically compresses uploaded images, which could cause issues if the image is too small.
While Shopify will accommodate both horizontal and vertical orientation, it’s best to stick to square photos that feature your product centered horizontally or vertically within the frame.
Every Shopify product page template is different. We recommend inspecting the container of the image and multiplying that size by 1.5–2 times. So if the container is a 500 pixel square on your product page, you’ll want to upload a 750px–1000px image. If you’re unsure how to calculate or do this, you can always default to uploading a file between 1000px–1500px, since most website containers are around 500px.
Manitobah, an indigenous brand selling mukluks and moccasins, uses square images
to showcase its products that translate seamlessly from desktop to mobile.
The best file type for most Shopify product images JPEG. Compressed JPEG files help reduce file size and load time while maintaining image quality.
Many sources will recommend a PNG, but we recommend only using PNG files when you need a transparent background, though this is fairly uncommon. You’ll need to remove the background to isolate your product. Generally, PNG files are unnecessarily large and can slow down your website as a result. Plus, the average person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a product image that is a JPEG compared to the same image in PNG format.
Other accepted media types include PSD, TIFF, BMP, and HEIC. But we don’t recommend using these file types since they’re either too big or difficult to work with.
WebP files and other nextgen file types (like AVIF) are great because they use special compression methods. However, some tools and browsers still don’t support them. As such, Shopify will automatically create a webP image for you and display it when suitable. Shopifty does this using your JPEG image files, so you won’t be able to upload a webP image manually.
The Shopify Imagery service is a great tool to use and will determine which image formats are supported by your customer's web client real time. It then automatically displays the image in the best format available so the customer has a visually pleasing experience on your site. This service is available as part of your Shopify website. Note: the exact way images appear on your store depends on your Shopify theme, but all themes support adding images.
How to add a product image to Shopify
It’s fairly easy to add product images to your Shopify website. Log in to your Shopify account and do the following:
- From your Shopify Admin go to Products menu option.
2. Click on the Product to see its details page.
3. Click ‘Add’ and then select the file you want to upload.
You can also drag and drop the file you want to upload onto the Media section.
Another option is to click ‘Add media from URL’ and enter the image URL, or video URL of the product hosted on YouTube or Vimeo.
Shopify also allows for other types images including your company logo, slideshows, banners, and blog post images. You don’t have to worry about which image format is appropriate for each category. The process is fairly simple and Shopify provides detailed instructions on how to upload the images.
Shopify product photography tips
Ultimately the best performing ecommerce stores on Shopify are the ones that have the best product images. Shopify product photography doesn’t have to be complicated. Shopify makes it easy to upload and display product images so you can grab potential customers’ attention for more than 10 seconds.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Optimize Shopify product images for SEO
Images are the biggest culprit to a slow loading website. A fast-loading website can lead to better page rankings for your website, which can also lead to increased sales.
In general, larger size images will take more time to load and this could affect overall site bounce rate and customer experience—not to mention Google picks up on these factors when ranking sites. Customers don’t like waiting for information on the page to load and are likely to abandon the site and move on if they have to wait for a long time for the images to load.
Reduce file size
Even though Shopify allows for product images as large as 4472 x 4472 px (20 megapixels), you don’t have to maximize that to convert users from search. Opt for images that are better quality and slightly smaller in size. You can upload your images as compressed JPEG files to preserve quality. We like to compress files by uploading them to JPEGmini which takes out all the guesswork on how to do it. You can also use TinyJPG or Shrink Me to accomplish the same thing.
Another easy way to optimize your Shopify images is with a plugin like TinyIMG’s SEO, Speed & Image Optimizer. The app prepares images for you to get the most optimized file possible. A free plan is available, though there are also paid upgrade options.
Use keywords in file names, alt tags, captions, and descriptions
Another way to optimize your images is to add keywords to your photos. Incorporate these keywords when naming your images instead of the general IMG1234 default from many cameras.
Also add alt tags, which are image descriptors. These additional data fields make your image more search engine-friendly which can boost organic traffic and visibility.
Aim for quality versus quantity
Just because Shopify allows for up to 250 product images doesn’t mean you have to use all of them to convey the features of your product. Instead aim for clean, crisp ecommerce product photography that articulates all the features effectively without going over the top.
Use a combination of white background and lifestyle photography
White background product photography is an effective way to make sure your products steal the show without any other visual distractions. White background product images highlight all the features of the product like color, texture, size, patterns, etc. PLus it’s industry standard and often required for third-party marketplaces and channels.
Lifestyle photography, on the other hand, includes images that showcase the product in use, helping customers visualize the items in their own lives. This can include the use of models or even just products in natural environments which are appropriate for your product. The key difference here is the product is typically photographed with other items or subjects in a setting instead of a simple white background.
You can also create lifestyle composites, which involves Photoshopping your product image onto a stock photo and then editing it to make it appear as if the product was shot that way
You can also create lifestyle composites, which involves Photoshopping your product image onto a stock photo and then editing it to make it appear as if the product was shot that way
360-degree spin photography is a great way to add interest to your products beyond static photography. 360 spin photos are different from product videos because each photo is captured individually, as opposed to filmed. A 360 spin product photo consists of 24, 36, or 72 individual high-resolution photos of a product as it’s spun around a turntable.
360 photos allow potential customers to get an idea of what the product looks like from all angles. They “spin” on the website, either automatically or at the control of the user. You can also export them as videos or animated GIFs so you can repurpose them for other uses, such as social media or email content.
Remember your brand identity
When selecting images for your products, keep your brand voice and aesthetics in mind. Customers are more likely to remember details when they’re consistent.
Brand aesthetics relate to colors, look, and even the mood the products and their usage evoke. Shopify differs from Amazon in this way—you can be more creative with your Shopify product images and take advantage of flexibility in terms of background, image type, image size, and dimensions.
For example, Rare Device curates beautiful items from earrings to candles to books and beyond. Its brand identity is colorful and vibrant with a hint of whimsical.
Its online store reflects this brand voice with the use of colors and Shopify product images. Even though it uses still life product photos, the use of color makes the product seem on point with the brand.
Go “on-location” with your product photography
The location where you photograph your products matters almost as much as the brand aesthetics. Ideally it should be where customers are most likely to use your products. So research and decide the best venue for your product photos that will bring out the best for your products.
For example, an outdoor brand that specializes in clothing products would work best in various outdoor locations to showcase how the products could be used. On the other hand, a candle company might want to use a house or indoor photo studio to have more control of the backdrop.
iKamper is an outdoor brand that specializes in rooftop tents that can be attached to cars, trucks and SUVs for camping on the go wherever you are.
The brand uses imagery produced in various outdoor settings to showcase how and where the products can be used.
Choose talent wisely
Adding a human element for product photos brings relatability and additional appeal to your images. When hiring models and other talent for your images, choose people who are relatable to your target market.
It’s also important to leverage a diverse talent pool. The more people see themselves represented, the more likely they are to purchase and support the brand.
Hiring a professional model can be fairly costly, so it’s better to go this route when you have budget flexibility. You can always use friends and family to get started. Another option is tapping into influencer talent—these people are usually comfortable being in front of the camera and might also be open to promoting your product.
Remember when using someone’s image to advertise a product, you should always get a signed model release.
How to get Shopify product photography
Now that you know how important high-quality product photography is for your Shopify store, let's look at where to get these images. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, find a system that works best for you in terms of budget, time, effort, and end result.
DIY product photography for Shopify
If you want to DIY product photography for your Shopify store, you’ll first need to get the gear. This includes a white backdrop as well as a place to shoot contextual lifestyle images.
Specifically, you’ll likely need to invest in the following:
- DSLR camera for product photography (preferably one that photographs in raw format so you can edit the pictures in post-production)
- A variety of product photography lenses to capture close-ups, wide angle shots, and small details.
- Sturdy tripod for your camera.
- Remote trigger to minimize camera shake or motion blur in images.
- Computer or laptop to tether to the camera so you can review and check the images in real time.
- Paper or cloth backdrops if you want a variety of different backgrounds for your products to add interest.
- Additional accessories for lifestyle product photos.
- Post-processing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to help edit images and fine tune the final look.
These are just some of the basic supplies to get started with shooting your own product photography. As your site grows and the product offering increases you may need to add more product photography equipment and supplies to uplevel your product photography. While a DIY approach isn’t difficult per se, there are many steps involved and you need to ask yourself if it’s the best use of your time at the current stage of your business.
Source from suppliers
If you source your products from wholesale suppliers, they may have product images you can use on your Shopify site. While this is a cost-effective way to get professional product imagery, there are certainly some downsides.
These wholesale suppliers sell to other merchants, and many of those merchants may use the supplier images as well. This means you won’t have any differentiation in your product photography. Additionally, you won’t have creative control over the look and feel of the images, and they may not always coincide with your visual brand identity.
Hire a photography studio for Shopify photos
Many times, hiring a professional photographer or studio is the best way to go. This is because you can provide specific creative direction and also leverage the knowledge and expertise of a team that knows all the ins and outs of product photography, as well as the latest industry trends. Be very clear on what you’re looking for when choosing a professional photography studio.
You can browse Shopify Experts to research and vet your options. You can check out reviews from other merchants, view their featured work, and contact them directly. Our professional studio, Products on White Photography, is a qualified Shopify Expert—we’ve earned a 5-star rating from the Shopify merchants we’ve had the privilege to work with. Our CEO and founder, Jeff Delacruz, has also worked directly with Shopify to create product photo courses and content.
When deciding to use an external studio for your Shopify product photography, look for flexibility, consistency, image quality, competitive pricing, and retouching services. Don’t be afraid to ask for prior client examples or even references. If possible, request for a free trial shoot to see how the studio works with your specific products. You may also want to consider sharing your brand style guide so they have a reference of what you’re after.
Moving forward with your Shopify product photos
The goal of good product photography is to give as much product information online as a customer would get if they were shopping in a physical retail store. Product descriptions provide product facts, but visual product content evokes an emotional response that helps brands connect with potential customers in the online space immediately. Therefore, good product photography for your Shopify website is critical.
Shopify product photography FAQs
How do I add product images to Shopify?
Log in to your Shopify Admin dashboard.
Navigate to Products.
Add a new product or click the name of the product you want to add an image for.
Click Add image.
Select the product image you want to add.
Click Save or Done.
What size should Shopify products be?
Shopify products should be 2048 x 2048 px, per the ecommerce platform’s recommendations.
How do I resize a product image in Shopify?
You can resize a product image in Shopify using the image editor within your Admin dashboard.
Where are Shopify product images stored?
Shopify product images are stored on Shopify’s content delivery network (CDN).
What is the best image format for Shopify?
The best image format for Shopify is a compressed JPEG. You can also use a PNG for product photos with transparent backgrounds.