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Ecommerece Product Photography

Ecommerce Photography: Your Tool to Boosting Conversion Rates

Author: Tammy Danan
Date Created: 2021-09-28
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Having amazing products is one thing. The ability to showcase how great those products are on a digital platform is another. It doesn’t really matter whether that’s on Amazon, your website, or social media—if your ecommerce photography is low-quality, you won’t effectively convey your products’ value to your audience.

Below, we’ll talk all about product photography, get to know the basics of ecommerce photography, how to make your products stand out, and how to maximize those images to drive sales. If you’re like many brands that opt to outsource this, this article will help you find the best ecommerce photography solutions for your brand.

What is ecommerce photography?

Ecommerce photography is a type of photography that focuses on physical products which are sold online. The best ecommerce photography showcases products through crisp, clear visual imaging. Ecommerce photography is often shot with a white background, though contextual and lifestyle photography also have their place in this category. 

If you think ecommerce product photography is as simple as putting your product on a table, throwing in some props, and shooting, you’re in for a bit of surprise. While you can certainly shoot product images that way, there’s more complexity that goes into getting the perfect shot for online use.

The ecommerce photography definition doesn’t stop at still images for product photography. It also covers the skills needed to make sure those images do their job—inform consumers and increase sales. To get effective product photos to use online, it’s often best to outsource and hire expert ecommerce photography services.

We love how Old Whaling Co. and Klorane present their products on their websites. Old Whaling Co. maintained a clean, sleek look, which will allow consumers to focus on the product and its features. Klorane opts for a lifestyle shot while still maintaining that level of simplicity. They may be different styles but both nailed it.

A Screenshot Of A Ecommerce Photography Shows An Aqua Blue Round Sea La Vie Bathbomb By Old Whaling Co. With The Bathbomb Square Box To The Right Of It Photographed On A White, Glossy Surface. The Listing Details And Features Are On The Right Of The Page.
Website Images from Old Whaling Co. website; product photography by POW.
A Screenshot Of A Ecommerce Photography On Klorane'S Website Shows A Soapy Hand Holding A Green Shampoo Bottle And A Sample Shampoo Packet. The Hand Is Being Lit With A Hard Light With A Hard Shadow Being Cast Onto The Light Green Subway Tile Background.
Website images from the Klorane website; product photography not by POW.

Benefits of ecommerce product photography

Ecommerce product photography quickly provides consumers with a clear look at the item. 

Other benefits of photography for ecommerce:

  • Grab attention and pique buyer interest: The human brain processes visual information more quickly than the written word. With strong imagery, your audience can quickly decide if your product is what they’re looking for—and pique their interest to learn more.
  • Foster brand recognition: Establishing and sticking to a distinct visual style creates a familiarity with your audience. Consistency and uniformity make it easier for people to remember something they saw when they see it again. This visual identity is what will help people remember your brand and your products even when they don’t actually see your brand logo or name. Your photos will tell them it’s you. 
  • Build buyer interest: Ecommerce photos help consumers to get to know your products quickly. Effective photography showcases important and interesting details, like the fancy zipper on a backpack or the detailed stitching on shoes. 
  • Reduce returns: Many product returns happen when a product looks different online than how they receive it in person. You wouldn’t want to give that kind of disappointment to your consumers, not to mention the hit to your bottom line. If your images are accurate, this is less likely to happen.
  • Drive sales: People are naturally visual creatures, and online shoppers are drawn to good photography. They buy the items they find visually appealing, beautiful, and interesting. 

If you’re just starting out, budgets are tight. You may not feel comfortable investing in high-quality ecommerce photography. That’s totally normal! However, to achieve faster business growth, this investment is something worth considering. FICKS’ images are a great example of product photography—they use a mix of white background plus images with props that add life to the product photo.

A Screenshot Of A Ecommerce Photography On Fick'S Website Shows A Bottle Of Lime Cocktail Mix On A Green Background, Surrounded By Cut Limes, A Wooden Juice, And Lit With A Hard Light To Cast A Hard Shadow.
Website images from the FICKS website; product photography not by POW.
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Product images from the FICKS website; product photography by POW.

You don’t need tons of images per product—keep things simple to start. You can launch with three white background images taken from different angles plus an image with context or background. 

Ecommerce photography equipment

Equipment is just as important as having highly skilled ecommerce photographers. Thing is, equipment can be overwhelming. With lenses alone, there’s so much to choose from. At a minimum, your ecommerce photography equipment list should include the following:

  • Camera: When it comes to the best cameras for ecommerce photography, you’ll want to choose based on your style of photography and the type of products you’ll shoot. Look for a DSLR with the option to change lenses.
  • Lens: Perhaps more important than the camera itself is choosing the best lens for ecommerce photography. You’ll definitely want to invest in a macro lens. It’s the perfect tool to focus on tiny product details. 
  • Tripod: Using a tripod will help you achieve uniform angle shots and consistency. You can more easily and accurately find and frame your shots. Tripods also provide stability, which is important to avoid shaking and a changing or inconsistent frame. Tripods can be as affordable as $13 or as much as $400. 
  • Ecommerce photography lighting kit: Like blood and air are vital for humans, so is lighting for photography. Maybe dramatic, but effective images come easier when you have good light. Pricing varies but there are options with good reviews for around $150. Both LINCO and Yesker have tons of positive feedback.
  • Continuous light: The easiest way to explain the difference between strobe lights and continuous light is that strobe lights are connected to a trigger on your camera that fires the flash when you fire your shutter, while continuous lights are, well, continuous once you turn them on. Hence, more steady and stable lighting. This enables you to achieve those crisp product photos even when you’re not a pro ecommerce photographer.

Best ecommerce photography examples

To get inspiration for your own ecommerce shots, it’s helpful to look at some real-world brands with exceptional photography. 

1. Meliora Cleaning Products

Meliora Cleaning Products sells environmentally conscious laundry, home cleaning, and bath care products from its ecommerce website. You’ll notice a lot of contextual product imagery on the homepage which engages users and piques their interest.

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Website images from the Meliora website; product photography not by POW.

Upon browsing the shop and product pages, users are met with a clean, cohesive collection of white background images that clearly highlight each item individually. 

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Website images from the Meliora website; product photography by POW.

2. Honey Pot

Feminine care brand Honey Pot also uses a mix of white background and creative imagery through its Shopify product photography. The homepage starts out with fun, inspiring shots that make the product and subject matter more appealing to its target audience. 

What Is Ecommerce Photography Powphotography 7 - Ecommerce Photography: Your Tool To Boosting Conversion Rates -
Website images from the Honey Pot website; product photography not by POW.

A scroll through individual products will show imagery with the items placed against plain-colored backgrounds, giving users a clear visual of how each product looks. 

What Is Ecommerce Photography Powphotography 8 - Ecommerce Photography: Your Tool To Boosting Conversion Rates -
Website images from the Honey Pot website; product photography by POW.

Product pages themselves feature a healthy mix of plain background traditional shots, close-up shots to show product details, and contextual images that nod to the brand aesthetic. 

3. Rachel Lynn Chicago

Jewelry brand Rachel Lynn Chicago recognizes the need for high-quality product imagery on its website. Like the two brands above, this e-tailer leverages a healthy mix of contextual images featuring models and white background images isolating just the products themselves. 

What Is Ecommerce Photography Powphotography 9 - Ecommerce Photography: Your Tool To Boosting Conversion Rates -
Website image from the Rachel Lynn Chicago website; Editorial Photography by Hallie Duesenberg.

Individual product pages effectively show the intricately detailed and delicate designs against plain white backgrounds, allowing the jewelry to be the star of the show. It also throws in a few on-model shots so potential customers can imagine themself wearing the designs.

What Is Ecommerce Photography Powphotography 10 - Ecommerce Photography: Your Tool To Boosting Conversion Rates -
Website images from the Rachel Lynn Chicago website; products on white shot by POW.

Ecommerce product photography tips

Keep the following tips in mind when assessing and planning your ecommerce photography needs.

Know where you’ll use the photos

One thing you need to know is where and how you plan to use the images. If you’re selling on third-party marketplaces,  you need to know their requirements. You wouldn’t want to pay for a set of images and end up not being able to use them because they didn’t meet your marketplace’s requirements. 

Make sure to communicate these requirements if you outsource your photography to a professional studio.

While it’s important to shoot for the ecommerce channel of your choice, you’ll also want to consider other ways to repurpose and use your ecommerce photos, maximizing your investment. Consider your own website, social media, email, and other places your brand and products appear.

Plan with a shot list

It’s a good idea to create a shot list for every ecommerce photoshoot. This can be a big spreadsheet list of every photo you want. For instance, a product may need a close-up image of the information on the label, or a photo of the product disassembled to show its parts. By creating detailed notes, you can strategize your shot and tweak your plans to get the results you need.

Use a white background

The bread and butter of most ecommerce photography studios are white background images. Some people call this classic product photography. This style of ecommerce photography is popular because white background eliminates distractions, encouraging viewers to focus on the product.

White background also makes it easier for you to achieve a consistent look across all your channels. This also makes browsing your store a more visually pleasant experience.

Create a cohesive look

A cohesive look means having matching design elements across your photography. Premium Skincare brand Fur nailed it by keeping things simple and clean yet detail-oriented. The cohesiveness doesn’t stop on its website—you can see the synergy on Instagram too.

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Website images from the Fur website; product photography by POW.
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Website images from the Fur Instagram page; product photography not by POW.

Our team at POW Photography is big on maintaining a cohesive look—we’re always consistent with ecomm photos. From the lighting to the angles, we make sure your potential buyers aren’t distracted with nuances and small changes in photography.

Optimize for search

In addition to driving sales, ecommerce photography can also boost your visibility in search engines—your SEO, or search engine optimization. Strong SEO for ecommerce photography will boost your rankings and drive traffic to your online store. 

To build SEO into your photography for ecommerce, incorporate your target keywords into file names and alt text. Additionally, ensure your image files aren’t too large. If they are, they’ll slow down your page load time, which is another consideration Google takes when ranking your pages. You can compress your ecommerce photos before publishing them to help with this issue while preserving image quality.

Mix up your shots

Balance simple, straight forward, on-white traditional product photos with photos that can lend context to your product. Include a mix of white background, zoomed-in, lifestyle composites, 360-spin, and in-use photos to demonstrate the product’s use and features.

Context photos give you more freedom to be creative and show off your brand’s character. Give context to your item and intended demographic, and show your customer how they can use your products.

Ecommerce product photography: outsource or DIY?

Do it yourself: ecommerce product photography tips for your own shots

You can also try to be your own ecommerce product photographer. Here’s how you can do it on your own:

Start with your phone

Your phone is a great tool to start DIY-ing product photography. Play with lights and angles. Try the different settings on your phone’s camera. It’s not going to look perfect especially when you’re new to photography, but as long as you focus on the product, make sure it’s front and center, and crop the photo accordingly, you’re off to a good start.

Photograph your product with props

Photographing with props is a great way to showcase your product with more life, visually. Sometimes, a plain white background can be boring. However, be sure you don’t overdo it with props or you’ll end up losing focus on the product. 

We love how the indoor gardening company Modern Sprout did their product photography, and how the props complimented the product itself. That’s the key when using props—make sure they complement your product.

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Website images from the Modern Sprout website; product photography not by POW.

Go for natural light

While ecommerce photography kits come with great lighting, nothing beats natural light. While the type of natural light depends on the product you’re shooting, a great way to get acquainted with it is with bright sunlight as it will add more color and contrast in an image. Maximize your windows and the outdoors. It will help make those colors pop in your photos and you always have the luxury of playing with shadows.

Why and how to enlist professional help

Many ecommerce founders will spend lots of money to create a website, design a logo, and develop products but will skimp on the product photos. If your photos look cheap, your product, website design, and brand will also feel cheap. DIY-ing your product photography can get you off the ground but as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire a professional. 

Compare rates to quality

Before hiring professional help, make sure their rates match the quality of their work. Nothing’s wrong with charging high rates but if the output is subpar, that’s a no-no. Social media and portfolios are two reliable places to assess their work. See what these photographers and studios charge for the types of photography they offer and ask about discounts. Our photography services start at $49.99 per photo.

Check customer reviews

Reviews and testimonials are also vital. If you can’t find these on the ecommerce photography studio’s website, feel free to ask. You can also do a Google search for the studio’s name and the word reviews. You’ll likely find a bunch on their Google Business page. 

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Seek convenience

Many ecommerce photography studios don’t even require you to physically attend the shoot. In fact, getting high-quality ecommerce photography can be as easy as shipping a package. Look into companies that offer ship and shoot. 

How much ecommerce product photography costs

Ecommerce photography pricing has a huge range. Fash has reported that freelance commercial photographers cost $100–$400 per hour. Entry-level freelance photographers usually charge $50–$150 per hour or $25–$125 per image, while professional photographers can go as high as $250 per hour.

Some factors include the photographer’s skill level, style of photo, type of product, turnaround time, volume, and more. Product photography often falls under commercial photography where the costs really vary

Next steps for your ecommerce photography

Ecommerce photography carries the pressure of presenting your products in a way that drives sales. It’s important to invest in the best ecommerce photography that will provide your consumers with the information they need to feel confident buying your items. 

FAQs about ecommerce product photography

How much does an ecommerce photoshoot cost?

An ecommerce photoshoot costs $49.99 per photo for up to 25 photos and $44.99 per photo for 26–50 photos with Products On White Photography. 

What is ecommerce photography?

Ecommerce photography is product imagery used to sell items online. These photos are typically shot on a white background and published on online stores, third-party marketplaces, social media, and more. 

What is SKU photography?

SKU photography is product photography shot for specific SKU (stock-keeping unit) numbers.

Written by Tammy Danan

Tammy Danan is the founder of Moss Content Studio. She’s a journalist who reports on environmental and social issues, and a brand content writer covering productivity, creative pursuits, and the future of work. Her words have appeared in Audubon.org, ZEKE Magazine, Shutterstock, and more.

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