A picture says a thousand words. But it’s the right thousand words that will make your eCommerce site visitors become customers. The product image can often be key to the customer’s first impression of it. Unlike product titles and descriptions, they can be consumed within seconds. So, it pays to make sure your product photographs are clear, of good quality and really let your product shine.
Let’s break down how you can achieve that for your product.
What is eCommerce Product Photography
This term covers images captured with the intent of eventually selling products online. They are meant to showcase your product and nudge visitors of eCommerce portals towards opting for your product over other options available in the market.
Compared to most other types of photography, product photography tends to be relatively more straightforward. This is not to say that you can’t get your creative juices flowing, but much like the article you are currently perusing, it’s more objective in nature. The primary objective is to convey a precise message about the product or its use.
Why Focus On eCommerce Photography
The care put in a brand’s product photography is often interpreted as the care taken for the product itself. The facts speak for themselves. 67% of customers say that product photography plays a very important role in their eCommerce purchase decision. With markets becoming increasingly competitive, the care you take in your product photography can influence the likelihood of your product making it through the customer’s selection process.
Unlike with the in-person shopping experience, eCommerce shoppers rely on product photography to convey how the product may look, feel and match the requirements they are seeking to fulfill. The objective of your product photography is to be able to convey these aspects while also conveying the high-quality nature of your product.
In the case of eCommerce, that aim is to let the customer know exactly what it is they would receive upon purchase. Accuracy in your product photography is important. In fact, 22% of customers have returned a product purchased online because the one received was different from what they expected, based on the product image.
eCommerce Photography Checklist
Whether you are taking the product photographs yourself or having them commissioned by a professional, here’s a checklist to ensure you can make the most of your product photographs:
Know the purpose of your product photoshoot. Ask yourself the 5Ws:
- Who is the content for?
- What product(s) is being photographed?
- Where is the photoshoot to be undertaken? Where will the images be featured?
- Why are you taking these images?
- When do you need them up by?
The answers will help you decide the kind of settings, equipment, formats, and final outcomes you would require. While some images can be taken on the fly, it is ideal to have a list of images you are sure you would require depending on whether they are to be used in catalogs, product pages, or even social media and brand content.
Select a variety of images to upload. Providing multiple images can help improve how trustworthy the product will come across to your target audience.
Use images of the product taken from multiple angles and showcase different versions or variants of the same product. 360-degree product photos are also becoming increasingly popular, and worth looking into. Keeping in mind the intended audience and use, you may opt for including models, specific environments, or product use cases for the photoshoot.
Ensure that you are using big images for your products. Larger images can improve performance in both the product and category pages, and lead to more conversions. Expect your customers to want to use the zoom feature liberally to ensure they know what they are purchasing. Just be certain that the files aren’t too heavy and impact how long it takes for the site to load (TinyPNG is one such free tool that you could use).
Large photos allow the optimal use of the zoom feature (Source: Amazon)
The ‘A’ in the ABCs of good photography is lighting. It’s best to opt for images that best showcase all aspects of the product clearly. Using shadows would make for more creative photographs, which would definitely look good for social media and brand-driven content. However, for product listings, the clarity of the product would need to be given importance over the creativity of the presentation. A texture-less, white background is a safe bet, in this case. Here are two examples of photographs with great lighting:
Well-lit photographs, showcasing products being used (Source: Amazon)
If possible, showcase the product when taken apart. Not to suggest you reach out to your nearest hammer and break it open, but offering a glimpse into the ‘layers’ that might exist in your product is a good way of establishing trust in what it’s made of. For more resilient products, you may also opt to have graphics do this job instead of actual product photographs.
This product image allows viewers to know what constitutes their potential purchase (Source: Amazon)
While the option of edited images may be tempting, too much or too obvious editing may give the impression of the product image being inauthentic, or with something to hide. Some tweaks to improve color or remove blemishes are welcome, but it’s best to ensure that the images don’t seem too manipulated.
Save for later
Keep copies of the final selected images with you for easy access in case you need them in a hurry for quick designs or showcasing to potential clients. Backing these up to the cloud is thus recommended.
Recommended reads: 9 Ways To Optimize Images for eCommerce
Types of eCommerce Photographs
There are many ways to depict your product. Aesthetics aside, these types serve different purposes and are able to offer various messages regarding your product. Here are a few examples of such kinds of product photographs:
Simple product images
These plain background images are simple to execute and let the product truly shine. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you could also try using a solid color that matches or contrasts with your brand colors.
Simple, clean, and clearly depicting the product (Source: LARQ)
This kind of product photography also lends itself well to photography rookies. To capture this kind of product image, the products are often laid flat or on their side, with the camera placed right above them. For products that include a lot of parts, this would be a great way of drawing attention to them. Props work well in this format too.
An eye-catching arrangement that is easy to execute (Source: Crate and Barrel)
Contextual product images
These images provide context for the product, especially in terms of how and where they can be used. They give the viewer an opportunity to imagine how they might also enjoy the use of the product. Add human beings pictured using your product and the contextual image evolves into lifestyle product images. The latter focuses more on the use and/or emotions associated with the product instead of focusing on the product details.
This lifestyle shot focuses more on its use and those using them than its physical attributes (Source: The Fireplace Store)
Think of a family picture, but for related products. These images serve to showcase the range of products that may be offered by a brand — shedding light on the diversity of products as well as the expertise of the brand they are from.
This shot showcases a range of products in one easy look-see (Source: US Luggage Company)
When you want your visitors to note details such as textures or smaller details that may not be as apparent in other kinds of product photography. For smaller products, the use of props helps depict the scale and the comparative size of the product.
Pronounced features, that may not be apparent from, say, a model’s wrist (Source: Omega Watches)
Your product photography is pretty important and plays a key role in communicating the value it can offer to your customer. Thanks to today’s technology, photography is now accessible in a way that it never was before. So, while DSLRs or mirrorless cameras are preferred for the quality they provide, mobile photography does offer an opportunity for experimentation.
Our last recommendation? Have some fun along the way!