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Product Photography:
The Guide to Successful Product Photos

Product photography is all about enhancing the visual appeal of products on your e-commerce site. Discover the secrets to a successful photoshoot that’ll boost your sales!

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What exactly is product photography?

What is product photography?

Product photography, also known as a product photoshoot, involves capturing images of objects or products intended for sale. It’s the art of taking photographs that present products in their best light, aiming to grab attention and entice consumers to make a purchase. While photography is often about capturing a single moment, product photography is a process that involves carefully staging the product. This is particularly important for online sales, where visuals are the sole means of presenting a product to potential customers. These photos serve to reassure and motivate customers, encouraging them to follow through with their purchasing decision. That’s why it’s crucial for an e-commerce website to allocate a significant budget to product photography and enlist the expertise of professional photographers.

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Why is a quality photoshoot essential for e-commerce websites?

Because online users are primarily drawn to the visual elements of a website. In online sales, images play a vital role in the purchasing decision. They are the primary factor that influences conversion, surpassing product descriptions and customer reviews. According to an Etsy study, the quality of images has the most significant impact on buyers’ decisions in 90% of cases. Conversely, a low-quality image can discourage potential buyers from making a purchase. Therefore, a product photoshoot is an indispensable requirement for showcasing products on an e-commerce website, as well as for sharing them on the brand’s social media platforms or incorporating them into user-generated content.

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The importance of visuals in online sales

The distinct aspect of online shopping, compared to in-store purchases, is that a screen separates the customer from the product. They cannot touch, feel the texture, hold, or try on the product. All they can do is look at it. The only sensory connection between a consumer and a product found on an e-commerce site is visual. This highlights the crucial role of a product photoshoot in online sales: without high-quality visuals, an e-commerce merchant cannot hope to attract potential customers or successfully sell their products.

What makes a successful product photo?

    • It showcases the product from all angles.
    • It provides essential information about the product.
    • It indicates the purpose and usage instructions of the product.
    • It captures the viewer’s attention.
    • It helps the buyer visualise the product in their own environment.
    • It creates a desire to purchase the product.
  • 90%

    of the information

    processed by our brain is visual.
  • 65%

    of individuals

    have a visual memory.
  • 80%

    – the amount internet users

    remember from what they see (compared to 20% from what they read).

What are the types of product photos?

The different possibilities of product photography

There are various ways to create product photos and effectively showcase the product. What are these options?

  • 1.

    Studio photography

    The product is photographed against a solid backdrop, typically a white background, with carefully designed lighting, often using artificial sources. This type of product photo is commonly done indoors, in a professional photography studio. By keeping the staging minimalistic, it provides concrete visuals that clearly display what you are selling.

  • 2.

    Lifestyle photography

    The product is captured in real-life situations, allowing potential buyers to visualise how it will fit into their own lives. This type of product photography is particularly effective for clothing and accessories as it taps into the imagination and evokes a desire to own the product. Lifestyle product photography often involves incorporating models to enhance the storytelling aspect.

  • 3.

    Precision scale photo

    The product is presented in a way that allows the buyer to determine its size or dimensions. It can be shown alongside everyday objects with known sizes or integrated into a specific background with a graduated scale for improved accuracy.

  • 4.

    Detailed product photo

    The product is photographed in close-up. This type of product photo highlights the quality of materials used, textures, and important details such as the binding of a book or the clasp of a bracelet. For second-hand products, the close-up shot helps to emphasise any potential defects of an item (thus avoiding returns).

  • 5.

    Grouped product photo

    Multiple products are presented in the same visual. This staging is suitable for items sold in multiples, such as kitchen utensils, tableware, or creative supplies (coloured pencils, buttons, etc.). It also allows showcasing different variations of the same product in a single image.

  • 6.

    Product with packaging photo

    The product is shown with its packaging. This type of product photo highlights both the product and its packaging, which is particularly important in the luxury industry where the quality of the box is an integral part of the purchasing experience. It’s also a way to demonstrate that the item can make a good gift.

  • 7.

    Trade photography

    The product takes a backseat to the creative process. It showcases the workshop where the products are made, as well as the craftsmen behind them. This type of product photo adds authenticity to the product and the brand. It’s more suitable for social media platforms than an e-commerce website.

Product photos: enhancing your brand image

Choosing the right product photo is an effective way to communicate your brand image. In the realm of online sales, potential customers form an opinion based on the visual cues they gather. These visuals not only showcase the product but also serve to highlight the brand’s unique features and convey its values. As such, a photoshoot serves as both a means to reinforce your brand identity and a powerful tool for conversion. The staging itself becomes a form of storytelling, where the visuals narrate the story behind the showcased item and/or the brand itself. That’s why it’s crucial to meticulously plan your photoshoot, considering various aspects such as style, colours, and product placement.

packshot les clés pour réussir son photoshoot de produit le packshot photo une manière de renforcer son image de marque

Good to know

Once the product photos are completed, a careful selection of visuals is essential for illustrating your products on your online sales platform. Pay particular attention to the image that will be displayed as the primary thumbnail, as it will constitute the initial point of contact between potential customers and your product.


How to have a successful product photoshoot

Product photos: the golden rules

Wondering how to make your photoshoot a success? Here are the golden rules for a great product photo, as recommended by professional photographers.

  • RULE 1

    Preparing for the photoshoot

    Proper preparation is essential for a successful photoshoot. Choose the location (photo studio, outdoor setting, etc.), create a list of shots to capture (considering the important features to highlight), plan the sequence of photos, and ensure you have the right equipment (preferably selected from camera models suitable for product photography). Allocate enough time for the session.

  • RULE 2

    Selecting the background

    Choosing the right background is crucial for an e-commerce product photo. It should enhance the product without diverting the viewer’s attention. For indoor shots, opt for a white or uniform background. When shooting outdoors, place the product in a suitable context, taking care to manage colour combinations and contrasts. Remember, the product should always stand out prominently.

  • RULE 3

    Mastering lighting

    Lighting plays a pivotal role in product photos. It can be entirely natural or artificial, or a carefully balanced blend of both, depending on whether the shoot is indoors or outdoors. Consider the surface of the product, whether it’s opaque or glossy—note that a glossy surface may cause unwanted reflections.

  • RULE 4

    Ensuring the photos are stable

    Stability is essential for capturing sharp product images. Pay attention to the camera support (using a sturdy surface or tripod), focus (preferably automatic as most cameras excel in this regard), and shutter speed (higher speeds reduce the risk of blurring).

  • RULE 5

    Mastering photo framing

    Effective photo composition involves skilful framing. Apply the “rule of thirds,” a principle where the product is positioned based on an imaginary frame divided into segments. Many cameras offer an option to display this grid on the screen or viewfinder. Also, eliminate any potential distractions during the photoshoot.

  • RULE 6

    Creating a captivating setting

    The choice of product photo style contributes to creating an engaging product setting. It can showcase the product in action, indoors or outdoors, during the manufacturing process, etc. (see part 2.) Pay meticulous attention to the set design, colours, and lighting. You may also consider incorporating models in your photoshoot to add dynamism to the composition.

  • RULE 7

    Selecting relevant accessories

    Accessories are items that complement the product’s everyday use—for example, a belt paired with clothing, or a drill sold with a selection of drill bits. During the product photo, ensure that the chosen accessories are relevant, accentuate the product’s features, and do not distract potential buyers.

  • RULE 8

    Perfecting photo retouching

    The post-processing stage is an integral part of product photography. This is when you can transform a standard image into a spectacular product visual by adjusting lighting, brightness, and contrasts, eliminating imperfections (such as distortions or chromatic aberrations), or adding a suitable background. However, be mindful to maintain photo accuracy!

Some extra tips for a great product product photo

    • Show as much of your product as possible by capturing it from multiple angles.
    • Take photos of every version of the product, showcasing its various shapes, dimensions, and colours.
    • Create specific seasonal setups to add visual appeal.
    • Consider using models to enhance the product staging, allowing buyers to connect with it.

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Any questions?

A product photo refers to capturing images of products intended for sale, also known as a “product photoshoot.” It’s the art of presenting products in their best light to capture attention and boost sales, particularly in the online shopping realm where visuals strongly influence purchasing decisions.

In online purchases, customers cannot physically interact with or experience the product. Their decision-making relies solely on the visuals presented to them. As a result, 75% of online buyers make purchasing decisions based on product images. This highlights the critical role of product photos in e-commerce.

A successful product photoshoot requires following a set of guidelines: thorough preparation, selecting appropriate backgrounds, ensuring quality lighting, capturing stable shots, framing images effectively, staging the product thoughtfully, choosing relevant accessories, and applying subtle retouching techniques. It is recommended to entrust your product photos to professional photographers.

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