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How to Take Product Image Pictures That Don’t Suck

product photography

If you’re a small business selling online, whether it’s on Etsy, eBay or on your own ecommerce site, quality product image pictures are everything. In fact, an eBay study that reviewed 6.8 million listings found that adding photos with better quality resulted in 5 percent more sales.

There are some pretty hideous product pictures out there. Not only are they uneasy on the eyes, but also they hurt your bottom line. Let’s cover the basics of how to take a good product image picture.

1. Keep it Simple with a White Background

Amazon and other ecommerce sites prefer product images using pure white backgrounds. To take an awesome product shot with a white background, you’ll need:

  • Camera: Unless you already own a high-end digital camera, a regular point-and-shoot or your smartphone camera will do the trick.
  • Tripod: Prevent blurry and fuzzy shots by using a tripod or setting the camera against a solid object.
  • White Background: Retailing for about $8 to $10 at your local art store, a 32” x 40” crescent decorative matboard in pure white is just as good as a fancy white background from any photography store. (Note: if your item is white, use a different color for the matboard.)
  • White Foam Core: While you’re at the art store, ask if they have any scrap white foam core that you can purchase. You’ll need a piece a bit taller than your actual product and about three times its width.
  • Table: Big enough to fit your 32” x 40” board and sturdy enough to safely hold your product.
  • Tape: To keep things in place.
  • Room with Windows: Use natural light to get the right shot. The ideal room is one with windows next to a wall. The bigger the window, the better.

Once you have all of your materials, it’s time to set up your photo area.

  • Place your table as close to the window as possible without catching any shadows. For best results, set the table against a wall opposite of the wall with the window so that your product receives soft, natural light.
  • Tape the top of the white matboard against the wall and create a smooth curve that lands on top of the table.
  • Shoot during the day and turn off the room lights.
  • Place the white foam card in front of and to the side of the product. Sneak it as close as you can to the product without it appearing in the photo.
  • Set up your camera on the tripod.
  • Turn off the flash setting and now you’re ready to shoot!

2. Take Larger Images

Size matters in ecommerce. An ecommerce retailer reported a 9 percent increase in sales by using larger product images.

But don’t just go as big as you can; stick within recommended guidelines.

Here are the size recommendations for product images at some ecommerce platforms:

  • Amazon: minimum of 200 by 200 pixels and maximum of 2,000 by 2,000 pixels; maximum file size: 10MB
  • eBay: minimum length of 500 pixels for longest side (height or width); maximum file size: 7MB
  • Etsy: recommended image size under 800 to 1,000 pixels wide; maximum file size: 300kb

Using larger images allows visitors to appreciate the details of your products and unlocks additional viewing features at some sites. For example, using the recommended length between 800 to 1,600 pixels on the longest side (height or width) at eBay enables the Zoom/Enlarge feature so users can take a closer look.

On the other hand, don’t stretch small images to meet the minimum size requirements. Stretching them only makes them a pixilated and blurry mess.

3. Provide Several Angles

One-fourth of online shoppers aren’t satisfied with their shopping experience because the product they received wasn’t what they were expecting. This is why ecommerce sites allow you to include several pictures in your listings without additional charges. Etsy allows you to include up to five per posting, while Craigslist and eBay allow you to include up to 12 per posting.

Take advantage of these allowances and showcase your products from multiple camera angles, displaying what the product truly looks like. If you’re selling second-hand or refurbished items, make sure to capture signs of wear and tear and blemishes. The more angles and details that you provide, the smaller the chance that your buyer receives something that they didn’t expect.

4. Showcase Products in Action

A common pet peeve for online buyers is when retailers selling jewelry online, especially rings, don’t show how the items look on the finger, wrist or neck. This is important because it helps the potential customer visualize how it will look on them.

Clothing and accessories are more attractive when modeled by real people or displayed on body props. Here are some useful display tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use props that may confuse buyers about what exactly is included in your listing
  • Avoid on-body props that are the same color as your product
  • Use lighting that doesn’t create shadows, reflections or hot spots
  • Take your photo so that the main item fills the majority of the frame
  • Use the “macro” mode or setting from your camera for close-up shots of details

5. Optional: Retouch Photos

If you’re familiar with photo retouching software, such as Photoshop, feel free to leverage your skills to make your photos look even better.

However, it’s a good idea to skip:

  • Thick borders around the ends of the photo
  • Watermarks that take up more than 5 percent of the total image size, have an opacity that obscures the product or are placed on the center of the photo
  • Logos or marketing messages placed in the center of the photo

The Bottom Line

A photo is worth more than a thousand words. Pictures that “suck” tell the wrong story about your product, no matter how great it may be. Take the time to craft great product image pictures to greatly enhance the effectiveness of your online listings.

How do you take photos of your products? Share your photo tips in the comments below or tweet us @KabbageInc!