How to take product photos

A picture is worth a thousand words — and great product photos sell thousands of units. Find out how to take product photos and learn the best DIY photo studio product lighting hacks in this handy guide.

23 May 2023 Jason Kaye

4 min

Reading Time: 4 minutes

First-rate product listings are vital for e-commerce success. After all, consumers can’t examine the items you sell ‘in real life.’ The very best listings include high-quality written descriptions and compelling product photos. But what makes for a great product image? How can e-commerce merchants take crisp, vibrant photos at home?

If you’ve been wondering how to take professional product photos, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll kick off this article with a list of common photography faux pas and then run through the product photography process step-by-step:

  • Common product photography pitfalls
  • How to take product photos

Common product photography pitfalls

Product photography isn’t an intuitive skill. As a result, many novice product photographers slip up and take pics that don’t make the grade. So, try to avoid these five common product photography pitfalls:

  1. Cluttered backgrounds: Busy backgrounds make product pictures confusing. For best results, stick to a single color — white, for example, works beautifully.
  2. Poor lighting: Low light leads to a grainy image. Use bright, diffuse light for glare-free illumination.
  3. Dirty products: Dirt and dust particles can appear in close-ups, ruining a perfect shot.
  4. Generic photographs: Avoid using wholesale product photos and produce your own. Unique images give you an edge in the marketplace.
  5. Awkward reflections: Some reflections are fine; others can be somewhat problematic. Double-check your photos before you go live.

How to take product photos

Now that we’ve explored what not to do while taking product photos, we’re going to lead you on the path to product photography success step-by-step. Let’s go!

Step 1: Select a good camera

Great photography begins with a good camera. Most marketplace sellers go with one of two options:

  • A digital camera: Some entrepreneurs take product photos with APS-C or full-frame digital cameras. In the right hands, digital cameras — including DSLR models — produce the most professional results.
  • A smartphone camera: Many newer smartphones incorporate excellent cameras. If you take product photos with a smartphone camera, ensure it can capture clear close-up shots at 12MP+ resolution.

Meanwhile, a compatible tripod can help reduce camera shake and improve image quality, while other useful photography accessories include lens wipes, camera stabilizers, and monopods.

Step 2: Create your DIY photography studio

If possible, create your DIY photography studio in a well-lit room. Bring in a variety of props, like chairs and colored fabric or sheets of poster board or cards, to create ‘spaces’ for your subjects. Eliminate clutter to ensure it doesn’t appear in the background of your product shots.

Step 3: Become a master of light

Large windows provide natural light, which can be a blessing or a curse to your DIY photo studio product lighting scheme. If the photo’s balance is right, natural light can make your products shine. North and south-facing windows provide balanced illumination all day, making them ideal light sources for photography.

Hard or directional light, on the other hand, can be tricky to work with because it can create too much contrast and eliminate detail. East and west-facing windows channel directional light at the beginning or end of the day.

If the lighting conditions are harsh, simple accessories are your friends. Foam bounce boards and reflectors control natural light and fill shadows. Meanwhile, diffuser sheets soften and disperse bright morning or evening sunlight.

Hot tip: Invest in a lightbox

Lightboxes are compact, easy to set up, and ideal for product photography. They’re usually made of plastic and include built-in lights to illuminate subjects. Many commercially available lightboxes come with several colored backgrounds. 

Step 4: Find the right angle

According to Etsy, 90% of surveyed shoppers say that the quality of e-commerce images is the deciding factor in whether to make a purchase. It makes sense, then, to take numerous photographs of your product from different angles. 

Most product shots are captured from one of five main perspectives:

  1. Eye level: A straight-on view of the side, back, or front of the product
  2. High angle: Looking down at the product from a high angle.
  3. Low angle: Looking up at the product from a low angle.
  4. Slanted: Looking down at the side of the product from an angle.
  5. Bird’s eye: Looking directly down at the product from above.

Step 5: Edit to perfection

After you take product photos, you’ll need to edit them to remove dust, tweak saturation, and adjust contrast. You can use smartphone apps like Snapseed, or a computer program like Lightroom or Photoshop, to edit your product images. Here’s what to do:

  • Use a dust-and-scratches filter to remove any dust particles you missed before your photoshoot.
  • Use a healing brush-style tool to remove blemishes or excessive fabric creasing.
  • Change the brightness, contrast, sharpness, vibrancy, highlights, and shadows until your photo looks like the actual product.
  • Save your adjustment settings as a preset and apply them to the rest of your photos.

Step 6: Optimize photos for the internet

Finally, you’ll need to optimize the images you create for the internet. In simple terms, this means making them smaller without degrading visual quality. Reduce high-resolution product images to 1200 pixels wide (or less) and save them as JPG or PNG files.

Make business payments easier with Zyla

When coupled with clear, compelling descriptions, great photos sell products. With a lightbox and a little bit of technological help, marketplace sellers can create professional-looking images that raise both brand awareness and sales revenue.

Great product photos aren’t the only way to convince online customers to click and buy your goods. Zyla allows customers abroad to pay for your products in their home currency –– from one central dashboard.

The Zyla Account is the hassle-free way to pay business partners and get paid from marketplaces quickly.

  • Open multi-currency accounts with local account details
  • Make fast and secure global payments to suppliers, staff and partners
  • Collect funds from marketplace sales
  • Keep costs down with competitive rates

The free-to-open Zyla Account enables businesses to make collections and payouts internationally – giving you the freedom to do business anywhere, all with the security of our online platform.  Open an account today and you could be approved, set up and trading internationally in 24 hours. Get started or find out more by calling (855) 797-3366 today.