There is more to photography than just point-and-click. Staging and context in online product photography can help online merchants shine a new light on their lineup. Allow one of our design experts to show you the ropes.

Product Photography Hero Image

For better or worse, the value of a business’s products are judged by the design quality of its digital storefront. An ugly site is perceived as being untrustworthy and can adversely affect its ability to generate revenue. There are things that can be done to lessen this fact but there’s no getting away from the importance of having an attractive site.

Product photography is one of the best, and easiest, ways to increase the attractiveness of a website. Large, high quality images help the viewer to better envision the products, which can mean the difference between making a sale or losing one. There are multiple different types of product shots; mixing them can add some much needed variety to the site. Below are the types of shots with some additional information about their benefits.

The individual shot

The most common type of photo, you can find these on category and product display pages. They emphasize an individual product and is usually taken on a white or black background. Typically all available products on a site will be shown in this format.

Uses: Sweet, simple and obligatory product photos for basic listings and narrow category pages.

Tips: It is tempting to stick to manufacturer photos, and you may have to rely on those until you build up your own photo library, but your own images will add distinction to your site and to your brand.

Product Photography

The group shot

The opposite of an individual shot, this type of shot is chosen for displaying items in the same product line. Occasionally these shots are also used for products that are packed in different quantities.

Uses: Showing the entire available product range, visually suggesting accessories or creating a hero image for your category page.

Tips: Presentation matters. Try organizing your products into different shapes, rather than just sticking to rows and columns, and get plenty of input from friends.

Product Photography 2

The detail shot

Frequently used for shots involving technology products, this closeup shot shows individual parts or features of the product for emphasis. They are usually zoomed in tight and activate at least three edges of the photo area.

Uses: Visually communicating attention to detail, quality parts or vanity branding.

Tips: As hinted above, frame your image so that at least three edges of your product come into contact with the photo area. Lighting is always important for photos, but they make even more of a difference in detail shots. Remember: sunlight is ideal, so shoot outside if you are able.

Product Photography 3

The component shot

Individual parts of the product are photographed to add emphasis. Composition varies but is generally taken in a consistent way that shows the parts are all related.

Uses: Products with exchangeable parts, such as this 3-in-1 mixer with blades and mixing bowl, with the dough maker called out for emphasis.

Tips: Remember that parts appearing on the outside edges of the image tend to draw the eye, such as the dough hook in this example.

Product Photography 4

The teaser shot

Teaser shots are often done to increase viewer interest and displays artistic appeal. They show the product being used in a way that suggests a lifestyle and generally includes heavy usage of props. This type of shot is typically used on header/splash pages and category dividers.

Uses: Showing everyday life utilizing candid shots displaying products in the background or as a subtle foreground element.

Tips: This images will not be suitable for every product or even every store, and lifestyle photos can deter some customers if they are perceived as dishonest. In most cases, you will want to be conservative in using them, saving such shots for the homepage and changing them on occasion to avoid viewer fatigue.

Product Photography 5

Take the time to review the images on your homepage, as well as a sampling of product and category pages, and spend a few moments thinking about how your products would look solo, as a set, in detail or in use. You do not need an expensive camera to take a great picture--even the camera on your phone can hold up to the quality of professional cameras of a few years ago--you just need great lighting and time to explore your subject from different angles until you find the perfect shot. For more tips, check out our article on taking professional product photos with your smartphone.

-Juliette Pepperell, Web Designer