8th February 2021

E-Commerce Photography Guide

Ryan Cunningham

The right product photography helps attract buyers, keeps them on the site longer and boosts traffic from PPC campaigns, sounds good right? 

Without being able to see or feel what they’re buying, customers are relying on e-commerce imagery to showcase what they’re looking at in a way that is appealing and accurate.

If you’ve ever been caught out by buying something online and it looks completely different when it arrives, you’ll understand the frustration. Despite e-commerce photography being one of the most important elements of any online business, there are many that miss the mark. 

But don’t worry. Whether you have an established online store or are just getting started, our guide will help ensure that you are getting the most out of your product imagery. 

Are there rules on how e-commerce photography should look? 

There are no hard and fast rules surrounding product photography. The most important thing is that it speaks to your customer base and accurately represents what you’re selling. 

Item-only photos are a great way to show every aspect of your product. Shooting on a plain white background will help ensure that your images are compatible with all platforms and will maintain consistency across your site. 

A white background also makes it really easy to edit the images to give them more life when being used on the homepage or as part of a product round-up on the blog. 

Some e-commerce websites will also benefit from including lifestyle imagery on product pages. These images should speak directly to your target demographic, be inspirational and tell a story. 

Helping customers see your products in the context of which they are intended to be used will help bring them to life. While this type of imagery has traditionally featured prominently on social media, we are seeing them increasingly used on category and product pages. 

Where should the product imagery feature? 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that e-commerce photography should be used solely on the website. 

Social media is increasingly becoming a major way for people to shop, you’ll have spotted additional shopping features being added to Instagram regularly. Unlike traditional website imagery, it is vital that the photos you are adding to your social feeds aren’t static and make your followers want to engage. The easiest way to do this is to be really clear about your demographic and what they will be expecting to see when they log on, whether it be Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest - the broad rules remain the same.  

Is the quality of the photos that important? 

The short answer, yes. 

With the volume of imagery required to populate an e-commerce site, it is only natural that you would be looking for ways to make the process as quick as possible. Unfortunately, cutting corners on the quality of the imagery on your website is only going to cause damage in the long run. 

Low quality photography, or worse computer generated images, don’t give a good impression of your business and therefore aren’t going to help build the trust necessary to convert those browsing into customers. 

Similarly, ensuring imagery is uniformed will help give your website a sleek and consistent look. A really easy way to do this is to develop a clear style guide, including the dimensions photos must be before being uploaded, the amount of negative space required and a rule on shadows. 

Trust us, it is better to invest the time and effort early in the process rather than having to go back in and rectify irregularities later. 

Do I need to pay a professional to shoot my e-commerce photography?  

It can be hard to justify spending money on having all your stock professionally photographed but the long-term benefits really do make it worth the investment. 

With huge amounts of competition in the e-commerce space, you should be doing everything you can to make sure potential customers are coming onto your website. You really only have one chance to make a first impression and you should be making sure it is the best one possible. 

With that said, if you’re just launching and aren’t able to invest in high-quality imagery, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure your photography is as good as possible:

  1. Use a plain background, ideally white 
  2. Make sure your lighting is right and the images are as true to life as possible 
  3. Take photos from all angles 

Is there anything else to consider before uploading to the website?

Product photography really should be the centerpiece of any e-commerce product page. If you were in a store, you wouldn’t look at the label before the item - it is the same when shopping online. 

So much of how we shop is visual that you should be using this to your advantage. Make sure that there are a range of angles displayed and if you have lifestyle imagery include this to follow the item-only shots.

Have more questions? 

If you have a question or just want to learn more, check out our e-commerce marketing essentials guide or get in touch with the team. 

Call us on  0161 402 3170 or fill in our handy contact form, for a free no-obligation chat.