Practical Ecommerce

10 Ways to Improve Product Photos

Online stores do not have the shelves filled with products for consumers to touch and examine like physical stores do. This makes the use of compelling product images important for online merchants. Here are ten ways to improve your product images.

1. Start With Good Photographs

You can save yourself a lot of effort if you start with a quality product image. Take the time to find the right lighting, use a tripod or a flat surface to steady your camera, and make sure your camera is properly focused on your product. You may also want to take multiple shots of the same product using different lighting and angles. Having a larger pool of photos to pull from when you edit can help you find the best way to present a product. The better you know how to use your camera and the more time you take with your initial photos, the better your product images.

2. Use High Quality and Large Resolution Images

Customers want to thoroughly examine a product before purchasing it. Online, this means having a high quality or large resolution image. Provide your customers with a clear, large product image on your product page — or link to it from a thumbnail.

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Customers need a large image, as they cannot pick up and examine your product in person.

Customers need a large image, as they cannot pick up and examine your product in person.

3. Use More Than One Product Photo

Because consumers can’t actually touch the products you are selling in your online store, having images depicting multiple angles of your product allows a better understanding of it. This is especially true for products that have many options or features. Consumers want to see what they are buying.

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Multiple product photos allow customers to more fully understand the item they are buying.

Multiple product photos allow customers to more fully understand the item they are buying.

There are instances where more than one product photo is unnecessary. But be cautious. Most of the time a single product image is not sufficient.

4. Show The Product In Use

Including an image depicting your product in use helps connect the consumer to it. This is another way to overcome the gap left by an online storefront where consumers can’t physically touch the products.

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Viewing your product in use can be a substitute for trying it out.

Viewing your product in use can be a substitute for trying it out.

5. Use The Right Dimensions

Sometimes moving an image from your computer to your online storefront can distort the aspect ratio — i.e., width vs. height — of the product image. Make sure the dimensions of the image on your computer match the dimensions of the image on your storefront. Not only will this ensure the proper aspect ratio for your image, but it can also cut down on load time if the browser doesn’t have to resize the image before rendering it.

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A distorted product image misrepresents a product, and may reduce its appeal.

A distorted product image misrepresents a product, and may reduce its appeal.

6. Use Clean Backgrounds

A cluttered background can distract from the product you are trying to sell. Use either a simple, appropriate background or remove the background all together. You may even want to use a seamless backdrop when shooting your photos in the first place.

Even images shot against a white backdrop can sometimes require adjusting to make the background truly white and not a shade of grey. Subtle gradients can also be used as backgrounds for product images and can sometimes provide the illusion of a horizon line behind a product.

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A clean background allows your product to stand out.

A clean background allows your product to stand out.

7. Use Clean Product Cutouts

If you remove the background from your product image, make sure you have a clean cutout of your product. This means not having a pixelated edge around your it, but rather a smooth cutout of your image that doesn’t have pieces of the background showing through. Depending on your product, this could require more advanced image isolation techniques.

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A pixelated cutout of your product looks unprofessional.

A pixelated cutout of your product looks unprofessional.

8. Use Realistic Reflections

If you include an image reflection, make sure your reflection is realistic. The simplest way to ensure this is to shoot the product on a reflective surface rather than to add the reflection during post-processing. If you add a reflection using Photoshop or another image editor, be conscious of your image perspective and light source. Overdone and unrealistic reflections will detract focus from the actual product.

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Reflections that are not realistic will negatively affect your shoppers.

Reflections that are not realistic will negatively affect your shoppers.

9. Use Proper Brightness and Contrast

Your product image should have the right amount of brightness and contrast to highlight product details and make your image stand out. Using “Levels” or “Curves” in Photoshop will allow you to preview and adjust changes in brightness and contrast. You may also want to try “Auto Contrast” in Photoshop as a starting point for adjusting your image.

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A simple adjustment of brightness, contrast, or color balance can dramatically improve your product photos.

A simple adjustment of brightness, contrast, or color balance can dramatically improve your product photos.

10. Be Consistent

All of the product images used by your online store should have a similar aesthetic. This means similar lighting, sizing, and spacing. Image consistency will not only improve the look of your store page, but also make browsing through products in your store easier.

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A uniform photographic style will provide a more consistent and comfortable shopping experience.

A uniform photographic style will provide a more consistent and comfortable shopping experience.

Drew Coffin
Drew Coffin
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Comments ( 8 )

  1. EDell April 5, 2012 Reply

    Good advice, can’t emphasize enough starting with good photos. I would add that all these points need to be considered for the full range of multichannel display devices so the shopping experience is great on each.

  2. Marcel April 10, 2012 Reply

    Absolutely, good photos are a must. High quality product images are important. It’s the closest your customers are going to get to your products online. With dynamic imaging, the product experience increases. Have a look at the Picaris platform: http://www.picarisplatform.com

  3. Matt Smith April 18, 2012 Reply

    Photos are the key to engaging your consumer. As much as good descriptions/copy are important for SEO, Images are key for sales.

    Many of our customers go the extra mile and invest in 360 views, videos and installation steps on their products as well though

  4. Isaac Wanzama May 1, 2012 Reply

    No Question. Images impact conversion. See some great examples of 360 imaging to enhance product presentation. http://www.thinkgeekspeak.com/services.html

  5. Robert Lowdon October 30, 2013 Reply

    Honestly, when it comes to product photos you are always better off with a professional. The investment almost always pays off increased sales. I recently did a post about this here: http://www.robertlowdon.com/#!What-Do-Your-Website-Images-Say-About-Your-Company/c1qao/BEAE56A7-9B98-464A-9E03-DF2349F0DB68

  6. Jan Hanus December 3, 2013 Reply

    I agree with all the comments here. Good photos will sell!!! In my over 20 year carrier as a product photographer it has been verified to me many times. What you really need is high quality, clean, color accurate photos on a solid background and you are set. The best examples you can see on our website http://www.123ProductPhotos.com/. Do NOT forget to download high resolution samples at the bottom of the photo gallery. Contact me with any questions.

  7. Anshul December 17, 2013 Reply

    I start with my small e-commerce shop.I have very less infrastructure regarding product images.I ususally sell the product which is already in market .how i improve my quality of store ?

  8. rebecca May 2, 2014 Reply

    Why not use 360 degree photography, it allows customers to view all angles of the product on a clear background at the correct brightness and contrast and is high resolution!

    Why not look at a couple of examples here: http://outsphere.co.uk/

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