Skip links

Product Photography 101

Increased site visits, check. Higher Google rankings, check. Modern website, check. Excellent product photos…err…no check. When you decide to step up the intensity of your internet marketing strategies, be prepared to consider the whole package of what you visually deliver to your customers, including any product photos.

The way your products are presented in product photography has a significant impact on sales. Accurate, clean, crisp, and clutter-free photos will help develop a brand identity based on quality, as well as a stronger sense of professionalism. If your products are what consumers seek, these perceived factors should lead to more sales. Alternatively, amateur-looking photos will only support an amateur business status and potentially, mistrust.

Product Photography Tips for Your Site

  • Your product should be the focal point, and backgrounds shouldn’t be distracting.
  • Backgrounds should be simple and clutter-free.
  • Most product photography is shot on a continuous, seamless background.
  • Products should be true to color and edited properly.
  • Lighting should be balanced, dimensional, and produce soft shadows, if any.
  • White backgrounds are generally the most successful, but certain products and websites call for black, grey, or other variations.

Achieve quality, professional-looking photos:

  1. Hire a professional photographer. This will significantly reduce the cost of equipment and the time involved in researching how-to’s on product photography and the equipment itself. Once you find photographers in your area, look through their product or commercial portfolios to see if their style can capture the look or style you intend to portray with your brand. If you want to see how they photograph your work, ask if they’re willing to shoot a demo with one of your products.


  1. DIY product photography. If you already have a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, some basic knowledge of photography (including product photography), and photo-editing software like Photoshop, you could try to do-it-yourself. The benefits include the ability to shoot your products whenever you need them, more control over the desired look, and a lifetime skill that you can use throughout your career. The downside is equipment and software costs, loads of research on lighting, time away from your actual work, and the editing process.

DIY Product Photography

If you’ve decided to DIY-it, here’s some good news: once you have a basic DSLR camera, a tripod, Photoshop or Lightroom, and some lights, the rest can be done fairly simply and inexpensively…by this we mean more research, decisions, and DIY setups, by the way.

1. Decide On Lighting: Light Tents vs. Studio Lighting vs. Natural Lighting

This introduction to photography lighting also provides a comparison between light tent results and studio light results. Spoiler: studio lighting setups with diffusion (i.e. a softbox) over the lights produce more dimensional, and less flat-looking products. Light tents tend to bounce the light around, which may create a flat-looking product.

Natural light is always an option, but it’s hard to control. You need clouds to stay put for natural diffusion, and that’s not always possible. Here’s one natural light setup that may work for you.

2. Buy-It or DIY-It


You can buy cheap, starter light tent kits or softbox kits on Amazon for $100-150, and they usually include everything you’ll need to get started. They’re not the highest quality, but they should work. Pay attention to the size of your products and the size you’ll need to photograph.


You can also DIY a light box for $30 or less and pick up clamp lights at your local hardware store. If you buy your own lights, special attention needs to be given towards the type of bulbs. If you want to go the studio photography route, there are also DIY diffusion methods that can be used instead of softboxes.

Product Photography Tips and Resources

As you get started, remember that these are basic tips, and there are always more creative, dynamic, and engaging ways to present products. It just happens that simplicity will help your product stand out better. In the end, a simple background, good lighting, and effective editing will help give your consumers an accurate and trustworthy depiction of your product.