According to some estimates, there are 9.1 million ecommerce websites in the world. On sites like Amazon, you will find even more sellers. With this level of competition, you need some way of standing out.
Great product photos can make your online store shine. However, many all look the same — just a view of the product on a plain white background. To produce something more eye-catching, you might need to get creative.
That’s where this post comes in useful. We have collected up our favorite product photoshoot ideas, and put them into a concise list. Keep reading to enter a world of inspiration and discover which tools we recommend for the job.
When you’re thinking about buying something online, what do you look at first: product photos or the product description? Even if you don’t realize it, we’re willing to bet good money that your eyes land on the images before the text.
Science backs this up. One study by MIT found that we can identify the contents of an image in just 13 milliseconds. You can’t even read a single line of text in that time, let alone an entire product description.
This stat presses home the importance of product photography. But it also explains why you should put some effort into your photoshoot.
The more information you can convey at a glance, the more likely you are to attract customers. In fact, 93% of consumers consider visual content to be a key deciding factor in purchasing decisions, according to research by Justuno.
Online shoppers also want to be wowed. Research by BigCommerce shows that 78% of consumers are attracted to photos that bring the product to life.
In other words: as long as you are showing off your product, it’s good to get creative.
So, how do you go about taking stand-out product photography? If you are planning a product shoot for your online store, or thinking about hiring a professional product photographer, here are some great ideas to put on your shot list:
Let’s start with the basics. If your product comes in multiple versions, sizes, or colors, why not capture them all in one image? It seems like an obvious shot when you say it, but this idea is regularly overlooked by even the big online retailers.
The advantage of capturing the variants in this way is that potential customers can see their full range of options, and make a comparison between them almost instantly. This is particularly important when size is the variable.
While we would always recommend having a simple white background shot somewhere on your product page, there’s no reason to make your studio shots boring.
Instead of using a plain backdrop, why not add some reflections? This effect is relatively easy to achieve, and it really catches the eye.
There are a couple of ways to introduce reflections into your product photography. The first method is DIY; the second involves more photo editing.
DIY reflections are most easily created by placing a sheet of glass, or any other reflective surface, underneath your product. You may need to try some different angles to see the reflection clearly. If you are using artificial photography lighting, focusing it on the subject is a good way to enhance reflections.
The digital route involves using photo editing apps like Adobe Photoshop or Pixelcut.
To master this technique on desktop, you will probably need to watch a tutorial and get some practice. On mobile, Pixelcut makes it much easier to add background effects. Used by over 10 million small businesses and creators, the app lets you simulate reflections with a couple of taps.
You don’t need any special equipment or deep knowledge of product photography to master the flat lay.
This shot is a simple top-down affair, where your product and any related items are arranged neatly on a flat surface. It could be a table, the floor, a rug, the grass in your backyard, or anywhere else.
Flat lay shots are super popular on social media, because they can look very pretty. For online retailers, they also serve the purpose of showing context and scale.
The key to a good flat lay shot is how you arrange the scene. Try to create patterns, or fit items together like pieces in a puzzle. Make sure you have good lighting — natural daylight is always the best option — and consider mounting your DSLR or phone on a tripod above your flat lay for better sharpness.
Somewhere on your product page, it’s important to show what your entire product looks like. However, you might also want to highlight some smaller details.
This could be the high-quality stitching on a leather bag, the dazzling light reflecting from a diamond ring, or the natural wood grain of a handmade table.
You can take close-up photos with any camera, but the best shots of this type are usually taken with a DSLR.
Aside from the obvious advantages in terms of quality, DSLR lenses allow you to narrow the depth of field in your shots — the area that is in focus. Blurring the background helps to guide the eyes towards the detail you are trying to capture.
If you don’t have access to a DSLR, it’s possible to mimic the same effect using photo editing apps like Snapseed. Alternatively, you can take macro shots with a dedicated snap-on lens, such as those made by Moment.
Lifestyle product photography is very popular at the moment. People like to see products in action, after all. But when these shots are carefully posed, they can start to look unnatural, which kind of defeats the object.
If you want to avoid this pitfall, try taking your product out into the real world and snapping it in action. This requires a bit more photographic skill, but the results can be truly outstanding.
To bring down the difficulty settings, you can still ask your models to hold still or go stand in some pretty sunlight. But the more reality you maintain during the photo shoot, the more authentic the photos will be.
Creativity doesn’t have to be spontaneous. Sometimes, you actually need to take more control.
While natural light is always great for product photography, artificial lighting allows you to play around with different looks. You can put the spotlight on your product, use harsh side-lighting to make something arty, or aim one light at the backdrop to add a colorful “halo” around your product.
There are a thousand different options here, so we will point you towards YouTube for the specifics. But here’s a tip for beginners: rather than using flash, start with constant light sources like a desk lamp or a dedicated LED light.
It might seem counterintuitive to place your product in the background of your product photos. But there is method in this apparent madness.
As we mentioned earlier, the best lifestyle photos are ones that look authentic. The same goes for still life shots taken around your home, or the natural environment of your product. And if your product wouldn’t ordinarily be at the front of the scene, you shouldn’t put it there.
Key examples include furniture for storage, art for hanging on the wall, and the various implements you might find in a kitchen.
None of these products would normally be the center of attention. So, try to take lifestyle shots with this in mind. Keep your product clearly visible and well lit, but frame your shots to capture the whole scene.
Some of the coolest TV ads involve making a mess. You know, like fresh fruits colliding with water to promote a drink, or hot sauce splashing all over a “steaming hot” burger.
It’s possible to recreate this kind of shot in your product photography session. Many food and beauty products look their best out of the jar, after all.
To make it work, you will need a device with manual camera settings, and some really good photography lighting. If you can afford a lightbox — even better.
First, set up your lights and your chosen camera. If you have a lightbox, make sure your lights are pointing at the sides.
Then, you need to dive into the camera settings. First, set the shutter speed of your camera to a really small fraction — something like 1/2000 of a second, or even shorter. On your phone, you may need to download a specialized manual camera app for this.
Then, it’s all about trial and error. Depending on the product you are working with, you can pour, whip, and splash away, while taking loads of photos.
Whenever you begin moving the product around, take a burst of photos. On an iPhone, you can do this by sliding the shutter button to the left and holding it there. On your camera, just holding down the shutter should suffice — although some devices have a specific burst mode.
You will quickly fill up memory cards, but among all the throwaways, you should find some gems.
If we’re going to talk about creative product photography, we have to talk about backdrops.
While props are important, a good background can really set the scene for any shot. That includes both simple studio shots, and the most extravagant lifestyle images.
When choosing a backdrop, consider what mood you’re trying to create. Do you want something light and airy or dark and mellow? Do you want to smack the eyeballs of potential customers with a rainbow of bold colors, or put forward a more understated, classy appearance?
It’s also worth thinking about aesthetics. Which colors complement your product?
In some cases, you might want to add some texture. Sand and pebbles introduce an elemental streak to your product photography, while smoke floating across from an incense burner can add a hint of mystery. You can even build something quite artistic with just some colored card.
If you need some real-world inspiration, check out these great examples from the world of food photography:
Don’t want to play around with craft shop materials? Pixelcut lets you put in the perfect background in post-production — whether that is a bold color gradient or a stock photo.
While some product photography ideas involve creating chaos, you can also catch the eye of potential customers with something more neat and tidy.
Symmetry is a particularly beautiful form of order. It’s a key part of how we judge attractiveness in human faces, and is a design principle that allows our brains to make sense of the world more easily.
By setting up a scene that is either entirely symmetrical, or at least contains some symmetry, you can elevate a simple product shot into something much more interesting.
Some of the most captivating product images are surprisingly simple to shoot. One standout example is what we like to call the floating shot.
As the name suggests, these images make your product look like it's floating in mid air. It’s a fun little trick that can quickly catch the attention of viewers.
Unless your name is Harry Potter, the easiest way to set up this shot is by suspending your product using a short length of fishing line. Usually made from a single thread of nylon, the line is thin enough to be barely noticeable to the camera.
Even if you can see the line in your photos, it’s easy enough to remove by digital means. Photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop on desktop and Pixelcut on mobile devices both provide retouching tools, allowing you to erase any sign of the line.
As we’re on the subject — photo editing plays an important role in all types of product photography.
At the very least, we recommend using an app like Photoshop, Lightroom, or Snapseed to adjust the exposure and colors of your product photos.
You should also zoom in to check for dust spots and other imperfections; once again, this is where the retouching tools come in useful. Pixelcut’s Magic Eraser feature lets you paint away unwanted distractions with your finger.
If you feel confident in the digital darkroom, you can also use photo editing software to venture into graphic design. Adding bullet points to your product images can help shoppers to get a quick overview of the key features, and you can even construct composite photos that display your products in exotic locations.
To achieve these effects with some software would take plenty of practice and a good chunk of time. But not with Pixelcut.
Available to download free on iPhone and Android, our app allows you to snap product photos, replace backgrounds, and add text in one seamless workflow. You don’t need any special skill, and the whole process can take just a couple of minutes.
Want to go beyond product photos? Pixelcut can help with that, too. We have a wide range of templates for ecommerce platforms, social media posts, and much more.
Download Pixelcut today to discover just how easy creative product photography can be!