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When customers can’t interact with your products in person, they can find it hard to visualise exactly what they’ll be buying. That’s why good product photography is an important part of running any online retail business.
By putting additional effort into taking your product photography, you can help give potential customers a better idea of what your products are like. Not only that, but good photos can also help give your brand more credibility.
Interested in developing your photography skills? Keep reading our guide to learn some top tips on how to make your product photography clearer, more exciting, and more professional.
Product photography is using an image to sell a product. This can be anything from a model wearing clothes on a fashion website to a picture of the homemade pasta sauce you sell. It’s sometimes also known as commercial photography.
The goal of these photos is to convince a potential customer to buy the product – that means you need to make sure it looks its best while also giving an accurate representation of what the product does.
Your product photography will likely appear alongside a written description of the item on your company website or your social media channels. You’ll also use Amazon product photography if you sell your products on Amazon.
While product photography is often mostly associated with ecommerce businesses, product photography can also be used in your small business to show services as well as goods. For example, if you run a small construction company or work as a freelance gardener, taking your own product photography can be a great way to show the work you do – even if you’re not using it to sell an actual product.
You don’t need to be an expert photographer to take good product photography. Follow these six simple steps to take amazing photos for your small business.
One of the most important things you need to consider when taking photos for your business is the lighting. Lighting can truly make or break your photos. Proper lighting can highlight all the details, textures, and colours of your products – as well as making your photos look more professional.
Make sure you avoid shadows which can cover important details of your products. Be conscious of where you take your photos to avoid this – think about where the sun is in the sky if you’re using natural lighting or if anything around you is casting a shadow if shooting with indoor lighting.
Wherever possible, make sure you’re using natural light to take your photos. Shoot close to a window but try to avoid direct sunlight as this is when shadows tend to appear. You may be surprised, but overcast days are often the best times to take your product photography.
If you can’t use direct sunlight, you can manipulate your lighting in a variety of ways – often with things you already have around the home. White bed sheets and shower curtains can work as impromptu light diffusers to help soften intense light. Aluminium foil can also be used as a DIY reflector, which bounces light onto your product to reduce shadows.
It might take a bit of experimenting but with practice you’ll find a method that works for you.
The background of your photos can be just as important as the subject. When setting up different product photography shots, make sure you have a clean and uncluttered background.
Backgrounds are versatile. You can choose a simple white sheet or photo board – or go all out with complimentary patterns. Not only does this help your product to stand out but can also produce better photos, which can help create a professional look for your business.
As well as having a clean background, you can also play around with other objects in your photos – as long as you don’t take the focus away from your product. One trick often used by photographers is ‘the rule of three’. Using two extra complimentary items can help guide the eye of the viewer to look at the main subject.
Experiment with different angles and compositions to find what works best for your business.
Every product has something that makes it special – so use your product photography to highlight this. Including close-up shots in your product photography can give your audience a better idea of what exactly they’re buying.
A common trick used by ecommerce companies in their product photography is to show their product in use. By including images that demonstrate how the product is used, your customers can better visualise how your product will benefit them.
An example of this could be your handmade ceramics – how about a picture of someone cradling one of your mugs in a cosy, softly lit room? Or if you design your own clothes, why not take photos of them in the places they’d be most likely to be worn?
Whether you’re selling small batch coffee or cleaning supplies, action shots can be a great way to liven up your product photography. This works particularly well for selling products on Instagram.
Editing (often called post-production) is another important step when doing your own product photography. Using editing software after taking your photos can help you fix those minor mistakes you missed before.
There’s plenty of free and easy to use editing software available – your mobile phone may even have one already installed. Some ways you can use editing tools include adjusting brightness and shadows or editing contrast and basic colour correction – some even come with the ability to erase any imperfections on your products, such as marks or smudges.
Make sure not to rely completely on editing as this can make your photos look less authentic. Only edit sparingly and when you truly feel you need to. Practice also makes perfect, so don’t worry if you can’t figure out how to use an editing software straight away. Stick with the basics until you’re more confident.
Your product photography can also be a good way to establish your branding. By keeping a consistent theme for your product photography style, you can build a more recognisable and cohesive brand identity.
The backgrounds you use, your approach to editing, the models in your photos, and even the overall vibe of the image can all help influence your style. Play around and see what works best for you and your business. Remember that it takes time to build a brand you’re proud of.
It’s important to know that you don’t need the best and most expensive camera to take good product photography. Nowadays, most smartphones have excellent camera quality and will be more than enough. As long as you prioritise having good lighting, you can use your smartphone to take the photos for your business.
Photographer and graphic designer Liam Richardson agrees, saying: "Nowadays everyone has an amazing portable pocket size camera –otherwise known as your phone. And they’re mostly always within arms reach at all times, so everyone is capable of taking their phone out and taking a photo.
"I think the most important aspect of photography as a whole is lighting, so remember to use it to your advantage. Find a well lit corner next to a window and place your product facing the window so the light highlights it. This way, you’ll get an amazing picture which is an accurate description of your product.”
Still looking for some product photography tips? Check out or guide on food photography for your small business for even more ways to take excellent photos – as well as advice from a former food photographer.
Do you take your own product photography? What’s the best advice you can give to those starting out? Let us know in the comments below.
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Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.
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