How to Take Product Images That Sell

Use a contrasting background, lighting, different points of view and different compositions to create professional-looking product photos on your own.
A photographer holds up a camera.

At the top of any bestselling product page is an excellent image -- one that speaks to the buyer, shows all the item's details and ultimately results in sales. But if your business is in selling products, chances are you're not a professional photographer with the know-how to get those excellent product shots. And while hiring a pro is the best way to go, small businesses usually can't afford the luxury.

But you can take your own product shots, and you can take shots that sell, if you follow a few basics tips.

Use a High Contrast Background

You want your product to stand out from the competition, so make your photos stand out, too. Use a background that contrasts with the product—if your product is white or light colored, use a black background and for dark objects use a light or white background. Avoid using backgrounds that are busy; choose something plain or very lightly patterned so that the product stands out.

Add Emphasis with Lighting

Make sure your photos are well lit, but avoid lighting that creates harsh shadows. You don't need an expensive lighting system for product photography. Try setting your backdrop near a window or use a lamp and experiment by moving it to different spots. If there's a certain part of the product that you would like to highlight over others, put the source of the light near that area, so that element is highlighted.

Use an Alternate Point of View

A common mistake for beginners (or non-photographers) is to take every picture at eye level. Alternate your point of view by taking pictures at different heights, especially if your product is small. If you can use more than one product photo on your listing, try adding another object to show scale, but take care that customers don't expect to receive everything in the photo.

Consider Composition

Don't automatically put the product in the center of the photo. Professionals commonly use the rule of thirds with the subject off-center. Imagine the picture is divided into thirds both vertically and horizontally, and try placing the focus of the photo where one of the lines intersect. Varying your composition adds interest, and may help it stand out from the competition.

There's a lot to learn about taking stunning product images, but by mastering a few basics you can improve your shots, even if you're not a professional photographer. Use a background with contrast, shoot in a well-lit area, try a few different points of view and experiment with different compositions.

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