When it comes to e-commerce, product photography is essential to a successful business. But hiring a professional photographer can be expensive and you might not have the money upfront. So what can you do? Don’t fret, because you don’t necessarily need a professional photographer to get awesome pictures of your photography.
My name is Greg Mercer and I am the CEO and founder of Jungle Scout, a software tool that helps people start and run their Amazon businesses. Whether a small or large Amazon business, or just a seperate online company, great product photography is essential.
Types of Product Photography
If you’re new to e-commerce, you may think that product photography is a simple photo on a white background. While that is part of it, there are so many more options which can help boost the perception of your product.
- White background: This is actually a requirement for Amazon’s product photography. The main product photo on display needs to be on a white background, but the rest can be different photos, such as an infographic or lifestyle photo. You can take a white background photo easily on your smartphone. Typically, using a backdrop covered in a white sheet can do the trick.
- Infographic: Infographics require the most design work, because they show more information that just a picture. Usually, infographics are used to show aspects of your product that might make it more appealing than your competitor’s product. Yet, there are many possibilities to how you can make an infographic; you can use a logo, measurements, a guarantee, or convey product features. You could use a program like Canva, which has free infographic templates.
- Lifestyle Images: Lifestyle images show someone using the product. This is where you want to really hone in on who your audience is, but more to come on that later. Lifestyle images can be vastly different, depending on what the product is.
Let’s look at the pros and cons to DIY vs. professional product photography. Both have their own challenges, so it’s important to consider all aspects when deciding how you want to progress with your product photography.
Tip #1: Lighting is everything
It may sound cliche, but lighting really is one of the most important aspects to product photography, and probably just photography in general. There are multiple ways you can do this: you can either invest in a lighting system, try to use natural light near a window, or take the photos outside.
The best way to make sure your lighting is correct is to use a lighting source, which you could find pretty cheap on Amazon. This will allow you to have the most control over the light. The weather and outside light may not always cooperate and could push back your launch date if you don’t have the perfect images.
But, it’s never a bad option to try to find natural light whether you position the product by a window or outside. You can always edit the exposure afterwards on your camera or smartphone.
Tip #2: Think about your target audience
As mentioned earlier, there are many different product photographs you can take. When you’re taking the lifestyle photos, you want to be thinking about who the main audience is for this product. That way, you can tailor the photograph to the audience in whatever way you think would be most useful.
For example, you wouldn’t want to be trying to sell a baby towel and have a photo of a dog wearing the towel. OK, that might be obvious (also cute and a little funny), but you see how it doesn’t exactly get your point across.
Another photo opportunity would be to point out specific features of your product. In that case, an infographic that highlights the important features might work best for the photograph.
Tip #3: Take too many pictures, then decide later
Take your time with your photos and take too many. Is your whole camera roll filled up with the product you’re trying to sell? Perfect. Taking photos from every angle may seem redundant at first but after going back through, you may find that a slight change in angle completely gets rid of glare or helps the exposure.
You can always go back and delete pictures but you want to make sure you get all the shots you need before you break down your photography set.
Tip #4: Check your competition
This may seem obvious but checking your competition can be a huge way to set your product apart. What is their first photo and is it working for them? How could you improve their lifestyle photography? Do they have an infographic?
You don’t want to have the same photos as them but if something is working for them, maybe you can try to channel that into your own photography. But more likely, you will find ways that you can improve the way consumers will view the product by looking at other photographs from products in that market.
Tip #5: Invest in basic photography gear
- Lightboxes: you can get small pop-up lightboxes which are fantastic for small products. These give you a super accessible backdrop to work with, and because they’re boxes, you can control the light a little more.
- Reflectors: if you are trying to utilize natural light, a reflector always comes in handy. However, you might need a spare pair of hands to hold it in place to bounce some natural light towards your product
- External lighting: you can get some neat portable LED lamps that are battery-powered, and can be easily propped up with a small tripod. This would be handy if you live in a darker country with less available sunlight.
- Tripod: whether you have an unsteady hand and want to stabilise your phone or camera, or if you want to purchase extra light sources, a few of these will certainly help you out.
Amazon Specific Rules
Many of these tips are universal, but some will be specific to Amazon based on their terms of service.
- The image must be the cover art or a professional photograph of the product being sold. Drawings or illustrations of the product are not allowed.
- Backgrounds must be pure white (for the main variant image)
- All other products should fill 85% or more of the image frame (for the main variant image).
One important point here is that Amazon does not allow any graphics, additional text, or inset images in the main images (examples here would be FDA Approved, 100% Guaranteed, or Money Back Guarantee etc.) So avoid any possibility of having a photo or listing pulled and don’t add anything to these main images but a big beautiful shot of the product!
Additionally, the product images must be an actual photo, and not a drawing, illustration, or graphic representation. This is particularly important to any Parent/Child products or color variations. For example, if you are selling red t-shirts and then digitally change the color of the image to be a blue t-shirt, you would be creating an altered image and not a photo of the actual blue t-shirt. That is a violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service, and would not make Jeff Bezos happy. No one wants to make him angry, so please take real photos of all products you list to sell on Amazon!
You can find all of the Amazon product requirements here.
With all that being said, sometimes you just don’t want to do your own product photography. Maybe you don’t have the time or maybe you don’t trust yourself behind the camera. I get it. So we created Jungle Market, a specific freelancing marketplace for Amazon specialists.
With the Jungle Market, you won’t have to browse through thousands of unqualified freelancers. The Jungle Marketplace offers only verified pros that have been fully vetted by the Jungle Scout team. And they offer a ton of resources to help guide you through the process.