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What Makes the Best Product Photography? 8 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

September 13, 2019

If you want the best product photography on display for your eCommerce store, avoid these 8 common mistakes at all costs.

The best product photography is one of the most vital components of any eCommerce store.

Your product photos are often the only visual frame of reference customers have when shopping online. Displaying several high-quality, accurate product photos is one of the best ways to improve your conversion rates and attract more repeat customers.

In contrast, bad quality photos on your eCommerce site can have the opposite effect. Customers are far less likely to buy an item if your product photos are unclear, out of focus, or badly lit. And, even if they do buy something, the most common reason for returning a product is because it looks different in reality.  

But what's the key to taking great product photos? Read on to find out our top product photography tips, as well as the common mistakes to avoid.

What is Product Photography?

In eCommerce, product photography should aim to compensate for the customer not being able to view, touch, and try out your products for themselves. Whatever you're selling, customers have to rely on your product photos to learn enough to make a purchase.

As such, product photos are distinct from lifestyle photos of your products. Lifestyle product photos include complementary items, models, and locations alongside your products. This technique creates an emotional attachment to the featured products and helps drive sales.

Both product and lifestyle photos are essential for any brand, but they have different functions and fulfill different needs for the customer.

Lifestyle photos are ideal for social media content or advertising campaigns as a way of providing context for your products and a voice for your brand. In contrast, product photos in your eCommerce store should only focus on your products. These photos are what customers use to inform their final buying decision, meaning that they value clear and precise product photography above all else.

Common Product Photography Mistakes to Avoid

After viewing your product photos, customers should have a good idea of what the product looks like in real life — which is the main goal of product photography.

But all too often, eCommerce companies and sellers are guilty of displaying poor product photos which do nothing to inform and attract their customers.

Here are some of the biggest product photography mistakes to avoid:

1. Poor Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for the photos you use to represent your products online. Common lighting mistakes include the use of direct light, the wrong color light for the product, or a lack of adequate brightness.

A professional photographer will know how to photograph products while balancing all the light sources to ensure that your product images have the right amount of brightness, shade, and highlights.

2. Crowded Background

A busy background is a common product photo error as it diverts attention from the product for sale.

Your product photography background should not be distracting in any way. Often, this means a white background is the best choice.

With a white background, you can be sure that the product in question is the sole focus of the photo. This makes it easier for customers to see when scrolling and ensures that the photo shows a clear and accurate representation of the product.

3. No Variety of Angles

If you only have one or two photos of a product, this is a surefire way to dissuade a customer from buying it.

A product's main photo, or 'hero image', will help to attract your customers' attention when scrolling. But once they click on that product, they expect to see a range of different images to get a better understanding of the product's form and features.

This means you need to capture every product from as many angles as possible to offer customers a true and accurate representation. Customers want to see side-views, back-views, and close-ups, as well as photos focusing on the color, texture, and any key details.

4. No White Balance

While a range of photos from different angles will give customers a good idea of a product's appearance, it's vital to represent the colors of the product as accurately as possible too. A poor representation of product color is a big source of dissatisfaction in customers and a key reason for returning a product.

To avoid this, you should adjust the white balance of your product photos. White balance involves capturing the image to represent the true color temperature of the products. The temperature should be neither too cool nor too warm, and should instead show an accurate representation of the products as they appear to the eye.

5. Inconsistency

Different-sized photos or images with different backgrounds is confusing for your customers and can discredit your products. This is why another vital component of good product photography is consistency across images.

It's also important to keep the focal length, crop, and direction the same for each of your product images. Doing so ensures a good customer experience and makes switching between images easy and seamless.

6. Lack of Size Reference

Consistent image sizing across all your product photos looks more professional when customers scroll through your gallery. But it does mean that it's not always easy to appreciate the size of a product.

And, although your product descriptions should include measurements and size charts where necessary, these can be difficult for customers to appreciate in real terms.

While most of your photos will have a plain white background, it can be helpful to include one or two photos showing the product in use. This is especially practical for companies selling products like clothing and accessories.

Using mannequins or models provides a frame of reference for the fit, size, and usage, and gives customers a better idea of how the products would look on them.

7. Out of Focus Images

Out of focus photos may fail to provide an adequate representation of the product, especially if the photo fails to capture key details with clarity. This then has a negative effect on customer persuasion as potential buyers will not feel confident about the product's true appearance.

To avoid this, a professional photographer will know how to photograph products to ensure clear images with sharp lines, even in extreme close-ups.

Achieving the Best Product Photography

Even the best product photography can't replace all aspects of the in-store shopping experience.

But, your product photos should be precise, clear, and varied enough to give customers the best visual representation of your products as possible.

Want more product photography tips? Feel free to contact us with any questions or queries, or send us a message using the form below!

Kyle Nelson

About the Author

Kyle Nelson, CEO of Results Imagery has a background in media, branding and marketing. With past start-up success and noticing an emerging need in premium eCommerce media services, he co-founded Results Imagery; allowing the industry to have a full-service studio option serving national clientele ranging from fortune 500 companies to small mom-and-pop boutiques.