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The modern seller's guide to eCommerce photography

ecommerce photography

Most people won’t buy what they can’t see. 

The challenge is, in eCommerce, you have fewer ways to get your products in front of the right people—let alone prove the value of your wares.

This is why having high-quality, intentionally shot product photos is vital to your online store’s success. With a growing number of sellers competing for buyers’ attention, you need to nail first impressions, right from the first product photo. 

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to capture appealing images. In this guide, we’ll run through the basics of eCommerce photography and give you practical tips for capturing your products in the best light possible. 

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The importance of eCommerce photography for your online store: key benefits 

Think about the last few times you shopped online. You can likely remember a situation when you stumbled across a new brand and made a split-second decision about whether or not it was worth your time. How many of those decisions were based on the product photos? 

The truth of the matter is, photos are probably the most attention-grabbing elements of any product page or ad that your eCommerce business creates. (One study reports that a whopping 75% of online shoppers rely on product photos to make purchasing decisions.)

The quality of your images conveys the professionalism and credibility behind your brand while setting the right expectations around the fit, size, material, quality and/or ease of use of your product. Ultimately, strong product photography can serve to: 

  • Increase sales

  • Lower return rates or bracketing

  • Improve brand image

  • Cultivate trust and loyalty 

8 types of eCommerce photography

Your shot list could include many different shots (not all of which are listed here). However, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with eight of the most popular types of product photos among online sellers. 

01. Packaging shots 

Packaging shots (a.k.a. “packshots”) focus on the “outer garments” of your product. It may showcase the box that your product gets shipped in and/or the labels covering the product itself. Packshots can assure customers that your products will arrive to them safely. 

Or, in the case of Muted Luxe, packaging shots can elevate the perceived value of your brand; they can demonstrate the care that your brand puts into every detail, from the packaging to the product itself. 

example of a package shot in ecommerce photography
Source: Muted Luxe

Similarly, packshots can teach buyers how to identify authentic products from fake ones.

Best for: Premium or fragile products to demonstrate the quality and protectiveness of your branded packaging. 

02. 360-degree photography

A 360-photo photo mimics the in-store shopping experience by allowing customers to view a product from every angle. They provide an extra layer of confidence, especially when it comes to high-end products (such as bags, jewelry and watches). 360 photos are large files, so make sure they aren’t dragging down your page speed. 

Best for: High-end or customizable products that require a high degree of confidence or persuasion before purchasing. 

03. Close-up shots

Close-up shots (a.k.a. “detail” or “macro” shots) zoom into the finer details of your product. They highlight features that may be easily missed in a normal-sized photo. For instance, Jērome Studio magnifies the careful stitching of its leather card holder, drawing attention to the craftsmanship.

example of a close-up shot in ecommerce photography
Source: Jērome Studio

In another instance, close-up shots can set realistic expectations (e.g., if you sell second-hand goods and need to point out any blemishes). 

Best for: Any type of product to show texture, quality and special features. 

04. Scale shots

Scale shots are meant to provide a frame of reference for size by placing your product next to another item. This type of eCommerce photography is often used when the size of an item is a deciding factor in its sale. For example, AliceBlue Florist uses scale shots to illustrate the actual size of a “petite” bouquet in relation to the other sizes of bouquets it offers. Within the same shot, the store captures a human model for extra reference. 

example of a scale shot in ecommerce photography
Source: AliceBlue Florist

Best for: Products where size is often a deciding factor or easily confused without seeing in person. 

05. Individual shots 

As the name suggests, individual shots focus on just one product at a time. This is probably the most common way to photograph items that are sold online, as it leaves no room for confusion; the product that’s featured in the photo is the item that’s available for purchase.

Many eCommerce sites will post individual shots of every variation of their product, i.e., if you sell a shirt in various patterns and colors, each variation will have its own shot. You can also create a sense of abundance and choice by displaying these separately on your category pages, as opposed to taking one photo of the full collection. 

Best for: Any product, especially when shooting cover photos or banner images for your site. 

06. Group shots

Group shots are useful for showing multiple variations of a product in one frame. They can lead to larger purchases by promoting products as sets or demonstrating how multiple items can be used together. This type of eCommerce photography can be especially useful when capturing photos for hero images, social media or ads. 

As an example, Lee Cooper uses a group shot to showcase its denim collection in all of its glory, right at the top of its homepage. 

example of a group shot in ecommerce photography

Best for: Products that are sold as kits or collections. 

07. Process shots

Process shots give you a behind-the-scenes look at how you started your business or how products are made. While they’re usually reserved for handmade items, process shots can foster a deeper connection with customers for any business type by spotlighting the humans behind your brand or the care you put into products.  

Take a page out of Danny D’s Mudshop’s book. The site features multiple process shots to show exactly how this Los Angeles-based potter turns “mud into REALLY NICE ceramics.” 

example of a process shot in ecommerce photography
Source: Danny D Mudshot

Best for: Handmade or luxury products. 

08. Lifestyle shots

Lifestyle images show your products in action and suggest how they can be used in real life. It helps customers visualize themselves using the product, or see the impact items can make on their lives.

Vivi et Margot does an exceptionally good job at using lifestyle shots to draw viewers in. In some instances, Vivi’s photos demonstrate how to use products, like in the example below. Other times, they pull buyers into warm kitchen scenes, where a home chef might be donning one of Vivi’s aprons while cooking up a meal.  

example of a lifestyle shot in ecommerce photography
Source: Vivi et Margot

Best for: Products that are used daily or require demonstration. 

Traditional photography vs. computer-generated imagery in eCommerce: which should you use?

Aside from the types of shots you could take, there are two popular ways to generate images: 

  • Traditional photography: The good ol’ point-and-shoot method, requiring physical equipment, lights and human models.

  • Computer-generated imagery (CGI): The “new age” method of using specialized tech to create photorealistic content, such as 3D models. 

The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s very common to take a photograph and use computer graphics (a la tools like AI image editors) to add white backgrounds, swap out models and showcase every possible combination of products without exhausting human resources. 

In general, CGI allows for greater creativity and consistency across product images. It’s an approach that IKEA has used for years (chances are, you may have been one of many who were fooled by its coiffed catalog images, 75% of which were discovered to be “fake” 3D renderings). Today, the company continues to work with CGI and virtual influencers to pump out marketing materials quickly for its global audience. 

But while CGI is on the rise (thanks to the proliferation of AI tools and virtual models), for most, relying entirely on CGI could pose risks as it relates to the accurate portrayal of your products. 

Reserve CGI for things like:

  • Lifestyle or creative shots, e.g., promotional photoshoots that would ordinarily require a hefty budget to hire human staff and travel. CGI lets you create any background or environment to match your brand aesthetic. 

  • Complex or customizable products like furniture, tech or apparel with lots of variations. CGI allows you to create multiple photorealistic images featuring different variations without needing physical samples for each option.

  • Pre-order or soon-to-come products, where CGI can help build anticipation before the real things hit the shelves. Just make sure that it’s clear that your product is still in production.

  • Difficult-to-photograph items like fragile or intricate items with features that might be better highlighted digitally.

  • 360-degree photos. CGI can generate these views quickly and efficiently.

Factors that impact the cost of eCommerce photography 

Before you get down to business, take some time to evaluate your budget and calculate how to get the best bang for your buck. The price of a photo shoot can vary widely depending on several factors, including:

  • Your photographer's experience: If you choose to hire a professional, a seasoned professional will typically charge more than beginners. This may also be true if they specialize in a particular product photography niche.

  • The number of products: Generally, the more items that need photographing, the higher the cost in terms of resources, props and other required equipment.

  • Complexity of shoots: Some products may require intricate setups or additional props, while others can be shot with minimal equipment and props. 

  • Post-production editing: Retouching and editing photos to perfection takes time and skill. You may need to afford specific software and/or hire a professional.

  • Studio rental: If you don't have an in-house studio, renting a space can be a significant expense.

  • Equipment: You may want to invest in high-quality cameras, lenses and lighting equipment, which you can either purchase or rent. If you’re on a budget, a smartphone could suffice.

  • Models: If your products require human models, their fees will add to the shoot's cost.

  • Location: Shooting on location might involve travel expenses and location fees.

  • Usage rights: This comes into play if you plan to supplement your product photos with any stock images or graphics. You may need to pay a licensing fee to use these images for commercial purposes. 

How to take eCommerce photos on your own  

Ready to roll your sleeves up and get started? Below are six steps to creating an in-house studio, where you can comfortably snap shots of your products without draining your wallet. Note: this guide focuses on simple studio photography, and does not include instructions for photoshoots requiring models, new locations or additional props. 

how to take eCommerce photos: 7 basic steps

01. Find the right space and equipment for your studio

First things first, you need to make sure that your space is set up properly. Between finding the right location to staging your products well, here are several things to bear in mind.


Find a space in your home or workspace that gets good natural light and is large enough to accommodate your products and any equipment you need while giving you extra space to work. Make sure the area has enough outlets where you can plug in any necessary equipment. 


Lighting is key to clear, high-quality photos. If natural light is limited, invest in proper lighting to ensure consistent photo quality. (Also, consider how natural lighting can shift during a session and whether extra lighting could still help.)

At a minimum, you’ll want to outfit your studio with:

  • One reliable light source (either natural or studio lighting)

  • A diffuser (this can be as simple as a white bed sheet or white sheet of paper that you use to cover your windows to soften the light) 

  • A white bounce board (e.g., white poster board or foam board for placing on the opposite side of your light source to bounce light back onto your product for even lighting) 

A more complex studio setup may involve other equipment like light stands, lightboxes, light cones (which are especially useful for shooting highly reflective objects), speedlights or strobe lights.      


Your camera setup can be as simple or as advanced as you need. The simplest, most budget-friendly way is to use a smartphone with a high-resolution camera. In addition to your phone, you’ll likely want to carry a tripod with a mobile grip that keeps your phone steady. 

Alternatively, you could invest in a DSLR camera. These can be paired with various lenses, such as a macro lens for close-ups, that give you greater control over your image. 


As a general rule of thumb, use a pure white backdrop when shooting your product photos. A white backdrop will reflect light more evenly across your products, plus allow you to more easily adjust the background from your editing software. White-background images are also one of the most universally accepted types of product photos and are required by marketplaces like Amazon. 

You can order a white sweep online or use white craft paper. If you’re in a pinch, you can shoot your product against a white wall or white flat sheet. 

Table (small objects)

When photographing small items, you’ll likely want to set up a table that can provide a stable shooting surface. Alternatively, you can use a chair or stool. 

Backdrop stands (large objects)

If you’re planning to photograph large items, like furniture, you may want to purchase stands that can hold your white backdrop in place. Alternatively, you can tape your backdrop to a wall. 

02. Set up your shooting area 

For small objects

Arrange your table close to your window or other light source. It also helps to put your table against a wall or another sturdy surface that can hold your paper backdrop in place (alternatively, you can use white foam boards that can be propped up). 

If you’re using a window, place your table at a 90-degree angle, so the light is hitting the side of your table for a softer effect. You can always adjust this placement later if you want to achieve a different look, such as a more dramatic effect created by harsh light. 

Affix your white bed sheet (or other diffuse) to your window (or other light source). The goal here is to get as much light on your shooting surface while softening the light so there isn’t any glare or shadow. For this reason, you want to avoid direct sunlight on your table. 

Lastly, arrange your white paper backdrop so that it covers the bottom and backside of your shooting area. Try to avoid any wrinkles or creases, and instead allow the paper to curve as it transitions from wall to tabletop. This will serve as the “stage” for your product, providing a seamless backdrop for your photos.

For large objects

Set up your stand-mounted sweep or tape your backdrop to a wall that’s adjacent to your main light source. Similar to above, you’ll want to soften your lighting and do what you can to avoid harsh shadows. Some photographers may choose to use overhead lighting instead of angled lighting for a more evenly distributed light. Or, you may find yourself needing at least two sources of light. 

03. Prepare your product

Once you’ve got your shooting area set up, get your products ready for their big debut. Start by collecting all the products you want to shoot, including samples of every variation you offer. Check for any blemishes, smudges or creases that need to be addressed before shooting.

Pro tip: At this point, it’s helpful to create a shot list cataloging all the products you plan on photographing during your session. This can help you work more efficiently—giving you a clear list of products and photo arrangements to check off as you work. 

As it regards placing your product in your shooting area, you may need extra time and a few test shots to position it exactly the way you want. For example, delicate items like jewelry may need to be displayed on a bust. Or, products with prominent labels and packaging may need to be facing a specific way. Similarly, if you’re selling bundled products or pairs of shoes, you may want to explore various ways to arrange your items. 

04. Prepare your camera 

It’s almost time to start clicking away. Before you do, take a moment to look at your camera’s settings. 

If you’re using a smartphone, turn off the flash. Set your phone on a tripod to avoid any camera shake. Note that as you take photos, you’ll want to avoid using the zoom function—which will compromise photo quality—and instead move your phone physically closer to your item as needed. 

If you’re using a professional camera, set your camera to a slow shutter speed and a high f-stop (like f/16) to get a greater depth of field (which, in turn, will keep most of the background in focus). Use as low of an ISO as possible (100 to 200) to avoid graininess, and set your camera to the highest image quality option (preferably RAW). 

Play around with white balance on your camera. A preset balance may work just fine, or you may choose to set it manually. 

05. Take your shot (and heed eCommerce photography best practices)

There are numerous ways to compose your shot, and your technique will vary depending on your particular equipment, product and other factors. 

Regardless of how you plan to arrange your shot, make sure to keep your lighting as consistent as possible throughout your shoot, using diffusers and white bounce boards as needed. As noted earlier, a diffuser will help to soften light while bounce boards will reflect light back onto your set to fill shadows. Another important note: turn off all other lights in your room, excluding your studio lights, to avoid discoloring. 

 Now, when you’re taking your photos, pay attention to these product photography tips

  • Photograph your items from all angles. While you might start with the classic front shot of your item, you’ll want to test various angles to give your customer a 360-degree view of your product. Test profile shots, high-level angles, low angles and more that help your customers see all the details of your item. Think about how customers might pick up and examine your object in real life, and use this to guide your shots.

  • Think about commonly asked questions. Consider the questions customers tend to have before purchasing a product like yours. Do they often ask about the texture of your item? If so, take a close-up of the fabric. Do they want to see the inside of your item? Devote several photos to just capturing the inner details. 

  • Apply the rule of odds. The rule of odds taps into the idea that by displaying an odd number of objects in a photo, you can create a more interesting viewing experience. It’s theorized that an odd number creates tension in viewers’ minds, as opposed to an even number, which can feel predictable and easy to organize. An odd number of objects can simultaneously create more balance by drawing the eye to the item in the middle.

  • Test your aperture. Though we advise starting with a large aperture and a greater depth of field, you may, in actuality, prefer a lower aperture. A low aperture and less depth of field means that the object closest to the camera will be in focus; the background objects will be blurrier. This may be good for lifestyle shots, where products are intentionally shot against a more dynamic background.

  • Obey the rule of thirds. This time-tested technique describes a type of off-center composition. It starts with dividing your shot into a 3x3 grid, then placing your primary subject or points of interest along the lines and intersections. For example, Woodpecker Instruments uses this approach in its hero image, where one of its handmade guitars is positioned along a vertical line.

Ecommerce photography tactic: rule of thirds
Background image source: Woodpecker Instruments

06. Touch up your photos 

After snapping your shots, make sure they’re publish-ready. 

If you use a website builder like Wix for your online store, you already have some built-in photo-editing tools that can help. From the Wix Photo Studio, you can crop photos, swap out backgrounds and make other adjustments—or access AI eCommerce tools for erasing objects, enhancing your photos and more. 

Create a Wix account for free today. 

Outside of Wix, you can use web tools like Canva. There are also mobile apps like Apple Photos or VSCO. Or, you can use more advanced software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. 

As you finetune your photos, remember these post-production tips:

  • Avoid distorting your photos. Remember that, unlike the photos you might be posting to Instagram, your product photos are first and foremost meant to portray your products accurately. Make subtle adjustments rather than applying filters or other changes that distort the image.

  • Correct any discoloring. If you notice that your lighting looks a little off in your images, try to balance out the colors at the editing stage so that they appear truer to reality.

  • Be consistent. Think about where your photos will be displayed. Prioritize consistency in how you crop or retouch photos, especially among feature and thumbnail images. While promotional photos (e.g., photos for social media or ads) allow for more spunk and creativity, any photos for your product pages should focus on providing a smooth shopping experience. 

  • Optimize your photos for faster loading. Raw image files tend to be large and bulky. It’s best to resize and export photos as smaller (yet crisp) files so you don’t end up weighing down your website performance. The good thing is, the best eCommerce platforms like Wix will automatically resize your images for optimal quality and loading times so you don’t have to compress images by hand.

Learn more: Ecommerce tools

07. Add your product photos to your site  

Take your final photos and add them to your online store. As you do so, make sure to pay attention to these best practices: 

  • Create a uniform look, particularly on your category and product pages. Make sure your pages are easy on the eyes by committing to a certain style of photos. For example, you’ll notice that many eCommerce sites will use white-background photos as feature images to provide a clean, distraction-free experience.

  • Provide multiple images. Each product page should include multiple shots of your product to help buyers make decisions with greater confidence. Think about the assortment of photos that help to address common questions that people have about your product. For instance, scale shots may clear up questions about sizing, while lifestyle shots may demonstrate the practicality of your product.  

  • Enable photo zoom. Allow customers to zoom in on images to see finer details. On Wix, you can enable visitors to open full-screen images in a pop-up window and/or zoom into photos using a magnifying glass.

  • Alt text. Make sure to include alt text for every image, which is crucial for SEO and accessibility. Your alt text should be descriptive without being too lengthy.

How to hire professional services

Sometimes, a DIY approach to taking photos for your eCommerce site might be impractical, especially if you're dealing with a large volume of products or need images that require specialized photography skills. 

This is when you should consider hiring a professional photographer. Professional photographers bring expertise and high-end equipment that can elevate your product images. They can also offer creative direction for lifestyle shots or provide models if needed.

To find a professional service, start by searching for "eCommerce photography near me" or visit online platforms that connect businesses with freelance photographers. You can search channels like the Wix Marketplace, Thumbtack and 

When working with professionals, communicate your brand vision clearly, provide examples of what you're looking for and discuss the project scope in detail.

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