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The Importance of Good Product Photography and Tips and Tricks for Getting Amazon Shots

So you’ve just imported hundreds or thousands of a particular widget from China. Congratulations! Now one of the first things you need to do is include amazing photographs and other media for your products.

Great product photographs won’t just help you sell more product, it will also help you get higher prices for your products. I’ve watched our products consistently outsell our competitors, who source the exact same products from the exact same factories, simply because we have a few better pictures.

If you’re selling your products online, which many of you are, photos are one of the single most important things for selling your product. Here are some general tips for product photos that we’ll discuss in more detail below:

  • Only include amazing photographs: favor quality over quantity
  • Have at least one display photograph on a plain white background
  • Consider including high quality action/on-location shots in addition to a display photograph
  • Be leery of using Supplier supplied photographs
  • Show all parts and accessories that are included

Only Include Amazing Photographs: Aim for a Large Quantity of Quality Photographs and Always Favor Quality over Quantity

Great product photos are going to make or break your product sales, therefore you need to spend an incredible amount of time taking them. It’s not uncommon for us to spend 1-2+ hours per photograph, including taking the photo and editing the photo. Remember, taking the actual photograph is only part of the equation. A lot of the magic comes from editing the photo later.

Product photography- horse saddles

A high quality display photograph gives your product a premium, high quality, feel

More high-quality photos are almost always better, and a good rule of thumb is to aim for 4-7 photos. However, do not include a large number of product photographs taken with your iPhone, while sitting on coffee table, completely unedited, you immediately cheapen your brand. You’re better off simply not including these photographs.

An SLR, which will set you back about $500 for an entry level model, is an extremely good investment. An equally good investment is to find a generous friend who will lend you one. However, iPhone and Samsung both have surprisingly good cameras in their phones which can take reasonable enough photographs, with enough editing, if you’re in a bind.

Have a Least One Display Photograph on a Plain White Background

You should have at least one high quality photograph of the product on a white background (or a plain colored background if selling a light colored product). No matter what channel you’re selling your products on, such a photograph is essential to giving a professional feel for both your company and its products.

Using a light tent (my company uses a cheap Cow Boy Studio 42″ Light Box like here) will really increase the professionalism of your photos and also make editing them much easier. However, you can accomplish something similar by simply using a plain colored sheet and doing a considerable amount of Photoshopping. Like any photography, lighting is key and you will need at least a couple of high wattage lights for maximum effect.

product photography setup

My company uses a phone tent setup similar to the one shown here.

Unless you’re very comfortable and skilled in Photoshop, it’s worth while to use Fiverr to have someone edit your photographs once you have taken them. Moreover, it’s worth considering paying a company to do all of your product photography for you.  I use which charges about $20-30 per photo for incredible white background photographs, however, you have to pay for freight to and from their studio in New Mexico so the overall cost works out to be about $50 per photo.  It only takes a couple of additional sales of your product to pay this off.

Many of us will be considering selling on Amazon or eBay. You should review their main image photo requirements (Amazon Requirements here, eBay Requirements here) for a couple of reasons. First, because it keeps you in both of those company’s good books and second because their requirements are good general advice. Here are some highlights of their requirements that are good general practices:

  • The image must not contain gratuitous or confusing additional objects (Amazon requirement)
  • The full product must be in frame (Amazon requirement)
  • The image must be in focus, professionally lit and photographed or scanned, with realistic color, and smooth edges (Amazon requirement)
  • All photos must be at least 500 pixels on the longest side of the picture (eBay Requirement)

In my experience, Amazon is lot more strict about enforcing their photo requirements than eBay.

Consider Including a High Quality Action/On-Location Shots in Addition to a Display Photograph

High quality action photographs of your item being used allow consumers to imagine themselves using your product and put themselves in the moment or, in other words, ‘buy the dream’. Including action shots has resulted in some of our product sales increasing many times over.


Action shots can help put your consumers ‘in the moment’ and increase the sales of your product

In addition, if your product has multiple uses, showing action shots of your item being used for these various uses can help your conversions greatly. You see car manufacturers doing this all the time: an SUV is shown driving off-road, loading groceries into the back, and driving around the city. People do not want to have to guess as to whether they can use your product for a particular use.

The problem with action shots is that they are even trickier to get right than display shots. Too often, the background takes away from the action photo and can confuse consumers. I work with a photographer who charges about $400 to take amazing action shots (email me for his contact information if you would like it). It’s pricey, but I have no doubt that his work paid for itself within a few weeks.

By Leery of Photos Your Supplier Gives You

When you import an item from China you should ask your Supplier to send you a couple of photographs for the item. However there’s a couple of things to be very cautious of when using such photos though:

  • Your Supplier will have a tendency to ‘borrow’ some photographs they find on the internet
  • The photos may be extremely low quality
  • Your competitors may be using these photos as well, resulting in your product just being an undifferentiated ‘me-too’ product

Of all of the Suppliers I deal with, I have only a couple who provide excellent, high resolution photographs. The rest either ‘borrow’ photographs from other companies or send very low quality photos taken against a dirty cement background in some dirty Chinese warehouse. There’s nothing that screams “cheap Chinese product” more than a dirty product photograph with a couple of Chinese factory workers standing in the background!

Even if your Supplier provides excellent high quality images I am often hesitant to use these. First, if a consumer finds a competitor using the same exact photographs, they know it’s the same exact product, and you will lose their business if your product isn’t the lowest. Second, it allows competitors to more easily determine what Suppliers you’re using for your products.

Show All Parts and Accessories that are Included

It goes without saying that if your product includes important parts or accessories, you should detail them in the product description. However, even better than including it in the product description (which internet scanning consumers are likely to miss) is to include photographs of the product. Those parts and accessories may just be the tipping point that changes a consumer from clicking Back to clicking Buy.

Do You Have Any Other Product Photography Tips? Comment Below

Do you have any other tips for taking great product photographs? Have you made any tweaks to your existing photographs and seen performance increases? If so, share them below.

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