How to take pictures of products

I’ve talked about how to take better pictures of people, and food before - today let’s look at products. I’m guessing this might be helpful for a few of you, if you’re thinking of setting up your own online shop, and want a few tips on how to improve your product photography.

As with food photography, a few simple steps can really help you take some great product photos.

1. Working environment & getting ready
Before you start make sure you’ve got a nice environment to work in. Enough space to move around is important, having your products ready (and possibly your model), some props you might use, etc. You don’t want to realise you’re actually missing an important product/piece of work once you’ve started shooting. So be organised.

2. Simple backdrop
Using a simple and clean backdrop and background will place the focus on your product. You don’t want anything to distract from it, after all it’s the product you want to sell and not something else lying around, or the surface you’re presenting it on. Also think about the colour - I’d usually go for white since it won’t take the attention off the product, and it will be easy on the eye in combination with your product’s colour (no matter what colour that is).

3. Light
Again. Exactly the same as last time, and as always. A lot of natural daylight will always be the number one tip.

4. Perspective
I’ve mentioned this before as well - experiment. Try some close-ups, general wide shots, shoot from above, from the side, etc. If you’ve got a good selection of photos to choose from when it comes to editing down, you’ll automatically see what works and what doesn’t look so great.
Also, you want to make sure your potential buyer gets a good idea of what the product looks and feels like. So try to capture textures and details.

4. Context
Depending on what it is you’re photographing/selling you might want to show the item in context. E.g. if you’re selling kitchen utensils don’t just photograph a single fork. Place it next to other pieces of cutlery, photograph it with food, some plates, etc.

5. Tell a story
This one is similar to the previous point. Telling a story will help your customers imagine the product in use.
Let’s say you’re selling socks (yeah, I know, pretty random example). Put them on someone’s feet. And then don’t just photograph the feet, but also try a full body shot. And then photograph the socks lying on the bed after they’ve been taken off. Invent a scene, and be creative.

6. Editing
If you want to get a bit more advanced, consider editing your photos. It doesn’t need to be Photoshop, you just want to be able to crop, adjust brightness and contrast, and colour correct. It really makes a difference.

I hope this will help if you’re thinking about setting up an online store and need to take some product photos, or even if you just want to improve your still life photography a bit.
Do you have any tips or advice that you've found helpful when photographing products?


  1. This is great advice! I love the pictures!


  2. Thanks so much, this has been super-helpful! :)

    And also quite useful, since I am already planning to release more products once my exams are over, so this is perfect timing :).

    1. I'm so glad I could help. I remember you suggesting a post like this, so I really hope it will be useful soon :)

  3. I find it helpful to set my camera down first and look at the object for different angles. Then to pick up the camera and do that again, not trying too hard but just snapping some photos to get a feel. Then I look through those photos and see what needs tweaking. Oftentimes those initial photos end up being my favorite.

    Kate from Clear the Way

    1. That's so true, Kate! Thanks for sharing. I find that too, usually the first few photos I take end up being my favourites. I believe it's our intuition that knows what will work nicely. ;)

  4. this is SO helpful! i don't have a DSLR and i worry so much that Etsy buyers aren't finding my jewelry appealing because of my poor photos. i keep trying different light and background, but the idea of telling a story really appeals to me! i'm a creative writer, so i guess that's why it makes sense--but if i can get people to see the story, hopefully my products will resonate with people.

    thanks for writing this!

    1. Aww, thank you so much, Kristyn! I believe you don't always need a DSLR, it's just a tool after all. When you buy things in a real shop you get the opportunity to touch the items, which I believe makes buyers feel more attached to the product. You can't really do that online, but if you help potential buyers imagine owning the product (e.g. by telling a story), I think that could help. :)
      Good luck with your shop!