How to Master Product Photography on a Tight Budget

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it can also be worth thousands of dollars in revenue. The most successful online selling channels for today’s retailers are the ones on which they post unique, high-quality images. You must learn how to take professional product photos.

5 DIY Product Photography Tips

So, to turn browsers into buyers, you need to show potential customers your products in their best light, including how they can be used or worn. This helps to put the images into a lifestyle frame of mind for customers, who can then identify with the usage of the item, or move on to another brand. But, before you just grab your phone and begin taking pictures of your goods while brunching, or at a cool art wall across the street, know this: 67% of consumers consider image quality “very important” when making a purchase online.

This makes sense. After all, an image of an online product is one of the only visual confirmations a user has before they pay. With brick-and-mortar, they can touch, try on and get an overall feel for the goods. Not so online –– so your product photos need to do some extra leg work for both you and your potential customer. You’ll need to show the real details and quality of your products in pixels rather than person.

Taking high-quality product photos should be a high priority for any online store, especially those looking to scale their operations. But, with limited bandwidth and expensive freelancing fees for professional photographers, it can be difficult for those with limited cash flow to produce the quality photos needed to generate an increase in conversions.

If this sounds like you, here are a few steps you can follow to produce incredible photos with these photography tools for as little as $50.

Get The Right Photography Equipment

The first thing you’ll need is a camera. Consumer DSLR cameras are getting more affordable every year, so if you plan on taking lots of products photos, it may make sense to invest in a good digital camera. But, if that isn’t in your budget right now, an iPhone can do the trick. Free apps like VSCOCam will help you get some pretty cool pictures out of a smartphone –– specifically channel-specific images that will do well on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, for instance.

To prove that product photography doesn’t have to be shot with expensive gear, several examples in this post were shot with my iPhone 5 using VSCOCam.

If you are using a DSLR, here are a few things to keep in mind when pulling together your gear:

  • Don’t use a wide angle lens. You will distort your product.
  • Use the right aperture for the right shot. A wide aperture like f2.8 or f4.5 will narrow your depth of field, leaving parts of your product out of focus. A small aperture like f8 or f11 will give you a wider depth of field, keeping your entire product crisp and in focus.
  • Use the correct white balance. When shooting, you should set it to the same Kelvin temperature as your lights.

Which takes us to the next piece of gear you should invest in — lighting. Whether you are shooting with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot or a smartphone, you need to master your product photography lighting with the proper equipment. In the next section, I’ll describe a great lighting setup that works for just about any product.

Finally you’ll need to use a tripod to stabilize your camera and easily duplicate the same shot for each of your products. I would also suggest getting a timer remote or a shutter release trigger, that way you can take your pictures without any camera shake.

Perfecting Your Photography Lighting

When it comes to setting up your shot, start by figuring out what kind of background and lighting you need for the product as well as the setting. For example, the way I would set up lights for a wine bottle is completely different than the way I’d set them up for a phone case.

But, there are a few ways to easily set up your product shots for just about anything. Behold, our $50 ecommerce photography studio:

First, you will need to select a background. There is equipment you can get exclusively for taking product photos on a light tent or a full set for beginners. But to embrace the DIY approach, I created a seamless white background with some white poster board taped to the bottom of a large clear plastic storage container that’s flipped onto its side. That part of the setup shouldn’t cost more than $15.

Next, we will set up the lights. You will typically need at least two lights. I am using two light clamps that I picked up at Lowe’s for about $10, and then attached to the top of the clear plastic container. As for the lightbulbs, you want to make sure that they are identical, ideally a pair of cool colored 5000K bulbs. I found these for $7 each.

Bonus product photography tricks: One fun trick is making a product “float.” Use thread from a standard sewing kit to elevate the product and then erase the thread in post processing. Another pro trick is placing a small piece of plexiglass under the product to create a subtle reflection. This works really well on any solid color background and should be less than $10, putting your entire setup at under $50.

Here’s how a toy race car looks thanks to our budget tabletop studio:

Sometimes a solid white or black background isn’t the best look for your product, especially for products that need to be shown in action. For example, a purse could easily be photographed on a clean white background, but you may also want to show a woman wearing the purse to give it the proper context. Take photos of items like sunglasses both in and out of the sun. Take images of watches both on a wrist and off. Allow the customer to get a good sense of the product in order to increase their trust in purchasing an item they have never seen in person. This will increase conversions and decrease chargebacks for improperly described items.

Also consider the colors in your product, its shape and the environment you may find it in. I would suggest doing a quick Google search for commercial photography, or maybe the type of product that you have, to find some inspiration. Free stock photography sites like can help you to generate lifestyle product photo ideas as well.

Check out how Jeni’s Ice Cream uses GIFs and high-quality product photography to showcase its products being used in various ways. Or, check out how Native Union uses product pages like landing pages, including multiple photos of various usage as well as stand-alone images of the product.

Rinse & Repeat

It’s best to spend some additional time getting the lighting and set-up ready before you begin to take product photos. Keep in mind the size and needs of individual products, and base your standard staging environment on those needs. For instance, if you have a lot of jewelry to photograph, a smaller set up may be used and the floating technique may be one of the best available for your earring images. For smaller products like these, make a mark on the background where you have the product placed, and as long as your products are approximately the same size, moving from one item to the next will be a breeze.

For those taking photos of larger items like couches for instance, you may want to use an entire room as your staging environment, rather than a small set.

I would also suggest making a diagram for yourself showing how you had everything set up. Measure the distance between the light and the product, the distance between the camera and the product, the angles that the lights are set at and the height of the lights compared to the product. Such notes or a good diagram will make doing another round of photos that much easier. No need for trial and error going forward because you already know what looks good, plus you can easily duplicate the setup so new shots match your existing ones.

Finally, be sure to get multiple angles of the each product, showing your customers every side and each detail of the product. Your photos should accurately depict your products, and a variety of views is the best way to do that. This may mean doing a couple of additional setups, cycling your products through again so all the photos match across your product line. Or, you could do a set of primary product photos with the initial setup, then take your camera off the tripod to freehand various angles and close ups.

Edit Your Results

After you’ve finished shooting, it is time to start editing. Post processing gives you the opportunity to clean up and enhance your photos. Even if you made a small mistake when taking your picture, the right software can help you end up with perfect results.

If possible, I suggest shooting in RAW so you have the most options. RAW files have a much greater dynamic range within each photo, giving you more flexibility when editing. If you don’t have access to Adobe Lightroom, then I would suggest free software like Irfanview or Picassa, which can also edit RAW photos.

If you aren’t shooting in RAW but still need to clean up a few things, Adobe Photoshop is a robust tool, but it isn’t cheap. If you don’t have access to Adobe Photoshop, there are a ton of other free options you can use. For example, Pixlr Editor is the closest thing to Photoshop, and it’s a free web-based application.

Don’t Rush

Finally, take your time. Be patient. The best way to master photography is simply by practicing. Keep tweaking until you are happy with the results. Your hard work will literally pay off.


Match Your Photographer’s Expertise with Your Product

Finding a photographer that is skilled at shooting your subject matter is an important consideration when choosing a photographer. Most photographers have specialties they excel at, be it portraiture, landscape/architecture, abstract or interaction shots. Those who shoot across all subject matters may have a special interest in lighting or style. When researching photographers, find ones that have strong experience shooting in the area you are looking for and always ask to see a portfolio of work.

Decide if You Want a Specific Style or Photo Treatment

The style of your photography can be as minimal or dramatic as you want. If you are wanting a drastic style for your photography, decide whether this type of shoot will be ongoing or specific to a particular campaign or product. For long-term projects finding a photographer that you can have an on-going partnership with is a considerable factor.  Another thought to consider when choosing a specific style is making sure the style fits your brand.

Consider Lighting Needs

Shooting lightbox imagery is much different from shooting indoor or outdoor photography. Lighting is crucial to the way your photography will look and feel and this is typically where the professional stands apart from a novice. Light reflects and bounces in different ways throughout the day and indoor lighting offers other complications. Make sure your photographer understands lighting and can show you examples of photography shot in similar lighting conditions to what you are requesting.

Inquire About Editing Techniques

If photos are stylized, ask what the editing process is like for the photos. The time it takes to edit may factor into your decision. Or, if you’re wanting to apply the style to existing photos, knowing the extent of editing may be helpful to your in-house creative staff.

Consider Their Level of Creativity and Problem-Solving

Does the photographer have the ability to switch things up when a shot isn’t working? The enthusiasm to loosen up your talent? Can they suggest different poses or staging adjustments that will enhance the product being taken? Knowing your photographer’s creative involvement is important before you go on site. If they’re used to shooting only candid shots, make sure both you and they are prepared to suggest adjustments as needed.

Before the shoot, see what level of involvement or recommendations your photographer may have for creating the best scene.

Common Mishaps in Product Photography Lighting

We’re going to give it away right up front: lighting is probably the most important element to shooting solid product photography. When isn’t it in photography? But because getting the nitty-gritty details is often so important, there’s a lot more involved in planning and setting up your product shots.

For some product photography lighting tips and advice on getting those miraculously detailed images, we talked to product photographer Lucas Zarebinski. Lucas is routinely sought out by editorial and advertising clients for his food photography and unique concepts for fashion and electronic products. His edgy work has appeared in magazines such as Men’s Health, Prevention, Bicycling, and Details.

Here is Lucas’ list of some of the most common mishaps he’s seen (or experienced) and how he keeps clients coming back for more:

Unlike photographing a person or group of people, “It’s entirely up to you to create the photograph – there is no active collaboration between you and the object,” says Lucas. “Product photography requires a greater attention to detail and critical lighting skills since you find yourself a lot closer to the subject than most cases.” While getting into someone’s personal space during a shoot might be inappropriate for a living subject, it’s encouraged in product photography. “It’s all about styling your subject prior to shooting and coming up with the right approach,” notes Lucas, who carefully studies all the product’s details before even setting up lights.

Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the product, and you’ll be better prepared to light it.

Creating a “scene” on set

Lucas points out that the product should be the center of attention. That means the setting should be clean-cut. “I try to work with as little distractions as possible,” says Lucas. “That way I can just emphasize the object without worrying to much about props.”

Avoid harsh shadows and aim for softer lighting (try using a light tent or softbox), which helps the viewer focus on the details. You can start by aiming two lights down on the product, and then adjust the brightness and angle to bring out the right texture.

In most cases, you’ll also want to remove all distractions from the shot and create a simple composition. This is particularly important for editorial clients who will likely want to add text or position several products on the same page.

Approaching it from an expected angle

There’s a simple approach to product photography lighting – don’t take that one. Coming up with new ideas is what makes you stand out and leaves clients wanting more. So, what about lighting from underneath using a lightbox? This is one of Lucas’ favorite techniques, and the result is often a much more interesting image with shadows and texture details that you wouldn’t normally see. “I ended up setting up on a lightbox to give the product a fresh and airy feel,” says Lucas of the above shot. “I was paying close attention to the shapes and texture in the subject to give them colorful and strong impressions.”

Acting like a know-it-all

Remember: you’re the photographer on set. So just as you wouldn’t want the stylist or art director on set to interfere with your shooting, be sure to return the favor. Sure, it’s fine to collaborate with them, but don’t step on their toes. Trust their expert and leave it to them to do what they’ve been trained to do.

Though most clients will likely bring along their own people, you should also consider befriending a few good stylists. “I almost always work with a prop or food stylist,” says Lucas. “Concepts are developed as the photographer, client, and stylist all talk about a particular assignment and come up with the best visual solution to the problem at hand.”

For the above shots, Lucas let the food stylist pick out and arrange the best looking. “As much as you try to figure out everything before the shoot, you still need to leave room for changes – things might look better or worse from what you planned,” he says.

You still want to maintain your personal style and put your own stamp on the shot. For example, Lucas is known for his stop-motion photos. “I just love freezing motion and capturing moments that you don’t really see in everyday life,” he says. “It’s like magic to me. In a sense it’s like I have the wand and I can stop time.”

Demanding that you get everything in camera

Lucas reminds us that it’s okay to do some extra work in post-production. There are always corrections to be made, no matter how good your product photography lighting might be. You might even find that you spend as much time post-processing as you do shooting. “Sometimes it’s just a simple clean-up of dust and scratches, but in most cases things need to be layered, enhanced, and re-positioned,” says Lucas.

Other techniques often include color boost, contrast change, and sharpening. Or you might simply want to create a concept that’s impossible to get in real life. “I think these days all commercial photography is retouched to some level,” Lucas says.

If you’ve worked in product photography before, what do you think are some of the most common misconceptions about lighting objects vs. people? Share your expertise in the comments.

Top 7 Reasons Why Product Photos Need Editing For E-Commerce Stores

We are living in an era of e-commerce now.  E-commerce business is growing rapidly.  The main reason is that if a customer want to buy something, she or he can choose the product in the comfort of their home.  They have the option to compare it with the other e-stores.  It is not mandatory now to look for a product walking or travelling from store to store.  When they find the product that matches to their necessity and taste, they can order the product online with just few clicks.

But how can they see the products?  Not an intelligent question, right?  The answer is simple, from the product images e-stores display.  Virtually every photo for commercial display need one or the other kind of editing.  Generally speaking, a bright, polished and crisp image catches our attention easily.

For e-commerce websites, to improve the product images using product photo editing techniques is really very important.

The top 7 reasons are –

1. Images Should Be Appropriate In Quality

Photo editing makes an image bright and appropriate for displaying on an e-store.  A product image may need various types of manipulations.  Most common requirements are changing unwanted background, Adding and/or removing objects, color corrections, exposure adjustment, neck joint or ghost mannequin effect for garment products to name a few.  Aside from the image manipulation techniques mentioned, there are numerous techniques and affects you can apply to your product image to make it stand brilliant in the crowd.

2. Visitors See Only The Images Of The Products

Visitors of an e-commerce store can only see the images of the products.  They cannot touch, test or try it like a physical outlet or showroom.  They take their buying decision seeing the pictures, price, and the short specification/description provided on the website.  If the picture is attractive customers go for the further details like price and specifications.  If they feel like they want the product, they places an order for that product

3.  It Is More Applicable For The Garment Products

 Shooting a proper garment product is a bit tricky.  A flat garment hanging on a hanger does not look so appealing.  If the garment is put on a mannequin and then shot, it gives a better look but the mannequin becomes distracting.  But if ghost mannequin or neck joint technique is applied the garment becomes prominent in the picture.  The prospective customer can get better view about the shape and look of the garment.  The label on the neck also becomes more clearly visible.  Ghost mannequin technique is also suitable and excellent for jewelry pictures.  Very often the jewelry pictures are taken after putting it on a jewelry holder mannequin or necklace holder mannequin.  Jewelries look better when there is no mannequin on the picture.  This effect can well be achieved by editing the picture with ghost mannequin/neck joint effect.  Even if the product is shown using a human model; some image improvements, retouching and manipulation is very often necessary.

4.  Visitors Skim Through Dull Images

As a customer we tend to overlook the dull images on the website.  Raw images can convey misconceptions.  A product may be useful and cost-effective, but because of the low quality image it may convey little impact to the buyer.   Even if the product is useful for the customer, there is a great chance that the buyer may skip the product.  On the contrary, we are inclined to stop when the image catches our eyes.  If the image is dull and dark the visitors tend to pass through those products quickly while browsing.  As a result, customers will not click on the product image, so the sale of that product will cease to increase, eventually the web store will be deprived of sell.

5.  Bad Images Will Lower The Impression Of The Web Store

Business is decreasing because of unimpressive images

If a web store contains a lot of low quality product images, ultimately, it may affect the impression of the website and it’s branding.  The competing e-commerce website with glittering pictures will gain more interest of the visitors.  As a result they will be popular than the website which contains lots of dull and gloomy pictures.  To increase the reputation and ranking an image quality assurance team should be there to decide if the product is publishable to the website.  Or, if some editing of the images is required.

6.  Fancy Products

To increase the sale of fancy products, photos of the stuffs should be eye-catching and tempting.  Buyers of decorative and fancy products focuses on the look of the product.  This is why it is important to showcase these types of products brightly, sharply and smartly.  For this kind of items, people tend to order which looks better and attracts them.  While buying fancy products people sometimes get impulsive.  To catch customers’ attention it is wise to display a luminous and attractive picture of the products.

7.  Ultimately Better Images Increase Sell

We all like to see clean, clear, bright and perfect images.  The same thing reflects in the case of product pictures of e-commerce websites.  Delightful images catch our attention and increases sell.  It is better to invest very little money on image editing and enhancement to increase the sell by thousands of units, than to let the product get unnoticed and have thousands of units remain unsold in the warehouse.  The main objective of e-commerce websites is to sell more products to increase the revenue.

If you are an e-commerce shop owner, you must need a large number of finely edited product photos. We have more than 30 years of experience in image editing services. We have been working with many world famous media, fashion and printing houses. We provide free trial offer, quality services and 24/7 customer support. For the best quality and experienced workmanship, please contact us.

How to Take Gorgeous Product Photos

The way you present your products online has a significant impact on sales. Amateur-looking product shots erode consumers’ trust and could send them fleeing. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend $10,000 on equipment or hire a professional to create beautiful product photography that will instill faith in your online store and get results.

In this article, I’ll show you, in eight simple steps, how to save money on product photography and improve your store’s look and performance.

1. Camera

It’s important to use a nice camera. Fortunately, they have become very affordable. You can’t go wrong with a modern digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) model. I prefer the Nikon D7000 in terms of its price vs. performance tradeoff. Be sure to choose a camera that can capture video, and invest in decent lenses. I normally use a 50mm lens — here’s an example — which can accommodate mid-range and portrait work. A 105mm lens — here’s one from Adorama — while a bit expensive, is great for close-up work and jewelry product photography.

Although it used to be that having a DSLR was necessary for taking quality product photographs, smartphones have dramatically changed the game. The iPhone 5 has an 8-megapixel sensor and can produce professional grade shots. It’s received glowing reviews, like this one from The Sydney Morning Herald. I strongly encourage you to explore using your smartphone after you have the proper setup before committing to purchasing a higher-end camera. You may be surprised.

2. Lights

You will need some good lights. Of course, Mother Nature has a built-in option, which can produce great results. But the Sun is fickle. I like the Elinchrom D-Lite 4 Kit, which includes two lights, tripods, and attachable diffuser squares. While there are many photography lighting kits available, what’s most important for your setup is to get lights that operate in “continuous” mode — versus flash only — as this allows using them for video as well. In fact, I prefer to shoot even still photographs with my lights in continuous mode as I find this makes previewing the shot easier and adds depth to the result.

3. Tripod

You need to take longer exposures; holding your camera by hand will produce blurry images that shoppers will not like. I prefer Manfrotto tripod products. There are also some very functional tripods for smartphones such as the Woxom Slingshot.

4. Photo Setup

I like to shoot products in front of a continuous background — often white or neutral grey. It’s a simple and professional look that is often used by major online retailers. Fortunately, it’s simple to achieve.

Just purchase a few rolls of craft paper and some metal clamps. Roll the craft paper down a long and wide table and use the clamps to attach one end of the paper to something a few feet above the table. This will produce a smooth ramp. Place your product on the craft paper just after it comes into contact with the table.

Place your setup near a big, sunny window if you want natural light, or in a dark room if you want to use your photo lights. For about $50 you have a professional studio like my setup below. If you’re looking for a ready-made setup, Modahaus carries a good line of all-in-one tabletop photography studios.

5. Use a Wide Aperture

The aperture is the opening that lets light into your camera and is specified by an “f-number” like “f/16” or “f/4”. A wide aperture (small f-number) produces a narrow depth of field that makes your photos look richer and more professional. I’ve found that shooting with a narrow depth of field works particularly well for product photos of electronics. Set the aperture on your DSLR to something like “f/1.8” or “f/2”. You will need to have your camera in “aperture priority” mode to do this. Check your manual.

These images below are from my iPad app, “Bokeh: A Book About Cameras.” The images illustrate the effect of a camera’s aperture on the final shot. The image on the left was captured with a wide aperture and has a narrow depth of field. The image on the right was from a narrow aperture and has a wide depth of field. In short, use a wide aperture to produce product photos with a more professional look.

6. Pay Attention to Shadows

Avoid harsh backlighting and other setups that cast shadows on the surface of the object. Keep the lights on the same side of the object as your camera, or slightly off to one side.

7. Clean Up

A big fingerprint on your product or dust on your lens produce poor, amateur results. Buy some microfiber rags and wipe everything down carefully before shooting.

8. Don’t be Afraid

The biggest obstacle to doing something new is often ourselves. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Be creative. You will make a few mistakes on your way to gaining a deeper understanding of the process. Not only will your sales increase, you will likely develop a new hobby along the way. When you’re ready to delve deeper there are many wonderful books. I like The Art of Photography, by Bruce Barnbaum.


You are well on your way to having an outstanding photography studio. Your product photos will appear as if you spent thousands on them. But really you did it all yourself.