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What product images do I need for my online store? A guide for every category

What product images do I need for my online store? A guide for every category

How to boost ecommerce KPI with the right types of product photography? Follow these requirements for product images for online stores.

Liz Kasian

Mar 25, 2020

Why Are Product Images Important?

OK, you have your ecommerce website started, payment system tested, delivery all set and first orders in. But.

The KPIs you have set out in your initial business plan are still a dream or at least a very vague and distant future. While doing a comp check and a SWOT you know, your product is right, pricing is competitive, there is enough demand for it going in your area, but your ads have lower CTR than forecasted, your cart abandonment rate is through the roof and even your return rates leave space for improvement. 

Once too often, creatives can make it or break it for an ecommerce store. Product photography matters: it is the one attention grabber, that keeps giving at every stage of the conversion funnel: awareness, interest, desire, and action. If you get it right with product images, the probability is: your KPIs will reflect that.

In this article, Squareshot Head of Production, Mitya, shares his years of practical knowledge in product photography as to what shots are required for each product category to best represent it and to ensure user-friendly UX, that converts. Meet Mitya!

Mitya, Co-founder & Head of Production at Squareshot

We together will look into types of product photography for the following ecommerce categories:

  • Bags
  • Cosmetics & beauty products
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Household goods
  • Jewelry
  • Hats
  • Belts
  • Glasses and sunglasses
  • Drinks
  • Books and magazines
  • Watches

How Photos Affect the Perception & Sales of Your Product

Imagine coming to a black-tie event in jeans and a T-shirt. Or showing up for an interview on Wall street in shorts. Or doing a full black tuxedo outfit for a beach outing.

Similarly, types of product photography serve a different purpose and are best for specific stages of the customer journey. Animate images may be an effective way to grab the attention of an idle social media scroller, but you need a texture product image at an interest stage to familiarize your warmer lead by exposing the textile nuances of your product and provide a reassurance and quality context required for this specific stage.

An infographic is a must for a Kickstarter campaign of a technical product while it would look weird if you created an image of a sweater with lots of arrows with descriptions instead of a model shot comfortably curled up in an armchair next to a fireplace.

Just to throw in some concrete evidence to the anyway obvious importance of visual creatives and product images for ecommerce, here are some relevant stats:

  • 65% of surveyed users reported as visual learners
  • only 20% of respondents can remember what they have read, but a massive 80% can remember something they have seen
  • 93% of the surveyed consider visual appearance the key deciding factor for a purchase.

Types of Product Photograph for Product Categories With Examples

There exist multiple types of product photography depending on the parameters, that are taken to differentiate them. We have looked into the main types of product photography in this extensive piece for those curious, who after reading our intro thought that typing into search bar "ecommerce product photo editing california" may be not enough.

Well, you were right. Photography is a super various and exciting field. But if we are talking the helicopter view, there are 3 main types of product images:

  • Product photos against a white background
  • Lifestyle images and photos in context
  • Images showing the product in process and/or in action

While product images against a white background are the most primitive in essence and the least expensive to produce, they are also the basis of the entire hierarchy and are a good starting point. No ecommerce store can do without white background images in fact. They are used for product pages, social media content, and ads. They are the ones, being added to a crat, after all.

Each consecutive type of photography is more expensive to produce. The reason is that they're more complex to shoot and for these ecommerce product images editing will tajke more time.

Lifestyle images are basically a picture of a product + something else, that puts that product in context. Be it an item in matching color from the collection or a random item, that goes well with a photographed object – anything that provides context and add mood to an otherwise isolated object will be a lifestyle product image.

Images showing a product in action or process carry the most impact on your marketing budgets and are used for higher purposes than just describe a product – they convey emotional bonds and are used in commercials, ads, and brand storytelling. They often use models and expensive sets.

Product Photographs Needed for Specific E-commerce Categories

Each ecommerce category requires a specific focus and has an established norm, that has historically evolved to best describe the products and has by now grew to the status of an expectation of a client in this niche.

Let’s have a closer look what each of the below ecommerce categories has as a minimum requirement in terms of white background images:

  1. Bag online store product images.

In this category, products may differ significantly in shape and appearance, but, as a rule of thumb, the number of photographs required to represent the product correctly is similar across the niche.

Best angles for your bag product photography:

  • Front shot without a strap or with a strap visible partially
  • Front shot with a full-length strap
  • 3/4 front without a strap or with a strap visible partially
  • Back shot without a strap or with a strap visible partially
  • The inside of the bag
  • Close-up bag detail or multiple snapshots of details
  • Logo or brand inscription

The recommended number of photos for product images for a bag online store: 7 photos.

  1. Beauty products and cosmetics ecommerce product images requirements.

The size of the products in this category is mostly small to mid-size, so a regular photo studio set up is just fine. What comes into play and demands extra attention though, is the texture of the products: the glitter of the lipstick, the finest texture of the powder, the glossy surface of cream – they all may need extra work prior to the shoot and in the editing stage too – for the session to result in images, that are appealing and render the required qualities visually. 

This is one of the ecommerce niches, that lacks the brick and mortar feel of the off-line shopping most. Everybody knows the familiar smell in the duty-free shopping area, that oozes clean, fresh, semi-sweet citrusy notes. Many tried to apply a tester hand cream onto a flight-exhausted skin and know how rewarding it feels when the smoothest mixture gets absorbed into the dry-ish skin. Well, it's no easy task to render that feeling via a still beauty photo shot.

Best angles for a cosmetic product photography session: 

  • Front shot or a top one with the lid on
  • Front shot or a top shot without a lid or with a lid leaning against a jar or a bottle.
  • Front shot in 3/4 or front 3/4 shot without a lid
  • Front shot with a lid next to the package
  • Cosmetics smudge or collage - front view without a lid and smudge
  • Fully packaged
  • A group shot of similar products, for example, a group of identical items in different colors

The recommended number of product images for a beauty online store: 7 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. How to make a perfect clothing product photography session.

Clothes. It is one of the largest ecommerce categories and is best divided into several subcategories:

Women's clothing. 

Most often, women's clothing has a complex and fitted cut and it is best to photograph such garments on a ghost mannequin. A ghost mannequin images best portrait clothing features and gives the buyer the best idea of ​​the looks. It should be noted, that women's clothing looks great hanging on a hanger too.

Optimal angles and ways to photograph women's clothing:

  • Front shot
  • 3/4 front shot
  • Backshot
  • Photo(s) of (a) detail(s) – the rule of a thumb here is: the more complex a cut, the higher the price tag, the more close-up shots of details will be expected by a customer.

The recommended number of photos for this category: 4+.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce

Men's clothing images. 

Usually, men's clothing has a simple cut and it is best to photograph in a lay-flat mode, this type of photography will perfectly convey its features and give the customer the best possible idea of ​​the external feed. If men's clothing has a complex cut or fitted silhouette, it is best to photograph such garments on a mannequin.

Optimal angles and ways to photograph men's clothing:

  • Front shot
  • 3/4 front shot
  • Backshot
  • Photos of details (same principles as for women’s clothing apply)

The recommended number of photos for this category: 4 or more.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce

Children's clothing photography. 

Teenage clothing is photographed similarly to men's or women's. Unfortunately, the mannequins are mostly of adult sizes and they are not always suitable for children's and teenage clothing, which is why it is most often photographed in a lay-flat mode or on a hanger at such angles:

  • Front shot
  • Back shot
  • Photos of details

The recommended number of photos for this category: 5 or more.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Shoe ecommerce product photography standards. 

The category is all sized in under half a meter length as a maximum, so size-wise it's all a great fit onto a lay-flat or stands up mode. With leather shoes, it is vital to make sure the reflections and shine are handled properly during the prep for the shoot as well as in the photo editing stage.

Sports shoes are a multi-billion-dollar industry with their own rules and the focus is on the hi-tech materials and design. So, 360-degree photography and detail shots are a must here.

Shoes are best photographed at such angles:

  • Left front shot
  • Right front shot
  • Back shot of the shoe
  • Side shot of a pair of shoes at 3/4 from atop
  • Top view of a pair of shoes
  • Photos of parts and details
  • Image of the shoe sole

The recommended number of photos for this category: 6 or more.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Household goods product imagery requirements. 

This ecommerce category will carry items of all shapes and sizes, but the product images against a white background are basic for all items across the board.

The optimal angles for household goods images:

  • Front shot
  • 3/4 front
  • Backshot
  • Photos of parts and detailing
  • Group shot with similar products, for example, a group of identical goods of different colors

The recommended number of photos for this category: 5 or more.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Jewelry ecommerce shots. 

As one of the largest ecommerce categories, jewelry, is usually divided into several subcategories by product shooting studio:

Pendants and necklaces. 

It is best to photograph objects of this type at the following angles:

  • The entire product shot from atop
  • The main element of the decoration with part of the chain in the form of the letter "V"
  • Pictures of the detail of the main element
  • Clasp image

The recommended number of photos for this category: 4 photos

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce

Earrings. 

Optimal angles for earing product photography:

  • Front shot
  • Group photo, where the first earring is photographed in front and the second in front in 3/4
  • Backshot

The recommended number of photos for this category: 3 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce

Rings. 

It is best to photograph rings at such angles:

  • Front shot of a lay-flat or standing ring
  • Front shot of a lay-flat 3/4 from atop or front standing ¾ from atop

The recommended number of photos for this category: 2+ photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Hat product images: angles, recommended numbers.

Hat category is a rather small niche and can be divided initially into 2 main segments: necessity hats and fashion statement hats. If you need your ecommerce photogrpahy for California and live here, or you live in, say, Canada, you know exactly what necessity hats are all about: they are a savior from a scolding cold or an unbearable heat. Fashion statement hats are what they are – an accessory, that is part of the look.

All you may require to sell a warm life-saving hat is a white background and a boring lay flat image. The customer will mostly be interested if the wool is 100% natural and may choose a color: black vs grey. If you are selling fashion hats, lifestyle shots and in action shots are a prerequisite: imagine a cowboy hat ad of a cowboy on a horse or a classy Fedora hat on a table next to a cane with a fireplace in the blurred background.

It is best to photograph objects of this type at the following angles:

  • Front shot
  • Backshot
  • Detail, fabric texture
  • Detail, logo or embroidery

The recommended number of photos for this category: 4 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Belt photography for ecommerce.

It is best to photograph belts at the angles:

  • Front of a swirled belt
  • Group of two pictures: Start and end of the belt
  • Front shot, lay flat 3/4, showing the buckle from the inside
  • Detail, such as the texture of the material
  • Logo

The recommended number of photos for this category: 5 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Glasses and sunglasses images.

One thing to keep in mind while making product images of glasses is the reflection. Another one is the fingerprints. Make sure to spend enough time prepping, polishing your glasses and setting the source of light to minimize your work after the session.

It is best to photograph glasses for product pages at the following angles:

  • Front shot
  • 3/4 Front shot from above
  • Side shot
  • Back 3/4 from above
  • Bracket detail
  • Logo

The recommended number of photos in this category: 6 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Photos of drinks and food in packaging. 

Food photography is a chapter on its own, but let's quickly cover the minimum quantity requirements product photoshoot studios have for food shots.

It is best to photograph objects of this type at the angles:

  • Front shot
  • 3/4 front
  • Backshot
  • Back shot in 3/4
  • Detail - close-up of the composition
  • The product next to the packaging

The recommended number of photos in this category: 6 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Book photography.

This ecommerce section is specific and the target audience knows what they are up for before they start. Rarely does an image is a decisive factor. But it may help evoke curiosity, and after all your products photoshoot should look professional.

Use the following guidance as to the minimum requirements to the book ecommerce product images:

  • Front standing or lying down
  • Sideways standing or lying down
  • Back standing or lying down
  • Sideways, standing, lying or lying 3/4 from above, several shots

The recommended number of photos for this category: 5 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  1. Photographing watches for ecommerce.

Watches in the mid and below price segments are a different story to those in the premium price segment and slightly below. We will cover here the fundamental requirements only, applicable across the price spectrum.

It is worth mentioning, that due to the wide popularity of smartphones with a clock function, watches as necessity is a dying specious – with premium watches still being the status token. This is just something you want to rememebr, while organizing your watches photoshoot for ecommerce purposes.

It is best to photograph objects of this type at the angles:

  • Front shot, strap fastened
  • Front 3/4, strap fastened
  • Back shot, strap fastened
  • Top with strap unfastened
  • Close-up detail
  • The reverse side of the dial or the mechanism close-up

The recommended number of photos in this category: 6 photos.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce

Types of Product Photography for an Ecommerce Store at Different Stages of the Conversion Funnel

While we provided the simplistic basic classification of the product photo above, the below enumeration will help to understand a more detailed hierarchy. After all, we want to provide you with as much as possible product photography tricks. As the parameters of classification are different, the same shot may belong to several categories:

  • Simple studio product shots/individual shot

A basic shot done in the studio – similar to a white background shot but maybe done against any color background depending on the creative task.

  • White background photos

The most widely used type of isolated images of a product, used by biggest ecommerce marketplaces, like Amazon, Shopify, eBay, etc. A product shot against a white background in the photo studio at different angles.

  • Using scale to show the size of the product

Specifically used for smaller than the regular object or bigger-than-regular objects. Often used in Kickstarter campaigns. In such photography another object is used for the viewer to be able to compare: like a coin or a business card holder, or a human model.

  • Group product images

They are often used to represent a collection or a color scheme /think nail polish, scarfs, a combo of a piece of clothing + accessory/. For the pricing of group images, see our article detailing on this complex matter.

product photos for online store product photography for ecommerce
  • Lifestyle action shots

Context can be provided to an item by a person, another object, background. Any photography that provides context to an item is lifestyle photography.

  • Hanging products

Clothing, accessory, and jewelry ecommerce images utilize this type of photo outlay most: the hanging of the objects is usually performed on a mannequin, a model or another object.

  • Large products

It is a category in its own right, as the entire process of the shoot has a different routine: from delivery charges to the handling of the object on-site, large objects require a studio, ready for the size as well as a unique shoot preparation cycle.

  • The detail shot

This subcategory of product photo shoot is used as a must in premium and hand made segments. Complex clothing and jewelry shoots also utilize close up imagery quite often.

product photography for ecommerce product photos for online store
  • The teaser shot

A teaser shot may have an air of mystery to it or secrecy – it may have elements of an object put in the spotlight on stage.

  • 360 product photography

360-degree photography is an absolute must in the sports shoe industry, Hardly ever there is one single brand, that doesn't utilize this type of product imagery.

  • Packaging shot

As the name goes, this is the image of your product in original packaging.

  •  Infographic

Infographic images are extensively used for SEO purposes and in the hi-tech, Hi-tech products have a lot of technical detail that need explaining. 

  • Animate Images

Images with anything live, like a pet or a person get more emotional bonds formed than those without. Kids and puppies sell best – is a somewhat cynical but true statement. Use your best judgment not to abuse this knowledge.

Guide to Choosing The Right Type of Product Photography

Factors, that may help an ecommerce marketing manager to choose the right type of photography for the specific purpose the ecommerce company is pursuing at the time:

  1. Budget restrictions.
  2. Stage of the conversion funnel.
  3. Size of the products.
  4. Creative mission of the shoot.
  5. Placement: are those shots for product page, social media, product images for ecommerce website, or offline print.
  6. Overall Sales & Marketing Mission for the current year – this has to be aligned with the shoot.
  7. Availability of talent & equipment in the needed proximity /photographers, models, makeup artists, art directors, photo editors, etc/.

Hiring a Product Photographer Vs. Taking Your Own Product Photos

DIY is always an option for smaller startups. We have all been there. But if you start to grow an need to establish yourself as a solid brand, then an iPhone photo may be not enough to win the competition.

This is when professional product photography comes in. Hardly any marketing process brings so much ROI so fast as a professionally executed product photo session. If in doubt – see is Squareshot could impress you, as we did hundreds of our happy clients – with this amazing trial offer. Get your $100 for the first order, to be able to estimate the result without any risks.


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