Product Photography 101: How to Photograph Products for eCommerce

Product Photography 101: How to Photograph Products for eCommerce
With an increase in online ordering, having high-quality product photos is more important than ever. To get expert tips on producing great product images, we spoke to Danni Siminerio, manager of Square Photo Studio.
by Vidya Rao Nov 17, 2021 — 6 min read
Product Photography 101: How to Photograph Products for eCommerce

With an increase in online ordering, having high-quality product photos is more important than ever. Whether customers are ordering items for delivery, buying online and picking up in store, or just browsing, taking product photos that showcase your items in the best light will impact their purchase decisions. Good product photos will also help your marketing efforts, such as posting on social media, populating newsletters, and reaching out to media for coverage.

To get expert tips on producing great product images, we spoke to Danni Siminerio, manager of Square Photo Studio. She and her team photograph hundreds of products per week, from clothing and jewelry to packaged foods and beauty products.

From product prep to lighting and composition, here’s our beginner guide for taking high-quality product photography.

Preparing products to be photographed

There are a few steps you need to take before the camera ever comes out. You’ll want to prepare your products so that they look their best. Articles of clothing should be wrinkle-free, and other items should be clean, free of fingerprints and dust particles that you might not even see with the naked eye.

“Putting a fingerprint onto something is one of the biggest mistakes people make,” Siminerio says. “It’s so difficult to get it off and it’s totally noticeable in pictures — especially on jewelry.” To prevent fingerprints, Siminerio and her team always wear gloves while handling products. Siminerio keeps the following in her kit at all times:

Product photography composition

Composition in photography refers to how the items and other elements in your photo are arranged. When deciding how to compose your shot, first think through how you want to use the photos. “If you’re going for eCommerce photography — for your online ordering site, for example — you want the product to be centered in the photo,” Siminerio advises. “If you are doing something more stylized, like a banner for your website or putting it on Instagram, you can get a little bit more creative and do like rule of thirds, where you put something off onto the third of the frame, or you can have the background be blurry. There’s more room and more flexibility for creativity. But with eCommerce product photography, it’s all about showing the product as cleanly as possible.”

At Square Photo Studio, Siminerio’s team has five general composition shots they recommend, depending on the product.

Front-facing at eye level: Taking a head-on shot of the product.

Sunglasses product photo

A three-quarter angle: Tilting the camera so you can see some of the top of the product.

three-quarter angle product photo

Lay flat, shot from above: The product is placed on a table, and a camera shoots from above. This option is great for books, wide shots of jewelry, or food.

Lay flat product photo

Close-up shots: This is great for showing details. For example, embroidery or jewelry. Avoid shooting only close-ups, as this limits how you can use the images.

Purse close-up photo

Group shot: This is great for showing different varieties of the same product, such as different colored/scented candles or pans. If you have products of varying sizes, a group shot can give customers context.

group image

Product labels

If you’re photographing products that have labels, such as a jar of tomato sauce or a bottle of face cream, make sure the label is centered in the frame, with an equal amount of space on both sides. You want customers to see the label clearly, and it’s a lot more visually appealing when it’s centered. On that note, make sure that you print high-quality labels. It may not matter to someone shopping in a store, but any issues with the resolution will be obvious in a photo.

Product labels


The background for your product photo can add ambiance and context. It can also reflect your overall brand look, particularly if you’re using these photos to liven up your site or social accounts. Play around with interesting fabrics and textures that may be appropriate, depending on the item you’re shooting.

For eCommerce photos, Siminerio suggests shooting on a solid background so that nothing distracts from the product. You can also edit out the background easily, thus eliminating shadows, if that’s the look you’re going for.

T-shirt ecommerce photo

“If you think about what you’re seeing on sites like Amazon when you’re shopping, it’s probably the item and on a solid white background. You’re not seeing a shadow of the product because it’s not the real background…everything gets cut out and then pasted onto a white background,” Siminiero says.


Make sure that you have a consistent style for your product images. You can always have a variety of additional images, but you want a clean look on your site, with product images shot from the same distance and similar angle.

Product photography lighting

Lighting is one of the most critical factors in determining how your photos turn out. Even a high-end camera can only do so much if your lighting is harsh and uneven. “It’s important to showcase the product as accurately as possible,” Siminerio advises. “If the lighting is distorting it, then that’s going to make it harder for a customer to know what they’re buying. They want clean lighting all the way around, so that way every part of the product is illuminated.”

Tips and tricks for lighting

Make sure your product is evenly lit. If you have a couple of lights, place them toward the front of your product, at 45-degree angles on either side.

Shooting in harsh light

If you’re shooting your products outside in natural light or have a bright window, you want to avoid harsh, direct sunlight. One hack for this is to hang a white shower curtain on a rod or boom arm so that the light is filtered through the curtain.

To soften harsh indoor lights, Siminerio suggests using diffusion paper, a frosty semi-translucent paper that can be clamped onto your light.

Shooting reflective items

When shooting reflective metallic items such as jewelry, Siminerio surrounds the product with folded white cards. This ensures that the product doesn’t catch dark reflections, which can distort what it actually looks like. For example, without the white cards, a silver ring might look dark grey. With the white cards, the ring’s bright silver color comes through in the photo.

Shooting reflective items
jewelry photography

Shooting product photography

Both digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras and smartphones will enable you to take high-quality product photos.

Square Photo Studio

Using a professional service

While you can absolutely take great product photos yourself, sometimes you may prefer a professional. The right professional photographer takes things to another level. Make sure you find someone who has experience with product photography as well as styling products.

It doesn’t have to be a huge investment. With Square Photo Studio, a three-photo pack starts at just $19.95. You just ship the products you want photographed, and within 14 days you’ll have images that you can download and start to use on your site.

Siminerio’s final tip? Whether you take your own photos or use a professional service, put some thought into your product photography.

“These are your products that you invested so much time and effort and money into producing,” she says. “Put the effort and love into creating images of your products, so that your hard work and beautiful packaging can be showcased appropriately.”

Vidya Rao
Vidya Rao is an editor at Square covering the wide world of commerce, with a particular passion for restaurants.


Keep Reading

Tell us a little more about yourself to gain access to the resource.

i Enter your first name.
i Enter your last name.
i Enter a valid email.
i Enter a valid phone number.
i Enter your company name.
i Select estimated annual revenue.

Thank you!
Check your email for your resource.

Results for

Based on your region, we recommend viewing our website in:

Continue to ->