Best Photography Ideas to Showcase Your Products Online

If you’re looking for some smart photography ideas that will make your products stand out in a crowded online environment, we’ve got you covered — in this guide we discuss why it’s so important to get your online imagery right, and provide some useful photography ideas and tips to help you nail your next product shoot.
living room lifestyle photography with a grey and white theme

The true value of product photography

Whether you’re starting a new online business or you’re an established retailer, you can’t overestimate the value of quality product photography.

In fact, a survey of eCommerce customers conducted by Weebly found that more than 75% of shoppers think product pictures are ‘very influential’ in their decisions to purchase products online.

Not only does the quality of your online photography have a direct correlation with the perceived level of value of your products, but eCommerce retailers can also benefit from using high quality photography in a range of other ways, including:

Brand benefits

Product imagery plays an important role establishing the overall look and feel of your brand, while contributing to your reputation and creating a sense of trustworthiness.

Improved customer satisfaction

More than 20% of returns of products purchased online are because the product they received looks different to the photos. When you use quality product imagery, customers are more likely to be satisfied with the product they receive, less likely to return it and more likely to become a repeat customer.

Increased exposure

Visual content is significantly more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content, providing an excellent opportunity to gain greater exposure among an online audience.

Best online product photography ideas

When deciding how best to showcase your product range on your website or social media pages, there are a range of photography techniques which you can utilise.

Depending on the type of product, the channel you want to use it on and the brand image you want to create, some types of photography will be more effective at achieving what you want it to.

Here’s an overview of some of the different types of photography you can use to bring your products to life online and what they’re most suitable for.
flat lay photography brown theme

Flat lay photography

Flat lay photography involves taking an image of a variety of objects arranged on a flat surface, with the image taken from directly above to provide a bird’s-eye view of the layout.

Flat lay photography is an ideal choice when you want to tell a visual story by showcasing a combination of products together in a single shot. It’s a great way to draw a connection between several products from different product lines to demonstrate how they can work together cohesively, and can be very effective when used in email marketing and on social media.

It’s a particularly popular form of photography in interior and exterior design— it can demonstrate how a tile, paint colour, wallpaper, tap fixture and timber accent could all work together to create a particular aesthetic. Flat lay photography is also a popular way to showcase things like food, homewares, fashion and cosmetics, where the use of colour and texture are crucially important.

Ghost mannequin photography

Ghost mannequin photography is great if you want to remove all distractions and focus the spotlight exclusively on your product.
Most commonly used for fashion photography, the effect is created by taking multiple images of a product, before combining them together to remove the mannequin or model from the image. This allows the product to be displayed sitting the same way as it would naturally, without anything to distract from the product itself.

Lifestyle and
model photography

If you want to show a prospective customer how a product can be used or help them imagine how it could fit into their lifestyle, lifestyle and model photography is an excellent way to do it.

While some products are best left to sell themselves, others can benefit from being presented in a certain context which your customers either relate or aspire to. Lifestyle photography presents your product in a life-like scenario, also using models to amplify the human element.

It’s a very popular form of photography for food, home and lifestyle products, but the versatility of being able to create any scene you desire allows it to be utilised for almost any product category.
a female model wearing a blue and white dress
kids Easter table with paper bunnies, Easter eggs, and dessert

Product set-up stills

While flat lay and ghost mannequin photography are excellent for allowing customers to get a close-up view of a product, product arrangements are designed to achieve something a little different—when you want to create truly original, on-brand imagery which gets your product noticed, product set-ups can do just that.

Creating a carefully curated scene which depicts your product in a particular way is excellent if you want to project a certain image or add a more creative and artistic element to your online imagery.
While the technique is utilised in a range of industries, it’s a popular choice in the automotive, home, lifestyle, fashion and high-end beauty and cosmetics industries.

Motion capture stills

If you want to create beautiful imagery of a product which has the ability to change form or shape, motion capture photography is an excellent way to highlight its shifting colour or texture in an appealing manner.
It could involve spilling, dripping, smashing or squeezing—think things like a nail polish delicately pouring out of its jar, wine swirling around a glass as it’s being poured in or honey being gently drizzled over a piece of toast.
Whatever the product, motion capture photography is a great way to capture a crisp, striking and memorable image of a moving object that will stick in the mind of whoever views it.

Things to consider when planning a product photoshoot

When photographing your products, there are a range of factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Here are a few of the most important things to consider when planning a product photo shoot:

The set for the shoot – While the majority of product photography is taken on a white background, if you’re planning a shoot which involves lifestyle stills, your choice of location for the shoot will be an important consideration.

Use of light – Lighting is crucially important to be able to capture good quality product images—the right selection of lighting and correct use of bounce cards will help to counteract shadows and produce a better result.

Colour matching -The colours of your products need to be true to life. If not, you’re likely to find a large proportion of customers dissatisfied with the product they receive.

Image consistency – It’s important that the style of your product imagery is consistent throughout the entire website and across all online and other platforms to support your overall brand image.

Image retouching – After your products are photographed, they’ll need to be retouched to ensure they look fantastic when they’re published on your website.

DIY vs professional product photography

Professional photography can be expensive, particularly if you’re a newly established business that’s trying to get up and running while operating on a tight budget. However, there is good reason to invest in professional product photography.
Photography should be viewed as an asset which is worth investing in—this is particularly important for businesses which are trading exclusively online.
Online retailers need to work significantly harder than traditional brick and mortar retailers to earn the trust of prospective customers, and the quality of your photography will play an important role convincing consumers to purchase from you.
When your customers can’t see, touch and sample your products in-person, they are relying entirely on your product images. It’s important to show your products in the best possible light to create your desired brand perception, while providing a true and accurate representation of the product.
flat lay photography yellow theme with faucet, rag, and paint
flat lay photography of a gold faucet and fern
While DIY photographs may cost less up-front, they’re likely to cost business owners moreover the longer term in the form of product returns from dissatisfied customers when they receive a product which doesn’t match the images shown online. Even if you manage to do an ‘okay’ DIY job, ‘okay’ is unlikely to cut it with todays’ increasingly savvy online shoppers.
The safer option is to use a professional photography studio like Jam Photographic.
We are highly experienced shooting everything from food and fashion accessories to jewelry and cosmetics, and know how to show your product in the best possible light. We can take care of set design, model sourcing and can also professionally retouch your images to ensure they’re picture perfect and ready to use across your online platforms.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more about our services, how we work or to have a friendly chat about what you have in mind for your next product shoot.