Considerations for Ecommerce Product Photography - Format, Style & Best Practice

By Josh Hobson - 31 May, 2022
Joshua Hobson 2021

It can be frustrating as a customer to see a brand with great promise displaying their products with poor photography and lack of communication of their product’s look and feel. No matter how great the product is, bad imagery can immediately break trust and discourage you as a customer.

We’ll take a look at the key elements to focus on and what to look out for to create powerful imagery that can help a brand showcase their products effectively. We also asked some experts in eCommerce to share their insight into the importance that product photography plays on the performance of a brand.

1) Carry Out Your Own Research

It’s important to do your research - whether you’re outsourcing your product photography or keeping it in-house. Finding examples of product shots that stand out to you can be used as guidance for your own photography.

Joe Trippet, Creative Director at By Association Only, offered the following advice to consider when assessing the product shots that you gravitate toward.

“Try to deconstruct them by asking yourself the following simple questions:

  • How is the product / model positioned?

  • What angle is the shot taken from?

  • Where is the light coming from?

  • Is the light natural or not?

  • Are the shadows soft or hard edged?

  • Does the shot have a seamless background or defined walls and floor?

  • How is the image cropped and positioned in frame?

Understanding how a shot was achieved can help you recognise what you want from your imagery, and aid you in trying to recreate or deliver a brief for it. If you’re outsourcing, providing these images as reference points will give strong guidance.”

You don’t always need to revolutionise your online store by trying something new - conducting effective research and taking inspiration from others can be key for any new photography campaigns. Product photography can be a lengthy process without a clear plan in place, so researching brands and making sure you’re prepared will help to execute your vision in a much more efficient way.

2) Communicate Your Brand USPs

Oli O’Connor, Co-founder at Made By Field, shares: “It doesn't matter how great your website is, if the product imagery is poor and doesn't communicate the quality, details and USPs of your product, you are selling yourself short.

Using a variety of product shots from different angles with cropped-in shots to articulate product detail or functionality can give customers the insight they need. An example of this can be seen with photography for clothing and footwear that pay attention to the small details like stitching, buttons and material.”

antler-product-photography

Product photography needs to be treated as if it is the only way your customer may learn about your brand and your proposition. Every image needs to inform your customer and leave them feeling like they understand what is being offered to them better than before.

3) Multi-Sensory Photography

The drive for immersive experiences is greater than ever, so understanding how to integrate a multi-sensory experience into your customer journey is crucial. Where possible, you should consider the way photography caters to the senses. You want to leave an impression of how your product might feel, move, weigh etc.

Brands are expected to be multi dimensional and this translates to their visual output. Customers want more from a brand than just to sell to them. They want to be told a story and to feel something from their engagement with a brand. Evoking the senses is a key way to increase brand loyalty as it forces customers to form sensory associations.

Lifestyle photography can be an excellent way to create a multi-sensory experience with added layers that spark a reaction from customers. One of the most important elements of lifestyle shots that pique interest are additional items within the shot. For example, complementary items in someone’s outfit. This can be seen in things like ‘shop the look’ which gives inspiration.

Giving customers the view of how an item would work in real life is crucial to provide the visualisation of how it would fit into their life.

4) Variety of Images

Images are essentially the shop window of your ecommerce brand, so ensuring that there are enough visuals to entice a customer to invest their time and money is vital. Offering a variety of images provides customers with a better grasp of the products available and the authenticity of them.

Kerrin Meek, Head of Design at We Make Websites, shares “most users tend to explore images first on a product page before reading additional information for a more comprehensive look. This highlights the importance of product photography and a variety of images helps to tell customers what your product is.”

There is a sense of reliability that comes with seeing a variety of images especially when they show a product in different formats - for example, if a top is shown as a flatlay, on a model and up close detail. “It is recommended to show between 5-15 images on a product page. These can include model shots, lifestyle, cut-outs and can feature callouts”, says Kerrin.

5) Consistency Is King

It is evident when a site has been considered carefully when you experience consistency across all elements. Product photography can often be overlooked and product pages are an area that can often see a lack of consistency. Ordering images in a set format can help maximise the perception by following a formula (e.g. image 1 = face on, image 2 = side view, image 3 = lifestyle).

selfportrait-product-photography

No matter how premium the brand, rows of mis-matched colour images with poorly placed products and odd crops is not a good look!

Photographic inconsistencies detract from a site’s overall visual impact. It’s worth keeping in mind that you are likely to have photography from different shoots sat next to one another - this is where a consistent style comes into play.

6) Be Minimal

Oli O’Connor, Co-founder at Made By Field, also suggests, “exploring a grey or off-white background can often lead to a more polished look on both the PLP and PDP as images have a natural ‘frame’, aiding alignment with other page elements. This is more of a design consideration but more often than not will yield better visual results.”

pangaia product photography

It’s also worth noting that you should refrain from adding any text and annotation to your images - this can ruin your site’s accessibility and can often make your images look cheap and off-brand.

7) Upload the Right Formats

Ensure that all images are uploaded in the correct quality and compressions, balancing between good image detail and file size to minimise the impact on page load speed. You want to create an easy user experience and maintaining site speed allows for this. Only upload the hi-res images used for product zoom when they are required, to be mindful of page load speed.

The Importance of Quality Photography

Overall, it is vital to understand the importance of product photography and the role that it plays as a marketing tool. Ensuring that time has been dedicated to creating strong imagery that communicates the benefits and the experience of the product is essential. Getting your photography right can mean the difference between an abandoned cart and a conversion.

Key Takeaways

  • Take the time to understand what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to achieve it, before shooting.

  • Keep the customer in mind with every shot - think about how the image will make them feel and what it will tell them.

  • Ensure that the customer journey is considered when you upload images to your site, creating ease through consistency and simplicity.

If you need any help with improving your UX and your product pages, please get in touch.

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