Amazon is at the forefront of eCommerce. The company has made it very easy for anyone to run an online business through the Amazon platform, but how can you possibly know what might sell? The answer may be easier than you think. You can sell almost anything if you have excellent photographs of the items.
Product photography tells the potential consumers about the product at a glance. In that glance, they will decide whether or not to open the page to learn more about the product, solely based on the photograph. We are immediately drawn to certain images, and others make us want to click on the next product at nearly lightning speed.
The number of both buyers and sellers on Amazon continues to climb, so it is both a wonderful place to sell your products but also fierce with competition. You must stand out against your competitors, and the first way to do that is why the main product photo.
Amazon uses one main product photo that will be the image that people see when they are searching. This photo is free from any additional items or text and must have a pure white background. This puts products on a similar playing field and makes the initial search results very easy to browse.
Once a customer clicks on the main photo to open up the product page, additional photos can be seen. These are the photos that can contain pertinent backgrounds, additional angles of the product, images with text and any other enticing photos to show off your product. You can see that product photography can give a lot of information, and many potential customers will use the images as their main decision-making tools in deciding if they will make a purchase.
While we understand that the photos are important, most of us do not have the resources to hire a professional photographer to take pictures for our Amazon listings. That is why this guide was created. You will learn everything you have to know about Amazon product photography plus extra tips and tricks to help elevate your photos above the competition.
We will cover the following areas for improving your Amazon product photography.
1. Why do you need product photography?
2. What do you need for your home photo shoots?
3. How to take pictures for your Amazon listings
4. How to optimize images for Amazon
5. Adding photos to your Amazon listing
6. Things to keep in mind when listing products on Amazon
7. Tips and tricks for your Amazon product photography
Why Do You Need Product Photography?
If we want to sell, we must have excellent photographs of each item. Product photography uses specific techniques to make the product look amazing and to entice customers to make a purchase based on a first impression.
Humans are visual beings, and they respond to visual cues more quickly than when they have to read about first. It is imperative to draw them in with the product photography so they will read the accompanying writing about each product. Many will not even bother reading the description. If they love the picture, they will buy the product.
Product photography also represents the image of the brand, so you need it to help your brand stand out among other brands. You should have excellent photographs to help build your customer’s confidence in your product and your brand. Satisfied customers often become return customers.
What do You Need for Your Home Photo Shoots?
The first thing that you will need to do is pick a location in your home for taking the photos. Having one location saves you from moving equipment around each time you need to take a photo. For small spaces, consider storing all necessary items in a plastic tote that can be stored and easily pulled out when needed.
Next, you will collect the items that you need. While you do not need to set up a complete professional studio, you will still need certain items to help create enticing photographs.
1. Good-Quality Camera
First, you will need a good camera with manual exposure settings in addition to the auto-function features. It used to be that you could only get these features in a regular camera, but there are smartphones available today with high-quality cameras that will also work for product photography.
Be sure to explore all of the settings on your camera or smartphone before you begin so that you know exactly what is available to you. Most smartphones have settings that the average user never even notices.
2. Memory Card
While some cameras can connect to your computer through a USB cord, others may require you to use an SD card to transfer your images. It is also a good idea to have an SD card so you have a copy saved in case your computer crashes. Be sure to see what size your camera takes and what size your computer takes. If they are not the same, then you can purchase an inexpensive adapter.
3. White Backdrop
White backgrounds are required on the photos for your Amazon listings. While you could use photo editing software or tools within Amazon to remove the background, it is much easier to begin with a white background. There are several easy ways to achieve this in your home studio.
A roll of bright white, seamless paper will make an inexpensive and easy backdrop. If it gets dirty, cut off that section and roll out a new section.
If you are selling small items, then a photo box is a great option. You can make one with white foam core board. You will need a bottom and two sides that meet at the corner. Purchase a few extra foam core boards because the also work as inexpensive light reflectors. You can use them to take advantage of natural light coming in a window.
Fabric can be used, but be sure that it is wrinkle-free because wrinkles cause shadows. Fabric that is made for black-out curtains is a good option if you do not want any light to shine through. It is heavy and will hang nicely without wrinkles. You can also purchase it in wide widths.
You will also need a tripod to stabilize the camera during the photo shoot. This is particularly helpful when longer exposure times are needed because you will not have to worry about shaky hands. Low-light exposures also work better with tripods because you will not need to worry about shaking the camera. Even the slightest movement can make a difference between a great photograph and an excellent photograph.
A tripod also allows you to easily make adjustments to the product, such as turning it to photograph the side or back, while maintaining the same frame for the shot. This is important because when the consumer sees the photographs lined up in Amazon, the product will always be in the exact same space, just turned slightly. This seems like a minuscule detail, but it is pleasing to the eye and draws it in. When the product appears to move up and down or side to side from photograph to photograph, it looks sloppy and unprofessional.
Lighting really can make a difference with your product photography. You want to illuminate the best parts of the product, and you want to be sure that those features do not fall into shadows. Some will look better in natural lighting and others may be better in artificial lighting. You will have to play with these to see what works best for each product.
Natural light is great if you have a window in an area of your home that brings in a lot of sunlight. It is also called soft light because it will cast a large array of light rather than concentrated light beams from lamps.
Natural lighting works best when the photographs are being taken outside. You may be able to achieve excellent shots inside with the use of light reflectors.
People look great in natural light, so consider placing the product on a person if that will work for the type of product you are selling. Keep in mind that Amazon requirements state that you must have a white background. Sometimes this works well with a photograph and sometimes it does not. Try both to see what looks best for your product.
Artificial light is also called hard light because of the concentrated light that comes from the light bulb. Artificial lighting is good for highlighting small details on a product.
Purchasing lights specifically for taking photographs will give you the best results if you want to invest. You can purchase kits that include professional-grade lights with tripods so you can shine it exactly where you need it without the help of an assistant. Kits usually include filters as well.
6. Backdrop Accessories
You may need some additional accessories depending on your setup. Clamps are handy for holding paper or fabric in place for your background. Duct tape will work in areas that clamps will not.
7. Small Folding Table
It is a good idea to have a small folding table on hand, especially if you are not going to be able to keep your photo area set up all the time. You can quickly drape and clamp paper over the table to set up your white background.
8. Microfiber Cloths
Keep a few microfiber cloths with your home studio to clean your products. Fingerprints and even small dust particles will show up on many items. These will ruin your product photos, especially when customers zoom-in on them.
How to Take Pictures for Your Amazon Listings
Now that you have everything collected, it is time to begin your first photo shoot. Here is a quick checklist to help you through the process.
1. Set up your table near the window or other lighting sources that you will be using.
2. Create your white backdrop, being sure that there are no wrinkles. Secure the fabric or the paper roll to the table and wall. You can use the duct tape or clamps.
3. You can use a box if you prefer, but the seams may show in the photo.
4. Adjust your tripod to the correct height for the product that you are shooting.
5. Pay attention to where the shadows fall and adjust your light source so there are no shadows in the photos.
6. Lock the camera into place on the tripod. If you are using a smartphone, be sure to have a smartphone adapter for your tripod and secure it now.
7. Use foam core board as a reflector to send the light toward your product area.
8. Review Amazon’s product image requirements for any updates or changes to be sure you have the correct settings for your photos.
9. Just before you begin, polish or dust the product as well as the lens of your camera with a microfiber cloth to remove any fingerprints or dust.
10. Begin the photo shoot by taking photos from different angles.
11. Review each angle to see which works best.
12. Adjust lighting if necessary, take some sample shots and compare them.
13. Decide on final lighting and camera angle settings.
14. Begin the final shoot.
How to Optimize Images for Amazon
We have all heard about how algorithms change the way we see items on social media or search engines, but did you know that Amazon uses algorithms to help determine which listings are shown first in their search? Knowing how to optimize your photos to meet the needs of these algorithms will give you an edge over your competition.
Amazon uses conversion rates as well as click-through rates in their algorithms. This means that your main photograph needs to catch the attention of a prospective buyer so they will click on it. Once opened, you want them to click on all of the other photos as well to increase your click-through rates.
There are three things to keep in mind when you are optimizing your images for Amazon.
1. Always add a full lineup of photos to your listing.
Do not leave any photo spots empty because people are less likely to look at them when there are only two or three.
The thought of capturing so many photos of one item might seem like a daunting task, but there are several ways to go about it. You definitely want to show the product from several different angles. If it has a special feature, consider a close-up shot of that area. You can also show the product being used in some instances.
According to the Amazon product image requirements, the main photo must not have any writing, but the additional photos can have text. This is a great opportunity to add in the size of a product, especially one that might look a lot larger or smaller when photographed without something beside it.
Another great reason to add a measurement piece or some text to a photo here is that many people never read the actual words in a listing. They simply scroll through the photos to make their decision. A great example of this would be a wall clock, a circle that could be any size and impossible to tell simply by looking at it on a white background by itself. If you add text to a photo that says it is thirty-six inches in diameter, then you may avoid complaints from people who purchased it assuming that it was only around twelve inches in diameter.
The additional images can also have backgrounds. You can place an item in its intended environment so it can be seen in a more appealing way. Seeing products being used in different ways will help to catch people’s attention and keep them clicking to see what else you will show them.
You should also use these additional image slots to add in the benefits of your product. Does it have something that makes it stand out from the competition? Perhaps you are selling an office chair that offers adjustable lumbar support. Many competitors’ chairs offer lumbar support, but not very many provide adjustable lumbar support. Be sure that at least one image highlights the fact that it is adjustable.
Finally, one of the additional spots can be a short video. Consider using this as a way to capture your audience’s attention, but be careful to keep the product the star of the video. You can use this opportunity to provide a three-hundred sixty-degree view of the product. You can also show the product being used in real-life along with voice-over describing the best features of the product.
2. Use only high-quality images.
One of the most important reasons that we suggest using high-quality images is so Amazon can zoom-in on your pictures. This feature is allowed on all photos, but the photos must be high-quality to get a clear zoom. Potential customers may be frustrated if they are unable to zoom in on a product, especially if they are viewing it on a smartphone or other device with a small screen.
For the main photo for your listing, the product must take up eighty-five percent of the space allotted for the image. This makes your product easier to see. The background must also be white. This means that your image must be clear and bright so that people will want to click your image instead of another seller’s image.
3. Images must meet the minimum guideline of one-thousand by one-thousand pixels.
At this level, your photography will look good in zoom mode. They will be clear on most devices as well. Most importantly, they will meet Amazon’s guidelines.
If you want to increase your chances of your image being clicked on, then two-thousand by two-thousand pixels should be used. This aspect ratio of 1:1 will allow for maximum zoom capability within Amazon’s platform.
While TIFF, JPEG, GIF and PNG formats are all acceptable formats for your photos, a JPEG will allow for the best optimization across all platforms and devices.
Adding Photos to Your Amazon Listing
After you have added your product listing, you can go to the section called “manage inventory” to add photos. Use this checklist to quickly add your photos.
1. Click on the Inventory tab.
2. Choose Edit from the options on the right corner.
3. Click Edit Product Info
4. You will automatically be redirected to your Offer screen
5. Open the Images tab.
6. Click the button for Choose File
7. Click on the image that you wish to upload
8. Repeat the process for each image slot.
9. When you have uploaded all of your images, click on Save & Finish at the bottom.
Things to Keep in Mind When Listing Products on Amazon
It can be easy for those of us on the business side to remember that most consumers are emotional consumers. This means that people focus on how the product makes them feel when they are making a purchase. It may seem callous, but photos that do not evoke joy really can turn away some potential customers. Likewise, photos that evoke negativity of any kind can turn away customers.
Focus on including emotion if your product photography. You may be thinking that there is no way to get emotion out of a photo of a hammer, but there is always a story to tell. Your main photo has to be just of that hammer, but you have an opportunity to tell a story in the rest of the photos. Show a dad pounding a nail into a doghouse with a little girl smiling in the background, and you will definitely appeal to people’s emotions.
Try to keep the photo free of too much extra clutter, but do try to tell a story. A photo for a pie tin might show a grandmother and a granddaughter smiling with their fresh-baked pie. Of course, the pie tin will be the focus, but the fact that they are there will help certain emotional buyers to at least take pause and look more carefully at the item.
Some people are emotional buyers in a totally different way. If they do not like one thing about your listing, then they are on to the next listing. This could be as simple as you not having enough images. If you only a couple, then many people will move on because to them it feels like you did not put much effort into your listing. Remember, they will not for real how much time and effort you put in. They will think you put in lots if you provide all images allotted and write up a decent description.
For people who purchase online often, the packaging is a big deal because they want it to arrive safely. An extra trip to the post office to do a return is not what they are bargaining for when they purchase online. Be sure that your packaging is not only suitable to keep the item safe, but also that it is attractive. This will help you gain positive reviews from customers which will help to propel your business forward.
Tips and Tricks for Your Amazon Product Photography
The basics are covered above, but this section will provide you with some extra tips and tricks to take your product photography to the next level.
1. Consider your branding before you begin. Is there a certain image that you hope to convey? Do you have a logo that you want to appear in your additional images since it is not allowed in the main image? Do you have a color scheme for your brand that you want to stick to for any text that you add to photos? Think this through ahead of time and have a plan in mind so you are not wasting your time making changes later.
2. Using a sweep for your background will eliminate a seam where the surface you are shooting on meets the wall behind it. A sweep is when you use cardboard or fabric and allow it to bend from the wall to the surface, leaving no seem.
3. Avoid using product accessories in your additional photos. While you want to show them off in their natural environment, do not show accessories that are specific to the product and that are usually sold separately. Doing so may confuse the buyer into thinking that they are included.
4. Illustrations and drawings of the product are never allowed. Be sure it is a high-quality photograph.
5. Even if you use a white background when taking photos, there may be some variation on the color scale and it may appear to have some blue or white in it. Use editing software to be sure that the background RGB is 255,255,255.
6. Consider using a photo of the product packaging, especially if you offer unique packaging. To some this seems unimportant, but to others it can make the difference between purchasing from you or one of your competitors.
If you are not convinced, then consider this example. Everyone knows which jewelry comes in a little blue box, right? When someone unwraps a box of Tiffany jewelry, they love it before they even know what is inside because they know that little blue box means that it is something spectacular.
7. Check out the competition before you take your photos. See what you like and do not like about competitor’s photos to help you shape your vision before your photo shoot.
8. Be sure to pay attention to the product size. Eighty-five percent of the image space should be of the product, but that does not mean take the product all the way to the edge. Certainly, it depends on the shape of the product, but be sure that the main photo has a nice balance of blank space all around it.
9. Always show different angles of each product. A head-on photo of a three-dimensional object does not show us its true dimension.
10. Be careful to keep your images modest. Nothing inappropriate will be allowed by Amazon, but be sure to keep the focus on the product. If you are using a model to sell clothing of any type, be sure that the focus is not on the model.
11. Consider adding a chart as one of the images that shows a comparison between your product and the competition.
12. Infographics can also be inserted as images. You can give a lot of information on this one image for the people who may not read the details in the written section.
You will have no problem learning how to shoot excellent product photography at home. As with anything, the longer you practice, the easier it will become. There is only one possible thing that could still be in your way. It is fear.
Many people read a guide like this and buckle with fear because they think of themselves as business-minded and not as a photographer. Some do not even realize they are fearful until they have gathered all of the supplies and are ready to take the first photo. Sometimes people do not feel afraid at all, but that fear shows up as procrastination.
Do not delay. Go get what you need to get started now and take that first photo today. Everything does not have to be perfect for you to take a few shots. This is important to build confidence as a competent at-home photographer. You may even find out that have a love for photography and will enjoy a new hobby alongside your Amazon business.