What is Product Photography?


Product photography is a form of commercial photography that has the goal of presenting a product in the best possible photographic representation. Great product photography takes into careful consideration the tools of proper lighting, background materials, sharp camera focus with proper depth of field, advantageous camera angles and careful editing. (We have already talked about some helpful tips for doing product photography in another article.)

Professional ecommerce photography helps customers better choose between rival products. Thus, sellers of goods are best advised to utilize professional product photographs in order to compete in the marketplace of 2019. (Read more about 6 reasons why to use professional product photography services.) There are also some new types of product photographs that were not available until very recently that even better help buyers differentiate between products.

The following will examine the different types of product photographs and their uses for product sellers.

Types of Product Photography

Clothing Photography

In order to make clothing look appealing to the potential buyer, there are a few techniques that can be employed by the professional product photographer (read more about 5 Secret Skills to Become Like-a-Pro eCommerce Photographer). What is consistent is usually a focal length of just over 50 mm. If there is a need to make the clothing look a bit slimmer, a focal length of 85mm to 135 mm, basically a portrait lens, would be required. An aperture setting of f/8 to f/11 will make the background and clothing look sharp. Sometimes, it is advantageous to make the background look blurry, so an aperture setting in the range of f/4 or f/5.6. An ISO of 100 and a tripod are a must for tack-sharp photos.

The clothing can be placed in a few different ways:

Flat Lay

The clothing is either open or folded on a table or the floor for the shoot.

Eye-level shot

The lens will be at the garment's level. The garment can be hung on a hanger or worn by a mannequin or a live model. The eye-level shot gives the customer the ability to see more sides of the apparel. In the case of a live model, the customer can see how the garment actually looks on a real person.

Ghost mannequin technique

Photoshop helps us create the ghost mannequin technique. This type of photo looks as though someone is wearing the clothing, but you cannot see the wearer. This is done by carefully taking eye-level shots with a live model and one shot of the top of the shirt, for example, photographed inside-out. The live model's limbs are carefully removed in Photoshop and the top of the inside of the shirt is blended onto where the neck protruded from the shirt. This leaves the look of the garment being worn. Extra wrinkles can be removed from garments with a Photoshop technique called “frequency separation.” To read more about clothing photography techniques, visit our previous article about "12 Helpful Tips for doing Clothing Photography".

ghost mannequin

Product Photos on a White Background

White background photography allows the product to be the sole focus of the shot. It creates crisp, sharp shots that allow for examination of the product's details. The white background can be paper, vinyl, muslin or canvas. Careful lighting produces a seamless, white background. Interestingly, if you don't illuminate the backdrop, only the subject, the backdrop will look gray in the photo. You can also add diffusers that create patterns in the lighting or change the background color in Photoshop or Lightroom. We have previously talked about the benefits of white background photography.

product photos on white background

Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photographers pose people in very carefully crafted scenes to appear as though they are naturally doing some act at a certain place and time. The pose is to depict something about their “lifestyle.” When we add products to the mix, we are posing people in relation to the product to depict a certain type of lifestyle gain that they have received as a function of interacting with your product.

As an example of a lifestyle photo, think of just about any cell phone advertisement. Often, we see less product photos of the phones and more lifestyle photos showing the phone's customer enraptured by something they are able to do by using the phone, often connecting or sharing with others. Obviously, it takes a really expert photographer to get these poses to look natural and to take the perfect photograph of the scene at the same time.

lifestyle photography

Amazon Product Photography

An entirely new category of product photographs are those for products being sold on Amazon. The reason that this is a separate category is that Amazon has very strict requirements for the photographs on product listing pages. For every product photograph on Amazon, they must be a square 1,000 by 1,000 pixel image in RGB format that is saved in JPEG, TIFF or GIF format and that must fill 85 percent of the frame. There are also very specific guidelines regarding filenames for each product's set of photographs. The reason for the high resolution required for the Amazon photos is that they allow customers to use the zoom tool and zoom into the product image.

The main image also has more requirements, including that it must be set against a white background. Subsequent images can include an info-graphic to show at a glance your product's features and its benefits. You may need to show other sides of the product. You will also likely want a lifestyle photo of the product being used and/or a video.

amazon product photography

360 Product Photography

When photographers take many photographs of different camera angles of a product, they can be assembled, with software, into a 360-degree product view. In order to construct a really great 360-degree view, photographers will use a 360 degree turntable and move the product on the turntable in small increments relative to the camera that remains stationary on its tripod. Software can turn these images into a flowing 360-degree product view. The advantage here is that consumers can see your product from every single angle. A great example of the use of a 360-degree product view would be for running shoes for an avid runner.

Sadly, not enough ecommerce platforms support this technology today, but things are rapidly changing.

Fashion Photography

Unlike simple clothing photography, fashion photography usually entails the clothing being worn by paid models who are either photographed in some exotic location or wear ensembles that have a certain motif. Fashion photography comes out of the studio and onto the beach, the street or the runway. This demands an entirely different skill set than that of the studio clothing photographer. The models are in motion in areas where the lighting may not be as easy to control. The use of fashion photography can provide your clothing line a lifestyle ethos and providing a dramatic means of demonstrating your clothing in action in daily life. (Read more about Trending fashions for Clothing Photography)

Overall, the best type of photography for your product is a function of the product's type, its usage and where the product is being marketed. Today, with the advent of digital photography, we have a number of new and exciting means of photographing products that really help customers make informed product decisions.

At Coconut Product Photography, we specialize in different types of Product Photography. We capture customer attention so that you can close the deal at a price that is sure to give you a great ROI. Simply send us your products and we make them look great with clear, professional, and creative pictures you will absolutely love.

We offer 100% customer satisfaction guarantee with our images. Please visit our FAQ to learn more about our services.

Coconut Product Photography helps many awesome retailers with their clothing and ecommerce photography. We offer the best prices in the industry and each image is professionally shot and edited in our studio by our experienced staff. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you want to make an order.

2 thoughts on “What Is Product Photography?

  1. Reply

    […] found this site really helpful when I started looking into areas of photography that interested me as it covered […]

    1. Reply
      Ali - April 7, 2018

      Hi Emily,
      Thanks for sharing the post.

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