Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

7 Essential Types of Product Photos

Learn how to take photos that communicate vital information about your product in Chapter 2 of Etsy's Ultimate Guide to Product Photography.

By Etsy Staff May 29, 2017
Oohprettyshiny polaroid
Photo by oohprettyshiny

In order to make a purchase, customers want to be sure that they know what they are buying. Product photography that illustrates all facets of your product helps shoppers make confident, informed purchases. Here are a few of the things a great product photo can accomplish:

  • It grabs the attention of shoppers and compels them to click—and to buy.
  • It displays the product clearly.
  • It communicates important information about size, color, and materials.
  • It captures both the purpose and feeling of the product.
  • It helps shoppers imagine the product in their lives.

Using a variety of photo styles can convey a variety of information about your product. By mixing and matching from these seven photo types in your listings, you’ll give shoppers a well-rounded understanding of your product.

1. Studio shot

What it is: Your product on a plain background with plenty of light

Why to use it: A studio shot is a clear way to show potential customers what you’re selling. When shoppers browse thumbnail images, they’re drawn to clear, bright photos that show off the product. Clear photos help set a realistic expectation of what a customer will be receiving in the mail, helping you to avoid the hassle of returns and exchanges.

Barruntando yarn bowls
In this studio shot, the plain backdrop brings out the textures and form of Barruntando’s porcelain yarn bowls.

2. Lifestyle shot

What it is: Your product looking good in its natural habitat

Why to use it: A lifestyle shot helps people imagine what their lives would be like if they owned your product. This aspirational style of photo creates a scene illustrating the product being used that can help sway shoppers to make a purchase. If you sell complementary items, such as hats and scarves in the same color palette, try photographing them together to encourage additional purchases. For tips on styling a lifestyle shot, read our chapter on photo styling.

1979swimwear beach shot
This lifestyle photo of a model in a swimsuit by 1979 Swimwear helps buyers imagine what it might be like to wear it and makes the garment look extra appealing.

3. Scale shot

What it is: A photo of your product that visually communicates how big (or small) it is

Why to use it: Shoppers want to know what that enamel pin looks like on a real lapel, if that knit hat fits an infant or an adult, or if that vase holds one bloom or a whole bouquet.

Lingua Nigra bracelet
Lingua Nigra illustrates the size of these gold-plated bangles on a model’s wrist.

4. Detail shot

What it is: A close-up photo that highlights your product's features from all angles

Why to use it: Close-up shots show off the quality and texture of the materials and zoom in on important details, such as the lining of a purse, a necklace clasp, or the binding of a sketchbook. For vintage pieces, detail shots can also be used to show imperfections and set clear expectations for shoppers.

Mount Royal Mint tiger
This detail shot of Mount Royal Mint's soft sculpture shows off the item's embroidered stripes and wooly texture.

5. Group shot

What it is: Your products clustered together

Why to use it: Group shots are especially good for documenting products sold in multiples, such as sets of bowls or craft supplies, like beads and buttons. Products available in different colors, finishes, or materials (such as rings available in silver and gold metals or mugs with different colored glazes) also benefit from the group treatment. A grouping can be a good way to depict depth, variations, and different sides and angles of the product in one compelling image.

ThelmaMaysAttic beads
ThelmaMaysAttic uses a group shot to show the front, back and side of her opaque glass beads, all in one image.

6. Packaging shot

What it is: An image of your product’s packaging

Why to use it: Knowing how your product is packaged gives customers a better sense of your branding and what to expect in the mail. A beautiful packaging shot can also help to convey that your item makes a great gift.

MirDinara packaging
Mir Dinara employs a packaging shot to show off the gift box and a free recipe card included with their tea towels.

7. Process shot

What it is: Your product being made

Why to use it: A process shot can be used to emphasize the level of workmanship that went into a particular item. These types of shots are also handy for promoting your business on social media.

Goose Grease process
Goose Grease uses a process photo to highlight that their wooden dolls are painted by hand.

Putting it all together

You can use any combination of these seven photo types when shooting your items, choosing the shots that highlight your product’s best features. Because product photos drive sales, take advantage of as many opportunities as you have to show your product from every angle. (For instance, on Etsy, you can add up to 10 photos per listing. Learn more about how to list items on Etsy.) As you put together your shots, pay extra attention to the first photograph on your listing. In order to draw in shoppers, make sure your product’s main image (or thumbnail image) is a clear, eye-catching photo.

Continue reading > Chapter 3: Choosing Your Camera and Equipment

Go back > The Ultimate Guide to Product Photography

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