Tips For Taking Attractive Product Photos On A Budget

Published on
June 6, 2022

The attention of users is naturally drawn to images. So here are some pointers to help you improve your product photos on a budget! which substantiate the quality of your product and serve as windows into your e-commerce store.

The value of your products is often judged by how good they look. Visual presentation matters when you want people to trust your brand time and again. And that's why beautiful product photography can help enhance how people perceive your business and its offerings. 

Online businesses must showcase ecommerce products using high-quality images because it can make the difference between back-to-back conversions and no sales at all. This is particularly true for products showcased on online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, where they are displayed with your competitor's goods, and on social media, where people interact with your business regularly. 

The fact of the matter is that 21.8% of the global population purchases via online stores; that's about 1.66 billion people, many of whom are your prospective buyers. So, irrespective of your industry, you need to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd and make yourself known to your unique audience. 

Compelling product photography is critical to convincing consumers to purchase your products. 90% of shoppers buying online consider photo quality as a crucial factor in a virtual sale. Justuno reports that 93% of customers consider visual content a critical deciding factor when purchasing online. Most importantly, the quality of the visuals decides how good your products look and how much interest they attract. 

Why Is Good Product Photography Essential?

Compelling product photos act as brand emissaries. It projects your mode and brand in an acceptable, simple, and captivating way. Whether your brand is ornate or modern, your product pictures fortify the brand, making it even more relatable. Additionally, quality product photos also help you establish customer trust in your brand and your products.

The ROI in high-quality product images magnifies when endorsed by a highly unique and valuable product copy. So the closer customers get to purchase, the more info they require about a particular product, specifically at higher price points.

There are two types of product photography based on your target audience, the message you aim to communicate and the product you want to represent.

  • Product-only shots. These view your product from all applicable angles. When you shoot these on a white background, it further helps by giving a consistent and cohesive look within your product line.
  • Lifestyle shots. These product photography shoots are well-suited for blogs and social media. In-context photos boost emotional engagement.

Both have their benefits and can be utilized for similar products to show them off in distinct ways. 

Product Photography Tips

Here are some tried and tested ways to use  photography to promote your products effectively and on a budget:

Product Photography Tips
Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels

Use Color Theory to Influence Your Viewers

There is no denying the fact that colors affect human psychology. Specific color combinations bring out particular emotions and inspire ideas in people.

Understanding and studying color theory allows you to create more enticing and visually appealing photographs. That way, you'll also be able to take advantage of colors by influencing how your viewers react to a photo while staying on track with your budget.

Pull up the color wheel and use the following color combinations for your shots.


This approach requires you to pick colors that contrast each other to create a dynamic and dramatic color palette for your specific image, with lots of differences in luminance. You'll find complementary colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.

Split Complementary

The split-complementary look is comparatively easier to accomplish and less bold. Once you pick two opposite base colors, make sure you add two adjacent colors to the primary ones.


The triadic approach uses colors that are evenly spread around the color wheel. This makes for pretty vibrant color swatches that are flashy and eye-catching.


The analogous approach is all about using colors beside each other. When you use colors this close, it creates a sense of comfort for the onlookers.

Ensure Your Images Are Sharp And Clearly Defined

Pixelated, blurry photos make it challenging for shoppers to clearly understand the picture of your specific item and eventually negatively impact the overall user experience.

Poor images make your visitors perceive your site as less trustworthy and credible, and they might spend their time and money elsewhere. So, if you have a DSLR camera, make sure that it has a broad aperture range. Then focus the lens on the subject with a lower aperture. This should help you take a more transparent, sharper photo that does your product justice. 

If you have an iPhone, use the portrait mode for a similar effect.

Use The Correct Tones To Uplift Your Images

A telephoto lens keeps the colors genuine and natural without distorting the proportions of your product. This is vital in product photography, especially one that mainly revolves around color, such as clothing.

If your photo alters the colors, it can lead to significant issues when selling your product, resulting in dissatisfaction from both the end customer and the business.

Think of denim jeans that look light blue online, but the buyer receives a darker shade of blue. They are naturally dissatisfied with your services as a seller because they didn't get what they thought they were buying. 

Prevent this by accurately photographing your products. And if necessary, send them color samples or Pantone color codes to know the exact shade of the product they are ordering. 

Generate Innovative Ideas to Market the Product

Many marketers believe the key to selling products is tying them to an exciting lifestyle and demonstrating how easy and convenient your customer's life will be if they buy it. 

This requires not only good lifestyle photography, but you also need to create a good story around it to pique buyer interest. 

Develop a world of its own, a unique ambiance around your offerings, and it will attract people fast. Try to capture this story in images, and this will help you with your creativity and let your vision shine.

Pick Artificial Light Or Natural Light

Pick a good light for your photo
Photo by Zsófia Fehér from Pexels

Never underestimate the way different types of light can enhance or hinder your product photography. Bear in mind that buyers will always get the perfect look of an item physically, where they can precisely gauge everything they need before making a purchase. 

The appropriate lighting arrangement enables you to reveal those essential decision-making product aspects.

Essentially, there are two types of lighting that you can choose from as your primary light source: artificial and natural light.

Artificial Light

Artificial light comprises fire, candles, and customarily, light bulbs. These are also referred to as "hard light" as it creates a minor but more focused surface of light. This light type caters to physical and detail-oriented products that need to be emphasized to influence and entice online shoppers.

Select suitable lighting for every photo — artificial or natural. When you add natural light to artificially lit photos, it can soften the products that appear too sharp. On the other hand, adding artificial light to naturally lit photos can sharpen the products that look soft. 

Natural Light

Natural light is sunlight. It is also referred to as "soft light" as the sun casts a softer, more extensive range of light compared to lamps shining on the product directly. E-commerce product photography thrives in natural light when

  • The product is worn on, shot with, or used by an individual (natural light enhances the look of an individual)
  • The product is meant to be utilized outside or shot outside
  • You are trying to focus on the product's surroundings instead of the particular attributes of the item

Bounce Or Fill Your Light To Moderate Shadows

Whether you are using artificial or natural light, it is essential to lessen the shadows that any possible hard light casts on the product's end opposite.

Here are some ways to achieve this.

Fill Light

Include another less-intense light source to complement your primary light. This auxiliary light is utilized for counterbalancing to moderate the natural shadow your core light creates behind an object.

To do this, position your fill light opposite your primary light so that your product placement is between both light sources.

Flashbulb Bounce Card

A reflector card, or bounce card, is a card that "bounces" or "reflects" the core light back against the surface underneath your product to minimize shadows.

Some bounce cards link to the professional camera lens' flashbulb to diffuse the camera's flashlight. These cards splash a softer light on the object from above that set, so no long shadows are traced behind the thing you are shooting.

Standalone Bounce Card

If you are going for a shoot from a smartphone, flashbulb bounce cards aren't an option, as there is no physical flash that you can join it to. 

Place your standalone bounce cards opposite your core light source. This can effectively substitute your fill light, countering the hard light from the lamp or camera flash facing your product's front from a beginner's standpoint.

ensure you images are in a good quality
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

Consider The Platform Requirements

It's vital to shoot your product with the final image in mind. But, at the same time, different online platforms have distinct specifications for how the pictures will look best on their websites.

For instance, if you are photographing the products for an Etsy store, portrait images must look good on the product page. However, when it comes to the search thumbnails, they are landscape. This means a clever and capable photographer will shoot photos that look decent when cropped into both landscape and portrait. 

It may also mean that you will have to leave additional space around the products when you are shooting and cropping them later in the post-processing stage.

Instagram can be an explicitly demanding platform to shoot for if you want to click images that look appealing on social media. Ideally, you need to post pictures in a particular ratio (5:4) to consume as much space as possible, making it more eye-catching and visually pleasing when visitors scroll down the feed.

But, they automatically crop to a square format (1:1) on the user's profile grid. Unfortunately, this means that you miss out on details in the bottom and top of the picture in the thumbnails. 

In addition, the "stories" feature on Instagram uses pictures that are in a ratio of 16:9 – much skinnier and taller than the platform's news feed! Similarly, different platforms will require you to arrange your camera settings accordingly, giving you the best results and premium photos.

Moreover, make sure you research the pixel size for every online platform you want to shoot for. If you are generating images that are very small, they are likely to look blurry or pixelated when uploaded.

Styled Product Photography

Scale, lifestyle, or close-up shots are brilliant when highlighting characteristics and features of your product to make them prominent to the viewers. For instance, if you are shooting for a fashion brand, lifestyle photoshoots bring your effort to life.

On the other hand, to pull off a refined product photoshoot, you'll need to be a little prepared.  

First off, define your specific style. For example, are you an industrial, minimalist, organic or, quirky? If you are minimalist, you wouldn't want to clutter your pictures with unnecessary elements.

Regardless of the style, ensure that your photo is consistent and aligned with your brand elements.

Here are some aspects to consider.

  • Focus on branding. Use shapes, patterns, and colors that are consistent with your brand message and current branding 
  • Know the rule of thumb. This is a straightforward rule when you evenly distribute the picture into thirds both vertically and horizontally, and the primary focus of your image lies in the intersection of those lines. This helps you position the core elements, resulting in better compositions
  • The end goal is to market your product. Make sure you don't let other elements in the picture draw the attention of viewers away from what is on offer
  • Leverage the suitable model. Demonstrate scale, fit and size, by leveraging a model. This enables the viewers to visualize how that particular item will look on an individual 

Showcase the advantages of your product. For instance, if your product can help the customer solve a specific problem, make sure you dedicate a photo to doing just that.

Use A Background That Highlights Your Products

Ensure that the background you choose resembles how you want your customers to perceive your offerings when viewing them. Consider whether you would like a more real-world, dynamic background or white background. 

White Background: Use A Sweep

To get a perfect picture with a white background with no blemishes or corners, use a sweep. The sweep's curve isn't visible on the camera, which highlights the critical product specification. This allows you to get your website visitor's attention without any hindrance.

Real-World Background: Use Portrait Mode

Real-world, dynamic backgrounds appeal specifically for shooting products with a particular use or being modeled by an individual. However, the real-world environment can easily steal the photo's focus, making it vague, which shows the product you are indeed marketing in the picture.

Give your product emphasis and depth by using a portrait mode – a picture setting option on most professional cameras. Also, this is available on various smartphones. This mode blurs the background, making your product's context clearer.

use a background for your photo
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Feature Various Images For Products

Often, it is best to display multiple images of every product. E-commerce shoppers would want to check the product close-ups and see it from different angles to make sure the details match the description and gauge how it will look actually.

As online shoppers don't have a similar shopping experience like retail customers, they can't try on a product. Therefore, it is vital to provide them with enough product information and images (like outfit inspiration shots and size charts) to display the product adequately.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is that you shouldn't underestimate the significance of product photography as it is a robust "business saving" tool in marketing your goods while letting you stay within your budget. 

As visual creatures, people process info depending on what they see. 

Consumers are always looking for time-efficient options and methods. So naturally, their attention draws to images. Product images substantiate your product's quality and act as windows into your e-commerce store, which creates an air of honesty and transparency.

Also, with Zaapi, you get valuable insights into the number of sales and the trending products in your online store. As a result, it can help you make data-driven and well-informed decisions.

Ian Haynes
Proud Brooklynite, avid reader, writing enthusiast, and a digital marketing specialist.
Zaapi makes it easier to close your sales in chats.