It may seem like there is a lot to learn to start you Amazon journey and run a successful business, but when it comes down to it, the key to a solid business foundation is to master the basics.
And the most basic component of a successful Amazon business just happens to be…
From a technical standpoint, product photography is a branch of commercial photography that focuses on accurately but attractively representing a product. Photographers use specific techniques to showcase products to ultimately entice potential buyers to purchase a product.
Sounds exciting, right?
You may not be on the edge of your seat right now waiting to learn more, but trust me, if you care about selling products on Amazon – even just a little – you better care about product photography.
It doesn’t have to excite you, but you sure as heck need to make it a priority.
In this article, we’ll help you master the basics of product photography and ensure your Amazon business hits the ground running.
- Why Good Product Images Are SO Important
- Our Amazon Image Formula
- What Qualifies as a High Quality Image
- How to Get Quality Images:
- DIY Solutions
- Professional Photographers
So let’s not dilly dally any longer…
Why Are Good Product Images SO Important?
The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words goes a long way when it comes to becoming a successful Amazon seller.
Your product images will do more to speak to your customer than anything else you could put in your product listing.
They are the first thing customers see and they are the most powerful tool for communicating the quality of your entire brand.
A good image not only reflects the quality of the product, but also the trust and value a customer can expect from you as a seller and from your brand as a whole.
Does that sound like a lot to take from an image?
Believe it or not, 90% of all information transmitted to our brains is visual. Images impact everyone and most customers will make their buying decision off the product image alone.
If their first impression of your product and brand is good, they are much more likely to trust you and choose your product over the competition.
This not only impacts current but also future sales thanks to the role of conversion rates in Amazon’s search results algorithm.
If you have poor quality images, your listing is less likely to convert. And if your conversion rates are low, you will slip in your search result ranking.
The reverse is true as well. If you are currently ranked 5th and your images are better than the 2nd ranked product, there is a good chance that you will receive more clicks and quickly rise in the rankings.
The bottom line is that your first image should encourage clicks, and the rest of your images should back up that same brand message of quality and transparency to encourage the final sale.
Doing so will create a positive reinforcing cycle to keep you at the top of the search results while simultaneously building a relationship of trust with customers that will keep them coming back for more.
And all of that from an image.
Many people do not invest in their product images which means that understanding the importance of quality product photography and following through on that knowledge to produce good product images will give you a huge advantage over the competition and easily place you in the top 10% of sellers in any category.
Our Amazon Image Formula
You could produce images for magazines or catalogues or even your own online store, but each of those platforms will have their own guidelines and types of images that will work best.
When it comes to Amazon, you only get nine photos. Total.
And as crazy as it seems, not everyone uses all nine photos! Some only include the main image. Don’t be that person! You should always use more than one image, if not all nine that you are allowed.
Take every opportunity to show off your product and build your overall brand image. More information means more transparency which means more trust and, ultimately, more sales.
But let’s get specific. Here is the exact formula we use for our personal brands that we have found works best to convert visitors to your page into actual customers:
The Main Image
1. Solo Shot With White Background
If you were to watch the typical Amazon customer search for and purchase a product, you would quickly see that they do not read a single word until they are well into their search.
Not a single word.
In the beginning, they ONLY see pictures. If they like what they see on the surface, then they’ll go deeper and click through to your listing.
If your main image is terrible, no one will ever get to the rest of your images or to your amazing copy that you spent all that time optimizing for keywords.
For this reason alone, your main image is literally the most important part of your whole listing.
Amazon, of course, has a few specific rules that apply to the main image.
For one, it must be an image of the actual product – not the outside packaging, a lifestyle shot, or anything else. It must be a solo shot of the product that takes up as much of the frame as possible – 85% to be specific.
Amazon also wants you to convey a clean, professional image, which means that the solo shot must have a white background. Whiteish backgrounds will not do. Only pure white.
2. Secondary Images
The eight other images you are allowed are only second in importance to your main image.
What you put in the images is entirely up to you, but we have found from our investigation on best Amazon product images that content and order matters.
If you are missing one or two key photos or mix up the order, you could completely botch your conversion rates.
The following are the images, the image content, and the image order we suggest for your eight secondary images:
Solo Shot Up Close: Most products will need an up-close shot showing the texture of the product, the label, or the packaging. One reason for this is to decrease the risk of having your listing hijacked by showing the branding on the product. This image should also give the customer an intimate feel of the product – like they can almost hold it in their hands and feel the quality of the product.
Benefits Graphic: Visually display the benefits of the product. This image is all about the customer and how the product is going to help them, solve their pain point, and make their life better overall.
Features Graphic: This image is all about the product. It should visually display the product features and highlight how it is different from all the other products a customer could possibly choose. It can also be something that adds value to the buyer and aids them in their buying process, like a sizing chart for clothing items.
If you are launching your product in various Amazon Europe markets, both the benefits and features graphics should include all relevant translations (on the same image) of the text explaining the benefits and features of the products. If you are looking for help for your listing optimization and translation to any language, check out our Optimize service.
Lifestyle Pictures (2): Lifestyle images grant you quite a bit of creative license to portray the many ways your customers could use your product. These images are key to tapping into the customer’s mirror neurons that help them imagine themselves using the product.
While getting these shots taken can require more work and organization, make them a priority. Take full advantage of the opportunity to show your product “in action” to make it look more real and authentic. Head outdoors or a find particular a setting that captures your brand image and voice.
Multi-Panel Shot (Use Cases): The multi-panel shot allows you to present the customer with the various different uses of the product in just one image. If you are selling gardening gloves, for example, show the customer how the gloves work for planting flowers just as well as they do for pulling up weeds or carrying firewood.
This is one image where you cannot sacrifice quality. If you upload the images in HD, customers will be able to hover over the image and see each panel up close and read the text, increasing conversions.
Product Specific Shots (2): Tailor your final two images to your specific product.
Can you use a smartphone with your gardening gloves on? Show that.
Is there more than one pair of gloves in a package? Show that.
Are the gloves easy to wash? Show that.
Whatever extra feature you want to highlight, base these last two images on your product and what you want to convey to your audience.
What Qualifies as a High Quality Image?
We won’t bore you with too many details here, but suffice it to say that Amazon is pretty explicit about what they want from you in terms of image quality. We’ll let them do the talking. You can read all of Amazon’s product image requirements here.
One of the more important Amazon requirements that we want to emphasize, however, is that your images need to be at least 1000px or larger to enable the zoom feature.
Giving your customers the ability to zoom in on your photos will increase your conversion rates, so having high pixel quality should be a top priority.
You should also remember that the product and props should fill at least 85% of the image frame. If they do not, Amazon may take your listing down. The same goes for watermarks, animated images, and artistic representations – they are not allowed.
How to Take High Quality Product Images for Amazon
While good cameras have become more and more accessible in recent years, most people still lack the general knowledge and skills needed to take quality product images. The best solution is to hire a professional to ensure the quality of your images.
Remember, product photography should be a principal priority and that means spending a little more to get good images.
However, not everyone has the budget to hire a professional, especially when they’re starting out. If you don’t have friends or family with experience who are willing to take pictures for you on the cheap (or for free), sometimes the only option is to take the photos yourself.
Below, we’ll discuss the six most important tips for those who decide to take their own product photos and then we’ll cover the best ways to hire a professional photographer and the kind of money you can expect to spend.
DIY Solutions- How to Take Product Photos at Home
The benefit of taking your own product images is that you can take them exactly how you want and you can take as many of them as you’d like, giving you more opportunities to test the conversion rates of different images.
However, you’ll need to acquire a few basic skills before you can really get your images to look like you want them to. Start with these six tips:
How to take pictures with the white background
To improvise a background on a budget, you can set up a simple shooting table with a clean white sheet (with NO wrinkles) placed on a flat area with a stack of books or a box underneath.
However, this setup will only work for smaller products. For a bit more sophisticated approach that will work for all product sizes and ensure a higher quality photo, you can set up a chair mounted sweep.
This doesn’t have to be expensive either. Simply buy a roll of white craft paper, tape it to the wall or clip it to a chair and let it fall naturally to the ground creating a seamless transition between the vertical to horizontal plane
Another option is to create a light tent or lightbox. You can read more here about the exact details of how to create a DIY lightbox, but the main idea is to create a box-shaped device (like a plastic storage container) with translucent walls that distribute light evenly around the object being photographed.
Light is the key to good photography. Light alone can determine the quality of your images so, while it can be tedious to set up, it is worth the effort.
If you are taking pictures indoors with a chair mounted sweep, try to set things up as near as you can to a natural light source.
Artificial light, on the other hand, is best to use with a lightbox.
If you don’t have a photography flash or lamp, you may be able to get by with LED lights that create a bright, white light. However, if you can spare to invest a little, go out and buy at least two identical cool colored 5000K bulbs that you can place on either side of your box.
If you are shooting outdoors, use natural light. It is best to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon when light is filtered at a smaller angle. If the shadows are too harsh, you can use white plasterboard or cardboard on either side to reflect some light and soften the shadows.
Finally, as a general rule, it is better to have too much light than not enough because it is easier to minimize than to create light during the editing process.
Equipment (Camera & Tripod)
If you are on a really tight budget, you can start out by taking pictures on your camera phone. However, while the quality of phone cameras has improved by leaps and bounds, if you plan on using DIY product photography long-term, it is definitely worth investing in some equipment.
The price of DSLR and point and shoot cameras has gone down significantly in recent years and you may be surprised at the quality of cameras you can get, even within your limited budget.
Once you have settled on a camera, set it at a low aperture for a high f/stop and slow shutter speed. Doing so will give you a wide depth of field and keep your entire product in focus.
Because Amazon images are square, you can shoot your images as a square to begin with or at least center the product in the frame for a tight square crop.
Another useful piece of equipment (that isn’t too expensive) is a tripod. A tripod will give you a steadier hand and enable you to take more consistent, focused photos. Otherwise, you may get a blurry image when you try to get your entire product in focus while holding your camera in your hand without moving.
Editing can make all the difference in your images. If you want a professional, polished result, you need to take the time to edit. It can be a time-consuming process at first, but editing can make even your rookie photography look good.
With a little bit of work, you can learn to edit backgrounds, correct colors, remove mannequins, and even shadow products for a more natural look.
I recently tried Design Wizard- a graphic design tool which allows you to personalize an image or video in seconds. It comes in handy if you're not too experienced as it holds over 1 million high-quality images and tens of thousands of image and video templates. There are also integrations with Hubspot, Marketo, Buffer and Intercom. What makes Design Wizard stand out however is its magic resize button, which allows you to change the size of an image while you are creating a design.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Photography
Once you figure out a process that works, create clear SOPs for shooting, branding, and editing your images to maintain consistency as your brand grows (remember, product photos are your brand ambassadors so consistency matters).
Document all the little details like the distance between the camera and product, angles, and lighting setup.
Remember to include a technical guide for editing software to maintain size and scale, as well as a style guide for color palette, composition, consistency, focal length, location and context, saturation, shadows, etc.
Even if you transition from DIY photography to a professional, these SOPs will be a fantastic resource to give to any photographer you may hire to maintain your brand image no matter who you contract.
Either way, it will save you both time and money (remembering, training, etc.) and allow you to focus on more profitable tasks like growing your business.
As you study the best way to take and edit product images, you will need a basic understanding of photography terminology to really know what you’re doing. Here are some of the most important terms to know:
Exposure: This makes the image brighter or darker.
Brightness: Similar to exposure but usually removes more detail from the image so use with caution.
Temperature or Saturation: These are tools that can cool down the temperature (orange and yellow hues) of your photo to get that clean, white background that Amazon demands and provide a true depiction of your product color.
Clarity/Sharpen: You should work to take a focused picture to begin with, but you can also sharpen up your image with this tool. Just don’t use it too much or it will look fake.
Highlights/Shadows: You can often eliminate blemishes in the white background without losing the detail and shadow on the product with this setting.
If you can afford it, invest in professional product photography.
You will be more successful in your Amazon business long-term if you commit to spending on the areas where you are not an expert and focusing all your time and energy on building your business by executing your personal expertise.
And, chances are, you are not a born photography expert. You are much better off hiring a professional than you are taking all that time and effort (and investment in equipment) to do it yourself.
Your two main options are to hire a freelancer online or to hire someone locally.
Freelance websites are full of experienced professional photographers. Simply go to a site like Upwork and search for “product photographer” and you’ll be amazed by the number of results you’ll get (or check out this site that is specifically for freelance product photographers).
You can either create a job listing and have photographers apply and bid on your job, or you can go through the different photographers from your search results and find one that you feel is a good fit and reach out to them personally.
With either option, look at the photographer’s experience, job history (i.e., have they done jobs specifically dealing with Amazon product photography?), ratings, pricing, etc. and compare candidates.
Before you select a final photographer, message your top candidates and explain exactly what you are looking for and how you want your products photographed. Good communication is just as essential as photography skills, so be sure to find someone who understands your brand and is easy to work with.
Once you decide on a photographer, you can send them your product with all of your instructions and they will take your pictures and send them to you. It’s as easy as that.
You may also choose to hire a local photographer from your network or from a local classifieds site like Craigslist. Depending on where you are located, you may not have as good of a selection of photographers in your geographic limit as you will online.
However, being able to meet the photographer in person may give you a better chance to tell and show them exactly what you want and how you want the images taken.
You can expect to spend anywhere from $7 a photo to $50 for setup and $25/hour or more for product photography.
If you only need a few photos, the per photo rate may work best, but if you want your photographer to give you dozens of photos to choose from, the hourly rate is probably your best choice.
A lot of people decide to start selling on Amazon because the barrier to entry really isn’t that high. Becoming an Amazon seller is a simple process and Amazon itself is a fantastic platform with millions of shoppers.
But not every Amazon seller succeeds. In fact, over 90% of them fail within their first year. We spoke recently about the most common mistakes new Amazon sellers make and one of the most significant ones is that they do not invest in good product images.
Your images are the face of your brand and are often the only thing a customer will see before they decide whether or not they will purchase your product.
There’s a lot riding on your images, so do them right from the beginning. It may feel like a big expense, but it is an investment worth making.