Today we’ll be talking about types of product photography, what they are, how they are created and when to consider using them.
I’ll even be sharing product photography examples to give you an idea of each type.
But before we begin, I’d like to ask you a question …
Have you ever wondered why certain products online are so tempting to click and buy?
At the same time, there are millions of products that languish in obscurity, taking up server memory and warehouse space.
The difference between these isn’t a product’s intrinsic value and quality.
It’s actually about the artistry of their photographs.
Product photography has the power to help make your product an online sales success.
In fact, 93% of online shoppers are swayed by the visuals accompanying an online product.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the types of product photography and how you can use them to increase sales.
Table Of Contents:
Types of Product Photography: Zooming In On What, When, Why And How
1. Individual Shots
What It Is: These are the stars of your product line.
Individual shot product photography features one product in all its glory against a clean background.
When to Use: Got a product that’s the Beyoncé of your product line? Give it a solo stage.
Individual shots are perfect for product pages, website images, banners and brochures, tradeshow displays and so much more.
Benefits: These shots are your bread and butter for eCommerce—clear, focused, and all about the product.
How to Take: Use a tripod and a clean backdrop, set your camera to aperture priority mode, and let your product shine in the spotlight.
The Individual shot, a type of product photography perfect for your best selling products.
2. Group Shots
What It Is: A group shot is the family portrait of your products.
These shots feature multiple products together, often variations or complementary items.
When to Use: Got a product family? Show them off together!
These are great on product pages to introduce consumers to the family.
Benefits: Great for showing variations or companion products.
This type of product photography can help by enticing consumers to purchase more or related items they may not have thought about.
How to Take: Arrange the products in a visually pleasing way, make sure the lighting is even, and shoot from different angles to capture the perfect group dynamic.
Group Shots are the family portrait of the product world.
3. Lifestyle Shots
What It Is: These shots place your product in a real-world scenario.
There could be a model wearing your apparel, a handbag sitting on a table or even a coffee mug being filled with a delicious brew.
The idea with this type of product photo is to help the consumer imagine the product in their life.
When to Use: Lifestyle photos are so versatile, they are perfect for most uses.
Want to show your product in its natural habitat? This is your go-to.
Benefits: Helps customers visualize how they’d use the product. Plus, it’s your chance to set a mood and tone for your brand.
How to Take: Think about the context in which your product will be used and recreate that setting.
Use props and models if necessary.
Product photography example of a lifestyle shot.
4. Scale Shots
What It Is: Scale shots include a reference item (like a coin or a hand) to indicate the size of the product.
When to Use: When size matters. No, seriously, when you need to show how big or small your product is.
Benefits: It saves you from unhappy customers saying, “I thought it would be bigger!” No more awkward moments, folks.
How to Take: Place a recognizable object next to your product and shoot from an angle that clearly shows the size comparison.
A scale shot, showing the size of the products in relationship to the model’s hands.
5. Detailed Shots
What It Is: Extreme close-ups (also known as Macro photography) that focus on specific features or textures of your product.
When to Use: Does your product have some intricate details you’re proud of? Flaunt them!
Benefits: Think of this as the close-up magic of product photography.
It’s where you show off the bells, whistles, and the stitching on embroidered initials.
How to Take: Use a macro lens or zoom in, and make sure your product is the only thing in focus.
Detailed Shots, the type of product photography that provides close ups of the merchandise.
6. Packaging Shots
What It Is: These are shots of your product still in its packaging.
When to Use: When your packaging is too pretty to be torn apart on Christmas morning, you should include packaging shots in your mixture of product photo types.
Benefits: For some brands, the unboxing experience is half the fun. Don’t miss out on showing it off.
How to Take: Light it well, show the product inside if possible, and capture any text or logos clearly.
These can also be taken with the product outside of the packaging so the consumer can see both together.
A type of packaging shot, the beautiful container that holds the game, along with what is inside.
7. White Background Shots
What It Is: The product is shot against a pure white background, eliminating any potential distractions.
When to Use: When you want consumers to focus solely on your product. Just them and the product, having a moment.
Benefits: This is the “little black dress” of product photography—timeless, versatile, and fits in anywhere, especially e-commerce sites. In fact, many sites like Amazon prefer white background e-commerce photos.
How to Take: Use a white backdrop and diffused lighting to avoid any shadows or color casts.
Be careful to make certain the light hitting the backdrop doesn’t wrap around the product and make it blend into things.
While you can get a pure white background in camera, some product photography studios will brighten the white to pure white (RGB 255,255,255) in editing.
An example of a white background product shot – perfect for Amazon and other e-commerce sites.
8. Hero Shots
What It Is: These are high-quality, high-drama shots often used in advertising.
They’re designed to make your product look epic.
This is accomplished with a lower camera angle looking up toward the product giving it a superior position.
When to Use: When your product deserves its own superhero cape.
Actually, hero shots are great for website banners and on-page images. There are plenty of uses for them!
Benefits: These are the shots that end up on billboards and in glossy magazines. High drama, high impact.
How to Take: Think big. Use dramatic lighting. Use a lower camera angle to look up toward the hero.
Plus, you could add some post-production magic, just don’t skimp on the quality.
Looking slightly up at a bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire Whiskey – a hero shot. The camera is placed just below center of the bottle. Other hero shots use a lower angle.
9. Non-Traditional Shots or Action Shots
What It Is: These are your out-of-the-box shots that might feature your product in unexpected scenarios.
They could be floating in a pool of water, underwater, floating, in a rainfall or even on fire (safely, of course).
A good product photography example is above with the flaming bottle of whiskey – but there two other examples below!
When to Use: When you want something that really stands out and is unexpected.
Benefits: Perfect for social media buzz. The type of product photography that makes people stop and look!
How to Take: Let your creativity run wild, but ensure you follow safety guidelines. Nobody wants a flaming disaster.
A floating bottle of lotion, non-traditional and the how did you do that WOW factor.
A can of ginger ale sinking in water – the impression of action in a static shot.
Example of a product photography shot for social media.
11. Infographic Shots
What It Is: These are product shots combined with informative graphics, text, or icons.
Imagine if your product photo and an infographic had a baby. Or maybe don’t.
When to Use: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes you still need a few more.
Infographic product shots are perfect for calling out features and details on a product.
Benefits: Infographic shots are kind of the CliffsNotes of product photography—quick, informative, and easily digestible.
How to Take: Start with a high-quality product shot and then use graphic design software to add text, icons, or other informational elements.
Share details about your product with an infographic.
12. 360-Degree Shots
What It Is: This is like a panoramic view of your product, showing it from multiple angles in one interactive image.
When to Use: When you want to give your customers the closest thing to a hands-on experience.
Benefits: It’s the next best thing to physically picking up a product and looking at it from all angles.
360 degree product photography has also been shown to keep people on your product pages longer as they interact with the image.
How to Take: You’ll need a 360-degree photography turntable and software to stitch the images together. It’s a bit advanced, but the results can be spectacular.
This is a 360 degree GIF image. To see interactive images and learn more about 360 Photography, click here.
Click and Capture: Tools for Perfect Product Shots
Now that you know the product photo types, you might be wondering, “What do I need to create my own product shots?”
So here is a list of the essential tools of the trade to snap like a pro:
1. Shooting Table or Light Tent
Why You Need It:
• A shooting table allows you to curve your backdrop or background paper.
This creates an endless background with no visible line where the base ends and the background begins.
You do not need a professional shooting table.
Any table will work as long as it is big enough for your product.
The backdrop can be taped to a wall or held up by a frame and you can still get a clean curve.
• A light tent softens the shadows and reduces glare. It also cuts off outside reflections if your product is shiny.
I do not recommend you try to save money on a light tent though. The cheap ones provide cheap results.
Pro Tip: If you’re on a budget, a white bedsheet and natural light can work wonders. You don’t need to break the bank.
2. Studio Lighting
Why You Need It:
Photography is all about light. Without light, your photo will look like a black frame.
Since lighting can make or break your shot, it is important to have good lighting for your product photography studio, even if your studio is just a kitchen table!
Also consider getting or making a light diffuser. This is a fabric that goes between the light and your product to soften the light so it spreads across your product.
If using sunlight through a window, sheer curtains will act as a perfect light diffuser.
Pro Tip: Natural light is your best friend—unless it’s a cloudy day. If so, LED lights or flash strobes can save your shot.
Why You Need It:
Unless you’ve got surgeon-steady hands or an extremely fast flash, you’ll want a tripod to eliminate camera shake.
Tripods allow you to get the right angle and frame your shots easier too.
Pro Tip: Get one with an adjustable head for those crazy angles. You’ll thank me later.
4. The Right Camera
Why You Need It:
A smartphone can do the job, but for the high-stakes shots, a DSLR or mirrorless camera is your best bet.
Pro Tips: Megapixels aren’t everything. Focus on lens quality.
And, for the love of all things photographic, learn how to use manual mode.
5. Photo Editing Software
Why You Need It:
Because not every shot comes out perfect. And that’s okay!
Pro Tip: Adobe Lightroom has a bit of a learning curve but can turn your product photos into ‘wow’ shots.
Don’t be afraid to play around and create interesting compositions. What started out as “eh” turned into “Cool!”
From Good to Great: Product Photography Guidelines
1. Rule of Thirds
Why It Matters:
The Rule of Thirds helps create balanced and visually interesting shots.
It also adds depth and dimension to your photos so they are more engaging.
Imagine your frame divided into nine equal segments.
Place the most important elements along these lines or at their intersections to capture the viewer’s attention.
2. Uniform Style and Branding
Why It Matters:
A uniform style provides consistency to ensure your audience immediately recognizes your brand’s visual language.
Use a consistent background, angle, and editing style.
Even a consistent prop can set the mood and tie your photos together.
3. Smart Framing for Different Platforms
Why It Matters:
Every platform and media has it’s own needs.
From Instagram squares and Facebook’s landscape formats, to a website’s hero image or a printer’s flyer dimensions.
Proper framing ensures your product doesn’t get lost or cut off.
Always shoot in high resolution and keep the main product centralized, so you can crop or adjust framing later without losing quality.
4. Use Negative Space Wisely
Why It Matters:
Negative space is the area that surrounds the main subject in your photo.
It can help your product stand out and give the eye a “resting place.”
This also provides room for text if a client wants to add information to the image.
Don’t be afraid to leave empty spaces in your photo; they can be powerful tools for directing attention toward your product.
5. Active vs. Passive Shots
Why It Matters:
An active shot shows the product being used and can better capture its benefits, while a passive shot focuses solely on the product itself.
For lifestyle brands or items that serve a function (like kitchen gadgets), mix in some active shots to show your product in action. It can make all the difference in how it’s perceived.
Product photo example of framing for Facebook with product in line with the rule of threes.
Techniques and Tips: Elevate Your Product Photography Game
Here are some tricks to help elevate your product photography game.
Natural vs. Artificial Light:
Natural light provides a soft, welcoming feel.
Diffused artificial light can do the same, but you can also take away the diffuser to create hard light which adds drama.
Depth of Field:
Want a blurry background? Play with depth of field to make your product pop.
Reds scream “Look at me!” while blues say “I’m trustworthy.” What message are you sending?
When to Consider Hiring a Professional Product Photographer
If you are a business owner, you might be thinking, “This helps, but when should I hire a professional product photographer?”
- are going for hero shots,
- have a high-stakes campaign,
- want to sell even more products, or
- don’t feel like taking the time involved to learn and invest in your own photography.
That is when you should hire a professional product photographer.
A professional will bring consistency, quality, and that extra ‘oomph’ that could turn your product into the next viral sensation.
You’ve almost made it to the end! Give yourself a pat on the back!
Product photography is a rapidly evolving field, with technologies like augmented reality and 360-degree photography.
As they becoming more mainstream, stay tuned, because the best is yet to come!
Slide into my DMs on Instagram at @tcproductphotos, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Until next time, keep shooting and keep shining!
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FAQs: Your Burning Questions Answered
What type of photography is product photography?
It’s a commercial type of photography, mainly done to make eCommerce websites look like a million bucks without costing it.
What does product photography include?
Anything and everything that makes your product look fabulous from all angles.