10 merchandise photography tips to sell more online

January 22, 2016

The tips you need to take eye-catching merchandise photography

This post has been updated

“A picture’s worth a thousand words.” In your case, you want the picture to be worth whatever you’re selling it for. Merchandise photography can make or break how the shopper views your store and your merchandise. So whether you use photos on your website, an online e-commerce site or in your Social Media, use these 10 merchandise photography tips to improve the look of the merchandise and improve your chances of making that sale.

1. Know your camera

Today, so many photos are taken on cell phones. It’s convenient and the photos can be easily uploaded, but it’s essential you understand all that your camera can do. Play around with such things as scenes (i.e. close-up vs. a backlight photo), the white balance (i.e.a cloudy day vs. incandescent light) and the aspect ratio. Some cell phone companies even offer in-depth tutorials on taking better photos so study up!

2. The right light

To do the best possible merchandise photography, you need optimum light. Natural light, whenever possible, is ideal. Simply put, natural light is sunlight. Place your item either by a large window or even outside if possible and avoid using your flash because it often causes items to wash out. WIX refers to it as Hard Light vs. Soft Light and you can see what a difference it makes.merchandise photography depends on the type of lighting

3. Tell a story

If possible, show your merchandise as it would be used. Photograph it on someone’s wrist, if you’re selling a watch. If you’re selling a coffee table, place it in a vignette with a few accessories displayed on top. Help the buyer to envision how the merchandise could be used.

4. Don’t use filters

For awhile now, adding filters to photos has been all the rage. They are great for fun family photos but using filters in your merchandise photography doesn’t present it in its true form. Even if your photo doesn’t turn out just as you would like, resist the temptation to add a filter and find other ways such as creatively cropping to display the item.

5. Use a plain white backdrop

It’s essential to remove distraction. WIX suggests using the “Infinity Curve” where your merchandise becomes the sole focus on a pure white backdrop. You can either get a large sheet of white paper from a photography supply company or visit your local teacher’s store to see if they offer large bulletin board rolls. Invest in some heavy duty clamps too so the paper is held down tight.

6. Sense of scale

This is especially important for shops that sell large items such as furniture. Although you may list the dimensions of a sofa or a dining table, it helps to have perspective with other familiar items. Add dishes to the table or pillows to the sofa. Be sure to pull the item out a few feet from the wall. This will give your merchandise depth and avoid shadows.

merchandise photography is about relationships

7. Use a tripod when possible

Blurry images only make your shop look less professional and the items less desirable. If you’re taking tight product shots or close-ups, the effect becomes magnified. To take consistent, quality photographs you need to shoot from a tripod. If a tripod is out of the question, make sure you have a solid, steady surface and use the built-in timer.

8. Photograph from all angles

Believe it or not, everything has a good and bad side. Merchandise photography should be done from every angle possible. By moving around the item; getting on floor level; shooting from above or choosing one intricate aspect, chances are you’ll come up with an interesting and creative picture.

It’s nice to have a choice too when publishing your photos. SimpleConsign offers our very own Photo App. Use it to take up to 15 different images. Then choose your favorite to go directly into the system for eCommerce.Woman up against a white wall is perfect for merchandise photography

9. Group alike items

Pictures are far more interesting when they’re colorful. If you’re promoting smaller items such as scarves or ties, show several of them together. Don’t be limited by the necessity to sell one item when your shopper’s interest may be piqued by all of them.

10. Use free online editing sites

There are a number of online sites you can use to crop a photo, create a collage or even directly post to your Social Media. Be sure to take advantage of them to create more interesting images. Pic Monkey is my personal favorite. There is also Canva, PhotoCat and LunaPic.

To learn more about merchandise photography, read “iPhone Photo Basics for Store Photos.”

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.