Video Tutorial: Photography Trick for Selling a Product Cluster



It’s quite common to sell multiples of the same product on a listing, but actually fairly difficult to get a good image for this. For products with any scale, it’s hard to get everything in frame and looking right. The easiest way around this is to photograph one of your products by itself, then edit in the rest later. As an example, I used a set of storage platters for food. In it, I took three images with slightly different food combinations, then edited it all together to look like a set of 6 platters. This composite provided great results for the listing. Give it a try!

All you need is a fundamental understanding of working with multiple layers, and a basic way to get a pure white background for your image. From there, it’s just drag and drop!

Take a look at the video above and if you have any issues, feel free to reach out with questions.

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Design Tip: Photographing Your Product’s Function

How your product image looks is not the most important element in your product photography.

Your immediate reaction to this should probably be horror. You care about your product depictions, and you want others to care about them just as much. Believe me, as a photographer, letting go of the “style-first” mindset can be the hardest part of learning this craft. The important concept to note, though, is that you aren’t giving up on design; you’re just expanding your understanding of what design means.

Famously, Steve jobs said on this subject,

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”- Steve Jobs

Take the example of the shower head below.

A product like this is all about context. A shower head isn’t like a vase or a scarf. It’s primary purpose is to be used, not to be looked at. It is a functional product. Functional products should always be shown as customer will use them. In fact, it is doing a disservice to your product to only show it outside the framework in which it will be used. For a shower head, that means depicting it with with water cascading from it. Customers care as much or more about how water flows from the shower head as they do about the intricacies of how the shower head looks. In this case, you are’t selling style. You are selling function, and your photos should reflect that.

So how do you portray an item’s purpose? First, think about the features that customers will have in mind when searching for a shower head. They will probably be looking for characteristics like how wide its stream of water is, and the level of water pressure it provides. It is VERY difficult to actually photograph water coming from a shower head against a pure white background. Trust me, I’ve tried! But it’s actually quite simple to edit some water in. This gives you the opportunity to: a) show your product in the context the customer cares about, and, b) also answer questions the customer has about your product.

These factors, at the end of the day, are what drives sales. So take a closer look at your product images and ask yourself if, in addition to their visual appeal, they show the primary function of the product. An image with truly good design will portray not just what your product looks like, but how it works.

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Quick Tip: Add Effects to Your Product Images

Above is a brief example of how you can add simple effects to your product images in order to better show off your products’ features. In the video, I used the example of a shower head. Customers in this scenario will not be shopping just for the aesthetic of the shower head, but primarily for the function it serves (i.e. they way it projects water). This applies to any number of products, such as kitchen products that people operate with food or exercise equipment that people use. Sometimes it is easy to photograph your product with necessary props in-frame to begin with. But sometimes (as in the case with shower heads), it is easier to add those effects in afterwards.

Take a look at the video above for a example of how to accomplish this. The process can be complicated depending on the product being photographed, so feel free to reach out with questions.

Here’s a “before and after” of the images I used.



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Using Artsy Photos to Sell on Amazon

People tend to look at the creative, artsy pictures on Instagram and the cut-and-dry product pictures on Amazon as totally different categories, but that is not necessarily the case! In today’s online environment, artsiness can be a tool to communicate your brand identity and to enhance the features of your products. Let’s examine these respectively:

Complimenting the Brand

Not everyone on Amazon is selling a cool technology product or a trendy pair of sunglasses. Most items on the site are going to be simple and utilitarian, but still have real value for the customer. The trick for these product images is to communicate the excitement of the brand in simple product photos. Take a look at the picture of some basic mens accessories below:

It’s not a complicated photo; just a few items that may look uninteresting alone, but together make each item pop through color and arrangement. The bow-tie is clearly the star of the show here, and is probably the feature item they are selling, but the other items compliment it well. In fact, this image has the added benefit of showing the customer additional products they may want to buy along with their initial purchase. Amazon allows for this use of props in your photos. Just make sure it’s in your secondary images and not your main image.

Enhancing Product Features

Let’s assume for a minute that you are selling lightweight, spring scarves on Amazon. Historically, communicating the seasonal dimension of a product is a difficult task and can be confusing for consumers. But this is an easy fix. Along with emphasizing the warm weather nature of your scarf in its title, consider images that clearly highlight the spring nature of the product:

Artsy photos, both on your social media platforms and on your Amazon listings, are a great way to draw in customers and keep their attention once they’re browsing your products. Don’t be intimidated by the process, just start experimenting with your product and see what comes out! Each of the images I used here were shot without any studio lighting, and just with some construction paper as a background. Adding a little bit of playfulness to your listing can go a long way towards building interest in your brand and attracting a young demographic.

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Guide: How to Photograph White/Clear Products on a Pure White Background

If you’re a sole proprietor or small business selling products on Amazon, you’ve probably done some form of the following when trying to get a pure white background for your products: You either use Amazon’s Seller app, which will take care of most of the work for you, or stick your images in a basic editor and turn up the highlights/exposure until the background is as close to a pure white as possible.

For most products, these techniques can create quality images. But if you are trying to sell a product that is either white or made of a clear material, then you’ve probably experienced poor results using typical methods. These products will at best appear washed out, or at worst completely disappear against the background. Here’s a few tips on to get around these problems.

1. Experiment with Backlighting

Backlighting is the easiest approach, and is what most photographers will recommend. However, it will only work well for matte white, non-clear products. If your product is made of plastic, glass or metal, skip ahead to the next tip.

The whole point of backlighting is to make sure your background is a different color white than your product. Since Amazon requires backgrounds to be a pure white (RBG 255, 255, 255), your product will need to be a darker shade of white than the background. The dance here is to: a) make sure your lighting isn’t blown out, making your product lose detail in its highlights, and, b) make sure your product doesn’t look dirty/muddy because it is a darker shade of white.

If you already have your white background (could be a light box, a white sheet of paper that is curved behind/underneath the product, etc.), all you will need to do is make sure you’ve got your main light source behind the product. In the case of using a lightbox or light tent, your background will be your light source. Otherwise, you have to make sure that your background is more lit up than the front of your product is. This may mean shining another light on the background. No matter what, you should also have a second, softer light shining from the front or at an angle, so that the front of your product isn’t a silhouette. See the example below:

Note: You can substitute studio lights here by using the sun as your main light source, and a piece of white cardboard/paper as a reflector at the front of the product to reflect soft light onto it.

2. Use Something Dark to Make an Outline

This is a more intense process, but it produces absolutely gorgeous photos. It’s the solution I recommend and works perfectly for glass products. The idea here is that if there’s a dark object very close to your white or clear product, it’s dark color will reflect on the outside of your product, giving it an outline. Let me show you using an example of the initial set-up for a glass picture I photographed:

This method is the simplest way you can accomplish this. Try cutting out black pieces of paper in the rough shape of your product. The black of the paper will reflect on your glass or white surface and create a pleasing gradient around the outside, almost like someone traced the outside edge of your product in a dark color. In this way, the inner part of your product can be a similar shade of white to the background, getting rid of the muddy look that some products have. However, this will — as you can clearly see from the above photo — require a lot of editing, which leads my to my next point…

3. Cut Out Your Product With Editing

Most product images can get close to a pure white background just by adjusting up the brightness of an image, but doing so will blow out the detail in your white/clear products! Instead, you’re going to to need to cut out your product from the background in editing. Here’s a quick video of what this looks like:

I used an application on the iPad called ProCreate to do this, but there’s tons of options. I recommend using Adobe’s Photoshop Mix on your phone or tablet, or if you want to use a computer, try Photoshop (Or Gimp for a free alternative). All you need to do is use the cut out/scissors tool built into the application to trace the outline of your product, and then either erase the background or brighten it. You’re probably gonna want a more in-depth tutorial for this part, so here’s a couple:

Gimp tutorial

Photoshop Tutorial

4. Cheat! (Don’t even use a white background)

If you’re already planning to cut out the background, who’s to say you even need a white background? This is mostly applicable to non-clear products, but there are exceptions. For example, check out the two images below:

The first image was shot using the black paper technique I mentioned earlier. It’s color balance fits with the pure white, but that’s not what color the Edison bulb is actually going to look like in real life. The second image was shot against a dark background to show the warm light of the Edison bulb, and then cut out to be placed against a pure white. Because of its warm tones and contrast against the background, it is arguably the more striking photo. (Don’t even ask how the bulb was lit without being screwed in. It involved a hole being blown in my background and tripping my studio’s breaker).

Continue reading “Guide: How to Photograph White/Clear Products on a Pure White Background”

A Guide to White Background Photography on a Budget



If you’re not in the market for a third-party photographer, you probably don’t have a huge budget for your product images. Fear not! With a little know-how, it’s more than doable to get amazing product images and spend less than $50. I’ve compiled a guide on how to get great pictures on the cheap from start to finish below…

Setting things up

Camera ($0-30)

Unless you’re constantly releasing products, you have two good options for your camera.

1. Use your phone. Your gut may say that this is too amateur, but reserve judgement for now. I have photographer friends who shoot product images for companies like GAP and Apple using only their phones. If you have a high-end smartphone made in the last couple of years (think iPhone 6S and forward, Samsung Galaxy S6 and forward, Google Pixel 1 and forward), that will be good enough for most products. Your photos won’t have a very high resolution, but the quality will be just as good as spending money on a $500-600 camera. There’s a reason modern smartphones cost near $1000 – they have amazing cameras!

Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset

2. Rent a quality camera. People often compromise their photos because they can only afford a camera in the $300-500 range, but you don’t have to! Your shoot will only take you a day or two, so it’s a no-brainer to spend $20/day renting a great camera. It’s best to visit a local camera store, where daily rentals are often allowed, versus online companies that will require that you rent the camera for at least 4-7 days. My personal recommendation for a camera rental would be the 5D Mark IV.


Background ($5)

This one is simple. Professional photographers will shoot with a Cyclorama, which is essentially just a two-sided large white box with round corners, but this is far from necessary.

I’ll show you an example. I took the following photo of my setup when I was first getting into product photography. I had a 100sqft studio at the time, which is probably smaller than your closet. I shot with some cheap lights I borrowed from a friend, a sheet of white paper, and stool/table I picked up from Goodwill.


The champagne? It’s cream soda mixed with water. Don’t be afraid to get creative on a budget; product photography is all trial and error. Even a setup as primitive as this can be used with some amazing results if you’re not afraid to experiment and fail a little.

Lighting ($0-40)

You have a couple of options here:

1. Use a lightbox. You can find tons of these for sale online, but most are cheaply made. The goal of these is to eliminate most of the editing you’d have to do, as they blow out the background to be as close as possible to the pure white (RGB 255, 255, 255) that Amazon requires for the background of your main image. They make things easy, but they aren’t very flattering on products, and make shooting white or clear products almost impossible. You will end up with mediocre (though totally usable) images, but your workflow will be really efficient. This will also be the simplest background solution.


2. Use natural light. This is what I personally recommend. Set up a sheet of paper near a window as depicted earlier. Make sure it’s not direct, harsh sunlight, and try to shoot in the morning. You can get a phenomenal soft look to your photos using this technique, but you’ll have to spend a little more time editing them to remove the background in post-production.


Taking the Photos

Main Image


I try to produce all main images so that they can be used on Amazon, because most will need to be eventually. Here are the list of the main points you need to hit to make sure your listings comply with Amazon’s guidelines:

The full product must be in frame (and take up at least 85% of the image); don’t cut off corners.
The full product must be in focus (Shoot at a high aperture and in good light).
Backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255).
The image must not contain additional text, graphics, or inset images.

The main image is often what will make or break your product, and it’s very important to get it right. Experiment with lots of angles and have a few different photos that fit the above requirements. From there, you can cycle these as your main image and see which gets the best conversion. Customers will often latch onto an image that you never expected to be successful.

Complimentary Images


This category is made up of every image other than your main image. Do not just take the same photo from multiple angles. Take the opportunity to get close-ups of the features you want your customers to see about your product. I recommend looking at the text list of features on your listing and take a photo that clearly displays each of those. Many customers only look at the images and reviews of a product and completely ignore the rest of the listing text. Your photos need to tell your story.

Editing Your Photos ($20)

If you’re shooting with a lightbox, you may only need to adjust things like the shadows, contrast, saturation, and highlights in your photos to make sure the background is close to a pure white and your product is attractive. Make sure to crop your photos as close to the edge of your product as possible.

If you shot with natural light, you’ll have to edit a little more (but it’s easier than you think!). A subscription to Adobe’s photography plan ($10/month) will get you Photoshop, Lightroom, and their full suite of mobile apps. Let’s assume you’re not an experienced Photoshop Master. If you’re an amateur, you can fairly easily do this on your phone. Download Photoshop Mix on your phone or iPad. It’s explicitly made to cut shapes out from backgrounds, and even has an automatic tool to accomplish this. Look at its tutorial, use the automatic tool, and then adjust it a bit manually at the end. Also, make any needed modifications to the color and contrast. See example below:


Continue reading “A Guide to White Background Photography on a Budget”