eCommerce product photography: 7 cost-effective hacks + examples

eCommerce Photography
(Last Updated On: May 30, 2023)

Studies show that 7 out of 10 buyers will decide whether they want to buy a product online purely based on how it looks in pictures. The statistics are enough to prove you cannot ignore the importance of eCommerce product photography for online stores or eCommerce stores owners. But, getting high quality commercially viable images does not necessarily have to burn a hole in your pocket.

Here are 7 cost-effective eCommerce photography hacks you need to get more customers and improve sales! 

What is eCommerce photography?

eCommerce photography refers to taking high-quality images of products that are going to be displayed online for sale.

Since buyers cannot physically see and assess the product, these photographs act as stand-ins to show consumers what it would look like. For an online store visitor, your product images play one of the most decisive factors in choosing to buy from your store.

How does product photography impact the performance of eCommerce businesses? 

Some data suggests customers spend about 9-10 minutes in one online store. In that short amount of time, they would probably look at a product image for a couple of seconds. That is an extremely short amount of time for you to make an impression.

Indian shopping trends 2022
Source: Bain & Company

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This is why you should ensure you have high-quality photographs of your products in your own online store to grab the attention of fast scrolling fingers. This will help you get more sales and also ensure in retaining customers.

eCommerce photography establishes trust between the buyer and seller. These photographs show the value of the product to the buyer and ensure there is transparency.

These photos can also help you sell on social media! Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp make it easier for you to share your product images with a wider audience. Since the algorithms of these platforms help new people discover our online store, it is necessary for these images to be eye-catching and promising.

It is essential that your products look good and also look exactly as promised in the description. The buyer shouldn’t feel like the photographs duped them by making them look fancier or different from what they ordered.

Cost-effective eCommerce photography hacks

Usually, great photographs need advanced digital cameras, lighting stands, and the whole studio shenanigans. You could do all of this if you are a huge corporate company with a proper marketing budget.

This may not be feasible for small businesses. For businesses that have a lower profit margin, eCommerce photography does not have to be an expensive drawn-out process.

Here are some of our favourite hacks to shoot pictures that sell online!

1. Phone camera 

Professional eCommerce photographers usually use high-end DSLR cameras to shoot the products. If DLSR cameras are not in your budget, you can always use your phone camera.

Phones today have amazing cameras and can shoot sharp high-quality images, sometimes even better than cameras!

You could either use the front camera if you are shooting yourself, or if you want to see what you are shooting. You can also use the portrait mode on your phone to blur out the background and focus on the product.

The back camera will have the highest quality, so try to use that more often for your products. Look at these high-quality images by miniature art online store – Bagaway. These can easily be achieved using a phone camera.

product photograph example
Image source:

It is necessary for you to invest in a good phone that has a proper camera if you want to click your photographs yourself. This might sound like an expensive step instead of the promised ‘hack’ but I assure you, quality phone camera photography will save your time and your money in the long run!

2. Natural lighting

Nothing can replace the value of good lighting. You can fake good lighting in studios with huge lights and screens to reflect them, but why spend on equipment when we have a completely free resource at our disposal – the sun.

If you sell plants online, you will see how natural light can make the plants look fresh and healthy. Here are some examples by the plant store – The Plants Cart 

eCommerce photography
Source: The Plant Cart

Most social media influencers also take photographs during sunrise or sunset. This is usually known as the “golden hour” because of the soft glow that the sun brings out.

The golden hour ensures there is less harsh light on the product, acting as a natural filter for your product. This also gives it a soft and aesthetic vibe that can help your photographs look more romantic.

People also look their best in natural lighting. So if you intend to have people using or wearing your products, natural light can be the way to go!

3. Artificial lighting

If constantly depending on natural light is a bit difficult, you can also consider artificial lighting. By artificial, it does not mean camera lights. You can also shoot your products under normal fluorescent lights or you could utilise lamps in your house.

You could also use fire or candles or fairy lights. These are a great way to add a touch of colour to your photographs and can create a fun vibe in the photographs.

Terracotta by Sachii is an online store that sells handmade products specially made by local rural artisans. To embrace the Indian nature of the products, they have used candles and also fairy lights to give a soft glow.

Related read: How to sell handmade products online in India: The ultimate guide

eCommerce photography Lighting
Source: Terracotta by Sachii


Always remember, low lighting may make your product look different. As an eCommerce store owner, your priority should always be to highlight the product the best way you can.

4. Background

The background is the area behind your product. Nobody wants to see a messy room or table when they are browsing through online stores.

Buyers are attracted to the product because the product is the main focus of the photograph. That means the background should either HELP the product or it should be unnoticeable.

Online stores that sell art or handmade products can easily opt for these methods. 

There are multiple ways you can use backgrounds for your eCommerce shoot:

  1. Place your products in front of solid coloured backgrounds
  2. Use silky or textured single coloured textiles to add texture to the image
  3. Avoid too many prints in the background as it can be distracting
  4. Always clean your shooting environment
  5. Consider using trees or clouds in the sky as background
  6. You can try scenic backgrounds like mountains or beaches
  7. Try placing coloured chart papers or designed papers behind the product
  8. Curtains also work well and add flair to the photograph
  9.  Use flower vases or abstract paintings for creativity

Here’s an art store –Artbuzzar, that has used both silky solid coloured cloth and nature for their macrame handmade products.

eCommerce photography background
Source: Artbuzzar

Glasshopper, an online store that sells stained glasses has also beautifully used something as simple as placing it against the blue skies to bring out the colours in the product.

eCommerce product photography
Source: Glasshopper

Related read: How to sell art online in India and make money easily

5. Aesthetic effects

Platforms like Instagram has popularised the importance of ‘aesthetics’ in your pictures. Pictures can be considered aesthetic when it looks beautiful and artistic. And since Instagram is a visual platform, people selling on it utilise images that have high aesthetic value.

Jewellery and art online stores have been known to have images that are aesthetic and artistic.

It is not that difficult to increase the aesthetic value without spending any money. Here are a few of my favourite tips and tricks:

  1. Try monotone colour schemes
  2. You can use patterned glass to have light reflect on your product
  3. Attempt to have symmetry in your photographs
  4. Experiment with different angles for different perspectives
  5. Play with lights and shadows in your photographs
  6. Place your products in a way that looks creative
  7. Place your products next to pretty things like flowers or candles
  8. Bright pastel colours can increase the artistic value of the picture

The art online store – Journey of My Canvas, has shown her art along with its supplies to add a personal touch to the image.

sell art online
Source: Journey of my Canvas

Madraskarri, an online store selling jewellery has successfully used monotone colours in her product photography to show off the aesthetic beauty of the product.

product image on madraskarri
Product image on Madraskarri

6. Props 

Even though solid colour backgrounds behind products may look attractive, having additional objects in the photograph can enhance the value of the product.

For example, a simple flower kept beside jewellery can do wonders. For online art stores, keeping the art supplies beside the art can help enhance the value of the art.

Here is an example of a jewellery online store stepping up their product photography game. Kudos to Ae Re Sakhi.

You can also decide to go completely prop-free and depend just upon a good clean background so that your product takes up all the attention.

Related read: Tips on selling jewellery online in India

7. Tripod 

The foremost concern of all eCommerce photographers should be the stability and quality of the picture. If the photograph is shaky or blurry, then it drops in value.

Tripods can help you:

  1. Ensure the photos are absolutely clear
  2. You can independently shoot your products
  3. Shoot on self-timer and pose in front of it
  4. Have consistent product placement in your photographs

Affordable tripods can easily be found online. However, if you do not want to spend on tripods, you can also consider propping your phone up against a heavy object.

However, please understand that this is not a viable long term solution for an online store owner.

eCommerce photography FAQ

Now that you know about some inexpensive ways to bring out the best version of your products, use them to elevate your online store. Get more customers and more reviews to establish a relationship based on trust with your customers.

This guide was essentially for amateurs and small online business owners who have a smaller budget. But if you are an aspiring product photographer. We have also answered some questions you may have – 

How much does product photography cost? 

eCommerce product photography can range from very expensive to using no money at all. Studios and external artificial lighting charge you by the hour. Shooting the products by yourself requires relatively much lesser financial investment.

Is product photography in demand and profitable?

Product eCommerce photography is seeing high demand right now making it a very profitable business. As eCommerce continues its steep upward rise, the demand for high-quality photos for websites has also gone up. If you are thinking about joining the photography business, choose your niche carefully since it can be a very competitive field.

Related read: Top eCommerce Service Business Ideas and How to Start One

How do I become an eCommerce photographer?

First, start by learning the basics of product photography. Understand and experiment with different types of products to see what kind of light or environment suits that product the most. Play around with lights and shadows with different materials to see how they interact and then apply these tactics while shooting a product.

How much do product photographers get paid?

It depends on your skill. According to the niche and your experience, you can charge anywhere between ₹1500 to ₹1,50,000 on every captured and edited photo sent to the eCommerce brand.

How do I start freelance photography for an eCommerce website?

Start by creating your portfolio. Experiment with a variety of products in different light and scenic settings to show off your skills. You can then approach eCommerce website to negotiate for your freelance employment. Know the market competitive rates and charge based on your skill level and experience.

If you have a host of products that you would like to sell, your first step should be to create a catalogue. And for that, you need high-quality images of the products, product descriptions that are SEO friendly and a unified space to show off your products.

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