Product Photos & Communicating with your Photographer

So you have decided to hire a professional photographer to take photos of your product for your business. Congratulations! You clearly understand the value of having professional photos to increase your sales! Once you have decided on your photographer, they will need to know exactly how you plan to use those photos. Will they be used in print advertisements such as flyers or brochures? Will they be used on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Shopify, etc.? Each e-commerce platform has their own requirements for product photos and those requirements can vary greatly from one e-commerce platform to another. If your photographer does not know how you intend to use those photos, this can result in you getting photos that do not meet your needs.

Let’s talk Amazon for a moment. Amazon has very specific requirements for product photos on their site. First, they require a pure white background for the primary photo on their listings. Failing to meet this requirement can prevent your item from being listed. Additionally the photos must be of a minimum pixel size, and they only allow certain types of files (e.g. jpg, tiff, png, etc.) and specific color modes. One of the biggest challenges Amazon sellers who DIY their photos struggle with is that pure white background. Amazon’s instructions state “Backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255”. There is only one sure fire way to obtain that pure white background and that is by creating it in a photo editing software program like Photoshop. Can a pure white background be created “in camera”? Yes it can but it is nearly impossible to get that pure 255/255/255 white consistently throughout the entire frame. And the number of gray hairs you are going to give yourself trying to achieve it is just not worth it! Let’s look at the following example:

In the photo above, the actual background was a sheet of pure white seamless paper, but due to the laws of physics, the light falls off in the bottom of the photo. The reason for this is the distance of the light source (strobe) relative to the camera.

This photo is an example of a photo that could be rejected by amazon. Therefore to most sellers will opt to remove the background in a photo editing software and create a pure white background instead.

In the photo above you cannot tell where the edges of the photo are because the background has been removed and a pure white background inserted which also happens to be the background of the word processing program I am using to type this blog.

Other e-commerce sellers are not as strict with their requirements for a white background, but may have other requirements regarding pixel size and file format. Some sites have different file size requirements. For example, Amazon requires a minimum pixel size of 1000 pixels in its longest dimension, and even though Shopify only requires 800, they actually recommend 2048 pixels for zoom capability. Additionally Shopify highly recommends square files. Wix has a minimum requirement of 3000 pixels in each dimension. As a result it is imperative that you communicate to your photographer exactly which e-commerce sites you will be posting your product photos. If you are posting them on your own personal website, your photographer would need to know which website builder your online store is created through (such as Wix or Shopify, etc.) so that he/she can confirm the the photo requirements.

If you plan to use your product photos on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, you may find that these larger files do not look as good on your social media sites. The reason for that is that your social medial sites like FB, IG, etc., may try to optimize the photos for their site to decrease bandwidth and this can create all sorts of anomalies in your photos. So if you plan to use the photos on social media, this is something else your photographer needs to know.

Another thing to be aware of, is that if you plan on printing advertisements depicting your product, the requirements for print may be vastly different from websites. So again, this needs to be discussed with your photographer to ensure you are getting the best photos for your needs.

As you can see, communication is key in your relationship with your photographer!

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