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Sell Online Better: Professional Product Photography at Home

What is this guide and who is it written for?

This guide is a set of tools and step-by-step recommendations on how to take the best product photographs you can, by yourself and at home.

It's the first in our Retail Resources, developed especially for our retail stockists, but relevant for those of you who are:

- just getting started with selling online

- already selling online but want to upgrade the look of your products through better photography

- already selling online with images from a freelance photographer, but want to do the photography yourself to reduce costs or increase your flexibility and independence.

The product styles we’re focusing on here are those that we make and shoot ourselves: scarves & wraps, textile jewellery and clothing.

Why is this important?

“The perceived value of your products is directly impacted by the quality of your product photography.” Shopify

The success of your entire e-commerce strategy depends on good product photography - this is the only way to build confidence in your customers, and this is nowhere truer than for textile-based products.

Product photography (and video) is the only visual communication tool you have for connecting your customers with your individual products. To present yourself as a professional, reliable and trustworthy brand, your product photography should be clear, consistent and true to life.

Many of us will be scared off by the expense of investing in a photographer; and for one of a kind products it is often completely unrealistic to invest in one. But! with a bit of practice and patience, you can make excellent product photography by yourself, at home, with very limited and simple equipment.

Who am I to give advice?

Aside from being a hobby travel photographer, I have no qualifications in this area. What I do have, though, is almost a decade worth of learning product photography by trial and error since setting up House of Wandering Silk.

Over this time, I’ve personally shot literally thousands of product photos - until last year, we did all our product photography for both wholesale and retail in house, by ourselves in our studio or outdoors with my friends with almost no equipment. Our business was completely built on these product photos - that’s how we communicate with you, our wholesale partners, and our retail customers.

I had a steep learning curve, balancing image quality with efficiency - speed and efficiency is specifically relevant to the thousands of one-of-kind products we've shot. The only reason we’ve been able to sell so many one of a kind products over the years is because we found the sweet spot in this balance. Since most of our partners who I'm writing this for are interested in product photography for retail, that will be the focus of this guide.

Getting into the flow! Scarf product photography for our wholesale customers. I run my business for years based on product photography made in a very limited space, with slightly dodgy lighting and only my trusty mannequin by my side.


Enough talking, let's start!

Step One: Take a step back and brainstorm

You have two goals: to convey to your customer clearly what the product is, and to create/build into your brand aesthetic. Keeping these in mind, have a think about how you can describe the following using images.

The product

  • how is it worn and what possibilities are there for other ways it can be worn?

  • how does it hang/drape, how does it close/open/tie?

  • what is the size/proportion/length?

  • what is the colour/texture/print?

  • what is the finishing/detailing?

  • what are the USPs/key elements that make this product special/unique?

  • what questions might the customer have when they see the product that you can anticipate and answer with images?

The brand

  • how will you convey your brand aesthetics through the image? What emotion do you want to convey? Product photography needs to be clear and showcase the product very obviously, but you can still play around with styling.

  • are you shooting a stand-alone collection of your products, where they can be styled with a certain mood or prop throughout, that may differentiate them from your other products?

Photo usage

  • where will be using your images (website banner, website product that customers can zoom in on, instragram, etsy, facebook, newsletter, whatsapp) and are there any constraints you need to keep in mind (landscape vs portfolio, size, proportion, resolution)?

  • how many images will you use per product (Tip: we’ve learned that 3-7 is a good number)?

Make a checklist for yourself that you can keep to hand when you’re doing the actual photography, that lists out all the photos you want to take of each product.