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Chapter 3

The Five Types of Ecommerce Product Photos

We realize that the term “good product photos” is pretty subjective. And while there are basic technical things that you can control for (the resolution, the focus, exposure, etc), there’s also the functional part of your product photos — mainly, how do you highlight the value proposition you’re offering to your customer?

To put it simply, the goal of your photos is to show your customer why they should buy your products.

The following types of images are great ways to show that — but for each remember that the most important part is showcasing your product in a way that helps your customers understand why it’s unique.

To make it easier to understand how to make your site beautiful and enticing, we’ve broken down the six types of product pictures and what they’re best used for.


Product photos are the main images of your product. They show what your product looks like either on its own or in a group. For the purposes of this guide, we’re grouping images that show scale or show detail into this category since they only show off the product and nothing else. Remember that 76% of product photos are on white backgrounds. That also means there is opportunity to make your website stand out. Just remember, your product is the star.

Good for: Anyone doing ecommerce — this is a must-have to sell online.


Lifestyle photos are photos that show your product in a life-like setting or to demonstrate how your product is used. The goal of these photos is to communicate how your product is unique. This is a great spot to create that ‘ah-ha’ or ‘oh wow’ or ‘I can’t live the rest of my life unless I buy that pinata’ moment with your shoppers — and the perfect opportunity to add context to your product images.

So whether you’re putting a plate in a Pinterest-worthy breakfast spread or asking a friend to model your witty t-shirt, these photos are used to show your product in use associate your product with a lifestyle that’s on-brand and communicates to your customer what your product is all about. They’re also great for social media use on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Good for:

  • Clothing, jewelry, and accessories
  • Quirky or unique goods
  • Decorative products or products with a strong aesthetic
  • Cosmetics, perfumes, or candles — products where visuals are less important than smells or application
  • Any product that can benefit from context — to help your shoppers know how your product’s used


Hero images are images that showcase your product in an emphatic way. They’re often larger than your product or lifestyle product pictures, are lit dramatically and have text filling any blank space that adds messaging around your product.

Good for:

  • Merchants with a variety of products
  • The front of your site — hero images are a great way to draw visitors to your store
  • Sales or other marketing events
  • Banners on social media — like the background of your Facebook profile header


360-degree images are relatively new in the world of product photography but are important to know about. These are images that are shot from all sides that you’re able to physically spin with your mouse so you can see products at different angles. There are reports that images like these increase conversions significantly - but they’re not industry standard yet and are not always easy to implement. If you really think it’s beneficial to include 360-degree views of your product, you can use tools like the Foldio360. And if whatever you’re using to build your website doesn’t support these types of images, there are programs like GifBrewery that lets you convert the image into something more manageable.

Good for:

  • Products whose function or appearance depend on a complete
  • 360-degree view for the prospective buyer to understand
  • Large products like furniture or appliances
  • Clothing with a unique fit

GIF or Video

GIFs or videos are great ways to show a product in action. If a product has a specific purpose, that might not be immediately clear, a GIF or a video can help quickly clarify to a shopper what a product’s for.

Good for:

  • Tools
  • Products that serve a specific function that’s not immediately clear
  • Products with a unique or revolutionary use-case

Now that you know the types of images, let’s talk about how to achieve them — no matter what your budget is.

Next Chapter

Product Photography Pricing

Now that you know how important product photography is to selling your products and what type of images you can shoot, it’s time to decide how much money you want to invest in it.

Read more