By Erin Wawok



Why take great photos of your product listings? Don’t underestimate the traditional shopping experience. Online shoppers can’t touch and handle your product as they would in a brick and mortar store. That’s one of the main reasons the return rate for online items is much higher than in-store items. 

To sell an item and to avoid costly returns, photos must be high-quality, as in high-resolution, taken from many angles, in all colors, styles, and other variations. One of the biggest reasons for online returns is inconsistent color. Size can also be a factor, so it’s a wise idea to compare it to something in which the measure is standard or well-known, such as a penny.

Photos are shareable. That means customers can send the image of a product to other potential customers. 

Tips and Tricks for High-Quality Photos

Competent photography can make the difference between selling your items and not. Here are some ideas to help you make those sales. 


Use a white background to make your product stand out and minimize color spills. It will reflect white light onto the product, which makes for a well-lit photograph. When you use white, it allows you to access the product’s true color, thus accurately representing your item. You can use white sheets or a poster board. White wrapping paper works well because of its reflective properties.

Consider using a photography sweep: a backdrop that transitions from vertical to the horizontal surface. The sweep should be bigger than the product and fill the entire frame. 

For smaller items, a shooting table works best. You can build a shooting table by nailing two boards together on a small table and layering your sweep over the boards.

For larger items, you may want to purchase a  professional sweep, especially if you have many items to photograph. If not, you can always attach a white sheet to the wall.


Unless you’re a professional photographer, avoid artificial lighting. Natural lighting works best, so photograph near a window. To diffuse the light, cover the window with white paper or a white sheet. 

Make sure you place the item to the left or right of the window, not in front, and don’t position the camera directly in front of the window. You can also buy or make a reflector from a white piece of cardboard or a regular piece of cardboard covered in aluminum foil.

Phone or Camera?

You can use your phone as your camera or purchase a DSLR camera for as little as $400. DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex camera. It’s superior to a phone’s camera because it has a larger light sensor, which gives you a more detailed, clearer image. Since most DSLR cameras don’t come with storage, you’ll probably also need a memory card.

If you’ve invested in a DSLR camera, read the owner’s manual. You won’t see great results unless you know how to use the camera. If time is an issue, it’s perfectly fine to photograph with your phone. Newer phones work better, and there are also apps you can download to enhance the quality of your photographs.

Use a tripod or a smartphone mount to avoid shakiness when you take the photographs. You can purchase a decent tripod through Amazon, and you don’t need a particularly fancy one to shoot products for sale.

Removing the Background

For a more professional look to your photographs, there are ways to eliminate the background after you take the photo. Photoshop has a pen tool that works well. Other tools, like the magic wand, are usable but not quite as effective.

Use a Template

You want all of your images to take up approximately the same amount of canvas space. You can achieve this by creating a template using photo editing software. The ideal size is between 1000 and 1600 pixels on the longest side. The product should cover 80-95% of the frame. Don’t try to stretch an image because this will just make it blurry. Retake the photo if necessary.

Other Suggestions

Use close-ups to show detail, logos, and imperfections. These are all things the customer will want to see. You should be transparent about any blemishes on a product.

Don’t use props. These will distract from the item you’re actually selling, and could even confuse the customer about what’s included in the purchase.

Easily Add High-Quality Photos To Your Listings

Photos help build the consumer’s trust in your brand. If an image is blurry or unavailable, the consumer is less likely to purchase an item out of uncertainty. There are plenty of other options available to the consumer online. She or he will just pass on the blurry item and move on to something comparable with a clear image to support its viability. Transparency is key.

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Erin Wawok

Erin is the Co-Founder of Listing Mirror.