Conversion is the process of turning people who visit your website, online store, or social media pages into paying customers (or email subscribers, ebook downloaders etc.) We sometimes talk about brands' "conversion rates", which is a way of quantifying how successful your brand is at getting browsers to take the action you want them to take. Your conversion rate is simple the percentage of visitors who take action to buy, subscribe, etc...



Presumably you’ve paid good money - or spent loads of your own time - setting up a beautiful website and social feeds. I'm guessing you’ve paid or spent even moreof your own time getting your SEO in order. You’ve paid or spent your own time designing, making, or assembling a beautiful range of products. Now it's time to actually getting that product or service to sell off your site. And in order for that to happen, your site needs to be high converting. 



Small differences in conversion % can have big impact in the # of sales, and revenue.

  • You have about 3 seconds for the customer to decide if they will continue down your sales funnel.
  • Our brains process imagery 60,000 times quicker than text... so your branded photos need to instantly connect with your audience.
  • A typical conversion rate is around 3%, depending on your brand, products and industry.



  • Trust cues
  • Marketing decisions (e.g. model and styling choices)
  • Store Policies (e.g. returns, shipping)
  • E-Commerce functionality (e.g. ease of using the shopping cart)
  • Imagery

return policy, shipping policy, ease of process through the shopping cart (functionality) professional copywriting in product descriptions. Other trust cues - broken links, badges of trusted payment gateways)



Because people can’t touch and feel, they need to be able to see. In order for people to trust your product enough to buy, they need to be able to clearly understand what they're going to get in terms of finishings, scale, fit, and whether the product is really for them. 

I wrote a blog post are no longer as interested in buying stuff for the sake of accumulation, but rather, they’re interested in buying things they feel tell their story (or a story they wish was their story) give them a sense of status, or are something they can show off to their friends. Making meaning on this level is also the job of our product photography.

I know a really smart business woman (who I won't name and cause embarrassment) who does a great trade selling costume jewellery sourced mainly in Hong Kong. A pair of earrings that she sells for $65 can be found by anyone on Ebay for around $5. But because of the way she styles these pieces in her product photos and in the photos posted to her social media, stylish young women want to buy into her beautiful, ethereal vision... which is so much more than a piece of adornment. 



Image quality speaks to product quality. People will assume your products are of a poor quality if your photos are, and vice versa.

  • Are you showing all the angles?
  • Can the user zoom?
  • Does the lighting look unnaturally dark or light?
  • Is the colour over edited, so that users can’t tell what the real colour is?
  • Is the model standing funny, or holding up the dress so you can’t see how it falls?
  • Visual Consistency/Cohesion, does it fit with the overarching branding?





That means without a hint of fuzziness! If there’s one place I recommend spending a bit of money when you’re first starting out is on a good photographer who’s also a adept stylist to get great, original, images of your products. The pictures, after all, are really what sell, and you’ll share them across your web store, newsletters, blogs, and on social media.



They must match your product as closely as possible, and call out any special features, especially if they could be interpreted as ‘flaws’. A raw hem on a dress or an uneven application of glaze on a ceramic pot might seem cool to you, but you should take care to photograph those details. Customers need to trust that what they think they see on the screen is true to what’ll show up in their mailbox. Don’t use filters or over-edit your photos to make them look more appealing. It’ll have the opposite effect, plus, a high return rate will hurt your bottom line.



Show your product from as many angles as possible – front, back, side to show details like how a dress falls. If your product doesn’t look great shot on a white background (this can be the case for jewellery), try adding photos of customers wearing your product from social media. Or link a whole Pinterest board of ways to style certain pieces right on your products page to show buyers how a product can fit into their lives.

SportsGirl Versus The Reformation



Don’t leave customers in any doubt about what they are getting. Most templates will allow you to upload an image that’s larger, to give users the ability to zoom in on details. If there’re any details that are special, photograph them and make mention of them in your description. This will also help reduce your returns.



It’s so frustrating when trying to buy something like a vase online and it’s simply a deep etched image with no suggestion of scale. 

Hobbe Chairs + Lindform vases Example of Hobbe chairs - a lot of customers come in and look at the chair because they couldn’t get a sense of how big it is online and whether it would fit in their nursery. The photography on the website doesn’t give a good indication of scale.



One of my friends who worked at a mid-sized fashion e-retailer once told me that after the photos from a new season shoot were posted to the site, the conversion rate plummeted and the whole team was scrambling to understand why. After some intense critical thinking (and reaching out to customers for feedback) it turned out that the problem was the model choice. Shooting on a super skinny and young looking model meant that the site's customers couldn’t imagine themselves in the clothes because they weren't being filled out in the photos properly. The team quickly arranged a reshoot on a more voluptuous model, and the same clothing went on to sell really well.

The key takeaway is that all styling choices should be made with the customer in mind, not just on the personal taste of you, your creative team, or anyone else with influence over the brand. 



Unless your e-com business model is carrying products from different stockists, all of which can provide high quality deep etched images that you can post on your own site, you're going to have to photograph each product you sell. And if that's the case, you'll need to develop your own style to shoot you shop. 

Here are some brands getting it right:



  • show customers actually using your product

  • use UGI to showcase how other people are responding to your brand

  • showcase the publications (new and old media) where your products are being covered.


When it comes to product photography, the first thing every business owner has to decide is whether you want to show a product... or tell a story about it. 

Here's what I mean: There are basically two ways to go about shooting products for your online store.


The Beach People Paradise Round Towel "deep etched"

The first tactic is to take a technically proficient picture of your product on a crisp white or black background, so that the product appears to be floating outside of any particular context. 


The Beach People Paradise Round Towel showcased with home decor items that their ideal customer would also love. 

The second tactic is to photography your product on some kind of set with props that give the image a considered mood, an ambience, and tell a story about the product and/or the person it's been made for.



So, should you feature products floating on a white background on your online shop, or should you showcase your products in a more editorial way using "lifestyle" photos?

I've done a lot of research into this question, and the answer seems to be... it depends. 



PRO: If your brand identity is sleek and modern, or if you want to communicate that your handmade, or traditional products are served up in a new way, going the deep etched route might be best for you. 

PRO: While not as evocative, help people understand. Customers can see all the details, and the realistic colour of your product. They won't be distracted by other elements in the frame, and you can take these photos from all angles and sides of your product.

PRO: If you stock a range of products bought from suppliers, or your site drop-ships items from a range of sources, you probably already have access to deep etched photos of most of the products you'll want to list on your site, and using the photos you already have to hand is a huge time and money saver. 

PRO: If you don’t have any white background photography, you’ll be missing out on features, such as gift guides, where bloggers want to be able to fit your photos together with others in a collage, or magazine editors want to show just the product on white.

CON: A site full of deep etched images is that it can look a bit lazy and haphazardly cobbled together if the lighting, tones, and quality of those images don't match up perfectly. It is tempting to stick to manufacturer photos, and you may have to rely on those until you build up your own photo library, but your own images will add distinction to your site and to your brand.

CON: Deep etched images don't give a sense of scale, fit, or fall. Those cues are important for online shoppers who don't have the benefit of inspecting your goods in person. And making sure your customers know exactly what they're getting is in your best interest too, as a high return rate can be very costly to e-retailers. 

CON: Which background images posted to social media look really sales-y. These images are not connective outside of the context of your online store. 



PRO: Lifestyle photos are images of your product that are styled in a home, on a model, or with props. They help your potential customer imagine having your product in her life. We all know that a blanket looks so much cosier thrown over a couch next to a book and a cup of tea. Jewellery is more beautifully dainty dangling from a lovely model’s ear. You can almost smell the body lotion when it’s styled with the ingredients that go into it, like grainy sea salt, sprigs of resiny rosemary, and paper-thin slices of fresh lemon.

PRO: These types of photos come in many different forms, giving your brand a lot of creative options. They can include:

  • Tabletop photography for photos of items that fit on a table, with or without lightbox setup.
  • Flatlay photography, which is similar to tabletop, but the photo is taken directly from above.
  • The Hero Shot of your product that shows customers how it works and lets them imagine it in their life.
  • Model photography to demonstrate products that can be worn, or that use a human element to showing the scale and/or use of you product.

PRO: Lifestyle photos are perfect for Pinterest and other social media platforms. They also look stunning on the cover of your catalogs and lookbooks, and as featured banners on the pages of your online store.

CON: Lifestyle photos can be harder to take, because you have to get the lighting and editing right for all the different elements in your scene, including the background. It's easier to light one thing, then erase the background. 

CON: You may need to change these images seasonally to make the imagery on your site feel more relevant. Of course, every business constantly needs updated imagery to post to their social feeds, so this may be a moot point, once you and your team have found your style and gotten the hang of producing images that fit it. 


Phone cameras are incredible these days and Google can serve up plenty of examples of successful business owners who launched their e-commerce empires with only a smart phone and a window. 

But I think you should get yourself a proper camera and learn to use its manual settings. 

Here's why:

1. A DSLR makes sure you get the best quality photos for your website and social. That means photos that don't look at all grainy and which have exquisitely captured detail that can be zoomed in on.

2. If you shoot on a good camera you can shoot in RAW. RAW files are a much larger than JPEGs because they capture a lot more information. That gives you a whole lot more options when it comes to editing and using your images in different sizes and applications - from your website, to your social, to print campaigns. 

3. While it looks artistic on your blog and social to take photos in which some bits of the foreground or background are purposefully blurry, the product shots on your e-commerce site should be completely in focus. And you need to be able to adjust the depth of field on your camera in order to achieve that. 


I know it's daunting. But you don't need a photography degree to figure this stuff out. In fact, I picked up my first DSLR just two months before launching Prop Boxes and taught myself how to shoot all the product images for the online store with only the information I'm about to share with you. And the photos look great! So I know you can master this too...

1. ISO = Your camera's sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the brighter and grainer the image will be. The lower the number, the darker and crisper. The key is to use the lowest possible ISO.

2. APERTURE = Controls the depth of field. This setting controls the amount of light that hits the lens. It determines whether only part of the image is in focus and the rest blurred out, or whether the whole picture looks sharp. For product photography we want the whole picture to look sharp, which means we want a deep depth of field. The key is to use the highest possible F-Stop. I like to use somewhere between F16 and F22 to take my product photos. 

3. SHUTTER SPEED = Exposure time. Using a faster shutting speed is usually a good way to avoid any blur in the shot when you're holding the camera and taking pics. But because we use a tripod to take our product photos, there won't be any shake. That enables us to use a low shutter speed which does product the sharpest images. 



1. Set the Aperture to somewhere between F16 and F22. (This depends on your lens... So just set it as hight as you can.)

2. Set the Shutter Speed to a low setting. 

3. Check out the exposure, and adjust the ISO to create the light level you want for the photo. 

4. Set the White Balance. You can fine tune white balance issues in the editing phase, but it's best to get it pretty much right from the start. 



1. Olympus Pen. If you're just starting out and feeling intimidated, this camera is a really good stepping stone between a full on DSLR and a little point and shoot or phone camera. It's what I learned to take pictures on, and served me very well as a blogger and online shop owner for years and years. You can change the lenses, it's portable, and it allows you to shoot in manual. There's also a less technical and very intuitive menu function that I really liked when I was still scared of a camera like... 

2. The Canon 70D. This is what I'm shooting with now. I chose it because it takes great photos and videos. The remote shooting function that connects through wifi to the Canon app is really useful because I can get the photos straight onto my laptop to edit, and the app makes it super easy to play around with manual settings. I don't find this camera to be very portable - it lives in my office - but for creating great quality photography and video content for my business, it's been really worth the investment.  

How To Shoot White Background Photos With Natural Light


For professional-looking product shots, you should shoot against a white backdrop as it’ll reflect light onto your product. The best kind of backdrop is an infinity cove (sometimes called a photography sweep) which is where the vertical surface curves down and seamlessly transitions into the horizontal surface.

If you want to create a seamless white background for your product shots, you'll need to set up a DIY infinity cove. 

An infinity cove is a curved, all-white space that gives your background the appearance that it goes on forever. You can you natural or artificial light to do this (I'm going to show you both) and then you'll want to use Photoshop or a Deep Etching service to remove the image background so it appears that your product is floating in stark white. 


1. Find Your Light + Build Your Set

Here's what you'll need:

  • a camera
  • a table
  • a window
  • pure white matte board or a roll of white paper
  • a piece of white foam core
  • an exacto knife
  • some painters tape

For the best product photo you'll want soft, even lighting. So move your table against a wall, and as close to the window as possible without being in direct light so you can avoid any harsh shadows. Natural light is all you'll need, so turn off any other lights that might be on.

Next, you'll want to set up your background. Take your white board and lay it flat on the table. let's one end up and move it up the wall until it curves. Make sure there's enough space for your product, and then tape the board in place.

Now place your product in the middle of the flat surface. See how it's lit from only one side, while the other is in shadow? We're going to use the piece of foam core to fix that. 

With your exactly knife, score your piece of foam core and bend it so it makes a corner, then place your foam core on the side of the product that's farthest from the window. This will bounce the window light onto your product, creating even lighting and softening any shadows.


2. Shooting your product

Now you're ready to shoot. If you know how to use manual settings, I recommend doing that, and that you shoot in RAW. If you don't know how to use manual settings, that's ok too. You can set your camera to auto. Just make sure the lens is set to autofocus. 

You'll want to frame up the shot making sure that the product is placed in the center of the image. If there's a label, make sure it's facing the camera! You can experiment with the angle at which you hold you camera, but your best bet is to use a tripod set to the same height as your product. Shooting like this will make it easier for you to get consistent shots of all your products for your online shop. 

Try and keep an equal amount of white space surrounding your product on all sides.  

To take your photo, hold down the shutter button halfway to focus and then push it all the way down to take the picture. Now rotate your product to make sure you're capturing it from every angle, and keep snapping. 

If you're using a smartphone to take your product shots, I still recommend setting it on a tripod so you can minimise shakiness and free up your hands to adjust your product's placement.  Then, tap the product on the screen to focus it and take the photo.


3. Editing

When you've shot all your products, pat yourself on the back, and then upload your photos to your computer. Take a look at your work and smile! Your photos are probably looking pretty good right now, but you may want to do some additional touch ups.  

I recommend using Adobe Light Room either on your computer or on your phone to edit your photos so your products will be super crisp, and the colours come out looking true to life.

You can play with bumping up the contrast, whites, vibrance, and clarity a little bit, to find a style that looks right to you. Just remember, the goal of editing product photos is to make them look better, not to make them look 'edited'. The filters you may love that desaturate or cool down photos on Instagram should never be used for the product photos on your online store, because they confuse shoppers about what the product is really going to look like. If a potential customer is questioning a product based on your photo editing, you've already lost some of their trust, and that can only hurt your conversion rate. 

There are many things I love about Lightroom - it really is theprogram you'll want to invest your time into learning if you plan to DIY your brand's photography. One of the best things about it is that you can copy the edits you make on one photo by pressing Command C (on mac) and pasting them to your subsequent photos by hitting Command V. This means your edits will be consistent across all the pictures you've taken, which'll look fantastic on your online store.  


4. Deep Etching 

At this stage, the background of your photos probably looks a little grey, and that can be really beautiful look for your online store. But, if you want your products to appear to be floating on a pure white background, you need to go one step further and deep etch them. 

Deep-etching is a graphic design term used to describe the process of removing a specific section of a photograph or image from its background so that it stands alone. 

So, if you  know how to use photoshop, you can deep etch the photo yourself. If you don't but you'd like to learn, here's a tutorial I found online. I personally don't deep etch my own photos because I don't have photoshop. If I ever need this done, I use a service like and pay someone to do it for me. It's a huge time saver and I find it worthwhile. 



How To Shoot White Background Photos With Studio Light

Artificial lighting is obviously more consistent that natural light, and may be the right option if you don't have access to big windows or need to take your product photos when it's dark out. Working with artificial light does take more skill to be able to do well, but if you’re willing to invest the time (and some money) it’s can be worth the consistent, reliable results. 


1. Create Your Set

Find Your Light



Get Your Camera Settings Right

3. Edit The Photos

4. Deep Etch 

How To Shoot Lifestyle product Photos With Natural Light


Lifestyle product photography is the most immediate way to set a clear tone and direction for your brand. Unlike pictures of things floating on a white background, these styled images communicate context, story, feeling, and sense of scale in a way that connects and build trust with your potential customers. Whether you use lifestyle of deep etched product photography on your online store, you'll want to create and share lifestyle photos for social media, newsletters, and banners on your site. To me, they're the most fun and creative type of pictures to take, and you can do it all beautifully around your home, with natural light.  


1. Finding Your Light

For the best product photos you'll want soft, even, natural lighting. I want to show you where I take naturally lit photos in my house, so you can get some ideas for how you can take your own in yours. 

My favourite place to take photos is in my office/studio. It's on the second floor and has these big windows that face west. Because the sun comes in really strong here in the afternoon and casts an orangey glow, I try to take pictures in this space in the morning or on overcast days when I still get a ton of light in here. A few other things that make this room idea is that the walls are almost white, the ceiling is white, and the floors are quite light wood, so the light bounces around this room pretty cleanly. It's also a large enough space that I can move my tripod back far enough to capture the framing I want, depending on what lens I'm shooting with. 

My next favourite place to shoot is my kitchen. I love the bright reflective floors, and the darker grey countertops. And again, a get a lot of light coming through the back windows here, so it's easy to set up shots on the floor next to the windows, on the island, or on this little black table. 

Finally, I want to show you how I'd make a not-so-well lit space in my home work for product photography, in case you're working in a darker space that doesn't have such huge windows. This is my bedroom, and I don't have any windows in this space. Just a balcony door. Now, if I were to turn on the overheads and try to use them to light my photos, the results would be quite murky and yellow and just not very attractive. So, the better option, is to open a door. At your house, that might be the front door. I know it's a little strange, but, you want to capture that natural light however you can. And, if you need a little extra help because you have weaker light coming in from just one side, score a piece of white foam core down the middle with a utility knife and use that to bounce the light back into your photo from the other side. 


2. Telling Your Story

Lifestyle product photography is all about telling a story about what makes your product special, who it's for, and how it'll make the person who uses it feel. 

The first layer of this visual story is the backdrop, so I recommend finding a couple of different surfaces throughout your home that you can use over and over again so that the photos on your shop site and social media channels will look and feel consistent. I like the use the tile on the floor of my kitchen, the white linen cloth that covers the table in my office, and this faux furry rug that was under $20 at Ikea. They're all light and bright so they fit into my branded colour scheme. They also add some extra texture to my photos without taking away from the products I'm featuring. 

If you don't have a surface around your house that you can shoot on, you can built one. Head to your local building supply store, buy a piece of plywood, some cool tiles like a hex shape or a penny round, and a tub of white grout. You don't even have to finish the edges to get a sturdy customised surface that fits your brand style and will take the guesswork out of what to shoot your product on. 

The next thing you want to think about when you're shooting a lifestyle photo is what information you want to communicate about the product. You really want to think about demonstrating scale, colour, and any details or features of its design. 

So for example, if I were to take a photo of this sweet ring dish, I'd want to showcase the flecked detail in the ceramic, the organic shape of the edging, and the gold rim. I also want customers to understand that it's quite small, so they won't be disappointed when it arrives, so I might chose to style it with some fine rings because they'll show that scale, without overpowering all the other little details of the dish that I want to shine through. 

The next thing I want to think about is the overall story. So, who is this dish for? Where might they set it in their home? So now I want to create a little vignette which could be a woman's bedside table with a few pretty elements mixed in like a candle, this match book, a bit of greenery, the rings, and a crystal. Of course the props you use will depend on you branding and the customer who you envision loving what you sell. 


3. Shooting your product

Now you're ready to shoot. If you know how to use manual settings, I recommend doing that, and that you shoot in RAW. If you don't know how to use manual settings, that's ok too. You can set your camera to auto. Just make sure the lens is set to autofocus. 

If you are shooting in manual, lifestyle shots are a great opportunity to play around with the depth of field. Do you want the whole image in focus, or would it be more interesting and creative to have just the hero product in focus and the rest of the scene blurred out a little? In more run-of-the-mill product photography the goal is to have the entire image as sharp as possible. While in these types of shots you still want the actual product to be perfectly in focus, how you treat the background is much more up to your own creativity.

For example, which of these photos do you like better? I've changed the aperture in these images to create an increasingly blurry background effect while I personally really like.  

The Science Of Styling Product Photos That Sell : 8 RULES FOR PRODUCT Photography STYLING



Let’s address the downside of styling interesting product photos first… in a picture that features several different elements, it has to be immediately clear to a browser on your site which thing is the thing for sale. Of course the product’s name as it appeared overlayed or under the product shot will help with that, but the goal here is to make product photos that are connective, not confusing.  




Show the ingredients that go into your product.



Light can feature as a super effective prop in your product photos, because it can add visually intereting shapes, sparkle, and a touch a magic without drawing any attention away from your featured product. 





Show the tools that were used to make the product, or other elements (like food) that your product could be used in conjunction with. The point is, vignettes should tell a story that makes sense, and fits your brand.



Of course you could theme your product photos around a colour, or an idea, or an artistic flourish. That kind of story is more about mood, and can look really high end.





Less isn’t always more, but it’s hard to make an object feel special when it’s piled around a whole lot of other stuff. Take a cue from luxury boutiques and apply a more minimalist approach to your product photos… give each product and prop enough room to breathe so your audience really gets a chance to take in whatever it is that makes the thing you sell beautiful



I’m going to talk about how to use lighting to bring out the textures of your procuts in the next video, but for now, I want to say that choosing objects with interesting textures is a great way to approach prop styling for your product shots. Fabrics, natural ephemera, old tools, ceramic trays, and even your background can all be used to add texture in a subtle, elegant way that boosts the visual interest of your photo without competing with the product.



Another way to subtly add visual interest to product photos is to enhance their sense of dimension. This is super important in an e-commerce setting where the 2d world of the screen has replaced the 3d world of the brick and mortar shop. If you photos can suggest a 3d object placed in context it’ll be easier for the customer to image holding that product, using it, wearing it, or placing it in their home. One way I love to add this dimension (and more texture!) is to utilise the foreground. You can do this by adding a sprinkle of small tumble stones, delicate sprigs, or a loop of twine. Shadows can also work beautifully.  



If your brand is tailored and detail oriented, your product photos should reflect something of that severity. If your brand is friendly, approachable, and kid-friendly, then a little more haphazardness in your photos (balanced and beautiful executed, of course!) would would well. Photos are an important part of your brand, so think about the things you’d most want someone to say about your brand, and then use those ideas to guide how you choose props and style them.  


A: Typically my process looks like...

  • Collect objects + gather tools
  • Consider the purpose of the photos and the audience of the image
  • Choose the backdrop and set up location (I always shoot by a window)
  • Consider composition and camera angle
  • Place the objects
  • Observe with my eyes and adjust the placement of the objects
  • Capture
  • Observe what the camera sees and adjust for lens warp
  • Recapture
  • Edit
  • Upload / Post