Do this, not that: 7 Tips For Taking Perfect Amazon Pictures

Allee Evensen

Allee Evensen

February 15, 2020

Do this, not that: 7 Tips For Taking Perfect Amazon Pictures

There are a lot of things to remember when creating the perfect Amazon listings:

  • Copywriting
  • SEO
  • Keywords

However, If you want to convert your viewers to customers, there’s one thing that trumps all: product photography.

Even with great headlines or perfect keywords, photography is the first thing a potential customer sees when they’re browsing. Nearly 75% of online shoppers base their purchases on product photos.

This concept even goes beyond sales; more than 20% of customers who return products do so because the product looks different in real life than it does online.

Think of it this way: Your photos are like selling a car. No matter how nicely the engine runs, nobody will give it a second glance if the body is falling apart.

Old Car
But she runs great Ma!

In this article, we’ll review Amazon photo requirements, teach you how to bootstrap gorgeous e-commerce photos without special equipment and clue you into common beginner photography mistakes.

Before we jump in...

Your product photos tell the story of your business. They are the easiest way to differentiate your product from competitors, convey product size, and explain different uses of an item. Your photos need to meet Amazon’s technical photography requirements, but they also play a huge role in encouraging customers to buy your products. This can be a difficult balance to achieve.

While this article is all about taking incredible photos on your own, be aware that some products are more difficult to photograph than others. It’s always advisable to get professional help where needed. Even if you take your own photos, this could mean outsourcing photo editing, infographic design or modeling.

Do this, not that

Don’t: Make the buyer question what you’re selling.

Pony toy product image
Pony toy product image - good

Even the most well-composed photo is bunk if a potential customer doesn’t know what they’re buying. The main photo on a listing must have a completely white background and should only include the product itself -- no accessories, illustrations or small children.

Secondary photos have a little more wiggle room. They can include text, show the product in use and have a background of your choosing. This being said, the product itself should always be the main focus of the photo.

Do: Focus on your main image.

Your main image is the first thing a potential customer sees and is the main conversion point for a listing. It should be bright, attention-grabbing, and extremely high quality. Customers are picky -- there’s always that one person who will do 100x zoom to see the texture of a washcloth. If your resources are limited, always put the most effort into your main photo.

Product image sample

Amazon Main Image Requirements

  • The main image must be the cover art or a professional photograph of the product being sold. Drawings or illustrations of the product are not allowed.
  • The image must not contain gratuitous or confusing additional objects.
  • The image must be in focus, professionally lit and photographed or scanned, with realistic color, and smooth edges.
  • Books, Music, and Video/DVD images should be the front cover art, and fill 100% of the image frame. Jewel cases, promotional stickers, and cellophane are not allowed.
  • All other products should fill 85% or more of the image frame.
  • The full product must be in the frame.
  • The background must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255).
  • The image must not contain additional text, graphics, or inset images.
  • Pornographic and offensive materials are not allowed.

If you don’t follow Amazon’s main image requirements, your listing is at risk of being suppressed by Amazon, meaning it won’t be available for customers to purchase. You can check if any for suppressed listings using the following steps:

  1. Go to Inventory > Inventory Reports.
  2. Select the “Listing Quality and Suppressed Listing Report”
  3. Click the “Request Report” button.
  4. Download the report and review the issues with the Field Name = Main Image URL

To fix a suppressed listing image, upload a new main image that meets Amazon’s image requirements: After uploading the new image, it can take up to 48 hours for a suppressed ASIN to become available.

Do not: Take pictures without considering the backdrop.

Nobody (and I do mean nobody) wants to see your kitchen table/bookshelf/kids toys/carpet in the background of your photos. Not only is this unprofessional, but it makes buyers feel uncomfortable. If you can’t take enough time to crop out a background, what does it say about the kind of business you run?

Product image with poor background
Product image with cropped background

Do: Invest in some basic necessities

Home photo studio

The goal is to create a much smaller version of this.

There are a few products that are must-haves for a DIY photography shoot:

A white background

If your product is on the small side and you have a few dollars to spare, nab a lightbox from Amazon. It isn’t fancy, but it includes everything you need to get started including a tripod, backdrops and light strips. If you want to completely bootstrap your photoshoot, you can make your own lightbox with household materials -- a cardboard box, white sheet, and a few bright lamps will do the trick.

Why is an Amazon lightbox important? It is like a great light equalizer. Taking a photograph in an uncontrolled setting means you’re getting light and shadows from all sorts of places; windows, house lights, etc. With a lightbox, your subject will have fairly equal lighting no matter where you position the lights.

A camera

In 2020 most cameras can shoot at such a high quality that almost any is suitable for taking Amazon photos. Naturally, if you have a solid DSLR camera on hand you should definitely use it, but if all you have is a decent cell phone camera, it will do the trick. The best camera is the one you have on hand. Any of the following models will work:

  • iPhone 8+
  • Google Pixel 2+
  • Huawei P20 Pro+
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+

You can also use a point and shoot -- just make sure it has a minimum of 10 megapixels and contains a macro setting.

A well-lit room

Choose a room with some natural light. The bigger window means you’ll have to work less to adjust your secondary lights. Remember: The closer you are to a window, the more uneven soft light/dark shadows you’ll get. The farther you are from a window, the more even light/lighter shadows you’ll deal with.

How to do a DIY photoshoot

  1. Place your lightbox on some type of table, making sure the lights are positioned opposite of one another and the tripod is centered in front of your product.
  2. Make sure a backdrop is attached to the inside of your lightbox. For Amazon purposes, it should generally white, though you can use a colored backdrop for secondary photos. The backdrop should have a slight curve/slope at the back and be free of any wrinkles and/or debris (they WILL show up much more prominently in your photos than they do in real life).
  3. Clean your camera lens, especially if you are using a cell phone. Think of everything your camera is exposed to: bags, pockets, fingers, etc. A quick wipe can drastically change the quality of your photo.

Do not: Use camera unnecessary camera features.

You don’t need to zoom, use filters, flash, etc. It’s much better to adjust your lighting so your product looks natural.

Do: Take/Test differents kinds of photos

There are a few different types of photos you want to have in mind as you plan out your photoshoot. As mentioned above you’ll need to follow strict guidelines about the main image, but don’t be afraid to A/B test the other images to see what converts best.

1. Main image

Main amazon product image sample

2. Lifestyle image

Amazon product image sample 2

3. Infographic

Amazon product image sample 3

4. Packaging image

Amazon product image sample 4

5. Model Image

Amazon product image sample 4

Your listing can have a maximum of nine photos. At a minimum, you should fill four of those spots, but it’s always advantageous to fill as many of the spots are possible with the largest variety of photo types as possible.

Do not: Neglect the importance of category guidelines

Overall, the image requirements for Amazon aren’t enormously complicated. What is complicated is how Amazon presents them; instead of being located in one central Seller Central page, Amazon has scattered them across multiple pages. Each of the 45 categories has subtle differences in guidelines, which is confusing to any seller. Here are the most important rules category rules you need to be aware of.

Do: Review all Amazon photography rules

Any product image you submit to Amazon should meet specific technical specifications:

  • The file must be in TIFF, GIF, PNG or JPEG format. Any other file type will fail to upload.
  • An image dimension at least 1000 pixels on one side. This is most important for your main photo, but is strongly suggested for your secondary photos as well.
  • Every file name should contain a product’s identifier (ISBN, ASIN, UPC, etc.) followed by a period and the file extension (e.g. C000443745.jpeg or 455678967845.tif). File names with special characters like dashes, spaces, or other symbols will prevent your images from being published online. Although many sellers overlook the importance of correctly naming files, it can actually help your SEO and make your product more likely to show up on outside websites like Google.

That’s a wrap…

Ecommerce photography can really be summed up in a few words: solving pain points.

Your main photography goal is always to visually explain how your products work and how they fill a customer’s need.

While this article mostly references Amazon photography, the same guidelines apply across all of ecommerce. No matter what business model you’re using (wholesale, private label, dropshipping) or which platform you’re utilizing (Shopify, Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, etc) good photographs will increase your conversion rate and customer satisfaction.

Do you have any questions about e-commerce photography? Comment below or shoot a message to [email protected]. I’d love to hear what’s working or not working) for your brand.

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