How to take good product photos on a tiny budget

Low cost photos for Amazon and eBay products
Seth Kniep
Dec 17, 2017
Build your Amazon product
One of the most important parts of selling on Amazon or eBay is your product photo. Amazon shoppers buy with their eyes, so its essential that they look great.

One of the most important parts of selling on Amazon is your product photos. It’s very important to have photos that look great. These photos sell products.

Don’t use crappy, dim, or blurry photos. I’ve seen some pretty creepy stuff. People take photos of bed sheets and there’s a stain on them. You’d think they were trying to tell people to scream and run the other direction. Don’t do that.

I’ve tested this many different ways. As a general rule, your product sells best if it has a white background and Amazon requires this for your featured photo. You also need lifestyle photos so shoppers can see it in action, like a dog harness. It’d be completely fine to have a dog wearing it, maybe laying in the grass on a sunny day. But when you’re showing the product itself, not how it’s being used, it’s very important to have a white background.

The three main things you need to get a good photo are: the camera, the lights, and a poster board from Walmart. As cheesy as that sounds, it is a cheap and effective way to get a white background for your photos. You don’t have to spend a fortune doing this. At the beginning stages, your goal is not to spend money, it’s to make money. How do you do that? You spend money on the product, you spend time and labour. Then once it starts selling, you can upgrade your photography equipment if you want.

First and foremost, you need a camera. I've used my good old trusty iPhone. It was only an iPhone 5; I’m not the guy who always has to have the latest and greatest. As long as it works, I’m happy; I’m a very simple person when it comes to this kind of stuff. It has a decent camera on it. I’ve taken some really badass photos using this phone. Keep in mind that the camera only does so much: just as important is holding it still and not zooming in because it decreases the quality of your output.

What about the background? When I started on Amazon, I used a cheap tri-fold poster board from Walmart. This is not going to sound professional. But it works, and it works great. You can get these for maybe $5, sometimes they even sell them at the dollar store. 

So when you’re taking a photo, you can place your item on the poster board and prop up one of the sides, like a brochure, to help reflect light evenly. If it’s just sitting on a white board and there’s nothing behind it, the shadows from the room are going to show up darker. So keep the side up so that there’s white underneath and behind the item.

Now if I put this board outside, in the shade, not in direct sunlight, and eliminate as much as my shadow as I can from leaning over it, I’ve going to have a very decent photo to work with.

Today, I pay someone to do all my images but when I took my own photos, I had someone edit my photos using Photoshop. She would trace around the photo and replace the background with an even whiter background that looked clean. However, I didn’t always have someone doing this for me, and my photos still sold products well. I was just able to get them a little better by paying a little more.

If you’re just starting off, get a poster board and use it as a background. Put it in the shade and don’t zoom in on your phone camera. If you have a higher quality camera, you probably already know more about photography than I do! Go with that and use it well.

Another important factor is light. What if you want to really improve your lighting, but you can’t use regular daylight? It’s been raining so much in Austin lately that you need a boat to get around. So I bought this off of Amazon.

This is pretty simple; it’s called a photography translucent umbrella. You attach a light bulb to the stand and the light reflects off the umbrella and spreads it evenly. So I’ll put my product on the poster board, set it down on a table, then turn on this light, and it helps spread light evenly around the item. I personally use two of these with some pretty strong light bulbs; they’re 45-watt bulbs with a brightness of 6,500k.

This is not major professional equipment; if anything it’s semi-professional. But I built a whole studio to make this happen and make photography and video filming easier. 

Make sure you also get pictures of people experiencing the product. For example, if you’re selling a toothbrush, find someone with a pretty set of teeth and get a picture of them brushing their teeth with it. It really helps. Having all-white backgrounds is important, but not for photos of people experiencing the product.

You also need to have really detailed close-up photos of your product. Amazon requires that 80% of the frame is filled with the product. So if you have a picture with a tiny little item in the center of it that doesn’t even fill up half the picture, Amazon can come along and say your photo doesn’t qualify and take it down.

Those are the basics of getting premium photos for your products. It’s pretty simple. It takes a lot of time to get it perfect, but you need to be a perfectionist in this way, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money on it. Camera, lights, poster board from Walmart. Have an awesome day.


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Seth Kniep

Married a pearl. Fathered 4 miracles. Fired his boss. Turned a single dime into $104,857. Today, a self-made millionaire, Seth and his team of 8 badass coaches teach entrepreneurs how to build passive income on Amazon.

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