The Importance of Background in Photographing Your Sale Items

The presentation of the items you sell is just as important as the care and attention to detail that is taken in the craftsmanship to create them. The photographs of your items set the buyer’s first impression, and help convey your style and your brand.

You may not at first think it matters much what the setting and background of your image is. “Who cares as long as you can see what’s for sale?” Well, the fact is that while people may not consciously care about the background, it does have an effect on the perception of the quality and value of your items. Presented well, your item will have an increased perceived value, and therefore be more attractive to buyers. The opposite can be said of poorly-conceived settings and backgrounds. If it appears that you don’t put much care into the presentation of your sale items, the same will be thought of the care you put into your product. You want the buyer to know you care about every aspect of your business.


You don’t need a dedicated studio to photograph your products. As you advance you may want to include more equipment, but you can start now with the light from a window, a suitable “table top” and a creative background. A simple wooden box near a window with light diffused by a curtain can yield some fantastic results using just a point-and-shoot camera or a cell phone camera.

All you need to start as a “studio”.

An all-white background might be simple to achieve but often doesn’t convey much of a sense of character, and the same can be said of plain white walls. You can offset this plainness by adding other elements that will add to the compositions without taking away from showcasing your item; however, replacing that background with more interesting textures and materials will take your styling to an entirely different level. Taking a moment to consider how you want potential buyers to think of your item and brand, along with some simple techniques, can yield some really beneficial results.

Depth-of-field should also be a consideration when choosing your setting and background and improves your choices tremendously. A shallow depth-of-field will throw your background out of focus. This will allow you to choose a lot of different options with consideration for texture and color. Differently textured fabrics and papers, even pots and pans can become useful subjects to use as backgrounds. The following photograph uses the back of a cookie sheet as the out-of-focus background.

The back of a cookie sheet used as background with wood box as table.

Some general considerations are that jewelry will look better on darker backgrounds. Not necessarily black as black can have less interest for the viewer than a dark gray. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Use color to your advantage. Take a look at a color wheel to learn what complementary colors are. Once you learn which colors work best together you can use that to enhance your photographs of your item to great effect. For example, yellow and blue are often used as complementary colors to evoke rustic or country themes. In the photo below you can see how the yellow and blue work well together.

A piece of curved construction paper makes a good “seamless” background.

If your items are apparel that straight product shot is great, but a shot featuring a live model is even better. It doesn’t have to be a full body shot or fully show the models face, but it should showcase the apparel in a way that looks natural. The benefit of using a model is that you can easily take your photographs outside where you can use natural light and settings to your advantage.

Items that deal with kitchen/culinary use should be photographed using natural light whenever possible. Plates and place settings, as well as eating utensils, make good props to accent such items as well. Items targeted toward men, such as wallets and leather wares, can be accented by photographing them against textured materials like burlap, marble, and stone. For stone and marble textures, tiling from a hardware or home furnishing store makes an excellent substitute. For handbags or clutches, if you can find a model. An image cropped to the hand holding the handbag or clutch to accompany a straight product shot can really enhance your listing.

Crop while shooting. Your goal is to present your item in its best possible light. When looking through the viewfinder or composing on the LED, take care to make sure you are photographing only what matters. Anything that isn’t showing off your item doesn’t need to be in the shot. If your camera has the option give real consideration to shooting in the square format. The benefits of this are that it often works better on mobile devices and social media, and will also make aligning multiple shots easier if necessary.

Your point of view, along with cropping, can really help elevate your product shot. Choose angles that showcase the prominent features of your items, especially for jewelry. Don’t hesitate to move things around until you’ve got it just right. Often, a shift of a few inches can make a world of difference.

I hope this article has given you some ideas about how you can use setting and background to your advantage in photographing the items you sell. Happy shooting!

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