Selling on Amazon is a bit trickier than Etsy or eBay, mostly due to the platform’s strict product photography guidelines.
On Etsy, for example, you can simply lay down a piece of fabric, place your product on it, take a half-decent picture and upload it without even editing, Amazon expects a little more from their sellers, so we’ve put together a little guide for DIY Amazon product photography.
Not interested in DIY Amazon product photography? You can work with us. See our Amazon product portfolio here.
Amazon Photography Rules
-All images must be of the product’s cover art and/or a professionally-taken product. No drawings allowed!
-All images must be in focus and have professional-grade lighting. Any scanned images (i.e DVD cover art) must be professionally scanned.
-Nothing other than the product itself can be in the photo.
-If you’re selling VHS/DVDs, CDs or books, the thumbnail picture should be a scanned image of the cover that takes up 100% of the frame. There should be no glare from cellophane packaging or plastic jewel cases.
-If you’re selling anything else, the product should take up at least 85% of the image frame. No part of the product should be outside of the frame.
-No excess text or graphics allowed (BIG difference from eBay, where images often look like collages with multiple watermarks, inset images, etc).
-No offensive stuff in any of your photos.
-And most importantly (this is the one that irks Amazon sellers the most), the background must be purely white (RGB 255,255,255).
As you can imagine, many sellers are turned off by a few of these rules. The guidelines’ emphasis on “professional quality” makes many people feel like they’re incapable of meeting Amazon’s harsh product photography standards.
In reality, though, it’s not that difficult. Most of them, like no offensive images and no excess text, are pretty easy rules to abide by.
Luckily, shooting product photos that are professional enough to pass on Amazon isn’t that difficult, either. Here’s what you can do:
Lay Down a White Bed Sheet/Create a White Background
Some people try to meet the white background guideline by shooting their photo against a colored surface and then cropping the background out. In order to make these photos look good, though, you’ll need to have some Photoshop skills. Otherwise, you’re probably going to end up with edges that look like you cut them with a bread knife and Amazon will remove them pretty soon after you post ‘em.
Instead, simply lay down a clean, white bed sheet on a flat surface. Then, place your product on it and voila!
Create a DIY light box
Light It from Above / Lighting The Product
Once you’ve found a white backdrop, you’ll want to place a lighting source (one of those desk lights with a bendable neck works great if you have one) above the product. LED lights work great because they’re usually white, which makes it much easier for editing later on.
If you’re able to shoot by a window during the day, do so. Place your lighting source close enough to the product to give it some light but make sure that there is enough distance to avoid washing it out.
You may have to spend some time playing around with light in order to get the perfect shot but it’s entirely doable.
A Guide to DIY Product Lighting
Lighting IS The Key to Good Photos
DIYer Photography Made Easy
Snap Your Pic
Usually, you don’t want to shoot the photo head-on. Product photographs generally look better if you can capture both the top and side view of the object in one picture. We recommend shooting from a few different angles and then reviewing them to find the ones that look the best.
Of course, make sure that your pictures abide by Amazon’s product photography guidelines: nothing in the photograph aside from the object itself (and the sheet) and no part of the product sticking outside the frame.
Time to Edit – Post Production
You don’t have to be a professional editor to make your photos look halfway decent. Many smartphones have basic editing features that will enable you to adjust the exposure, contrast and white balance of your pictures. You may need to watch a few tutorials to learn how to use these features on your phone.
Also, Amazon offers a Photo Studio application on their Amazon Seller App. This app is great because it will let you know if your pictures meet their guidelines as you’re editing.
If all else fails, you may want to hire an editor on a website like Fiverr. There are hundreds of freelance editors that will touch up your pictures in a matter of minutes, optimizing your photos for as little as $5 per image.