Product photography, part 4: angles and points of view

Angles matter in product photography. They lay out the details, helping buyers make informed decisions. Also, buyers who can’t see the details of a product are unlikely to buy it.

This is the fourth post in my series to help eCommerce merchants take better product photos. “Part 1” discussed the importance of backgrounds. “Part 2” explains tripods. “Part 3” looked at the fundamentals of artificial lighting.

In this article, I’ll go over the best angles for product photography and the vantage points to pair them with. Let’s start with viewpoints — the position of the camera relative to a product.

Perspectives

There are three viewpoints: low, eye-level, and high.

  • Low blow are taken from a position below the subject to establish its power in the photo. Low shots work well with lifestyle shots and in context.
  • Eye-level shots are taken frontally to provide a view of a product at the level of a human eye. Most product photography is at eye level.
  • High blows are taken from an elevated position looking at the subject.

Angles

In addition to the three viewpoints, there are six must-have angles for product shots: front, profile, 45 degrees, back, top, and macro.

Front corner is the default image for most e-commerce photos because it’s the best for quickly informing buyers, showing the main features of a product. A front angle shot should be attractive while providing enough detail for buyers to understand the product.

The front angle is the default image for most e-commerce photos, like this example of an Xbox. Source: Walmart.com.

A front angle shot is usually at eye level against a solid white background. Make sure the lighting is evenly dispersed to avoid visible shadows.

For a front shot and all the others in this post, I typically use two off-camera lights with diffusers in a room where I can control the lighting. Place one light 45 degrees behind the product and the other in the opposite corner. Make sure both are raised and facing down to dissipate most of the light and reduce the length of shadows.

Profile angle is taken from the side of a product. Its usefulness depends on the object. For example, a profile photo is not useful for my paintings because no one wants to see the side of a canvas or frame. But for shoes, for example, a profile photo can be essential.

Photo from Adidas.com of the side of the sandal.

The profile angle is taken from the side of a product. It’s useful for certain items, like this sandal from Adidas. Source: Adidas.com.

Take profile shots at eye level using a quality white background and a stable tripod, similar to the front angles.

Back corner is a key shot in product photography. Buyers are rarely satisfied with front angles and profiles alone. Rear shots can reveal important details.

Photo from Walmart.com of the back of an Xbox

The rear angle is a key shot in product photography, like this example of the back of an Xbox. Source: Walmart.com.

For consistency, take a rear angle photo from the same location as the front angle – just turn the product (not the camera).

45 degree angle refers to the position of the camera relative to the product. It is also called the three-quarter angle. A 45 degree shot is most often used for food photography, but is also useful for many other objects.

A single 45 degree shot shows multiple sides of a product while providing additional detail. Use a high vantage point and mark your camera position before shooting. Use a tripod to hold it steady.

Adidas.com profile picture of a black sandal.

A single 45-degree shot shows multiple sides of a product, like this Adidas sandal. Source: Adidas.com.

Top corner is often called the bird’s eye view. This isn’t always necessary, but it does provide more context for buyers depending, again, on the product.

A top angle shot can be difficult to achieve – the camera is directly above the product. Place your camera high C-bracket, then connect the camera to a computer. A beautiful Matthews 40″ C Stand from B&H Photo costs about $183. Impact, Kupoand GVM also make quality C-brackets at similar prices.

Photo from Walmart.com of the top of an Xbox and its controller

High angle shots are taken directly above the product. This example shows the top view of an Xbox and its controller. Source: Walmart.com.

macro angle shot displays the finest details of products and requires special equipment to be correct. I’ll cover it in depth when I discuss lenses in the next “Part 6”. Dealers with limited budgets probably shouldn’t attempt macro shots.

A photo from Adidas.com showing close-up detail of a black sandal

Macro angle shooting displays the fine details of products and requires special equipment. This image is of an Adidas sandal. Source: Adidas.com.

See “Part 5: Choose a camera”.

James T. Quintero