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  • Writer's picturePhilip J Hatton

My first-time at Amazon product photography – here’s how I got the shot

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Supporting local businesses in the sports and outdoor industries is one of the goals with my photography business. I was therefore delighted to partner with Nick Darabi to create the Amazon listing photography for his new Golfmojis ball markers.

While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in multiple genres of photography, e-commerce imagery isn’t one of them, so I dove in and learned by doing (the best way to learn, in my opinion) and by sharing my methodology, hope to help others who may be in the same situation.

Take a look at the full image gallery here: Golfmojis album

And here's the finished Amazon listing: Golfmojis Amazon listing

Continue reading for a behind-the-scenes deep-dive into how I got the shot:

Beginning with the end in mind, the brief was:

  • Deliver 10-20 photos within 4 days of receiving the product

  • Hero shot of all ball markers together on a white background

  • Two markers in one shot (front and reverse together)

  • Individual photos of each ball marker and hat clip

  • Ball markers alongside a ball outside on a putting green

Next up, Amazon’s listing requirements:

Amazon seller central has a detailed list of product image requirements, recommendations and resources that you can reference here. From a photographer’s perspective, I took particular note of the following:

  • Six images and a video are recommended

  • Images should be clear, informative, and attractive, to make it easy for customers to evaluate the product

  • The MAIN image (first image) must show the product for sale on a pure white background (RGB 255, 255, 255), and have the product occupy at least 85 percent of the image area

  • Additional images should show the product in use or in an environment, different angles, and different features

  • Image size should be at least 1,000px on the longest side (1,600px or larger is recommended), not to exceed 10,000px. Zooming in has been shown to increase conversions, so professional photos are highly recommended

My goal: deliver professional product images, well-lit and sharply-focused from front-to-back, enabling customers to easily zoom in to the product details. The challenge: small, shiny objects can be notoriously tricky to photograph.

Here’s my formula for success with the white background shots:

Homemade table, camera and lights setup
  • Product table: homemade light table, with glass or clear acrylic surface elevated above a matte white background, on which to photograph the product from the top down

  • Background lighting: bright, constant lights or strobes to achieve a near pure white background (makes it either unnecessary or extremely easy to cut out the product later in photoshop)

  • Product lighting: a minimum of two off-camera lights (constant and/or flash) positioned around the outside of a diffuser to illuminate the product (I used two Godox Speedlights and a wireless flash trigger)

  • Light diffuser: 360-degree light diffuser to smoothly and evenly light the product, avoiding glare and reflections (I used a V-Flat World Light Cone x Karl Taylor)

Hero shot with pure white background
  • Camera and lens setup: with camera mounted above on secure tripod, shoot the products top down using a macro lens at a focal length suitable for close-up imagery (I used a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens with 12mm extension tube on a full frame DSLR)

  • Exposure settings: mid-range aperture for optimal sharpness, low ISO for clean image, and shutter speed to eliminate ambient light (I used f/11, ISO 64, and 1/4 sec), and then manually set the lighting power for optimal exposure

Color calibration with Calibrite ColorChecker
  • Color calibration: using a color calibration tool, take a reference photo using the above exposure settings to achieve accurate color and white balance later in post-processing (I used a Calibrite ColorChecker Classic Mini)

  • Product handling: use cotton gloves to avoid fingerprints

  • Focus method: if using a DSLR camera, manually focus using live view and focus peaking (more accurate than an optical viewfinder); or if using a mirrorless camera, manually focus using either the rear LCD or electronic viewfinder (EVF) together with focus peaking

  • Shooting mode: use either electronic shutter (mirrorless) or mirror-up mode in combination with electronic front-curtain shutter (DSLR) to minimize blurring caused by camera movement when the mirror is raised

  • Shutter release: use either a remote shutter trigger (wired or wireless) or exposure delay mode to avoid camera shake associated with pressing the shutter button (I used a Vello Shutterboss II)

Finished image (focus stacked and edited)
  • Focus stacking: for sharp detail across the entire image, take multiple shots at different focal points working front-to-back, and focus stack later in photoshop (or similar editing software) – many modern cameras can be set to automatically focus stack, next easiest is to use a focus rail, or without either manually adjust the focus ring of the lens

  • Post-processing: use a color calibrated monitor for color and white balance accuracy (I used a Calibrite ColorChecker Display Pro), and edit globally and locally in photoshop (white balance, exposure, black/white point, highlights/shadows, contrast, hue/saturation/luminance, focus stacking, clean-up imperfections, cut out and replace background, product composition, color grade, sharpen, re-size, and export as JPEG)

And here’s my formula for success with the outdoor shots

A methodology similar to the white background shots was employed, with the following differences:

Diffused natural light plus single off-camera flash
  • Light diffuser: soften the direct sunlight with either a translucent scrim or diffuser (I used a collapsible diffuser)

  • Product lighting: single off-camera speedlight inside small softbox positioned close to the product on mini tripod (I used a Godox Speedlight with wireless flash trigger, and a Rogue Flash Bender light modifier)

  • Camera and lens setup: same camera and lens setup, with camera positioned lower and photos taken at a shorter focal length for a wider angle of view

Sharply focused (using live view and focus peaking) to reveal the logo and texture
  • Exposure settings: similar mid-range aperture, same low ISO, with shutter speed appropriate to blend ambient and flash lighting (I used f/14, ISO 64, and 1/10 sec)

  • Not focus stacked: front-to-back sharpness wasn’t as critical as with the white background shots, so I took single shots at a slightly narrower aperture (f/14 vs f/11) using the same focusing method and shooting mode as before

A very big thank you to Wildwood Golf Club. They couldn’t have been more welcoming in letting me use their putting green – and for winter in the Pacific Northwest, their greens were spectacular.

Phew! If you've got this far – thank you – now you know that I love both the creative and the technical aspects of photography, and I hope you like the result – it was a great introduction to product photography for me.

Lastly, I’m hopeful this article increases awareness of the effort that goes into the creation of crafted imagery. There are some highly-skilled photographers out there that continue to inspire and amaze.

– Philip

N.B. don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like assistance with product photography – I’d love to help.

The links in this article are not sponsored, affiliated, or earn me any commission


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