Richard Pinches
Richard Pinches 12 October 2020

Why Commercial Photography is Key For Your Online Business

In the real world, you have five senses. In the online world, you have two; sight and hearing. In many situations, however, you will only be able to use one of these and it’s probably going to be sight.

That’s why commercial photography is key for your online business. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know.

There are Five Main Types of Commercial Photographs

The main types of commercial photographs are:

  • Product
  • 360-Degree
  • GIF
  • Hero
  • Lifestyle

Product photographs

These are the “bread-and-butter” images of ecommerce. They visually tell a customer whatever they need and/or want to know about a product. You can get creative with them but with product photos, clarity is much more important than creativity.


These are essentially the same as product photos except that the user can “turn” the photo to look at the product from different angles like they would if they had it in their hands.


GIFs are essentially photos linked together to create short videos. They can be useful for showing a product in action.


Hero photos sit between standard product photos and lifestyle photos. The focus is still very firmly on the product itself, but there is a lot more room for creativity and storytelling.


These are the photos which show your product in context. You can use them on your website and they’re great for social media.

Photos Matter a Lot to Your Search Engine Optimization

Modern search engines measure user engagement. Their techniques are eye-wateringly complicated but the basic principle of modern SEO is very simple. Give your customers exactly what they want the moment they want it.

Modern internet users are increasingly doing their surfing from mobile devices. Many of these devices have small screens. This means that users will generally hone in on photos first and will only move to text afterwards if they are seriously interested.

Modern web design, therefore, leans towards having high-level pages e.g. categories, being mainly images. Text is kept for other pages, such as product pages (or blog pages). The pictures might even come with “social share” buttons as images are very shareable and search engines rank evidence of social sharing very highly.

How to Get Great Photos at a Reasonable Price

Ideally, you would have a proper photographer do all of your product photography. If this is out of your price range, then at least try to have them do your key products.

If you must do your own photos, then there are two key points you need to remember at all times. Firstly, it is vital that you use a tripod. It’s the only way to be sure that your camera will be totally steady. Secondly, you need light, lots of it.

Plan your shoot in advance, even if you’re working from your base and especially if you’re not. Remember to think about battery charge, particularly if you’re shooting in cold temperatures as these are punishing on batteries.

Invest in a portable hard drive with an SD card reader. The moment you finish a shoot, or even take a break in a shoot, back up your SD card. Most of the time your card will be fine, but occasionally you’ll be very glad of that backup.

Learn to Edit Your Photos or Pay Someone to do it For You

Photo editing has become a bit of a controversial topic. This is largely due to the way it has been abused by some companies and by some social media influencers. Done properly, however, there is nothing unethical about it and it’s what generally needs to happen to take a photo to the next level.

For professionals, that’s good to great. For amateurs, that’s more likely to be decent to good. That said, if you make the time to learn photo-editing skills or pay someone to do it for you, you may be able to push “decent” to “excellent”.

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