Featured image for article: Picture Perfect Shopify: Photography Tips for Hardware & Automotive Stores

Picture Perfect Shopify: Photography Tips for Hardware & Automotive Stores

Quality images serve as the primary channel for essential information prior to a purchase. Nevertheless, diverse approaches exist. This concise guide aims to steer you in the right direction, offering valuable photography insights tailored for your Shopify store, particularly when operating on a tight budget.

Types of product photography

Apparently each product category has specific needs. Products for e.g. outdoor activities require a different photographic approach compared to hardware and automotive products. Therefore, it’s essential to pinpoint our priorities.

Keep in mind that your e-shop should cover all potential needs regarding photography too. People tend to be very careful before buying and features such as product variety can make or break a purchase.

Product photography can be broadly categorized as follows:

Individual Shots

This is the commonest type. In fact it is so common that we don’t even notice it. Amazon uses individual shots for its products. It is simple, it is neutral, it is safe and effective. As an owner of a hardware or automotive store you will probably use the particular type.

Groups of products

A very useful approach when you need to compare the physical size of products. Or when you are selling combined products such as spare parts. Photographing group of products makes the procedure more complicated but if it is required, don’t skip this method.

Lifestyle photography

As the name suggests, this describes the procedure when taking photos of products in action. Or within context. The particular type of photography works better as complementary content. Unlike individual shots that typically have specific dimensions lifestyle photos can vary dimensions and orientation. They also work very well as hero images.

Close-up shots

A very important approach when a product is small. Close-up shots reveal intricate details such as surfaces or intrinsic mechanisms. Screwdrivers is a perfect example: photos of the entire device is only one aspect. Equally important is to zoom in and show the details of it. See how we use photos in our theme, Maranello to get the idea.


It sounds indifferent if not negligible, but the truth is people do care about packaging. Packaging photography can be very helpful when someone is looking for a parcel among other products. Moreover, well-executed packaging photography enhances consumer satisfaction and promotes brand recognition. Thus, packaging photography should never be an afterthought.

How to take good photos of your products. Especially on budget.

Sure, if you can afford to hire a professional photographer, please go ahead. However very often budgets are too tight. Thankfully there are ways to capture impressive product photos on your own without sacrificing quality. Here’s what you need to consider:

Select your surface (and the background)

Just like generals who want to fight in lands that provide advantages for them, you also need to find the surface and the background of your photos. Remember, the majority of your photos must be consistent and share the same style.

Experiment with different shots of various surfaces until you find the right one. Most of the times this surface will be used for individual shots. Additionally, keep searching for an alternative surface, a second one, in case you need some lifestyle photography.

Power tool studio photography
A textured wood backdrop highlights product craftsmanship and detail

Pay attention to lighting

There are various lighting techniques but the most important one is: look for natural light. The sun is without a doubt the best lighting source. But even this light can look different a very shiny day (expect hard shadows and saturated colors) or a cloudy one (softer shadows and not very strong colors). Extreme weather conditions don’t work well and they are rare, so it is better to avoid them.

Find a nice place with abundant natural light and take several photos from different angles until you discover what works best. Professional photographers do the same.

Tripods help. A lot.

Can a smartphone be your main camera? Yes it can, as long as you also have a tripod. Tripods are underrated gadgets but they are highly beneficial for two reasons:

a. Tripods keep your phone stable and steady all the time. It is practically impossible to do the same without it. And it is very very tiring for your hands.

b. With a stable phone is much easier to optimize the settings of your camera (depth, color, sharpness, background blur etc.) in order to get the best possible result.
Tripods are very affordable and come in many varieties.

Take alternative shots

We mentioned it above but we need to make it even clearer: since you are an amateur photographer, as the most of us, you must feel comfortable with the procedure. It takes some time and many shots but it is rewarding. Explore different angles, surfaces and light. Try both individual and group shots.

Then invest to learning and optimizing the settings of your camera, especially the way zoom works – this can be quite tricky. Shoot a lot and maximize control of your phone; it is a powerful device.

A few words about consistency

Consistency in presenting your product images is vital for establishing reliability and trustworthiness. Decide on the number of shots per product, plan angles, and maintain a cohesive visual style throughout your store. Consistency doesn’t equate to monotony; it demonstrates professionalism and fosters consumer confidence.

Editing & optimizing photos.

All photos need editing, even the best ones. If you have followed our suggestions above by now you will have achieved a certain level of quality for your images. Now you need to edit them effectively.

Software for image editing has evolved tremendously these days. While initially daunting, these tools are designed to be user-friendly, especially for beginners. Focus on specific aspects of photography, and utilize software to fine-tune your images, elevating them to professional standards.

Important image editing adjustments

You don’t have to use all of the adjustments below but it is good to have them available in your arsenal.

  • Resizing & image format
    Shopify provides a valuable cheat sheet outlining image dimensions, resolution, and formats. Most smartphones meet the minimum requirements and even exceed them. With modern software, resizing and exporting photos is incredibly straightforward.
  • Exposure
    The amount of light which reaches your camera. Adjust exposure each time you photograph under different lighting conditions.
  • Brightness – Contrast – Saturation
    Use it with exposure in order to achieve similar tints for similar products, but don’t overdo it. You need realistic images.
  • Repair
    A tool that removes small imperfections or entire objects from images. Super useful and easy to use.
  • Soften – Sharpen
    Brushes to soften or sharpen areas of an image. Use them with caution and only when you detect obvious errors.

Software for image editing

Here’s a short list of fantastic tools to edit your images.

  • Canva
    Free (with available plans). Offline & online. Very popular and with dozens of options.
  • Pixlr
    Free (with available plans). Online. Very good and with many nice options.
  • Fotor
    Free (with available plans). Online. Perfect if you are a novice user.
  • Gimp
    Free. Online. Certainly capable but not very easy to be used.
  • Photoshop
    Commercial. Of course Photoshop.
  • Pixelmator
    Commercial. Offline. Only for Mac. Fantastic and super easy to start with.
  • Squoosh
    Online. Free. This tool does one thing only but it does extremely well: it optimizes your images by reducing the file size without reducing the quality of the image. A must.

Short photography tips – A recap

By this point, you’ve likely recognized that achieving a professional result when photographing your products is quite demanding. The following list aims to consolidate the points discussed above and provide you with actionable steps.

  • Aim for the same surface, lighting conditions, angles for all of your products.
  • Having said that break the rules and get some alternative very different photos without sacrificing consistency.
  • Prepare a few lifestyle photos as well. They can be used in several pages of a Shopify store but they can be used in social media too.
  • All your products must look very sharp and very clear.
  • Each product must be in the center of the photo unless you photograph more than one products in the same shot.
  • Take photos of the entire product. Then take a few close-ups.
  • The sizing of the products must be consistent.
  • Use reflections sparingly. Some surfaces create reflections. Other times reflections can be added by software. If you have a hardware or automotive store more often than not you don’t need reflections.
  • Watermarks don’t work in e-shops.
  • If your product comes in more colors, you need at least one photo for each color.
  • Take as many photos as possible first. Don’t spend too much time to evaluate them. You will do this later.
  • You can’t avoid editing your photos but if you have the right tools you will save valuable time and you will significantly improve the final result.
  • Reduce the size of the final images by using appropriate tools.

As you can see, some of the steps above are straightforward, others tricky, and some purely technical. Don’t let the complexity intimidate you; instead do one thing at a time and stay focused. Before long, you’ll discover that you’re capable of more than you initially thought, and your advancement will be swift. While capturing professional-quality photos for your e-commerce store may present its challenges, it’s certainly within your reach.

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