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The 3 types of product images every retail brand needs

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A picture says 1000 words and in today's retail environment, nailing your product images is one of the most important things you can do for your brand – however not every image type is weighted the same. 

Before you jump into your next photoshoot, take a few minutes to think about how you plan to use your images and decide which style/s will be the most useful within your strategy.

Here, we break down the 3 types of product images you could create, what to know about each style, and how you could create them with the wonderful Lauren Barber. 

1. Cut Out

With no styling accessories, backgrounds or distractions, Cut Out images put your product front and centre. 

Perhaps the most versatile and important style of product imagery, Cut Outs are usually the preference for online product listings on websites and digital marketplaces, as well as journalists looking to place your products in their features and gift guides. Press Loft, a leading automated PR platform, recommends 70% of a brand’s images be Cut Out in style to ensure the largest brand reach. 

Ragged Rose Olor Ancient Mariner 


Getting Cut Outs right

  • Products should be shown on a completely white background, entirely on their own.

  • These images still need to be as high res as possible (minimum 300dpi).

  • Don’t be afraid to try and take these images yourself. There are plenty of free online tools to help you remove image backgrounds, just be cautious of lighting to minimise shadows when taking your photos. 

2. Lifestyle

Lifestyle images are where you can really connect with your customers; positioning your products in a setting that they feel is familiar and inspirational. Whilst not as versatile as Cut Outs, Lifestyle images are still a vital part of your photo library. On social media, they can captivate your customers… on the home page of your website, they can convey the story and feel of your brand quickly and efficiently… and for press, they can help you land a cover or feature hero image. 

New Trends Concepts Blomus Arte-N Furniture


Getting Lifestyle images right

  • When it comes to in situ images, you want them to feel as natural as possible. Place your products in genuine scenarios that will engage customers. 

  • Tell a story through your styling, accessorising and framing and always remember to make the product you are promoting the star of the show. For more on how to do this, we recommend following @bylaurenbarber

  • Models can be a polarising thing when it comes to third parties who may use your images (e.g Press, Digital Marketplaces), so, if your resource allows, try to get lifestyle shots both with and without models. 

  • If ever you were going to allocate a budget for photography, this is the time to do it. You can, of course, give it a go yourself, but the expertise of an experienced product photographer can really help in making sure these images are stylish, high-quality and as useful to you as possible. 

  • Ensure these images are as high-res as possible (minimum 300dpi). 


3. Flat Lay 

Sitting somewhere between a Cut Out and a Lifestyle, Flat Lay images aren’t vital but can be useful to have in your library. Like the Cut Outs, you’ll want to ensure that the background is simple and uncluttered, but you can bring in some of the personality of a Lifestyle image by incorporating a few accessories and styling pieces. 

Contrary to their name, Flat Lays don’t always have to be flat – consider which position best suits the product and style around it from there. 

Aery Njeri Illustrated Uniquessence


Getting Flat Lays right  

  • Your product needs to remain the star of the show regardless of how you style it. Be sure that the background and accessories complement, not distract, from this. 

  • If you are opting for styling accessories, much like with Lifestyle images, ensure they are authentic to the product and setting, not just placed there for the sake of it or simply because they look nice. This will help the customer engage with the product more; being able to imagine its use or presence within their own life. 

  • Again, make sure these images are as high-res as possible (minimum 300dpi). 


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Written by Jordan Evans
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Written by Jordan Evans