High Key Photography: An Ultimate Guide to White Background Photography

Product imagery is one of the key factors that drive online sales for e-commerce businesses. E-commerce retail platform Shopify suggests that 50% of online shoppers place more importance on product photos than product information, reviews, and ratings, and rightfully so.

Product images are the closest a customer or prospect can get to truly examining your product for its suitability by gauging its appearance, fit, colors, and other details. If your product photography is subpar in any way, chances are that the customer will be disappointed if the actual product doesn’t meet their expectations. This can be witnessed as product returns, or worse – loss of credibility for your brand. This is especially true for fashion brands; consumer preference-based returns account for around 72% of all returns in fashion product categories. 

Captivating product imagery builds a strong brand presence and offers customers an immersive and memorable browsing experience. 

Background in Product Photography

When it comes to product photography, the background plays an important role in defining the composition and overall mood and aesthetic of the product images. It also helps highlight the details and colors of the product through the use of textures and contrast.  

There are two types of product photography used by e-commerce brands- 

  • Lifestyle or contextual photography

Lifestyle product images are shot in natural backgrounds, often complemented with natural lighting. These can be used for specific product categories such as sports, footwear, and activewear, but also others that require a contextual background and aesthetic. Movement is an important component for in-context product photography, used to display the product in use.  

  • Product images 

As the name suggests, product-only images feature the product alone. These include close-up shots to showcase important details and accents, colors, and textures. Product-only images should be taken in well-lit environments since poor lighting can drastically affect the image quality. 

Product Photography with White Background

White background photography is a common style of product photography, thanks to its simplicity and its ability to direct the eyes to the product without any visual distractions. An analysis of over seven million images found that 76% had their original background replaced with pure white.

There are many reasons why many e-commerce businesses choose white background product photography to display their products – 

  • White background photography lets your products shine

Product photography with white background displays your products accurately and lets the colors and details pop.

  • Build consistency in brand voice and imagery

A white background offers store and brand consistency by establishing the common background for your product images. It also streamlines the process of planning and executing your photoshoot by using a specific set of photography equipment and setup to create impeccable images. 

  • Create versatile images for multi-channel marketing 

One of the biggest benefits of white background photography is its versatility across channels. The images can be used for shopping ads, social media, and retail platforms such as Amazon and Google Shopping. 

  • Easier post-processing and editing

Technically, white background photography offers professionals more freedom to edit and modify product images. A white background makes background removal or adding colors to the image fairly easy. 

Challenges with White Background Photography

Even though white background photography is recognized and accepted as a foundational product photography technique in the e-commerce industry, it comes with its limitations. While engaging in white background photography, it is important for brands to keep certain things in mind – 

  • Don’t let it be boring

While promising versatility, white background photography can sometimes be boring and overused by brands. It is therefore essential to have a strategic photography guideline to create impactful product images. 

  • Your white background needs to be spotless and consistent 

Working with a white photography background is like wearing a pair of white jeans – there is absolutely no room for error. Your background needs to be completely white and uniform to ensure there are no undesirable developments in the final product images. ‘

  • Issues with Contrast and Balance

An important aspect of your composition when working with a white background is the white balance and contrast. Make sure that your background makes the product pop without throwing off the colors or balance of the image. 

Getting Started with White Background Photography 

Have a style/photography guideline before beginning

Images are powerful when used the right way. Impactful product imagery always has a telling style that aligns with the brand’s persona and helps brands find their voice. Before starting the process of photographing your products, it is essential to have a style guideline to build continuity in your images. The style guideline for white product photography can include the following – 

  • Lighting, product angles, and distances between lights, camera, and the product 

Both natural lighting as well as studio lighting can result in beautiful white background photography. Natural light is a great option for budget-friendly photoshoots. It is ideal to shoot the product by placing it on a shooting table with indirect natural light.

If you want to create high-quality images using a white background, consider investing in a studio setup. You need a key light (or the primary source of light), and a fill light (back light) to capture the images. Play around with angles and the placement of lights to strike the right balance for the product images.  

  • Image saturation

Saturation indicates the purity of the color. White background photography is excellent to display the true color of the product. 

  • Highlights, shadows, and presets

Your style guideline needs to include the intensity and ratio of lights and shadows in the product images. White product photography focuses solely on the product, which makes it even more important for brands to incorporate highlights and shadows to portray the right mood and depth in the product images.

  • Color palettes

Curating your distinct brand color palette can elevate and unify your product images. Choose colors that align with your brand’s personality and help you convey it well. 

  • Focal length and exposure

Make sure you have defined camera settings for your white background photography. This will help the photographer create images that integrate seamlessly with your brand and provide the best viewing experience to your customers. 

  • Image dimensions 

Different platforms and social media channels use different image sizes. Make sure you have predefined image dimensions in your style guide. This will make the photoshoot and post-processing a lot easier for the photographer.

  • The ratio of white space to the product 

It will help to define the ratio of white space in your images for all the products before conducting the photoshoot. Too much white space can make your product images look boring.

Assemble your Photography Equipment 

Now that you have a style/photography guideline, you can gather the right set of equipment and settings that will result in vivid, crisp images for your products. Here are some of the tools/equipment that you will need for white background photography –

Shooting Table

Shooting tables are photography equipment that provides a surface optimized for light softening and straying. They can simplify white product photography by eliminating the need for post-production if done right. 

A Clean, White Background

This goes without saying, but you need a spanking clean white background to make sure the images are immaculate and attention-worthy. There are many ways to achieve a white background, including –

  • White seamless backdrop

A simple technique, this includes using stands, diffusers, paper or fabric for a white background, and a camera to capture product images on a budget. 

  • Mask-based background removal

A technology-powered white background photography technique, mask-based background removal is an advanced method of automating background removal while creating precise product images. 

  • AI-driven background removal

A relatively new technique, AI-based background removal leverages machine learning to create high-quality images on a large scale. 

Light Tent or Box 

A lightbox is a see-through box that softens any direct light but allows focused or concentrated light to enter. It helps photographers achieve consistent lighting for product images. 

Photography Gear (tripods, lights, camera)

High-quality photography equipment may not be an absolute necessity for impressive images, but it can undeniably elevate the results while saving time and the efforts of your team. 

A tripod offers consistent distance, lighting, angles, orientation and height adjustability, and stability to the photographers. Depending on the setup, you may also need additional lights and bulbs to light up your space. 

A powerful photo editing software

The final step is editing the raw images in a photo editing software that helps you eliminate background noise, undesirable spots, or dust specks, and fix the white balance. Photo editing software allows photographers to edit the raw product images and transform them into powerful images that convert across channels. 


Product photography can boost your conversions by up to 30%! Moreover, good product photos increase the chance that your social media accounts will be shared by as much as 40%. There is no doubt that clean, beautiful, and accurate product photography makes a measurable difference in your brand’s perception and sales revenue. 


Get In Touch

Arunava Acharjee

(Product Marketing Manager)