If you sell products online then packshots are a must have and quite often people assume that one image of each product is enough. I’d say that in most cases one image is never enough. Why? Think about it, if you are buying something, you want to know about it in detail before you part with your hard earned cash, least ways that’s how most of us work.

If the back or side view of your product is different or noteworthy then it really needs to be shown off. Don’t forget the fine detail, if your bottle has an exquisite label, really make a show of how the light hits it. Equally if it comes in a pack, don’t just show the box set, showcase each product in the pack – we feel we are getting more, believe me!

Geordie Gin - Sue Todd Photography

Geordie Gin, a beautiful bottle,  a design that runs all round ….

Geordie Gin

So its great to have a selection of packshots

Geordie Gin

… to show case the entire design and do it justice.

Mostly we see packshots on white or black, but you can have a colour – though if you are using a web store you may find a uniform background is easier on the eyes for the main store image.

Sometimes a little added extra like a sneak peak of the contents can really help. If the packet your food is in doesn’t fully showcase the contents then a sprinkling of the contents beside the pack can add that little bit of sparkle, bring it all to life and give your prospective customer a little more to go on.

Remember this is your brand make sure you doing it justice!

Background and positioning of packshots

If you are going for white backgrounds then they need to be ‘really’ white, that’s all white not varying shades of white as you need to show a uniform appearance – well you do if you want it all to look professional.  There’s nothing worse than looking at a mish-mash of images sat on varying shades of grey that are meant to be white, it doesn’t give the right impression at all.

Transparent Jug

Packshots of transparent items on white can disappear into the background and be lost, special care is needed.

If you have a range of products in containers, whether that be jam, chutney, wine, spirits, wellington boots or whatever, because the containers are all the same size then for an online shop they need a uniform appearance, same position, same size, same light if they are to be easy on the eyes for your prospective customers to scan and find what they are looking for.  Again you often see jars or bottles in the same range and size of container that are shot at different distances from the camera and so they don’t look like they are all the same, that’s just plain confusing for the user. 

Lighting your packshots

Lighting is a whole other subject really but again if you are shooting a range of products then they all need to be lit the same way. This is where especially in the UK studio lighting wins hands down over natural light which we can’t control and which can change by the minute.

If you are dealing with reflective surfaces then you have a whole extra set of issues to look at, you may not want the background, or you, showing up in the image, it rarely gives the right impression.

Reflective jugs.

Reflective objects are not the easiest to shoot, you don’t want unnecessary things showing. This is three together to show the range in sizes. There’s just enough reflection to show that they are bright and shiny – no scratches, no fingermarks showing either – another key point to consider with your packshots. Notice as well the angle chosen to show case the measurements inside the jugs.

Sometimes you may need extra lighting from behind or even underneath to help get that illusive white background.

Black backgrounds are not without their difficulties either as they need to be properly black and overspill from lights can prevent that ‘black’ look you are going for, so you need the right distance between the subject and the background to achieve that and the light needs to be carefully directed.

So yes, there’s a lot more to the humble pack shot than just slapping the product down on a surface and taking a quick snap! If you are merely hand holding a mobile phone there’s absolutely no chance of obtaining uniform shots that sit alongside one another nicely.

Adding just a little bit of context

While we’re all used to seeing just the product for packshots, sometimes you need to add a little bit more to give the shot some context or to make it stand out a little.  If you are shooting raw meat for instance then it doesn’t always look great as ‘just’ meat, but a little sprig of parsley or rosemary can just lift the image and make it so much more attractive.  Equally this can be the same with so many products such as tea and confectionary, for example.

Eco Disposable Tea Bags

Eco Disposable Tea Bags – These wouldn’t show up well on a white background by themselves, the tea adds much needed context and makes them stand out from the background.

If you offer something in a range of sizes (see the jugs up above) remember people don’t always register the written size, I can’t be the only one who when ordering the weekly shop online was totally dismayed to find that the bag of bread flour I thought I’d ordered more nearly resembled something from a child’s pretend shop!  So if you’ve something available in a range of sizes, a group shot illustrating the range can prompt people to just double check, saving them disappointment and you a disgruntled customer.

DIY images tend to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

You can often spot the DIY photography because the range of products which should appear in a nice orderly line are all at different spaces in frame, some closer in than others, with different lighting, different angles etc and it stands out for all the WRONG reasons. It shouts out ‘not done properly’ and may well be followed by thoughts of ‘where else do they cut corners?’ – Don’t be that person!

Sure you can do it yourself, but unless you know what you are doing, then do at the very least engage in some lessons or coaching first – I can help with that so do shout up.

The difference a professional photographer will bring to your packshots.


Carefully positioned to show two sides of the tin and the lid but also the contents. The Tea Enthusiasts create beautiful teas and you don’t get a sense of it, if there’s just the tin on view.

When a professional photographer is busy in the studio none of these things are left to chance. It’s something we do on a daily basis, there’s a method to it. We know what is needed, how to direct the light, how to position items so that they are all in exactly the same place in the frame and so on.

Detailed notes are kept of the shoot, the light settings, the scene set-up, the angles and distances of the camera to the product and a whole lot more. Why? Because in six months time when some more images are needed without those notes it will take ages to take more images in the same way.

Goat Burger Stack

As I mentioned earlier a little bit of parsley can really bring meat to life. This is a goat burger stack on a white plate.

Once the photographer is happy with the images, they are downloaded and taken through post production. Any dust marks or actual marks on the product or the background are removed, the lighting may be adjusted (but across all of them so there’s no huge differences), they may be sharpened and toned and maybe more. It can take time, sometime a great deal of time because the camera spots things that we miss, and seems to hunker down on really showcasing things. It could be a slight tear in a label, which might not bother us in real life but detracts from the product when it’s going up for sale.

Further Action:

Read my blog from last week about preparing your photography for 2021 If you’d like to work with me to get beautiful imagery for your business OR to find out more about my photography coaching, then get in touch. I work with people across Northumberland and the North East but also right across the UK  – its a simple matter to courier items to the studio and you can even have a quick remote peak at proceedings if you wish.

If you’d like to see how my work is received by others than take a look at my posts on LinkedIn.