There’s no understating the importance of product photography. Almost half of online consumers consider high-quality product photos to be the top influencer in their purchase decision. And when half want to see at least three to five shots of your products at different angles, your site needs to deliver if you want to sell.
Changing up the background of your product photos can infuse your brand identity into your shots, set you apart from your competitors, and help your drive more online sales. Below, find nine creative alternatives and examples to white-background product photography.
9 Alternatives to White Background Product Photography
- Black backgrounds
- Solid colors
- Wood backgrounds
- Contextual backgrounds
The safest play and closest to a standard white background, neutrals like off-white, gray or beige can highlight your products online. The neutrals won’t distract from your product, but it also allows you to apply a different visual aesthetic.
Cedar & Hyde Mercantile (pictured above), which sells clothing, home decor and gifts online and at their Boulder, Colorado store, has a variety of neutral hues in the backgrounds of their product photos. This adds variety to the site, while shadows add depth to the images.
Black background product photography is a tactic typically seen in luxury products, namely jewelry, alcohol and cosmetics. It creates an elegant, sophisticated look while still maintaining neutral and highlighting the product.
A lot of times, the shine will be increased on the product to create a dramatic effect. Shadows and reflections can also create drama and dimension. Here’s an example from cosmetic brand MAC, where sheen adds texture and luxury to the makeup.
Single-color backgrounds are another easy alternative and can easily be achieved through background removal. Different from a neutral or black hue, a colored background can achieve a wide variety of looks, depending on the hue you choose.
Take ceramic retailer Helbak, for example. Bright hues add a playfulness and liveliness to the site, while also highlighting the products prominently.
Anthropologie takes a slightly different approach to the colored background for their product photos, using subdued hues that match their brand identity. They also use two-toned backgrounds, which appear to be a wall and floor, to add dimension to the shot.
Incorporating a patterned background is another simple way to add flair to your product photos — and you can do it through background removal, so no extra shots are necessary.
You could push the creativity and turn your logo into a pattern of its own, strengthening brand recognition.
Temple Spa sells luxury spa beauty products online and features a simple patterned background in their product photos. The pattern is in line with their sleek, sophisticated brand identity.
Be careful when using patterned backgrounds on your product photos. They can very easily distract from the products themselves as well as overstimulate users.
One appealing and creative background for your product photos is wood. Plus, you can find it almost anywhere, be it a table, bench, plank or tree stump, for example. Wood is great for creating a rustic and even homey look. You can play around with different types of wood until you find one that works for you.
Baby clothing brand June Berry Company uses this approach, executing with a muted gray-colored wood to match the visual aesthetic of the brand.
Project Juice creates a different visual aesthetic than June Berry Company, but still uses wood creatively as a background for product photos. The background in the image on the left complements the rustic, earthiness and natural qualities of the cold-pressed juices. The background highlights the same qualities while also incorporating a contextual element.
Tiles can be used as the background of your product photos to achieve a number of effects. There are many different colors, sizes and textures in tiles, so you have lots of room to be creative and experiment.
Opt for a black tile for elegance and sophistication, or white for a light and bright product image. Slate creates an industrial, avant garde look, while a natural tile can achieve an earthy, natural appeal.
Liquor brand Grand Marnier uses tiles that have patterns in them. The patterns are subtle enough to not distract from the product, but evident enough to create a unique visual experience.
Bokeh is when part of the photo is intentionally out of focus to achieve a specific look or highlight areas of the frame. This is a technique that can also be applied to your product photos to achieve a unique background.
The final look of bokeh ranges greatly. Kay Jewelers, for example, has a very subtle bokeh effect in this banner image:
But bokeh can also accomplish the following appearances:
Bokeh is effective for creating a unique product image and highlighting a specific aspect of the product in the shot. It’s commonly used in jewelry and perfume product photos, as well as during Christmastime with lights out of focus in the background.
DIY Photography has a great tutorial on how to create the bokeh effect in your product photos, using perfume as an example >
This category is rather broad, as textured backgrounds vary greatly. Take Unicorn Collective for example. Their audience demographic is generally female, so they’ve achieved a unique background with glitter, purple and mesh.
Handmade jewelry brand Winter Garden Studios takes a more subliminal approach to the textured background, keeping white as the background color. You can find textured cardstock at your local craft store or online to achieve a similar effect.
Sometimes, you can look outside for some inspiration. Use leaves, grass, sand or moss as the background of your product photos. Liquid Summer Beverage Co. used snow in the winter to showcase their juice products — which look refreshingly cold.
37% of online shoppers want to see your products contextually. Backgrounds that show the product in use help consumers visualize using the products in their own lives.
37% of online shoppers want to see products in context.
Notice how Vida Pour Tea features its mug on a stack of books on a table, with what appears to be a cozy couch in the background. Online shoppers can quite literally imagine themselves using this mug in real life, in this very same situation.
Free People is another brand that does this will with their online product photos. In the example below, you can see apparel and accessories worn in a real-life situation at the beach. The other two product photos highlight the blue sky and greenery you’ll experience at the beach, an experience enhanced by these products.
When choosing contextual backgrounds for your product photos, consider situations where your product can enhance a person’s experience or solve a problem.
Stumped for ideas? Look at what users are posting about your product (or your competitors’ products) on social media for inspiration. Product reviews are also extremely insightful.
Conclusion: Alternatives to White Background Product Photography
Choosing the right background for your product photos boils down to a few things: your brand, your products and your audience. Your backgrounds should enhance and complement your brand, highlight your products, and suit your audience’s preferences.
Generally, the most successful ecommerce brands present their product photos in a few different ways, showcasing products in a variety of contexts and angles. A combination of two or more of the above alternatives to white background product photos may render the best results.