Want to Build Your Own Successful soap Biz?

12 Common Photography Mistakes That Might Be Costing You Sales

When it comes to running an indie biz, we become accustomed to wearing many hats – accountant, sales rep, copywriter, etc. It’s hard to be completely awesome at every aspect of biz, but some aspects really hurt us. Especially when selling online!

Being your own photographer is one of those hats that is extremely important to master. Nothing costs you more sales than bad product photography. Customers want to know exactly what they are buying when they purchase online, and if your photos don’t portray your products accurately, the customer is not going to be a happy camper!

While a customer will be pleasantly surprised to receive your beautiful products, they may never actually pull the trigger and buy them if your product images don’t do them justice!

I wanted to¬†create a¬†list of common mistakes I see in DIY product photography that are hurting sales. I know they hurt sales because I’ve passed up ordering from so many indie makers because I can’t quite put my finger on what I’m buying, what it looks like, or if I’ll like it due¬†to the¬†product images.

I dug through my own archive, dating back over 8 years of photography and product creation, plus spent a little time intentionally shooting bad photos to create this list. Ready to dive in?

12 Common Product Photography Mistakes

Underexposed Images

underexposed-2 underexposed

Underexposed images are too dark, which loses all the intricate details in the shadows. An underexposed photo makes it hard for a customer to know what color or shape a product is because the image is just too dark to discern what is really going on there.

Overexposed Images


Overexposed images are the exact opposite of underexposed images! Overexposed images lose all the details in the highlight areas because the product is under way too much light. Just like underexposed photos, you can’t really tell what color or shape the product is.

Poor Lighting

poor-lighting-2 poor-lighting

Lighting that is positioned incorrectly or at strange angles from the product creates odd areas of shadows and highlights. The hand & body lotion on the left is both overexposed and backlit, making it super difficult to tell what kind of packaging it comes in. The soap on the right is under the same horrible lighting conditions, which means the top of the soap is getting a ton of light and the front closest to us is really dark. Not pretty!

Color Cast in the Photos


This soap is actually pink. Not orange. (Surprise!) Thanks to a color cast and improper use of white balance settings, we’d never know! Product photography is all about getting an accurate representation of our products, and a colorcast created by the lighting or reflections in the studio really ruin it!

Products Are Too Small

product-is-too-small product-is-too-small-2

If a majority of the photo is made up of the background, the product is probably way too small (unless you plan on adding some text and using it for marketing purposes!) The photo on the left makes the soap FEEL really small, when in reality, it’s a normal sized bar of soap!

Misrepresented Products

misrepresented-2 misrepresented

Ummm, what is that?! Product photographs that take the product out of context, have visual distortion, or strange angles and lighting can misrepresent what the products actually are and what they look like. The product on the left is a sugar scrub, but a typical consumer would probably think it was food. The soap on the right looks horribly misshapen (and is completely overexposed!)

Pixelated or blurry

pixelated blurry

Both images are well lit and composed alright, but there is a major issue at play! The soap on the left is heavily pixelated, with a lot of jagged edges. While you still get a relatively good idea of the product’s shape, size, and color, the jaggies are so unappealing. The soap on the right is totally out of focus.

Grainy Image


Improper usage of camera settings can create this grainy and noisy effect on product photos that make it look like you rubbed sand all over it. Is the soap textured in person? Or is that just a bad photograph?

Stretched or Improperly Resized


If a product image is resized improperly, it can appear to be the wrong dimensions or size than it actually is. This poor jar of menthol vapor rub is actually a heavy wall two ounce jar, but it certainly doesn’t look like one! Plus, the image is distorted creating this bubble effect in the middle of the image.

Distracting Effects or Filters


So, how do you like my lip balm? Oh, you were too busy looking at the white lines and tile effect? Exactly. Many filters and effects detract from a photo instead of add to it, plus it totally doesn’t represent what the product really looks like in person!

Distracting Props or Backgrounds

distracting-props-and-backgrounds-2 distracting-props-and-backgrounds

Props and backgrounds that compete with the product are so distracting, and take the focus off of the products in the shot. Plus, if the background or props are the same color as the product, it just blends right in.

Dirty Products


It’s hard to tell with this shot, so I popped into¬†Photoshop and put little yellow circles over the big soap crumbs, dust, and even a stray unidentified fuzzy object. Ew. Dirty products in photos are extremely off-putting to a consumer, especially when they are supposed to be using those products on their naked body. ūüėČ

Do you make these mistakes?

You are not alone! Remember how I said I took these photos myself? Yes, once upon a time, I sucked at product photography. After years of practice, education, and upgrades, I’ve learned to shoot stellar product¬†photos for my own companies (including all the photos here on Modern Soapmaking), plus plenty of other makers (soapers and otherwise!)¬†And I want to help you cut these mistakes out and stop losing sales to poor photography.

It’s time to jump aboard the Money Shot train, where you will learn how to ace stellar product photography and turn your photographs into money makers. Stop by to see what all the fuss is about!¬†I’ll see you there!

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8 Responses

  1. Thanks for taking the time to make that post. No kidding about wearing so many hats! Great photography is IMPERATIVE for online businesses, that’s pretty much the only thing they can go by, not like they can smell your amazing soap through their monitors!

  2. Oh, some of these are screaming out at me! I was REALLY bad about using props and backgrounds that distracted from the images in an attempt to stage a ‘feel’ that I wanted to portray through the product. After finally sitting down objectively and looking at professional brand photos (like from *GASP* Dove he he he) and enlisting the help of 2 of my friends who are photographers, as well as investing in a quality tripod, I am on my way to sucking less.

  3. Well, I try not to.But I’m learning…now I use a wood base (the ones used to chop vegetables, don’t know the exact name for it) and it’s getting better… I also like to use burlap under the soaps.

  4. At first I thought the “dirty image” example had a bokeh filter on it! I was in the middle of nodding and saying “yes, very distracting” when I realized what you were actually trying to show :p

    1. Hi Shannon! It is definitely true that better photos on social media help sell! I’m not sure what you are asking, can you come back around and clarify for me? ūüôā Thanks!

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