Skip to content
White Background Photography

The Definitive Guide to White Background Photography

When it comes to e-commerce, your product photos are your best chance to create a good first impression. According to Shopify, 50% of online shoppers label product images more vital than reviews, descriptions, and ratings. 

But it’s not just about having great product photos—it’s about having the right kind of images for your online store. Photographing your products against a white background is simple and gives you greater flexibility and ease of editing later, and it’s a skill you should have in your back pocket. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds to make white background photos come out well. This guide will cover everything new photographers need to know about white background photography.

Why Use a White Background for Your Photography?

White backgrounds are the ultimate solution for e-commerce product photography.

White abstract background

Isn’t the background color just a matter of preference or style? Not exactly. There are several reasons why you might want to take your product photos against a white backdrop.

  1. Easy to Edit:

Not all businesses hire professional photographers or editors. If you’re taking photos for your own business or someone else’s, it’s best to choose the option that gives you the most flexibility later. When it comes to editing, white backgrounds provide more versatility than any other color and will give you the least amount of hassle in post-production.

  1. Your products will pop

Choosing a white background will make your products stand out with zero distractions. A white backdrop accentuates the colors and style of the product and disappears from the viewer’s eye. It’s also easy to make your product photos look consistent when viewed in a gallery when they all have a plain, pure white backdrop.

  1. Multichannel Versatility:

When you’re working on a budget—as most of us are—you want your photos to be compatible with as many different marketing channels and e-commerce ads as possible. For example, Google Shopping campaigns require backgrounds to be only white, gray, or other light colors. Similarly, Amazon only permits pure white backdrops (RGB 255, 255, 255) on their platform. With a white background, you can switch it out for a more colorful or engaging backdrop when editing if you want to—but you’ll always have a version that’s easy to use for a variety of retailers.

  1. Cost-efficient:

White backgrounds do not require a huge investment. All you need is a clean, wrinkle-free white cloth or sheet of paper and you’re ready to get started.

White Background Photography Guidelines

Before you get started, here’s what you’ll need to get started with white background photography.

  1. Camera:

Smartphones today have excellent cameras and serve as a budget-friendly solution for product photographers. But if you have enough budget for a DSLR and want to elevate your photos, go for it—it will give you more flexibility and options.

Pro Tip:

i)     ISO- 200

ii)     Focus- F7.1

iii)     Shutter Speed: 160 seconds or your camera’s maximum speed

iv)     Flash- Off

v)     White Balance- Auto

  1. LightBox:

A lightbox is a box with white sides used for product photography and is generally see-through to allow light to pass through. It softens the light and minimizes shadows. You can also use a tent with built-in lights to control the depth of the light. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own DIY lightbox, or purchase one premade.

  1. White Background:

If you don’t have a lightbox, you’ll need to create a plain white backdrop. A white wall, board, cloth, or poster will do the trick. However, make sure your backdrop is smooth—textures will make editing more challenging. Also, try to use something purely white and not off-white or cream.

  1. Lights:

Set up your studio with both flash and regular bulbs. Usually, 100-watt bulbs are best for white background photography, though natural light also works very well if you can make use of it.

Pro tip: Place the flashlights far away from the product. Otherwise, the background will turn gray.

  1. Tripod:

If you want to keep your images consistent in terms of distance, angles, and lighting, invest in a tripod. A good tripod has:

  • Orientation adjustability
  • Built-in spirit level
  • Stability
  • Height adjustability
  • Payload
  1. Photo Retouching Software:

Lastly, you will need photo retouching software to tweak the photos after the shoot. There are plenty of free and paid options, so you can find something to match any budget. To get you started, here are some of the leading options in the industry:

i)     Photoshop

ii)     GIMP

iii)     autoRetouch

iv)     Pixlr

Editing White Background Product Photography Like a Pro

You have your photos—now to polish them to a shine. Here are the essential steps for editing your white background images.

  1. Remove background edges

Crop the edges of the backdrop so that the photo has a plain white background.

  1. Adjust background brightness

Lighten the background so that it’s bright white instead of light gray.

  1. Remove spots

Erase any spots, stains, dust, etc., from the backdrop to make it look clean and free of visual distractions.

  1. Adjust colors

Adjust the brightness, saturation, and exposure of the image to ensure that the product colors pop against the background.

  1. Add shadows

Add shadows around the product to make it look realistic and grounded.

Automated Post-Production Options

Post-production is essential to making your white background photos look right. Even if you follow all the steps above, sometimes a pure white backdrop will turn out gray or have distracting spots or creases. Don’t skip the editing stages, even if you don’t have the time or Photoshop skills to do it all yourself. We recommend AI-powered autoRetouch for background removal and customization. Time is money, so spending your time wrestling with editing software can be costly—whereas autoRetouch offers automated touch-ups for as little as £0.50 per image.

Rookie Mistakes to Avoid in White Background Photography

Mistake #1: The backdrop isn’t brightly lit

The backdrop must be lit with two stops more light than the subject. For example, if you photograph the object at f/8, set the backdrop lights to f/16.

Mistake #2: No background separation

Conversely, if the background lights are much brighter than the foreground lights, it will create a lack of separation between the background and the product.

Mistake #3: The product looks like it’s floating

If you don’t add shadows to the pictures, the subject will look like it’s floating, which can make your images look fake. The best hack for this is using a reflective surface or editing shadows in during post-production.

Mistake #4: Overexposed backgrounds

If you overexpose a shot in white background photography, the backdrop will cause a white glow around the subjects, creating a distracting sun flare effect.

Bottom Line

White background photography is an essential skill for promoting your products online, giving you extensive customization options and ensuring compliance with many of the top online marketplaces. Luckily, it’s also easy to do it yourself, particularly with today’s advanced editing tools, which automate the trickiest steps of the process.