Photography Don'ts, Photography Ideas, Product Listings, Product Photography Tips

3 Things To Consider When Selecting Your Primary Image for Your Product Listing

I remember during my corporate days I interviewed a candidate for a role and they came in looking like they rolled out of bed. Nails were dirty, their hair was a hot mess, they looked like they grabbed their clothes out of the dirty laundry basket, and during the interview, they used an old napkin to write down notes during the interview. Yes, an old napkin!

It was not a good interview for either of us.

So why am I telling you about this interview from my old corporate days? Because first impressions matter. Had the candidate put some effort into thinking about how they were presenting themselves for a job interview, maybe the interview would have gone better.

It’s the same concept for your product listing’s primary image.

Your primary image is the first thing your customer (or potential customer) sees when shopping online.

“Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.” -Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

When it comes to your product listings, the primary image you select is incredibly important.

It’s the first thing your customer sees when shopping online and it will either entice your customer to click on your listing, or they’ll skip it. 

You only get to make a first impression once so you want to make sure it’s a good one. So if you’re not getting views on your listings, it may be because of the image you’re selecting for your primary image.

So let’s go over what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to your primary listing image.

Get your lighting right

Lighting is the basis of all photography, especially product photography and the better you’re able to properly light your products the easier it will be for the customer to see your product.

Product photos taken with standard household lighting or with flash (the unflattering kind) are going to stand out, but not in a good way.

With so many other sellers online probably selling similar products to yours, you can’t afford to not spend some time getting the lighting right.

So what do you do? Photograph your products in a well-lit space that will flatter your product. Either by a window, outside under some shade, or with artificial lighting. If you want to learn how I take my product photos using natural light, click here for a free PDF download.

The better your lighting is, the easier it will be to see your product.

Reduce the clutter

Using props in product photos should always be done carefully.

Props and other elements can easily take away from your product and create a cluttered product photo.

If you want to make your life easier, select your primary image to be just your product. 

Cluttered product photos create more work for your customer because when there are more things to look at in a photo, the more likely they’ll get distracted. 

If you think about it, listings on Amazon and other e-commerce websites, the primary image for their listings are just the product itself. No props, no other items in the photo. It’s just the product. It makes it visually easier to browse and see the different products. So if you want to make your product stand out, especially if it’s showing up in searches like on Etsy, keep your primary product photo simple.

Watch your cropping

One of the things I see often, especially on Etsy, is when a product is cropped off in the primary photo.

Since the primary image is in a square format if a product photo is taken vertically (or portrait mode) or too close to the product, your product may get partly cropped if you use that photo as your primary image.

The drawback of this is, your product is harder to see. If a customer can’t tell what the product is because it’s cropped in the primary image, then they might not click to see your listing. Plus, it’s not a good first impression to make. If you’re not putting in the effort to make sure your customer can actually see your product in its entirety in a photo, then where else are you dropping the ball in your business? 

So you need to fix this.


Make sure you leave enough space around your product when photographing it and take your products horizontally (landscape mode).

Are your product photos holding you back from getting more views and sales for your handmade business? Click here to learn about how you can work with me to help you create product photos that sell your handmade products online.