If you're reading this you're probably asking yourself which is the right background for me and maybe why these 3 surfaces. This article is designed to give you the answers you're looking for and more.
Flat White Background
What is Flat White?
When we shoot on flat white, we shoot it on a non-reflective white paper. This gives a nice clean white surface. A contact shadow occurs naturally where the product meets the surface, then a softer shadow extends beyond that very subtly. We believe that this contact shadow helps give the product place.
Amazon Friendly Background
The flat white background unquestionably satisfies Amazon's Image Requirements, specifically the parts listed below. It is 255 white around the outside of the product and it's easy to crop this image right to the edge of the product for maximum image size. See below as to why Glossy white does not meet Amazon's Image Requirements.
Amazon Image Requirements
All other products should fill 85% or more of the image frame
The full product must be in the frame
Backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255)
Glossy White Background
What Is Glossy White?
Products photographed on Glossy White are photographed on a reflective plexi surface, resulting in a pale reflection of the product. This adds a bit of elegance to the product in a subtle way and can be found used most often with beauty products, however we've seen it used with products across the spectrum. For example, a customer of ours that sells parts uses the reflective surface to add a little bit of interest to an otherwise mundane photo of a ball joint.
Not The Perfect Choice For Amazon But Not The Worst
The biggest caveat to this surface is that it does not officially meet Amazon's Image Requirements. This is directly related to how the photo is naturally cropped.
The main issue is that the reflection extends below the product like in the example, making it impossible for the product to technically fill 85% of the frame without cropping into the reflection.
Having additional white space around the product also makes the product appear smaller on the listing and may affect the zoom. The solution is to crop into the reflection but it will hide that beautiful reflection.
Amazon Compatibility: Probably Ok
In our experience, Amazon will not flag an image that shows the entire reflection with a wider crop. Therefore, the decision to go with Glossy or Flat should be more about deciding if you need the image cropped tight or if you're ok with some white space.
Hard Light Shadow
What Is Hard Light?
Hard Light has deep shadows off the side of the product and is best photographed overhead. Unlike Flat White, the shadow is prominent and used as a design element giving the product extra dimension. This is a trendy lighting style and is seen most by beauty brands to give an edgy look. This is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Amazon Compatibility: Be Careful
While this style of photography is not explicitly prohibited, it is not a perfect fit either. We cannot guarantee you will not get flagged and if you are worried it is best to stick with Flat White. Amazon says: "The image background should be white. If this is not possible, the background must be simple and clean, not distracting from the product itself." You decide for yourself what they mean by this and it could be a risk. We do not have a lot of Amazon sellers who order this style, so it might help you stand out.
Get Creative With Hard Light
Hard light is fun because of how you can get creative with it and go beyond standard e-commerce photos.
Learn everything you need to know about hard light with this article Hard Light Overview