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Should your product images have a shadow or a reflection?

Market places like Amazon and eBay generally don’t like images with shadows and reflections. Daily we process thousands of images for our clients selling on these marketplaces and have noticed some inconsistencies with their allowance for reflections and shadows. 

We advise to rather not use reflections or shadows on your Images being sold on Amazon or eBay to avoid the risk of being rejected. But if you are using product images for print or on your own website, making use of shadows or reflections will help create a more natural effect and add a touch of quality to your products.

How are real shadows and reflections created?

Shadows

Most product images online feature the so-called simple drop shadow, which can be easily artificially generated. It is used in virtually all print media and on most online stores. It’s used so the object doesn’t “float” in space. If you want to have it more refined and natural, then you can apply a double drop shadow effect in addition to the simple drop shadow which would give the object an even more realistic look. 

Shadows and reflections

Deciding whether or not you want to make use of shadows beforehand is important. If the photographer is consciously making an effort to photograph the shadows you can easily achieve a realistic effect.

To achieve a shadow the photographer must take a photo of the product twice, whereby the first image clearly illuminates the product and the second photo is focussed on creating a shadow. In post production the two images are combined and the result is a perfectly lit product image with a clearly defined shadow.

Reflections

A reflection can make an object appear more valuable and rounded. An artificial reflection is also relatively easy to create. In general, the product image is mirrored downwards to the lower horizontal line. However, the object must be photographed frontally, otherwise, the reflection will look unnatural. For items with more curved sides, a realistic reflection is virtually impossible to produce, since the artificially created effect of the reflection always builds on a straight reference line.

To achieve a real reflection, the object must be placed on a special reflective surface and photographed so that the reflection can then be enhanced and edited in post production. It’s important not to use a household mirror as the effect won’t be usable.  

If you would like to read more about product photography please read product photography 101 here

Conclusion

A shadow or reflection breath life into a product image and makes it appear more natural and aesthetic. Depending on the medium you are advertising in, reflections could add value and help persuade your potential customers to take action. Today, there are numerous image editing software solutions that can help you add a shadow or a reflection in post production. Read our blog about great free photo editing solutions here.

If you are looking for advice or would like us to help you with your editing needs. Please contact us