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Last week’s picture obsession was not related to the great online product photography debate, but it could be the most solid case for the existence of the Illuminati. Families were divided, social media was flooded, doctors were called in…What color is the dress?!?!

It looked like we may be headed for the end of days.

Thankfully, Internet obsessions are over in a wink. Many spent the weekend laughing at the fuss over a photo. I’m not going to laugh at anyone because this picture still blows my mind.

The reason I mention the dress is because it is an excellent example of how important an image is to people considering a product online. If it doesn’t grab a shopper’s attention, it may as well not be listed at all.

Over the weekend, the online product photography debate made its way through the Facebook Etsy seller groups. For many online sellers, one of two things is usually a work in progress; photography and SEO. (SEO is briefly touched on in this post if you are interested in a reminder.)

The photo debate never seems to end. Should items be photographed and retouched to appear as though they float on a white background?  Should they be shot on a solid color background? Should they be photographed organically with props and models to show the item in use?

There are many arguments for each and I am hoping that discussing them here will help me decide my vote in the product photography debate, once and for all!

What Color Is This Dress?

The Great Dress Debate

The Case For #TeamWhite –
Why people prefer a solid white background for online product photography.


White Background product photography


  • All focus is on the product. There are no distractions in the photo.
  • It is easy to include these photos in Etsy treasuries because there is no background conflict between items. It gives the collection a straightforward, catalog appearance.
Photo Debate #TeamWhite Etsy Treasury Featuring Products Photographed With A White Background

This collection from AlicjaCollection features #TeamWhite Items

  • For those looking into wholesale, many buyers require a “white sheet” and this is the preferred photo style for submission.
  • Similar to Etsy treasuries, style guides can be curated on other blogs and sites.
    Photo Debate Style Guide Featuring Products Shot With Solid White Background

    This style guide features a jumpsuit from SmokeSaltBone, a bag from TaTonYon, and earrings by TideTogether

    The Case for #TeamColor –
    Why people prefer a solid color background for online product photography.


Boho Sea Glass Statement Pendant from Tide Together Shot With Plain Color Background


  • Simple backgrounds of any color can still refrain from competing with the product.
  • Photos that are shot on white backgrounds still need more editing than other background choices. With so much effort spent on photography and the computer, many artists would like to avoid adding more time to these tasks.
  • Treasuries and Style Guides are not eliminated with color backgrounds but they do require the developer to consider the background for their color scheme.
Etsy Photo Debate #TeamColor

This collection from BoardArtistry features #TeamColor Items

The Case for #TeamOrganic –
Why people prefer organic lifestyle pictures for online product photography.


Tide Together on Etsy Organic Product Photography Helps Sell a Lifestyle with the Product


  • Photos of an item in use can give people a feel for how they could use the item in their life.
  • Some people do not approve of seeing an item worn by another but others consider it helpful for gauging scope of a product’s size and shape.
  • Edited to add – Though it helps to see products in use to see how the fit into a lifestyle, many non-fashion sellers feel shoppers may be confused by photos that include more than just their product.
  • Organic photos can make collections tricky (thought not impossible) but they also make it possible for a single image to serve as a style guide.
tsy Photo Debate #Organic

This is a collection I created including #TeamOrganic Items

Now that we have covered most of the basic arguments in favor of each style – What are your thoughts? Did I miss any of the Pros and Cons?

Have you picked a #Team in the Product Photography Debate, or are you still in the fence?

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