Shoe Photography

Shoe Photography

Quality footwear photography is an important factor in driving shoes sales. As a product photographer I have a problem that we’re not always photographing the most gorgeous things as a woman on the beach or exotic sports cars, it’s a product, namely shoe photography.

Let’s find out how to take shoe photography for either a magazine ad or a catalog page professionally. Quality footwear photography is an important factor in driving shoes sales. As a product photographer I have a problem that we’re not always photographing the most gorgeous things as a woman on the beach or exotic sports cars, it’s a product, namely shoe photography. This footwear means much to the client so we have to treat it like it is an exotic sports car or a fancy fashion shot.  

Whether you are making your own website, presenting Instagram shoes for sale or shooting interesting and creative ads, these shoe photography tips will help you create quality and interesting pictures.

Tip 1 – White Background

shoe photography tip white background
  • Don’t use colored backgrounds, they spoil the color of your shoes.
  • Prefer a paper sweep because sweeps get dirty, and you can just cut off the dirty part and roll a new piece down.
  • Don’t let direct sunlight hit your set, it is harsh and looks bad on products.
  • Set your white balance (WB) to auto (AWB).
  • If you don’t have a light box, use three lamps, one on top, left and right for the best light.
  • Stuff the shoe with tissue or crumpled paper or use dental floss to the shoe’s straps to hold them up in the frame.
  • Make sure that footwear looks its best by creating the illusion that it is being worn by someone.

Shoes on a white background look very neat and stylish. Choose such a background color if you want to learn how to photograph shoes for sale in online stores as Amazon or eBay. This method allows you to concentrate on shoes, without being distracted by the background, the environment, the model and other factors. Remember about shadows and proper lighting. 

Tip 2 – Model

shoe photography tip white background
  • Chose shoes’ sizes: 7 for women, 9 for men.
  • For the photos you need models with slender legs.
  • Don’t photograph the entire figure of the model, the legs will be enough.
  • Shoot the model in motion (dancing, walking, jumping).
  • The model’s outfit should suit the shoes’ color palette.

In fact, the presence of a model in a shoe photo makes it more contextual and attracts greater attention. It seems that there is no emptiness in the focus. The model may try different poses to present the shoes as lucrative as possible. Customers like to see how shoes look on feet.  

Tip 3 – Angles

shoe photography tip white background
  • Capture as many angles as possible.
  • Photograph the side view.
  • Photograph the view from the back.
  • Photograph the top view.
  • Photograph a view of the product turned slightly to the left / right.
  • Take a “detail” shot closer to show texture, material, etc.

Every client is willing to learn as many details about the product as possible. Lots of Instagram shoe pages present shoes photographed from different angles, so everybody can see the color, the sole, the height of a heel or a platform, different ornaments and decorations. Take as many photos as possible:

Tip 4 – Product Photo Retouching

shoe photography tip white background
  • Make pure white background via clipping path.
  • Add the borders.
  • Provide natural shadows.
  • Do smart cropping.
  • To show several photos of shoe from different angles on one photo, draw lines designating the bottoms and tops of the shoes so that you can move the images correctly in relation to each other.
  • Recolor elements if they were changed because of poor lighting.
  • Don’t make too much photo retouching, the shoes should look as they are in real.

We made this tutorial to show you how to cut out and retouch product photo that you took at home on a bad backdrop. You’ll learn how to make some adjustments to create a more professional look.

Boot Retouching

Step 1 - We have the DIY photo. It’s not the best one. The shoe is being propped up with several lamps, colors are not clear, but we are going to fix that. Open Photoshop. 

step 1

Step 2 - Let’s start with the Pen Tool, which you’ll find on Tools Panel. This tool is used to select areas of the image with clear boundaries. You can left-click and draw anchor points, then you just click somewhere else to do straight lines or you can click, hold and then move the mouse to adjust the curve. 

step 2 

Step 3 - So, you can cut out this shoe by drawing the lines around all the edges. It can take some time. 

step 3

Step 4 - After you have pinned your product, you can cut out it from the background. To do this make a right-click on the selection and choose Make selection. After this click the Mask icon on Workspace Options Panel and choose Invert in Layer Tool. After this put the New Layer with white background under the shoe.

step 4 

Step 5 - Congratulations! Our shoe is successfully cut out and placed on a white background. Some photographers are finishing the editing of the picture at this stage, but we will do some additional editing to make the photo look natural. Create Curve Layer to adjust the color of the shoe to make it deeper. You can even create a New Layer and use Brush Tool with appropriate colors to make toning of the product clearer. 

step 5 

Step 6 - Make the white parts of the shoe whiter by adjusting the Hue/Saturation

step 6 

Step 7 - Now it’ time to apply shadow, this will help you avoid the cartoonish look of the photo and make it more real. Create New Layer under the layer with the shoe and make a big smear with Brush Tool of black color. Transform the smear by using shortcut of Cmd (Ctrl) + T. 

step 7 

The product photo of the shoe is ready to be placed on page of online store or your Instagram. 

shoe photo editing before  shoe photo editing after

Tip 5 – Shooting 360

shoe photography tip white background
  • If your product isn’t placed in the center of the turntable it may appear to “wobble” when spun, so center your product.
  • Shoot at least 24 frames.
  • Be careful not to shoot the starting frame twice.
  • Make sure each angle is evenly spaced.
  • Shoot the first shot of the product facing forwards.

Thought it is a relatively new advancement, 360 product photography is very beneficial for shoe photography. With this method, there are no blank places in a photo. You see a product from each and every angle. If your profession is connected straightly with this photography genre, take care of buying some specific 360 equipment to easy and boost your job. 

Tip 6 – Flat Lay Shoe Photography

shoe photography tip white background
  • Use the rule of thirds and place the main components on the gridlines of an invisible 3×3 grid.
  • Overhead shots are ideal for flat lay photography.
  • Choose 2-3 unifying colors. This helps provide your image with a consistent theme.
  • Speaking of colors, choose a neutral background, like a basic white, or, depending on your subject, a wood floor, desk, or table.
  • Use a blank space to unite your image and make it more interesting.
  • Avoid the urge to use a high-powered lamp to brighten the image.

This way of footwear photography is popular among Instagram sellers and bloggers who put shoes close to other objects and take a photo from above. Here the main thing is color palette and natural lightning. 

Tip 7 – Context

shoe photography tip white background
  • Use plain paper backdrops for a classic effect and use acrylic for a glossier look.
  • Try to use lifestyle photos only as an addition to the main studio photos on a white background not instead of them.
  • When shooting outdoors, always make sure that the shoes match the season.
  • Mind the color palette: don’t use the background in the color of your shoes.

It may be difficult to believe, but such items as common shoes can also “tell” a story. Most of Instagram pages that sell shoes have a main gist, a kind of story that is shown by a pair of footwear. It can be achieved with the help of a proper background, pose of a model, lighting or other features. Context is really important if you want to make customers pay attention to your photos.

Tip 8 – Floating Shoes Photography

shoe photography tip white background
  • Be sure to use a higher aperture like f/11 on your DSLR camera to get every aspect of your footwear in focus.
  • Use different setups for different purposes.
  • Don’t use blurry or soft focus.
  • Use high aperture for full focus

Floating photography resembles something magical! Unusual, creative ads always draw attention and make people wonder what is hidden behind. So, the power of such kind of advertisement is tremendous. 

Tip 9 - Shoe Photography Setup

shoe photography tip white background
  • Use light box, it’s not expensive about $100.
  • Harsh, direct lighting that casts deep shadows is the worst type of lighting for product photography.
  • Take your photos inside next to a large window with natural light streaming in or rent a studio light box setup if you’d like to go the artificial lighting route.
  • If you must take photos outside, find an thickly-shaded area to get the most even light, and don’t even think about taking photos at midday

Shoe product photography may be very profitable in case you know how to style the product and adjust a camera, what shoe photography lighting and background to choose, from which angles to shoot and how to pose a model. 

Shoe Photography Instagram

Instagram Shoe Photography Setup

instagram shoe photography setup

In order to create an image for your page in the Instagram, you don’t need anything at all except the camera. You can even use your iPhone. The standard resolution required for the shoe product photography uploaded to the Instagram is 1080px in width by 1080px in height. Instagram pages are often small fashion magazines, so you can shoot your shoes on the model, use a variety of backgrounds and props, shoot in natural light.

For Amazon/eBay Online Store

Online Store Shoe Photography Setup

online store shoe photography setup

    Camera settings:

  • Shutter Speed 160
  • Aperture 1.8
  • ISO 100

Images for online stores are stricter. You need to shoot on a white background and use a good camera, so that you can take pictures of close angles of all sides of the shoe.

For Brand Magazines

Online Store Shoe Photography Setup

brand magazines shoe photography setup

    Camera settings:

  • Shutter Speed 250
  • Aperture 1.2
  • ISO 200

Professional photographers who are engaged in shooting shoes for well-known brand magazines use only high-quality expensive shoe photography setup in order to take images. This is due to the fact that printing images requires a very high resolution and ideal photo editing. 

Tip 10 - Shoes Photography Lighting

shoe photography tip white background
  • Use a strong thread to float the shoes and the shoelaces.
  • Use two sources of lighting not to make shadows to harsh.
  • Switch your camera to manual and set your exposure. Do not change this between shots.
  • To get rid of areas where your hand is obscuring the object, try using the clone tool in Photoshop.

Regardless of the purpose for which you take your shoes off – for publication on your Instagram page, for an online store or for publication in a magazine, you will need to install and use the product photography lighting setup correctly.

Magazine Shoe Photography Setup

shoes photography lighting
  • 1.Windows Light
  • 2.Diy: Table lamps+White Paper
  • 3.Commercial: Light Box

There is a huge amount of diverse equipment, but this doesn’t mean that you need to hurry and use everything, even expensive equipment. The only advice we can give you is use a light box for any kind of photo without a model. That will help minimize shadows.

Another tip for shoe product photography lighting is before choosing equipment, determine what color the product has and how it will react to a certain kind of light. For example, black lacquer shoes will be very glare at excessive light, and light sandals can be lost in insufficient quantities of the light. 

In addition, if you are a beginner and just try yourself in photos of shoes, you can use natural light from the window. The only hitch is that you will need to adjust the workspace so that the light is not one-sided and falls evenly.

For those who use artificial light sources as shoes photography lighting, we recommend using two light points. The bright bulbs of 5000k are best for uniformity of light.

 Creative Shoe Photography Advertisements 

Unusual, creative ads always draw attention and make people wonder what is hidden behind. Here we have collected superb shoe advertisements to amuse and inspire you! 

New BalanceNew Balance: Heart
New Balance
New Balance: City
iD FootweariD Footwear: Tattoo Artist
GaborGabor: Fits Perfectly
FolgersFolgers: Shoes
Saint Vacant ShoesSaint Vacant Shoes: Hammer
Converse shoesConverse shoes: Green mask
Converse shoesConverse shoes: Red mask
Artengo tennis shoesArtengo tennis shoes: Ming vase
Nintendo DSNintendo DS: Shoes
ColumbiaColumbia – Ocean
EqdomEqdom: Shoe

 Shoe Photography Instagram 

Instagram is gaining incredible popularity in the modern world. This is an excellent service in order to become famous or sell goods. That is why it is possible to meet there stores or famous photographers who are actively engaged in shooting shoes. This is not surprising, because after seeing in the feed some specific model of the shoes, the potential buyer will think about buying it. In addition, Instagram is an excellent pioneer of modern fashion. Here are some absolutely unique pages with photos of shoes in Instagram. 

сoveteur 1.1m followers shoe photography
@сoveteur - 1.1m followers

This page is one of the most popular Instagram pages that sell shoes for women, which tells about beauty, health and wellness, illuminates the topics of travel and cosmetics. One of the features of this online magazine is the creation of lookbooks with a detailed analysis of the components, including shoes.

sandrasemburg - 90.8k followers shoe photography
@sandrasemburg - 90.8k followers

Sandra Semburg is a fashion photographer with many years of experience. She was born in France, Paris, which greatly influenced her worldview in terms of the development of fashion photography. Her main hobby is photography of street style. Now Sandra works for Vogue in Sydney, Australia.

mansurgavriel - 561k followers shoe photography
@mansurgavriel - 561k followers

This Instagram-page of the famous Italian fashion house and one of the best Instagram shoe boutiques, which is engaged in the design of shoes and bags. Here you can find unusual solutions about the shooting of shoes. 

aquazzura - 841k followers shoe photographystuartweitzman - 899k followers shoe photography
@stuartweitzman - 899k followers

This Instagram is dedicated to the New York shoe brand. Minimalistic images of exquisite shoes will not leave anyone indifferent.

alltheprettybirdsofficial - 33.1k followers shoe photography
@alltheprettybirdsofficial - 33.1k followers

This page belongs to a girl from New York, who now lives in Milan and is engaged in street-style photography. In addition to quality photos of shoes, you can find a huge number of interesting fashionable solutions here.

evachen212 - 913k followers shoe photography
@evachen212 - 913k followers

There's nothing easier than running your own fashion blog in Instagram now. The owner of this page Eva proves that for unusual photos of shoes or clothes there is no need to be a professional photographer.

Modaoperandi - 1.1m followers shoe photography
@Modaoperandi - 1.1m followers

This Instagram shoes shop has launched a page in the Instagram to attract additional customers. Here you can find very interesting solutions for shooting collections of shoes.

Famous Shoe Photographers

Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen shoe photography

I do not know any kind of art that could not be called commercial. Even Michelangelo received money for his work, "- said Edward Steichen.

In his youth, Steichen drew paintings inspired by the Impressionist Claude Monet and the symbolist George Frederick. The camera was bought for fun, but the hobby quickly developed into a profession. He accepted an offer from the publishing house Conde Nast in 1922, which printed Vogue and Vanity Fair and began to work in the fashion industry. So he exchanged service to the muses and chose the shooting of dresses, shoes and hats.

Steichen invented a fashion photo, as we know it today. It was he who pointed the way to all the fashionable photographers of the twentieth century, from Horst P. Horst to Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino.

Bela Borsodi shoe photography

Austrian photographer Bela Borsodi is a meter of fashion photography, whose creative approach is different from the usual fashion photography. Instead of just shooting and presenting products for the most famous magazines, he plays with the viewer's perception and the subject of photography, endowing him with human qualities.

He says: "One must learn to listen to things, understand and respect their character. It's almost the same thing as working with people - things have their opinions, vanity and ego. "


Shooto shoe photography

of footwear. He explains his passion: “My interest to photography was caused by the passion for footwear. For almost three years I was not a serious photographer, but rather a professional amateur. My photo was normal, but there was nothing special about it. I know that a good composition consists of different angles, long exposures and so on. I enjoy the moment of shooting and of course the reviews when people say "Wow, that's awesome!". A positive reaction inspires me.”

Ruven Afanador 

Ruven Afanador shoe photography

Ruven Afanador was born in 1959 in Peru, Colombia. He began his career in the magazine "New Yorker", where he took photographs of celebrities. In the 90s, Afanador was constantly in recognized magazines as Vogue and Vanity Fair. He is a favorite photographer of Christian Dior. He is known for beautiful and high-quality fashion photos, while his favorite hobby is interesting staging of photos with shoes.

Praveen Bhat

Praveen Bhat shoe photography

Praveen Bhat is one of the best photographers in India, but his works are well-known in a whole world. Today he is engaged in fashion wear, cars, gadgets and jewelry photography. Still, his largest passion is shoe photography. Nowadays, his clients are very famous people.

Joe Venuto

Joe Venuto shoe photography

You know his name if you are interested of sneakers photography. He is also developing his skills in other fields. 

Liz Barclay

Liz Barclay shoe photography

Though her passion is food photography, she is very talented at photographing sneakers too. Search her Instagram to get some inspiration.

Jordan Shoe Photography

Jordan shoe photography

At the peak of his career, Michael Jordan received $5,000 from Nike for one match in the sneakers of this brand. Since then, the famous Air Jordan appeared which fans of sports shoes love now. Even a certain concept of Jordan shoe photography appeared in the world of photography, which implies a very free and active style of shooting sneakers, often street-style photography.

Air Jordan Shoes Photograph Demo

 How to Photograph Shoes for Sale?

used shoe photography on ebay

It often happens that the shoes don’t suit you more, but they are in very good condition and you don’t want to throw it out. If you are just like us taking care of the environment and our own money, here are some tips for photographing shoes to sell them online.

1. Gathering the information

To sell shoes on Ebay you will definitely need additional information about them. Brand name, model name, material, year of manufacture, etc.

2. Determination of the condition of the shoes

Carefully inspect the shoes for any imperfections. It can be small spots, scratches or loss. Inspect the sole of the shoes. Depending on how worn the shoes are and how it looks, the price of the product will depend. In addition, for the used footwear on many sites it is supposed to fill in the column "Condition". For example, shoes that were worn only once can be labeled as like-new one.

3. Repair and cleaning

Immediately after you have thoroughly inspected the shoes, be sure to clean it or make repairs, if necessary. And only after this, proceed to other stages.

used shoes photography

4. Measurements

In addition to specifying the exact size of shoes, indicate other parameters in order for a potential customer to be sure that the shoes will fit exactly. You can measure the height of the heel, the length of the sole, the height of the boot in inches.

5. Photographing

How to Photograph and Store Shoes to Sell on Ebay

It is proved that the better the picture of the product, the faster it can be sold. Please note that this is a second-hand shoe, so you need to do as many close angles as possible, in order to show the sock, shoe lacing, etc. For photography, you can use a dummy or simply put shoes on a white background.

Summing Up

In 1927 the photograph with shoes without any model or additional background was printed in Vogue. This photo was a real sensation and the author Edward Steichen became a very popular photographer immediately. Almost 100 years have passed and nowadays creative shoe photography can be found everywhere – in magazines, on websites, in online stores or commercials. Well-spread use of social networks fosters the popularity of this new genre. Shoe photography Instagram is a source of ideas, tips and a large variety of products. At the moment this is one of the most popular kinds of product photography. Wish you good luck in it and take only creative and quality shoe photography.

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