Insight of the Week

Choose the Best Vertical Angle for Product Images

What's the optimal angle for a product image? Why does it matter?

Nick Kolenda
Last updated March 22, 2024
Two angles of coffee packaging. Upward angle looks luxurious, effective, and authoritative. Downward angle looks easy, portable, and sustainable


What's the optimal angle for product images?

It depends. Do customers want:

  • ...a powerful product?
  • feel powerful?

Consider movies.

Upward angles convey power.

Downward angles convey a lack of power.

Person seems weak with a downward angle, but people seem powerful with an upward angle

Products seem powerful with upward angles. Even mundane products like white rice (Van Rompay et al., 2012).

So upward angles must be better, right?

Not necessarily. Sometimes you can boost sales by depicting products in a weaker light because it shifts power toward the customer.

For example, customers prefer downward angles of anthropomorphic products because it feels like they're looking down at this entity from a high location, which makes them feel dominant over it (Xuan, Chen, Lin, & Huang, 2023).

So which angles are better for which products?

Downward Angles:

  • Easy to Use. Products will seem easier to control (e.g., self-assembly)
  • Portable. Products will seem lighter or smaller (e.g., travel kits)
  • Sustainable. Products will seem soft or natural (e.g., cleaning solution)

Upward Angles:

  • Effective. Products will seem powerful (e.g., lotion)
  • Luxury. Products will seem high status (e.g., handbag)
  • Experts. Products (or people) will seem authoritative (e.g., influencer)

Consider these listings for a portable washing machine.

Ecommerce listings for portable washing machines showing a downward angle and upward angle

Most customers want portability.

In the downward angle, customers feel like they're looking down at the machine. So it feels smaller (and thus portable). Exactly what their brain is seeking.

Customers who want a powerful machine would be drawn toward the machine with an upward angle because their brain is monitoring for traits that convey power.

Why It Works

As children, we look up at adults who exert power over us.

Two concepts — UP and POWER — repeatedly fired together in our brain, binding these two ideas. Today, activating one concept will activate the other (see The Tangled Mind).

And these ideas are reinforced every day. Look down. You'll probably see objects that you can grasp, manipulate, and control.

Other Takeaways

  • Works With Any Location. It occurs with products on a low or high shelf. Or the location on a webpage.
  • Applies to People. Subjects look better when photographed from above, but this angle might sacrifice their perceived authority and expertise.
  • Use Slight Upward Angles. Don't overdo it. Products are typically viewed from above, so downward angles will be more familiar. Keep any angles within the confines of a typical viewpoint.

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