Drop Shadow vs. Natural Shadow: Choosing the Right Shadow Service for Your Product

Updated on April 1, 2024 in Photo Editing by

Drop Shadow vs. Natural Shadow: Choosing the Right Shadow Service for Your Product

Have you ever noticed how some online product images look flat or disconnected from the background? This can happen when the image lacks a key element: The Shadow

Shadows are typically seen as a drawback in product images. However, choosing the right shadow creation service can actually work in your favor. In competitive ecommerce, many brands constantly strive to make their products stand out to consumers. 

Shadows add depth and intricacy to an image, transforming a flat shot into a three-dimensional experience for the viewer. The two main effects that predominate product photography and photo editing are natural shadow and drop shadow.

Determining the most appropriate shadow service depends on factors like the nature of the product and the identity of the brand. A consistent shadow type across all images within a specific product category ensures a polished visual presentation.

In this article, we’ll explore which shadow service can be right for your product images.

Drop Shadow

Drop Shadow

A drop shadow service is a technique for creating the illusion that an object is resting on a surface. This helps add a bit of context to an image, as opposed to the product floating freely on an all-white background.

In eCommerce product photography, drop shadow service is highly popular as it enhances the contrast between the product and its background. 

This shadow service is typically dark with sharp edges and positioned directly beneath the object. It can appear softer and extend further depending on how the light hits. The specific details, like where it is placed and how long and intense it seems, vary depending on the need. 

For instance, a drop shadow can help create a realistic visual of any product, especially furniture and shoes. 

For furniture, it gives the illusion that the product rests on a surface; similarly, drop shadows complement shoes well since they’re typically displayed on non-reflective shelves in physical stores.

Natural Shadow

Natural Shadow

A natural shadow service in product photography simulates how shadows naturally form when an object is illuminated directly by a light source. It’s a versatile effect that works well for all kinds of products, even for items like jewellery that may not cast strong shadows on their own. 

One advantage is that it is one of the easier shadowing effects to achieve since you can simply use one light source to capture the product and its shadow. There’s no requirement for additional editing since the shadow naturally appears in the photos.

It is realistically recreated considering the occurrence of light, the light intensity, and the position of the product. Whether you capture a shadow naturally while shooting or include it later in post-production, natural shadow service appear very subtle when done right.

Examples of Shadow Effects

Natural shadow 

Here are some perfectly recognizable product photography examples of natural shadow service. This shadow service uses an interesting product setup and natural shadow on all its product images to create an instantly identifiable style.

Flamingo Razor - Natural Shadow Service
Credit: Flamingo
Dior Perfume - Natural Shadow Service
Credit: Dior
Urban Monkey - Natural Shadow Service
Credit: Urban Monkey

Drop Shadow

This shadow service is an excellent example of consistency in product photography. Every image is shot with the product facing the same way, and each image features a simple drop shadow to make it look like it would be sitting on a shelf in a store.

Suitsupply - Drop Shadow Service
Credit: Suitsupply
Tiffany & Co. - Drop Shadow Service
Credit: Tiffany & Co.
Louis Vuitton - Drop Shadow Service
Credit: Louis Vuitton

Difference in the Key Characteristics of Shadow Service


A drop shadow sits directly below the product, slightly offset to create a sense of depth. A natural shadow depends on the position of the light source. It can fall directly below the product, off to one side, or even wrap around the object, depending on the lighting setup.


Drop shadow often have a soft, feathered edge that blends smoothly into the background, preventing the effect from looking too harsh or unnatural. Natural shadow vary based on the light source- Harsh or diffused lighting. 

Harsh lighting, like direct sunlight, creates sharper, more defined shadows, while diffused light sources, like softboxes produce softer, more gradual shadows.


Since it stimulates a single light source, the direction of the drop shadow usually follows a diagonal path, casting downwards and slightly away from the product. A natural shadow follow the direction of the light source. If the light is positioned above and to the side, a natural shadow will fall diagonally across the background.

Here are some situations where these shadows might be the preferred choice

Drop Shadow 

Products with complex shapes

A natural shadow might be challenging to control or capture for objects with intricate details or curves. A drop shadow provides a clean and consistent way to highlight the product’s form.

Studio photography with controlled lighting

If you’re using a light setup that minimizes natural shadow, adding a drop shadow in post-production can enhance the image without significantly adjusting your lighting setup.

E-commerce product listings

It is crucial for online stores to maintain a consistent look across all product images. Drop shadow ensures a clean and professional presentation for your products, regardless of their natural shadow characteristics.

Natural Shadow

Lifestyle product photography

A natural shadow can be beneficial when showcasing products in a real-world setting. It helps customers see how the product would look and function in their environment.

Products with unique textures

A natural shadow can highlight details in objects with interesting surface textures, adding visual interest and a sense of craftsmanship.

High-end product photography

A natural shadow can contribute to a more sophisticated and artistic aesthetic, potentially enhancing the perceived value of the product.

Bonus Points

Shadow Removal Service

Another crucial photo editing service to enhance the quality of eCommerce product photos is addressing unwanted shadows.

Occasionally, product photos may suffer from unnatural shadows caused by cross-lighting or inappropriate lighting kit settings, resulting in decreased image quality. 

Here are three reasons why you should use a shadow removal service:

  1. Shadows can sometimes make a photo look dark or uneven. Removing shadows can make the picture look brighter and more balanced.
  1. It is essential for eCommerce online stores. Removing shadows can make your products stand out and look more professional.
  1. You may have a shadow covering an important detail in your photo, like someone’s face feature. Shadow removal can also help fix imperfections. 

Shadow Manipulation Service

Similar to shadow removal, a shadow manipulation service could refer to professional photo editing that alters shadows in your photos. It goes beyond just removing them. Here’s what it includes:

  1. This could darken or lighten shadows to create a specific effect in the photo. It reduces the harsh edges of shadows to create a smoother, more natural look.
  1. This service can add realistic shadows for depth and dimension if your photo looks flat and lacks natural shadow.
  1. Let’s say you want the light source in your photo to be coming from a different direction. It can easily manipulate the shadows to achieve this as well. 

Therefore, our experts use advanced editing tools to eliminate these unwanted shadows and give you the desired results.

Wrapping Up

The decision between using a drop shadow or a natural shadow service depends on your specific goals and product type. Both services offer ease of use, control over shadow characteristics, and uniform presentation across all your product images. 

When it comes to shadow creation service or shadow removal or manipulation service, PixelPhant, a professional photo editing company, becomes the best choice for achieving the exact results you want. 

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