GS1 Image Compliance: 3 things that will ease your anxiety

A supplier once told me that one of his interns has a ‘nice’ camera and is an amateur photography buff. Against my advisement, he insisted that the intern would take the pictures at the warehouse and photoshop them. Cheap and easy.

Unsurprisingly, the images he got back were pixelated and the crop-job done in photoshop lined up with the photographer’s experience: amateur. It finally resonated with my customer − the president and second-generation owner of the company − that he did not want to represent his brand this way. In fact, he said ‘If someone ever tells you they’re going to do images my way – don’t let them do it!

Your product images will likely be your customer’s first impression of your product, so stop stalling, stressing, and being cheap. The process is extremely easy and never as expensive as you may think. Here are three things you need to do to get it done:

1. Pick a company that knows how to follow GS1 guidelines

The industry has released an updated set of image application guidelines for foodservice. There’s also a particular way you should be handling the files once the images are taken. These standards have been around since 2012 and do a good job of telling photographers what to do. Download the standards and skip to page 13 to see a category-by-category example of EXACTLY what you should do.

A knowledgeable image company will be able take GS1 compliant images and name the files properly in a GS1 friendly format that you should be able to load directly into your data pool’s portal for publication. Two providers we know of that have experience working with GS1 image requirements are SNAP36 and Food Marketing Solutions (FMS). Snap36 has technology that can take 360-degree views of your products and can include that offering at a similar price than standard images. FMS has more experience with the “plated” glamour shot. You can do your research and see which is a better fit.

2. You need 4 images per product and should plan on spending $70 to $90 per SKU

Most photography companies will scale their pricing model to favor larger batches of images being taken. You should get at least four images per product. Here’s what sales reps and customers really want to see:

  • Open Case
    • Open the case and get a picture of the product as is, packed inside. Take the mystery out of what’s in that ugly brown box! We’re all dying to know…
  • Inner Packages
    • Often there’s multiple packages of products inside the master case. Rarely is an operator going to put your box on their shelf. Likely it will be taken out of the box and the inner packs stored on a shelf or in a refrigerator, so they would like to know what they’re getting into!
  • Raw Product out of the Packaging
    • Inside that inner pack is likely individual pieces of product. Operators need a sense of what that looks like before it is prepared. Even if the item is ready to use, getting a sense of what’s inside all that mysterious packaging gives the operator a sense of what they should be expecting to deliver to their customers.
  • Glamour Shot
    • This is your time to shine. What are best practices for manipulating the product? Even if it’s setting a ready-made cookie on a plate next to a glass of milk or a plastic cup with a layered parfait inside.

3. Ship a case of each product to the photo studio and forget about it for a week

Depending on the size / weight of your products it may make more sense to have the photographer come to you. If you can swing it, splurge on the overnight shipping or even LTL service to get the product to the photographer. Yes, this adds to the cost, but I’m willing to bet you don’t have an empty room laying around for a photograph to hijack and turn into a studio.

BONUS: Write it off as a donation!

Ask your photography company about a local food bank or homeless shelter to donate the product to. They will gladly take the discarded product once the images are taken; not only are you making sure you have best-in-class images, you’re doing your part to support the community!

Still feeling uneasy? Get in touch with us.

Attribytes does not take images, but we know what to do and who can help. Our goal is to make sure every product is best-in-class and our time to give guidance is at no cost to you. You can reach me personally at or 602-206-6313, or fill out our form.

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1 thought on “GS1 Image Compliance: 3 things that will ease your anxiety”

  1. Good day,

    Thanks for posting this it is valuable information. We are hurting ready to bid on project for a client needing these exact things.

    Question: Licensing? Thoughts on a one time license the images or a renewal every year? Or do you pay licensing at all?

    We are looking for advice on this.


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