Top 5 tips for product photography

Ohhh Lulu Etsy seller - tropical lingerie

Looking for ways to make your craft shop stand out from the crowd and really sell your wares? Follow our top tips for product photography. No fancy equipment or major technical know-how required, just plenty of time, patience, and imagination.

1. Lighting

The number one rule of good photography is to get the light right. If you can, use natural light as it’s most flattering to your products/model. You don’t need a sunny day to take a decent photograph (in fact, bright sun is far from ideal) but a table or background positioned near to a window is usually enough. Using a tripod enables you to take a long exposure image without wobble; setting your camera to its widest aperture will allow maximum light into the lens.
Try to make your lighting soft, as it helps the viewer to notice detail. You can use a large sheet of white card to bounce light back onto your subject, eliminating shadows.

Little Low Etsy seller card bundle

Image © Little Low, Etsy seller

If you are using artificial light, two lights coming from different angles can be better than one. Just don’t combine natural light with artificial, as the effect it creates is peculiar and hard to counteract when using photo editing packages.

2. Set the scene

Think about your favourite Etsy sellers and the sorts of images they upload. Chances are they give customers a range of images to choose from: close-ups of the product, wider shots, and possibly model shots, too. This range leaves very little ambiguity, which is great when you’re selling online and a customer isn’t able to see your product first-hand.

Atelier Spatz Etsy seller - baby bib

Image © Atelier Spatz, Etsy seller

Shoot a combination of simply-composed wide and close shots. Leave space around your product to enable you to add text, captions, prices etc when editing.

As well as shooting your product from all angles and in close detail, you should think about taking some ‘lifestyle’ shots. A well-styled background creates impact and gives your customer an idea of how your product will look in their home. Layer your image: place your product on top of props such as an artfully stacked pile of books to give it height. Or try taping light items to a wall or blackboard using washi tape.

Love Lane Etsy seller - kids dress up

Image © Love Lane, Etsy seller

Plain backgrounds are great for showing off your product but also think about providing contrast: use a light background for a dark product and vice versa, or think about textured or patterned backgrounds for simpler products to make them come alive.

3. Details

The devil is in the details, and virtual shoppers are well-versed at ‘reading’ images almost instantly. Look at your scene through the viewfinder, and on a computer while shooting if you can. Notice everything in the frame. Can you see any creases? Is anything unsightly creeping into shot? Are you capturing the whole of your product?

Ohhh Lulu Etsy seller - tropical lingerie

Image © Ohhh Lulu, Etsy seller

Make sure your product looks clean, appealing, professional, and desirable. Give your customer no reason to click away to your competitors.

4. Edit

There are plenty of free photo editing packages available, such as PhotoScape, Serif PhotoPlus, Photo Pos Pro, Pixia and PhotoFiltre. Use these to remove splotches or red eye, to sharpen your images, alter the contrast, increase colour saturation, and boost brightness. Make watermarks subtle – you don’t want to completely obscure your product.

5. Consistency

Develop a trademark style that works with your products (and with your marketing channels: blog, website, social media networks) and stick with it. You want to become recognisable to customers; the goal is to stand out not replicate the style of your competitors.

The Link Collective Etsy seller - japanese scarf

Image © The Link Collective, Etsy seller

For more tips of the trade, check out Mollie Makes Photography magazine


Mollie Makes Photography download

Get the print edition of Mollie Makes Photography. Sold out? Download the digital edition from Apple Newsstand (within the Mollie Makes app under ‘Specials’) or Zinio