The number one problem with handmade and artist shops online are the product shots. Bold statement, I know. But its true. Photos are number one when trying to convince someone to buy your work online, because they cannot see it in person. Your buyers aren’t able to pick up the item, look at it from all angles, try it on, etc. So, you have to help them out by bringing them your absolute best product shots.
Here are some tips to help you improve your digital product shots…
1. Use natural light whenever possible. Ideally, shooting your photos during the day is best. Shoot near a window if your home or studio space is especially dark.
2. Show the product in its natural environment. If you are selling a coffee table book for example, consider taking a shot of the opened book nestled on an actual table with a little vase of flowers for example. If you are selling jewelry, accessories, or clothing having at least one picture of your product on a model is ideal. This gives potential buyers an idea of how it will look on them, the way it will hang, etc. And also could show the “type” of woman you are catering too.
3. Develop your own style. This tip is an oldie but goodie from past pns contributor Brenda. Making your product shots uniquely yours is important, but it does not mean you should simply copy exactly what you see somewhere else in a successful shop. So be careful with this one. Being inspired by the way someone else does things is wonderful, but try to do something original. Pull one thing you like (if that) from an inspiration photo, not the whole kit and caboodle.
4. Keep it neutral. Don’t go crazy on the backdrops/ backgrounds you use for shooting your products. There is nothing worse that seeing a super busy floral pattern underneath a tiny pair of earrings in a similar color. If you can’t even see the product, how will you sell it? Neutral backdrops are great…a piece of ironed (no wrinkles) linen fabric can go a long way. Not feeling the fabric idea? No problem, just remember this… use something white or light for a darker product and something dark for a lighter product to make it stand out. Just avoid patterns and mega-color in your backgrounds, please.
5. Use both horizontal and vertical formats. This is especially helpful for people who might want to write about your work. Some sites and blogs may only use horizontal photos for example, and if you only have vertical pics, you might be out of luck. And you don’t even know it. So, go with a variety.
6. Don’t forget the details. If you have a product with gorgeous details, take a couple of close ups. Just make sure you have at least one (or more) shot that shows the entire product as well. Close ups are great, but buyers need to see the whole enchilada as well.
7. Change it up. Don’t photograph every product you have against the same exact backdrop. Switch it up every once in a while, so shoppers will feel like they are looking at something new with each product. For example, if you have been using a dark backdrop, try taking some additional shots on a lighter background. Having this variety, may open you up to more exposure on blogs and sites. Who doesn’t like free press?
8. Nobody likes dark photographs. Because no one can see your products in those dark photos. And flash is not the way to solve this problem. If you are using natural light and your camera is set to the proper indoor camera settings, you should be okay. But if not, you might want to consider using a light box for even, artificial light. Here’s a tutorial for making your own light box if you’re interested.
9. Use a tripod. I know this is a preference thing, but if you don’t have a steady hand of steal, the slightest movements can cause your image to blur. It doesn’t have to be an expensive purchase. The one I use was under $30 and there are plenty of options online as well, like this lightweight tripod for under $20 (with great reviews).
10. Editing is important. The shot doesn’t end with the click of your camera. Don’t forget to edit your photographs. Load your pictures into any photo editing software, even the most basic is better than nothing, and get to it. You don’t have to be an editing genius or even computer savvy for this one. Things like cropping, color correction, and even a bit of sharpening for slightly out of focus images (don’t go crazy on this) can make a world of difference. And when you feel more comfortable with the software, you can add the bells and whistles. If you don’t have any photo editing software already on your computer, I would recommend using Picnik, which a free service for editing photos.
Great Product Shot Examples:
Shanna Murray: this white decal standouts on the black background and is simply (but thoughtfully) styled
spinthread: because these earrings are shown on a model, the buyer immediately knows the overall size
Olive Manna: great cropping and composition with this close up of hand-dyed jute twine
MothHouse (who you may recognize as today’s shop of the day): all the product shots in this shop feel unique to MothHouse. well styled, not overdone, and most importantly- original.
Ninainvorm: showing an art print framed and in a home environment helps the buyer to visualize it in their own home
What are your product shot tips?
Image Credit: Floral Dress print by muchlove
30 comments | Click here to reply
You make a good point about flash not being the ideal way to resolve a dark photo. Using natural light, the right camera settings, and considering additional tools, like the light box tutorial you shared, are especially useful tips.Christina
So beautiful! I love all of the photography on your blog – makes me want to learn how!Tara
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Hi Kel. Great question. I think most of these tips can apply to any product, whether its small or large- clothing or not. Mannequins are a great place to start for photographing clothes. But I would also recommend taking photos of clothes on a model whenever possible as well. This helps people visualize how each piece will fit on them, etc. So, it can be super important. Believe it or not, it can be harder for a buyer to picture themselves in the clothes if it is on a mannequin. This shop does a great job balancing photos on a mannequin and photos on a model: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Lirola
Another tip…take at least one photo from further away. Give the clothing items some space in the frame. Not every shot has to be a close up. That’s all I can think of at the moment. But, if there is more interest, I might make a second blog post out of this. We’ll see. 🙂
Could you give some tips on those of us that sell large items or clothing?
The majority of Etsy tutes on photography focus on small controlled environments and leave us folks who have to wrangle mannequins, long flowing skirts, etc. out in the cold…
Great job Kristy. Glad this post helped you.papernstitch
Oi, I have been tinkering around in semi darkness and this particular post finally kicked in what I have been trying to learn all the past 2 months! Eureka! Thank you thank you, for getting light and photography concepts into my thick head. I just did a shoot this afternoon and I am pretty pleased with my results. Indebted to you…
thank you for all your tips..I’m learning every dAY…christina
Aw, thanks everybody. Glad the tips are helpful.papernstitch
I opened my website and Etsy shop in Aug. 2010, and have read just about everything on taking better photos and I think I am getting a handle on it. I have found that a piece of white paper on a windowsill works well as well as taking photos in the afternoon versus morning or evening. I have a lot more to learn and would encourage everyone to keep trying – you too make your photos look great!Kim Brooks