Hey makers! In this blog post, we're going to be talking about the three different arrangements you can use for your product photography flat lays. Let's get started.
Arrangement style number one is linear.
This is a very purposefully arranged style in which all of the items in your flat lay are arranged in a parallel or perpendicular way with one another. Everything is placed in straight lines and looks very neat and organized. This style is great for brands that really focus on things like minimalism and clean style.
It's really great for products that tend to be structured and geometrical anyway, like a stationery or notebooks for example. Another example is garments that are very simple. Maybe you're a big proponent of the capsule wardrobe. It would make sense for your brand to maintain kind of a minimalistic, simplified arrangement for you product photography flat lay.
Flat lay arrangement number two is logically placed.
For this style you want to place things in a flat lay the way that they may actually occur in real life.
Let's say you sell journals. You can set up your shot so that there's a coffee mug within arm’s reach, some cute pens, and so on. If you sell lip balm the lip balm could be spilling out of a clutch handbag with some other commonly found things in a handbag (sunglasses, cell phone, etc). So, you set up the shot to look almost like lifestyle photo, almost like it occurs in a real-life situation.
Arrangement style number three is random.
This is where you're going to place your props randomly around your product. For this strategy, you want to make sure that your product remains front and center. It should be more or less the largest thing in the shot. It needs to really stand out. It should be right in the center, and other props can be scattered around the edges. They can even be peeking in from the edge of the photo frame. You don't need to capture the entire prop in the photo, but you need to make sure that your product is entirely captured in the photo.
You should place the props in a strategic way to lead the eye toward your product by pointing them in angles towards your product creating lines that lead the eye towards your product.
The important thing to keep in mind when it comes random placement is that you need to make sure that your product is the most obvious thing in the photo. You don't want anyone to look at those kinds of photos and think, "What's really for sale here? It's not really clear what this person is selling." You definitely want to avoid that for all of your flat lays, but especially for the randomly placed strategy. This placement can look really great, but you do need to be careful about planning where you're going to put your props and how you're going to make your product the star of the show.
If you arrange your flat lay so that your product is front and center, it's the largest thing in the photo, have the props be peeking in from the sides, and have them be pointing towards your product leading the eye towards your product, your product will undoubtedly be the focal point.
And that is the three styles of arranging your product photography flat lays that you need to know!
If you're stuck for ideas when it comes to props for your flat lays, be sure to grab my free 90+ prop ideas download. I have listed over 90 ideas for props which will inspire new ideas that are a great fit for your brand and your styled product photos.
Today’s post is all about developing your own aesthetic for your handmade product photos so that you stand out from crowd, look unique, and so that your images embrace your branding and attract your ideal customer.
No big deal, right?
Naw, it’s totally a huge deal. Because creating a cohesive, branded look for your product photos makes your shop and social media feeds like a magnet for the people you want to take notice (like oh I dunno, paying customers for example).
Having a strong brand is a huge step towards serious growth. More social media followers, more features, more SALES. Your branded look and rapidly growing fan following could even catch the attention of big box stores and make all your handmade dreams come true.
Why does having a branded photo aesthetic even matter?
Because having a strong brand message that comes through in your images will attract your ideal customers and make them want to buy your stuff.
Not only will they buy your stuff but they’ll talk to their friends about you, share your posts on social media, and drive traffic to your shop.
The central quality of a strong photo aesthetic is to develop cohesiveness across your images. All of the images in your online shop and on social media should exude your aesthetic.
Here are some ways you can achieve cohesiveness:
1. Always stay true to your branding.
Knowing your brand is paramount to attracting the right customers and being consistent in your images and your overall vibe. Is your brand kind of boho? Preppy? Rustic? Vintage? Flirty? Minimalistic? You images should stay true to that vibe.
2. Your backgrounds should all look like they’re part of the same collection.
They don’t necessary all need to be the exact same, but they should belong to the same tonal family (eg, lights OR darks, not a mix of both) and you really should stick with just one or two backgrounds. Too many different backgrounds makes your shop and social media feeds looks chaotic and people won’t want to stick around and browse for long. Having a cohesive look across your images will convey quality, professionalism, and give customers the confidence to make purchases.
3. Choose props that are a fit for your brand and appeal to your ideal customers.
Always choose high quality props that don’t overwhelm your product or confuse buyers as to what’s for sale. Select props that embrace the vibe of your brand and don’t contradict your brand messaging. For example, if your brand is big on being eco-friendly, you wouldn’t want to incorporate props that are bad for the environment. To read more about choosing props for your handmade product photos, check out this post.
This is probably the #1 most important thing you need order to get the most of out your equipment:
4.Whenever possible, pick a colour palette and stick with it.
Strong brand messaging is huge on colours. Choosing a colour palette can help guide your prop selection, backgrounds, and maybe even your product materials. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to two colours. A colour palette can have six, or eight colours even. They just need to fit together. Not sure where to start? Check out Design Seeds. They have hundreds (maybe thousands) of colour palettes to drool over. I apologize in advance for the heaps of time you’ll waste on that website. (sorry not sorry, because it’s awesome)
5. Stick with similar tones.
Along the same lines as stick with a colour palette, you should also stick within a similar tonal range. For example, if your brand vibe is light and airy, all of your photos should be light and airy. If your brand vibe is dark and moody, they should all be dark and moody. If your brand is bright and cheerful, they should all be bright and cheerful. You see where I’m going with this.
And there you have it! That’s how to develop and maintain a consistent brand aesthetic in your handmade product photos.
What’s your brand aesthetic like? How do you convey it in your photos? Drop it in the comments!
One thing I've heard over and over again from handmade sellers is the challenge of knowing how to properly style their DIY product photos. What props to use, when, and how many?
It's super tough to know the balance between interesting but not too much, and how to make sure your product is still the star of the show.
Figuring that out is what today’s post is all about.
Let's get started!
First things first. When picking props for your photos, you need to defer to your branding.
If you're not sure about your branding, there's no better time to figure it out! Because it really does make a huge difference in your business.
Having a clear brand message will attract the right customers who will love your stuff, have no issue with your price point, and will buy from you again and again.
Plus, it'll make your business stand out from crowd, and with a clear identity you'll exude a level of confidence and professionalism in your business that others in your category may not.
I'm not going to get into the details of branding, because that's a big topic all on it's own. But don't worry, you'll still be given a lot to think about here.
Some general things to consider when it comes to props is:
- Quality. You want your products to come across as high quality, so your props need to be too. Read: No fake flowers. Choose props that have been well-made, or are natural, so they speak to the quality of your product.
- Keep it simple. One or two props will do. Seriously. Any more and your image will be cluttered, busy, and your customers will be overwhelmed. Don’t fall into the trap of adding this, and that, and oh maybe this too… Stop. Just one or two is more than enough. I promise.
- Choose props that are a fit for your brand and will appeal to your ideal customers. Here’s the part where know your brand and who you’re selling to is going to go a long way. If your brand is all about being eco-friendly and your ideal customer values that, you’ll want to avoid using props that are harmful to the environment.
- The function of props is to assist in creating emotion and desire in your customers. Associating your product with the right props will grab the attention of your ideal customers and make them want to buy. Example: if your ideal customer is a coffee lover, having a beautiful latte pictured with your product is going to make your product stand out.
- They are your product's supporting characters. Props shouldn’t overwhelmed, distract, or take away from your product. If a shopper is more intrigued by the props than your product, you’ve missed the mark. You should always choose props that don’t make the shopper wonder what exactly is for sale.
- Your product should always be front and center. This is a great way to make sure that your customers know what’s for sale and what they should be looking at. If your product fill more of the frame than anything else, and is right up front and in the middle of your photo, it will leave little doubt that it’s the star of the show.
And a quick word about backgrounds. Backgrounds are separate from props, but they've been a hot topic lately so I'll give you a quick tip.
Ditch the white background.
There's this rumour going around that backgrounds need to be white. That's a reeeeally old guideline that has long since passed. Read about that in this blog post.
Seek out backgrounds that are a good fit for your brand. If white is a good fit for your brand and you can nail your exposure and make a white background look awesome, you go for it.
But otherwise, seek out neutral, textured backgrounds that are a good fit for your branding.
Here’s a great way to figure out what props are a good fit for your products. Grab a pen and paper and jot down the answer to the following question: If your product had supporting characters, what would that be? What "goes" with your product?
Example: Scarves. Supporting characters could be a mug of cocoa, a twig of winter berries, a book, pine cones, etc.
For many handmade sellers, product photos are a real thorn in their side. Product photography can feel overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be! If you master these three things, you’ll have gorgeous DIY product photos every time.
Lighting the the MOST important thing when it comes to product photography. Or any photography at all. Photography literally means “drawing with light” and an photograph is create based on the relationship of light with the items in the image. Without great lighting, your photo will have quality issues, colour issues, and the general overall aesthetic of your photo will be poor.
Lighting isn’t an easy thing to master but once you have a grasp on a set up that works for you, you’ll notice a world of difference. Seek out bright, natural light that is indirect - meaning it’s not direct sunbeams. Areas like the shade or near a bright window in your home are good places to start.
If you don’t have a suitable area for natural light, you may have to introduce artificial lights. Avoid using the built-in flash on your camera at all costs. It creates a bright foreground and a dark background in your image which is unsightly and looks unprofessional. Instead, purchase a simple tabletop lighting setup or softbox studio light kit for your setup, or if you have larger items opt for a speedlight (FYI though, only DSLR cameras can use these though). You can check out my recommendations for lighting and other equipment on my Amazon Influencer page here.
Styling your product photos is very important in drawing in the attention of your ideal customers, standing out in a sea of product images, growing your social media following, and being featured by influencers.
The key to good styling is keeping it simple and keeping it consistent with your brand. If your brand is all about being eco-friendly and that’s important to your ideal customer, you won’t want to use cheap plastic props like fake flowers. Customers are super savvy these days and they’ll see that inconsistency a mile away. A misstep like that can cost you sales and social media followers.
Choose one or two props that are consistent with your brand message and are a fit for your product. Be careful not to choose props that will overwhelm or take away from your product. Shoppers should be drawn to your product, not the props! Click here to read my blog post on where to find props for your photos.
When arranging your styled photos, keep your product front and center so it’s the star of the show. Arrange props so that they lead the eye toward your product by “pointing” them toward it or have them subtly interacting with your product.
Possibly even better than styled photos are lifestyle photos. Lifestyle photos actually show your product being used in-action in some way. Lifestyle photos create a strong connection between your product and your customers, making them envision your product in their life and making them more compelled to buy. Most product looks even better and more desirable when being shown in action.
Editing can be enough to make some handmade sellers just straight up say “nope, no editing for me thanks.” The programs can be confusing and knowing how to edit correctly can feel unachievable for makers. But, my friends, I am here to tell you right now that it is TOTALLY achievable.
The first thing to know about editing is that you only need to know a few of the tools. How to crop, how to adjust light and dark tones, and how to balance your colours are the main players you need to focus on. If you focus on just those tools, editing suddenly becomes a lot less overwhelming.
A quick note about editing programs: Make sure that your photo editing program enables you to embed a colour profile. Programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom, Affinity Photo, and Snapseed all embed color profiles. Programs like Pixlr do not.
When it comes to cropping, you should crop your product photos at a 5:4 ratio (for Etsy) or square (for your own website). Your photos should be 2000px at least along the long edge. Next, adjust your image tones. Using the levels adjustment, drag the sliders around until the tones are bright with appropriate amount of contrast. Be careful not to over-do it. Next, balance your colours using the color balance tool. Then, save your product photo (with an embedded color profile!) and you’re good to go!
Now that you know what you NEED to know, you’re ready to go out, learn, and conquer your DIY product photos! You’ll find loads of information about these topics here on my blog, in the free Facebook group, in my free webinar and trainings, and of course in my masterclasses and courses.
Got a question? Drop it in the comments!
Last week I answered question of “do you really neeeed a white background for handmade product photos?” and the big answer was NOPE. You do not. But, you do need a simple, neutral background.
Those kinds of background don’t have to break the bank either. Here are 5 ideas for cheap or free backgrounds for handmade product photos.
When I bought my desks (I have two), I bought them both with product photography mind. One is a natural wood, and the other is slightly glossy white. Now you don’t have to go out and buy a new desk (that would hardly be cheap or free, amiright?), but take a look around your house. You may very well already have a cool desk or table with a suitable surface for your product photos.
Hardwood floors may also work. Just make sure that the wood you’re using (regardless of its source) isn’t tinted or stained to create colour-affecting undertones. If the wood is reddish, yellowing, greenish, etc that can seriously impact your photo in a negative way.
One of my favourite DIY background hacks! You can buy contact paper (intended to line shelves or drawers) or even wallpaper and stick it to rigid foam board for a great DIY product photography background.
Don’t forget - you’re going for neutral and no busy patterns. Keep it simple! Avoid glossy finishes (they will make glare-free photos virtually impossible), and opt for patterns that could be table tops, like marble, woods, slates, etc.
3. Posterboard for a seamless background
Ever see one of those product photos where it looks like the product is floating in nothingness? Those are seamless backgrounds. You can buy paper roll seamless background for a chunk of change at a camera store, or if your products are smaller, you can grab a piece of posterboard from the dollar store and make your own seamless background.
To do this, take your posterboard and stick one side of it (the short side if it’s rectangular) to a wall and allow it fall straight down the wall, curve toward the floor (or tabletop) to lay flat on the surface. Place your product on it and start shooting!
If you have small products like jewelry, scrapbook paper can be a great option. They’re smaller, easy to store, and inexpensive. They come in a wide variety of patterns and are pretty easily replaceable as well.
Same rules apply as with contact paper and wallpaper. Keep it simple, neutral, and avoiding patterns. Seek out marble, woods, slates, and maybe even a linen texture. Experiment! With scrapbook paper you can afford to.
While not suitable for every brand, this may be one of my very favourite free or cheap backgrounds. I love incorporating nature into product photos. It creates character, interest, and deepens a connection between the product and the shopper.
Seek out things like slabs of slate, bark, logs, stone, and moss for your product backgrounds. This approach is really only suitable for brand that embrace things like eco-friendly lifestyles, rustic vibes, adventure, and wilderness. But for those brands, this can be a super option.
Now that we’ve outlined some great free or cheap backgrounds for handmade product photography, let’s talk about some backgrounds you want to steer clear of.
- Anything cloth. Cloth is extremely wrinkly and nearly impossible to make look smooth, polished, and professional.
- Bright colours. Unless this is a stand-out characteristics of your brand, you’ll want to avoid bright colours. Colourful backgrounds take away from your product, and can distract and overwhelm shoppers.
- Patterns. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this article thus far, patterns should be avoided. Patterns clutter up your photo, make it look chaotic, and will make shoppers just keep on scrolling. Your product should never have to compete with the background.
And there you have it! Some awesome free or cheap background ideas for your handmade product photos. Have a question or comment about backgrounds? Drop it in the comments!
Got a question or comment? Drop it below!
One thing I hear a lot from makers is how difficult it is to get a white background for their handmade product photos. And it’s true, it IS really difficult for the DIY product photographer. But the first thing I asked them is, do you really need a white background for your product photos? The answer usually is “I think I do… Don’t I?”
In short: No. You don’t need a white background.
Back in the day when Etsy first became a thing, the recommendation was that you should use a white background. However, they very quickly changed their tune and dropped that recommendation. If you visit any of their “Editor’s Picks” featured collections, you’ll see a variety of different backgrounds, many of them not white.
First let’s figure out when you do and do not need a white background, then I’ll give you some ideas for some awesome alternatives.
There are no requirements for a white background on any of the aforementioned websites. So you’re off the hook!
Your backdrop for your products should support you brand’s overall vibe. Unless your brand is super clean and minimalistic, it probably doesn’t warrant a white background. Even then, a dark grey background may give a better look. For more info on how branding plays into your product photos, click here.
It can be SO tough to get white or light coloured products to pop on a white background. A camera’s limited dynamic range make it difficult for it separate the tones of your product and the tones of the backdrops. I can be done with a lot of editing, but why make more work for yourself?
If you’ve tried every which way to get a beautiful white background and you’re about ready to pull your hair out, then know this - you don’t need a white background. You can switch up your background, save yourself the frustration, and make your photos look even better with a different background.
If you’re confident that a white background is what you need to express your brand properly, then a white background you should have.
And I don’t mean if your handmade listings show up in the regular Amazon feed. I mean if you straight sell on regular Amazon, and not Handmade at Amazon. Regular Amazing does require a white background. Handmade at Amazon does not.
There are some website aside from Amazon and some publications that may want to feature your products that do require a white background. Read the fine print before you submit to make sure. Also keep in mind that there are loads of websites, publications, social media influencers, bloggers, etc that will want to feature you even without a white background. Maybe especially because you didn’t use a white background, and your photos have more interest and are more editorial.
Okay, so now that you know you don’t have to use a white background - what should you use?
- Choose a background that is neutral.
There are many great options out there for background that are simple, neutral and won’t take away from your product. A brightly coloured background can distract from your product and make the photo more about the background than your actual product. The background should be a supporting character, not the star of the show.
- Textures are awesome.
Marble, slate, white washed wood, dark wood, beadboard, shiplap, linen, and so on are all great neutral textures for your products. It’s important to pick one that is a fit your for products, otherwise it’ll feel odd and out-of-place
- Avoid fabric.
Fabric almost always appear wrinkled, messy, and unprofessional. Use thick cut paper or poster board, vinyl, foam board, or specially made photo boards instead.
- Don’t go seamless with a texture background.
Textured backgrounds are meant to emulate things like table and counter top, floors, and the like, so setting them up as a seamless background looks unnatural and unprofessional. The line in the textures don’t curve well and it looks awkward. Use the texture for the bottom only, and use something separate like a white or black foam board for the “wall” behind your product (or an actual wall - that works too).
There you have it! You are now free to drop the white background.
Got a question or comment? Drop it below!
Hey there handmade seller!
If you’re just joining us for the first time, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amy and I’m a product photographer and educator teaching handmade sellers just like you how to rock their own product photos for their online shops.
‘Cause here’s the thing - I’m about to break some serious news here - without great product photos, your online shop probably won’t succeed. I know, that’s some tough love right there. But I said it because I want you to succeed and because I believe in you. (read all about why product photography is so important in this post)
The good news is that you are not doomed to a life of dreadful DIY product photos and no sales. I’m here to help you transform those “meh” product photos into photos that’ll have shoppers hitting the add-to-cart button faster than you can say “cha-ching”.
The topic of product photography is vast, overwhelming, and often confusing. There’s sooooo much information out there and, let’s be honest, it’s really not directed to you as a handmade seller. That’s why it’s full of technical jargon you don’t understand.
Every resource you’ll find here on my blog and on my YouTube channel was developed with you in mind. It’s the nitty gritty - no muss, no fuss, just exactly what you need to know to start taking great DIY product photos, and quickly.
Because, guess what? Product photography doesn’t have to be super complicated. Once you learn a streamlined and simplified photography process, you’ll be amazed at how your photos will transform.
So let’s get started!
When it comes to photography, lighting is everything. Literally. The word photography is derived from the greek “photo” meaning light and “graphy” meaning drawing - so, drawing with light. Hence its importance.
But it’s not just words. A photograph is made from the light that comes through the shutter of a camera to hit the sensor. So, great light = great photo.
Light should be soft and even, plenty bright (but not too bright), and the right colour (ie, daylight). Try photographing your product next to a bright window with white foam boards bouncing the light back towards your product. (pictured below)
News flash: Your background doesn’t have to be white.
So many makers think that their backgrounds have to be white, and it’s simply not true. Neutral? Yes. White? No.
If you like a white background, and you’re able to capture it well on camera, that’s great! Don’t change a thing. But so many handmade sellers struggle to take a great photo on a white background and if they’d just let it go, life would be so much easier. So I’m giving you permission. Let it go.
When choosing a background, pick something that is neutral and subtle. Textures are also a nice. Backgrounds like dark wood, white washed wood, marble, slate, beadboard, etc are all great option.
When determining which is right for you, think about your products, your branding, and your ideal customer. Your background should be a fit for all those things. (read more about how your branding play into your product photo in this post)
When it comes to props, you need to keep it really simple. One or two props are plenty. When it comes to social media and brand photos, you can incorporate more props, but for product listing photos it’s important no to do too much. Too many props confuse buyers, clutters up your shot, and will have people moving on pretty fast. You want your props to be “supporting characters” to your product, not steal the show.
When it comes to choosing props, the same rules apply as they did for the background. They should be a fit for your product, brand, and speak to your ideal customer.
Want to grab my list of 90+ Prop Ideas? Click here!
Take care to photograph your products at the correct angle. If not composed properly, the angle can distort the image and make your product look strange or misrepresent it. Photographing your product as a flat lay (“bird’s eye view”) or straight on (“eye level”) is a good place to start.
When arranging props, keep them off to the side and/or in the background. It should be very clear what is for sale in the image and your props shouldn’t take attention away from your product.
Yes, you must edit your photos. A photo isn’t truly complete until it’s edited. Back in the film days, the development process was when images were fine-tuned. In these digital days, the editing process is the same idea. Sure, your digital camera does a bit of this work for you. But it’s just a piece of equipment and its abilities are limited. You don’t let your washing machine pick out your outfits do you? I didn’t think so.
So edit those photos! One of my most commonly asked question is what editing programs and apps I recommend. I recommend Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, available for $9.99 USD a month through the Adobe Photography CC subscription. They are the industry standard when it comes to photo editing and they allow you to embed a colour profile, which is extremely important when it comes to product photos.
Edit your photos for correct tones, size and ratio, and white balance while avoiding faux pas like oversaturation and harsh contrast (read about other editing mistakes in this blog post).
And there you have it! You’re already on your way to better DIY product photos.
Got a question? Pop it in the comments!
Until next time,
We talk a lot about how to great technically great product photos, but how to brand your handmade product photos? That's another story.
As a handmade seller, you've likely heard all about the importance of branding. It's your business's identity and it communicates who you are, what you believe in, and what makes you and your products special. It makes you stand out and be recognizable. Your branding should resonate throughout your Etsy shop, your social media accounts, your logo, your product descriptions... And of course, your handmade product photos.
But, a lot of handmade sellers don't know what their brand is or even where to start. I totally get it. You just makes cool things and want to sell them. Why the need for a brand? Because having a brand is what will make your customers recognize you, love you, and sing your praises to everyone they know. It's branded handmade product photos that will make them stop scrolling in their Instagram feed or in those Etsy search results because they see an images and instantly know that it's your business and your stuff. How you style your images is what communicates your branding through your handmade product photos.
But, one of the struggles I have heard from the handmade/product-based community is that they have no idea how to style their images. I believe the words "they look crazy" have been thrown about to describe how their styled product photos look. And I understand. You add one prop, then another, then another, toss in a chaotic background and BAM. Crazy. It all happens so fast. As Ron Burgundy would say, well that escalated quickly. The reason this happens is because of uncertainty and a lack of guidelines around what should be (and should not be) included in styled photos. The beauty of your branding is that you let it be your guide.
Take some time and examine what you want your business and your brand to be all about. And then consider how your product photos will communicate your brand.
For example, perhaps your brand is clean, modern, and minimalistic - how should your photos be styled? Exactly like your brand. Clean. Modern. Minimally. So this could likely translate into white backgrounds, very few props, with props and products arrange in a structured, linear fashion. If your brand is very earthy, eco-friendly, and natural, you could easily use wood backgrounds and incorporate moss, stones, bark and the like into your photos. You may have a super trendy fashion brand and your ideal customer is a fashion-forward urbanite. Here you can have chic-looking models (or a fashionista friend) wear your clothing and shoot them in a cool urban setting.
Here is the step-by-step process to brand your handmade photos.
Take some time to figure out what your branding, and/or what you want it to be. Take an hour or so, sit down somewhere comfortable with a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine), and brainstorm. Jot down words and phrases that fit with your products and your business. Brainstorm who your ideal customers is who is buying your stuff. Write down what kinds of values they have and what's important to them. Pinpoint adjectives that describe your brand. By the time you're done, you should established a sense of your business's brand identity.
Consider that props fit with your newly established brand. Eco-friendly? Don't use plastics or props that harm the environment. Is your ideal customer older? Don't use a bunch of youthful, hip and trendy props. Use props that will being awesome supporting characters to your products and not steal the show. Stumped for ideas? Grab my 90+ Prop Ideas PDF for free by clicking here.
News flash: The background for your handmade product photos does NOT have to be white! This myth was started many years by Etsy who very quickly changed their tune. Choose simple, neutral textured backgrounds like wood, marble, slate, bead board, etc to compliment your products and your brand while creating a bit of interest and intrigue in your photos.
Once you have your background and props picked out, now it's time to set it all up and start taking photos. Defer back to your branding to determine arrange - what makes the most sense? Is having a structured, organized flat lay layout the best for your brand? Or should you set up a lifestyle scene? Or show your product in action with the props? My best advice here - try everything and see what looks the best and is the best fit for your brand.
The most important take away from this post - establish a consistent, unique look to brand your handmade product photos. Product photos that stand out with a unique look will win fans, garner you followers on social media, and turn those followers into repeat and raving customers.
You’ve gone through the process of planning and taking your photos – good job! – and now it’s time to edit them. Here’s the thing. Editing is a careful craft. You can easily take a great shot and ruin it with poor editing. Additionally, when editing images for the purpose of selling products, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Below are the top 5 mistakes I see handmade sellers make when editing product photos – and how to fix it.
First of all – you really must edit your product photos. If your skillset of taking photos is pretty solid, you may not have to edit much, but it’s still important to crop, resize, adjust levels, etc. If you’re wondering what on Earth I’m taking about right now, never fear – there are future posts coming up very soon that address the basics of editing product photos in easy, simplified steps. Until then, rest assured – you need to be touching up your photos. If not, you’re going to end up with lackluster and drab images that do nothing to sell your work. If you want to stay tuned for the upcoming post regarding editing basics, sign up for my emails on the side menu.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to punch up the colours in your images. However, it’s really important that this is done carefully and tastefully. Oversaturated images look cheesy and cheap. So, NOT the message you want to send about your biz and products. You are better served by using the “vibrance” adjustment tool as opposed to “saturation”, as it will give your colours a punch without overdoing it.
This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to edited images: The overuse of vignetting. What is vignetting, you ask? I have provided an image below of an example of an excessive vignetting that I’ve applied to one of my images for the sake this post. Vignetting is a natural occurrence that happens when photographing images with interchangeable lenses due to lens distortion. A subtle dark vignetting can look cool on an editorial image; S-U-B-T-L-E being the key word in this sentence. A common mistake in editing is overdoing the vignetting, and it is especially inappropriate in product images. Even worse – applying a lightening vignetting (white) around the edges. Cringe-worthy. With product photos, it is best to avoid adding vignettes at all.
I understand the desire to add watermarks to your image. Image theft is a real thing. However, when you’re dealing with image of your products, watermarks take away from the goal of your image – to attract customers to your work and sell that product.
Having a small, subtle mark in the bottom corner of your photo is usually acceptable if you feel compelled to mark your image in some way. But keep in mind that images that get the most attention for your biz are often images that become featured – by blogs, on the Etsy front page, on Pinterest, etc. Images with distracting watermarks are not the ones being featured.
It’s also important to keep in mind that as a product-based seller, your business asset is your product, not your images. If you’re a photographer or you design digital prints, you should not be sharing the pure digital version of your image with or without a watermark. I recommend using digital mockups to show what your work will look like framed and on the wall. That way your potential customers have an opportunity to see your work in action, as opposed to sharing the actual image with a huge watermark splashed over it.
This one is reeeeally important. When selling products, you need to give your customers a true sense of the colour they can expect from said product. Adding colour filters affects the colour portrayal of your product. Also important to know, colour filters when not done properly (which takes a lot of skill and advanced editing) look really cheesy and cheap. The best way to ensure correct colour balance in a photo is through the use of a grey card (which will be covered in an upcoming post), but you can also use the colour balance option in your editing program to ensure that the whites are actually white, blacks are actually black, and true greys are neutral. Lots more to come on colour balance in a future post, so please stay tuned.
Now that you’re aware of these crucial editing mistakes and how to avoid them, you are well on your way to cranking out beautiful product images.
Until next time,
Hello friends. In last week’s post we talked about how to style the perfect flat lay, so it just seems natural to follow that up with where to source props for your product photos. I’m talking real, tangible places you can scout to get awesome props for your images. It’s a lot easier than you think, and if you’re planning ahead you can grab some pretty sweet items at some pretty sweet deals – or better yet, free. Check it out.
The Clearance Section
Ahhhh, the clearance section. My very favourite place in just about any store. I have spent far more time than I care to say in the clearance section of my favourite stores. Here are a few that offer up awesome selections for styling your photos:
Chapters/Barnes & Noble
Chapters is my absolute favourite store for my photo styling needs. And reading needs. And to fulfill my need for pretty things. And Starbucks. But anyway, Chapters always has a section in their store for clearance and these things are often pretty little home or stationary items. It’s a great place to check out. Sorry in advance if you spend way more than you intended (I usually do). For my American friends: Barnes & Noble is a similar type of store, so check it out (and let me know how it goes). Bonus: You can shop online too.
Sidenote: Chapters is a supporter of handmade business and I have a few friends who've had their lines picked up by Chapters. I shop there as often as I can, because I too am a huge supporter of handmade business (and you should be too!).
Not all Michaels stores have a clearance section, but they frequently have awesome markdowns, great coupons, and a section for odds and ends that are great for photo styling. I’ve gotten really cute notebooks, mini clipboards, scrapbook paper, cute pens, and lots more there. Definitely worth a look.
Give me a moment to grieve the loss of Target in Canada. It may have been two years ago that they closed, but I still feel a sense of loss. For my American readers, Target (as you no doubt know) has a fantastic section for odds and ends and lots of great clearance items.
Always awesome deals here, and they have super cute stuff. I could drop a lot at Homesense if I didn’t have self-control (or if my significant other didn’t rein me). Their home décor section is rife with unique items and they have really cool office accessories too. The last time I was there I scored some gold binder clips and huge gold paper clips. They had rose gold too. I highly recommend scouting them out.
I also recommend checking these stores/sections out on a regular basis. If you know your brand vibe and values, and/or have defined brand colours, you can easily pick up what will be a good fit for future use even if you don’t have a particular need for them at that time. If you’re not sure where to start in terms of defining your branding for your photography, check out my free downloadable styling planner with 90+ props ideas and stay tuned for next week’s post which is all about creating photos that fit your branding.
Poppin.com is a website that's fantastic for grabbing your brand-specific colours in a large variety of office accessories. The website is SO FUN. You can shop by colour or what items you’re interested in. Turquoise scissors? Yes, please!
Depending on your branding, picking up a few things on a nature walk might be exactly what you need. Nature is abundant with fantastic things you can use to style and give life your photos. Examples include moss, stones, bark, ferns, wildflowers, twigs, pussy willows… You see where I’m going with this.
Again, this one will depend on your branding, but there are loads of awesome accents to be found in the grocery store’s produce section. Sliced lemons, a bowl of shiny red apples, cherries, limes, oranges, and the like can bring a lot of character and feel to a photo.
Your Own Home
Never underestimate the value of finding styling props in your own home. From home décor items to cute coffee mugs, our homes are chock blocked full of things we can use to style photos. For example, you might have a really beautiful vase that would look great in some photos (bonus points if it has flowers in it). Or, you may have a set of wooden bowls that would look great with your products. You might have a vintage camera in the attic your forgot about, or perhaps an old wooden crate that perfectly fits your brand vibe. It’s important to be open-minded and keep your branding in mind. Walk around your house and look at your things through a new lens (first figuratively then literally). You’ll be surprised how much you find!
The Flower Shop or Your Garden
I’m a straight up sucker for succulents. I love the texture and colour of them and I especially like that they’re difficult to kill by accident which strangely seems to happen to a lot of the plants I own. I have a few succulents I keep “on staff” for photo styling and when not at work making a photo look great, they hang out in my office. In addition to succulents, there is a huge selection of plants for styling at your local flower shop or greenhouse. Fresh cut flowers, ivy, dried lavender… There are lots to pick from. Even better, if you’re so inclined to have some growing in your yard, you can pick straight from there.
Do you have any tips on where to get props for styling? I’d love to hear them!
Until next week,