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!
Today we’re talking about how to get the most out of the equipment you already have. Including those smartphones!
A lot of people think that in order to learn from me they have to have a big fancy camera and lighting equipment but that is super not true. My students have everything from smartphones to DSLR cameras. I even have an entire module in my Snap, Sell, Succeed course dedicated to smartphone photography.
Why? Because I know for some of you, that’s what you have. And dropping $500 or more on a DSLR camera just isn’t something you can swing right now.
The great news is that you can do A LOT with just a smartphone camera and regular ole daylight.
Regardless of what you’re using for a camera, there are a few tips to help you maximize the abilities of the equipment you already have.
1. Read your camera manual and practice using your camera.
I know what you’re thinking. "Cool tip bro". But it’s a legit thing. Have you read your camera manual? I bet not. If you have a DSLR or point-and-shoot camera, it would have come with camera manual (they’re also really easy to find online) and your smartphone manual should include a section on the camera (or find it online).
Knowing the modes, features, and options that your camera possesses is a big first step in getting the most out of your camera and how to use them will save you loads of time and frustration. Trust.
2. Know how light works.
This is probably the #1 most important thing you need order to get the most of out your equipment:
Wanna learn a bit more about types of lighting? Click here.
3. Make sure the image size (aka "quality") on your camera is large enough for high resolution photos.
Photos for your product listings need to be large, in order to still look good when the zoom tool is applied. You should have your image sizes set to highest jpeg option available (and if you’re advanced, you should shoot raw). I recommend you have your image setting on your camera setting to a minimum of 3000 px wide and 2400 pixels tall. (Note: if you use an iPhone you can’t change this setting, but the native file size for iPhones is plenty large enough at 4032 x 3024 px).
4. Make a DIY lightbox.
Don’t have a bunch of lighting equipment or the funds to invest? Make your own lightbox! I have personally made multiple DIY lightboxes during my in-person product photography workshops and they totally work. There are loads of YouTube videos that will guide you on to do this, but I like this one.
Once you make the lightbox (that’ll easily cost you less than $5), you can use regular desk/architect lamps that you may have sitting around your home with daylight light bulbs. If you find that light to not be sufficient enough, you may have to upgrade to tabletop studio lights (studio lights have stronger wattage), or you could try going outside during broad daylight in direct light.
5. Capture your images in raw file format.
If you’re using a smartphone, download the Lightroom app (free) and use the camera within the app. Change the file format of your images to DNG (at the top of your screen in the middle). This is raw file format and it’s like capturing a digital negative. There is so much more data captured with this kind of file and allows you so much more flexibility when editing your photos without losing quality.
If you’re using a DSLR, you can change the file format in the the shooting settings and select raw. These images will need to editing with a program like Lightroom or Photoshop (using Camera Raw). It sounds a bit scary at first, but experiment with raw files a bit and see the huge difference they can make in your editing!
One of my most frequently asked questions is what size and ratio Etsy product listing photos should be. Sizing and ratio is very important when it comes to your Etsy product photos, so in this post I’ll be covering the best sizing for etsy, including these topics:
The ratio refers to how wide the image is compared to how tall it is (eg, 1:1, 5:4, 4:3, etc). You set your ratio when you crop your photo in your editing process either on your computer or your smartphone, or within your camera when you take the actual photo.
Size refers to how many pixels wide and how many pixels tall your photo is. This can be adjusted when editing, but needs to be at least a certain size when captured (more on that in moment).
So why do we even care about this?
The ratio is important for two reasons.
One, when someone searches Etsy, or views your shop, the “gallery images” that are meant to capture the attention of shoppers are a ratio of 4:3 (so slightly wider than they are tall). If the photos you upload aren’t a 4:3 ratio, you risk your product being cut off and not shown in its entirety. The search results are a crucial opportunity to capture the attention of shoppers, and with part of your product not even been seen, there’s a good chance you’ll be passed over.
Two, if your product photos in your product listings are all different ratios, that will produce unsightly spaces above and below, or on the sides, of some of your photos. The “container” for your product photos will fit the largest photo, so anything smaller will show space around it.
The size (pixels) of your photo is also important, as it affects the quality of your photo especially when viewed with the zoom tool. Your photos should be 2700px along the long edge. For the best size and quality with a 4:3 ratio, your photo would be 2700 pixels wide and 2025 pixels tall. This size is perfect for Etsy's recommendations, and will allow you optimize the image for web.
Ratio: Your ratio should be 4:3.*
This means your photo will be wider than it is tall. It's a perfect size for Etsy, as this is the ratio of the thumbnails that appear in the search and in your shop view - which means your entire photo will be shown and none of your product will be cut off.
*NOTE: It appears as of April 2022 that Etsy's thumbnails have reverted back to a 5:4 ratio on both web and mobile, but I have been in touch with Etsy and they are not changing their recommendation of 4:3 as of yet. Just be aware when uploading your images and verify that your product appears fully in the thumbnail at both a 4:3 and 5:4 ratio.
Size (in pixels): 2700px wide by 2025px tall
This maintains your 4:3 ratio and ensures your photo is large enough that it will still look great when viewed with the zoom tool.
Keep in mind - your customers need to see great, high quality photos in order to feel like they're making an informed purchase. That means that if you want customers to click on your listing when it pops up in the search, they need to be able to see the whole photo (and not have parts of it cut off due to incorrect ratio).
That also means that when they enlarge your photo and/or use the zoom tool, they need to see a sharp, crisp image that shows off the details of your product - not a pixelated, low quality photo that makes your product look low quality too.
IMPORTANT: You cannot enlarge your photos after they're taken. When the photo is captured by your camera it must already be larger than your finished image. To ensure your photos are captured at a large enough size, check your camera settings. If you are using an iPhone the native size of image captured isn’t changeable, but it is large enough at 4032 x 3024 px.
Watch my YouTube video on how to re-size your images in Photoshop and Lightroom
In order for web images to load quickly (so potential customers don't lose interest), your images should be a small enough file size to load quickly. A good rule of thumb is to for the images to be 1MB or less.
To ensure your images are 1MB or less, always save your images in jpeg and if you need it, you can reduce the quality of the jpeg down to 80% without losing quality.
Watch my YouTube video on how to optimize your images for web
It is a widely-held misconception that your images should be 72 dpi.
The dpi of an image has no impact whatsoever on a digital images. It doesn't impact the image's resolution, or it's file size. It's a metric that only applies to print media, and thus isn't even uploaded with your image to the web. So you don't need to worry about what the dpi is. 72 is fine. So is 300. So is 3000. It makes no difference to digital images.
Want to edit you photos quickly and effortlessly? Check out the Lightroom Presets here.
And there you have it! The complete low down on the best sizing for Etsy product photos. Have a question? Drop it below!
This post an important one, because I know how many of you struggle with DIY product photography lighting. Lighting is the trickiest element of photography, but something that needs to understood and mastered to be successful with your product photos.
Let’s get started!
Fun fact: All light is not created equal. First, there are different kinds of light. Diffused, artificial, direct, indirect, natural, etc. Artificial and natural refer to the light sources. Diffused, direct, and indirect refer to how the light hits your products and the effect they cause. We'll discussed these in a moment. But first, light sources. When it comes to light sources, there are pros and cons of each.
Artificial (flashes, studio lights, lamps)
Pros: Easily controllable, always available
Cons: Can create issues with white balance, costs $$, and involves a learning curve
Natural (from the sun)
Pros: Tends to create accurately colour balanced images, is usually softer than artificial light, you don't have to work as hard to make it look natural because well, it is.
Cons: You're at the mercy of time and weather, it needs to be properly diffused, can create unbalance lighting across the image (ie, darker on one side than the other), and it takes work to perfect.
What’s Right For You
So what's best? That depends on your situation. If you find yourself only having time to photograph your products after dark, artificial is probably for you. If not, natural light might be for you.
Spoiler alert: You can grab my free lighting questionnaire that will help you figure out what light source is best for you at the bottom of this post.
Direct Light vs. Indirect Light vs. Diffused Light
Direct light comes directly from the source to hit your product at full strength. It creates strong highlights and harsh shadows on your images. It's not recommend in almost all situations when it comes to product photography.
Indirect light is light that is bounced of other things and then hits your product. Photographing inside or in the shade is indirect light.
Diffused light is light that is filtered through something translucent and breaks up the light rays. Using a lightbox is an example of diffused light.
The kind of light you're going for is indirect or diffused.
Direct light = bad
Indirect or diffused light = good
Indirect light can be strengthened in an area by adding white foam boards, pictured below. White foam boards can also bounce light back towards your product, reducing shadowing and evening out the overall lighting in the image.
Above is an example of indirect light.
The light is coming from the sun (natural light), and is being bounced off of the surroundings and more intentionally with the white foam board.
Above is an example of diffused light.
The light (both natural and artificial) is being filtered through the translucent material of the lightbox, breaking down the lightrays and causing them to cascade over the scene with soft, even light.
Now that you know what kinds of light are you can use for your product photos, what lighting is right for you?
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!
Growing and running a business can be expensive, so finding free or cheap ways to enhance your DIY product photos can be a HUGE savings.
We all need to invest in our business if we want to succeed, it’s inevitable. But it’s also important to invest wisely and save where you can. Product photography can get really expensive, really fast, even if you’re DIYing it. Equipment can come with huge price tags, and often can be complicated to learn.
I’ve put together a shortlist of my favourite free or cheap tools for DIY product photos for handmade sellers. Check ‘em out!
Despite having quite a bit of lighting equipment myself, I always prefer to use natural light whenever possible. Because, if you can get it right, it looks the best.
Natural light tends to render colours quite accurately, and is soft and even (if your setup is right). Set up your shooting space next to a bright window without any direct sunbeams filtering through for that dreamy natural light.
To make the most of that bright window + natural light setup, use white foam boards to contain the light to your shooting area. You can add one or two white foam boards to surround your product (behind it and on the side opposite the window) to majorly brighten up the space and avoid those strong shadows that can occur on the side of your product opposite the window.
You can also use white foam board to block off surroundings to reduce reflections on shiny products, as a background for a flat lay, and to hold a piece of poster board for a seamless background. Hot tip: tape some L brackets (for shelving) to the back of your foam boards so they stand upright and can easily be moved around.
Yes, that stuff that goes inside of drawers.
Contact paper comes in loads of different colours and patterns, with marble being my favourite. You can affix the contact to a piece of foam board for an attractive background for your products. Make sure you select a pattern that’s neutral and not too busy. It should show off your product, not steal the show. Also be sure to get a matte finish and not glossy. Glossy finishes will create an unsightly glare in your photos.
Great news! You don’t have to buy a whole bunch of cute props for your product photos. First of all, you should only be using one or two props for your product listing photos. Any more and you start to draw attention away from your product. Second, I bet your house and/or yard is packed FULL of props you could use for your photos.
Some of my very favourite props are simply plants. I love to grab plant life from outside and bring it inside to add a little colour and life to my photos. A well placed sprig of lavender can go a long way! You may even have some house plants that would be a good fit. Succulents are perfect for product photos!
If plants aren’t your thing or aren’t a good fit for your brand, I’m will to bet there are any number of other things around your home that would be perfect, depending on your products. A cute coffee mug or pen, a piece of ribbon, a nice jewelry dish, and so on can all make great props for your product photos. For more info on where to find props for your product photos, click here.
Quite possibly my favourite free tool - a lux meter app for your smartphone. You can download them for free on your iPhone or Android device and, using the camera sensor, they detect the amount of light in an area (aka lux). For product photography, a reading of 1000 lux or higher is ideal.
My picks for free lux meters are Galactica Lux Meter for iPhone and Lux Meter (Light Meter) for Android. Simply download the free app, open it up, and place the camera of your phone near where your product would be when you’re photographing it. The reading should indicate 1000 lux or higher. If not, add some white foam boards to strengthen the light, take readings in other areas of your home at different times of day, or try moving your lights closer if you’re using studio lighting. Keep experimenting until you get a decent reading.
And that’s it, friends! My top 5 free or cheap tools for DIY product photography. Do you have any to add to the list? If so, drop them in the comments!
One of my most-asked questions from Etsy sellers when it comes to product photos is what camera should be used for DIY product photography. There is a both a short and a long answer to this. The short answer is, whatever camera you want. The long answer we’ll get to in just a moment.
While it’s true you can use any camera to take photos for your products (it’s all about knowing how to use it!), there are certainly limitations within two of the three most common categories and some options are more ideal than others. Let me explain.
There are generally three types of cameras that handmade sellers will use for their Etsy product photos. There are more categories, but I won’t bog you down with unnecessary details. The three categories are:
Both smartphone cameras and point-and-shoot cameras have limitations. Smartphones have very limited settings options and the quality is heavily dependent on having adequate lighting and using that lighting appropriately. And lighting is one of the most important aspects when it comes to DIY product photography (or photography in general for that matter). Point-and-shoot cameras are the digital cameras you would most commonly buy, like the Nikon CoolPix or the Canon PowerShot. They have a bit more flexibility than the smartphone (a variety of different modes, optical zoom), but ultimately will still limit your ability to take awesome product photos for your Etsy shop. That leaves us with the DSLR. You guessed it, folks. The DSLR is my recommendation for just about all things product photography.
A DSLR camera gives you all the freedom to be creative, turn out great product photos, change the look and feel of your images, and won’t even break the bank anymore. Entry level DSLR cameras (the least expensive, most newbie friendly version) start at around $500 - $600, which considering how much you’ll use and benefit from it, is actually a pretty sweet deal. DSLRs have the option to shoot manual, which allows for a lot more flexibility and creativity than the auto function on smartphone cameras and point-and-shoot cameras. DSLRs also allow for the use of different lenses which will open up a whole range of versatility for what these cameras can do, and allows you to create the best images for your products (eg, macro lenses for jewelry photography). I’ll discuss the lenses in more detail in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned. Until then, here are my picks for the best entry level DSLR cameras for your handmade product photography (this post contains affiliate links):
Full disclosure: I am a Nikon girl. I have always shot with Nikon cameras and will always recommend them first and foremost because A) I am completely biased, and B) they are fantastic in terms of quality.
The Nikon D3300 is sold for about $550 USD and $600 CAD on Amazon. With a 24.2MP sensor and very little image noise (that graininess that shows up in low light/high ISO situations), the D3300 packs a punch. Oh, and it’s incredibly user-friendly with it’s own built-in guide that helps beginners learn about the camera’s features. That’s basically a camera and an instructor in one. Pretty sweet deal.
If you love the sound of this camera, but really wish it had Wifi capabilities, there’s a solution out there for you. You can purchase a wireless adapter for about $80, pair the camera with your compatible smartphone or tablet, and BAM… The photos from your camera pop up on your device. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably want to touch those photos up a bit before sharing them with your tribe. I’ll discuss both computer editing programs and my favourite editing apps for smartphones in upcoming posts.
The Nikon D3300 comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Those numbers may not make a whole lot of sense to you, but essentially they mean that it has a little bit of zoom and is suitable for normal lighting situations (but not so great for low light areas, like darker rooms, without the use of flash). This is the standard kit lens for entry level DSLRs and is fairly versatile and great for getting to know your camera. There are better options out there for product photography, which we will cover at a later time, but the 18 – 55mm kit a great starter lens.
To get the Nikon D3300, click here.
Canon EOS Rebel T6i (750D)
Even as a loyal Nikon photographer, I can’t be that biased to completely ignore Nikon’s top competitor. In the DSLR race, there really are only two: Nikon and Canon. There are other decent DSLR cameras, but these two really have the market by the… you know. Balls. Gonads. Ovaries.
The Canon Rebel T6i is a bit more expensive at $750 - $900 USD, but has some very cool features like built-in Wifi and an articulating (movable) touch screen. Like the Nikon D3300, the Canon Rebel T6i has fantastic image quality, low image noise at high ISOs (great for low light), and comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. As with the other DSLR options discussed in this post, it is important to note that when you look through the viewfinder to take a photo, the viewfinder only shows 95% of the image that will be captured, making it possible to have unwanted things show up in the edges of the photo.
To get the Canon Rebel T6i, click here.
If you love the idea of an articulating touchscreen and built-in Wifi, this is the Nikon for you. Also with exceptional quality, 24.2MP sensor and low noise at high ISO sensitivities, the Nikon D5500 definitely delivers.The Nikon D5500 sells for around $850, including the camera body and the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. However, like the Canon T6i, you will also only see 95% of the shot through the viewfinder. Keep that in mind when taking snaps and you should be a-okay.
To get the Nikon D5500, click here.
There you have it ladies and gents! My top three picks for entry level DSLRs for your DIY product photography. There are, of course, better cameras out there that cost a great deal more. But for handmade sellers who just need decent photos for your Etsy shop, there’s no need to invest thousands in photography equipment when these little gems will do just fine.
If you have any questions regarding my picks for entry level DSLRs, drop it in the comments.
Until next time,