Taking a lot of product photos at once, whether you’re updating your listings or creating new ones, can be hugely time consuming, but in this post I’m going to give you some awesome timesaving tips for DIY product photography.
The key to quickly get those product photos ready for your listings is preparation.
The planning phase of the photoshoot is the most important in ensuring a quick workflow. Planning involves know exactly what photos of each product you need, gathering your props, setting up your shooting space, and double checking your equipment to make sure it’s in working order.
2. Take your photos sequentially
Once you’ve planned your photoshoot, including background, props, shot list, etc, and you’ve got your block of time set aside, it’s time to start taking those photos. You want to take your photos sequentially, ie, photograph all images of all product in one setup, before moving onto the next setup.
Example: You make jewelry. You’re going to take roughly the same images of each of your pieces for the sake of cohesiveness, right?
So what you’re going to do is set up the scene for the first shot (perhaps your main image), then shoot all of your product on that setup one after another. This should go fairly quickly. If you are going to take several shots on that background, do them now. For example, the product in it’s entirety, three different angles, one close up detail shot. Done. Next product.
Then, prepare your setup for the next shots (styled shots perhaps). Shoot them all at the same, simply swapping out the pieces.
And that is how to photograph a lot of photos in a short period of time.
That’s great! But what about editing them all? That’s gotta take forever right?
3. Edit for a quick workflow
Let’s take all of those main image photos you just took. They all have very similar tones, right? Same basic colours, same background, and in need of the same editing tweaks. You can edit the first photo in that set (adjust the tones and the colour balance), and then select all the photos in that set (by shift+clicking on the last photo in the set). Once you’ve selected all of the photos you want to apply the edit to, simply click the “Sync…” button below the Develop panel and click “Check All” to select all of the edits you want to copy to the others photo. Click “OK” and bam! All of those photos are now edited. Slick. Fast.
Also with Lightroom, you can very quickly export all of the photos you’ve just edited by making sure they’re all selected and then export them. At that time you can set the size you want them all to be. They’ll all be saved at once and ready to be uploaded to your shop.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
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.
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.
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?
Editing your handmade product photos can be super frustrating, right? I mean there about a billion different tools, confusing terminology, and where do you even start? Photo editing programs are confusing with their oh so many different tools, and it can be extremely overwhelming to figure out just how to make your photo look awesome
But it really doesn't have to be. I’m about to give you three quick tips to make your
As a handmade seller DIYing your own product photos, you don't need to know all the things when it comes to photo editing. You just need to know a few, very important things. Once you master those things, editing is leaps and bounds faster, easier, and less stressful.
One of my students even used the word "exciting" once. Seriously!
Here are my top three photo editing tips that will help editing feel a little less stressful and a bit more enjoyable:
Using the Levels tool, increase the brightness of your photo until just before you start to lose detail in the highlights. In simple terms, drag the right slider toward the left just until you start seeing part of your photo have areas of solid white pixels - then move it back a fraction. That helps you make sure your photo is bright enough, but without losing important detail. Then, do the same with the darks by dragging the left slider toward the right until the darks are pronounced. In Photoshop you can find the Levels tool at Image > Adjustments > Levels...
When it comes to product photography, making sure your colours are accurate is reeeeally important. If your colours are off, that pink scarf you sell may look more like a peach or a coral. If your customer thinks they're buying a peach or coral scarf, but instead receive a pink scarf, they will not be happy. "Brace yourself for the bad review and/or returned product" kind of not happy.
There are several different ways to adjust the white balance (aka the thing that makes sure your colours are accurate), but the simplest is to use the colour balance tool (in Photoshop it's under Image > Adjustments > Color Balance...). Move the sliders around just a little at first and see the impact it makes on your colours. Adjust them until your product's colours look accurate.
Note: White balance as a whole can be complicated, especially when you use a white background as the background may appear a slightly different shade in each. This tip is help get you started in understanding colour balance, but you may very well want to learn more about how to adjust colour balance later.
This is perhaps one of the most important things to do when editing photos. If you've ever uploaded a photo to Etsy or your website and noticed the colours look different after uploading, that's because you don't have a colour profile embedded with your image.
Think of the embedded colour profile as a post-it note of sorts attached to your photo. When you upload your photo to a website (like Etsy), the website will read the post-it note and apply just the right colour to your photo. Without that post-it note, the website might just mess those colours up.
And there you have it! My top 3 tips for editing your handmade product photos. See, editing isn’t so scary after all!
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!
Taking a handmade product photo can be challenging - there’s lighting, styling, composition, how to use your camera, etc - surely you can just skip the editing part, right?
Sorry, friends. Editing is not optional.
Here’s the thing. Back in the day of film photography, when the negatives were developed they went through a process of things like dodging and burning, colour adjustments, and so on. That was the editing process.
Digital photography has eliminated that process, but adjustments still need to be made. Many cameras will make some adjustments for you without you even knowing, but do you really want a machine making these decisions for you? The voice in your head might be saying, heck yeah! Robot photo editing for the win!
But consider this - your camera doesn’t know if you’re taking that photo for products, vacation, your dog, the sunset, whatever. It doesn’t know what adjustments need to be, it doesn’t know not to mess with the colour. It just takes a stab in the dark of what someone might typically want to see. Consider this - would you let your washing machine pick out your outfit? I didn’t think so. Some things you need to do yourself. And editing your photos is one of them.
When it comes to product photos, the editing process is extremely important. Here are 5 reasons you need to be editing your product photos:
Image size is super important when it comes to product photos. When shoppers are browsing online product listings, there’s this handy little zoom function that allows them to see details close up. Without large enough photos, this zoom tool will not only be a waste, but can make your image look low quality - which communicates that your product is also low quality (even if it’s not).
Additionally, cropping them at the correct ratio is also super important (especially if you sell on Etsy). On Etsy, the thumbnails that appear in the search listings are 5:4. If your photo isn’t 5:4, you run the risk of part of your image and your product being cut off. When customers are quickly scrolling search listings, that’s the kind of thing that absolutely can get your product passed over for one with the correct ratio.
You need to adjust the tones of your image (the exposure, highlights, shadows, etc) so that it appears realistic, bright, and without distracting shadows.
Cameras are limited in how well they can captured bright whites and dark darks due and sometimes they’re unable to capture a scene the way we see it with our own eyes.
An example of this is when you use a white background that comes out looking more grey. A quick tonal adjustment can make a world of difference in a product photo.
Your colours need to be portrayed as true to form as possible so that when someone buys your product, they aren’t mislead into thinking they’re getting a blue shirt when the shirt is actually purple in real life.
You can take steps when actually photographing your product to encourage colour accuracy, but ultimately you may very well need to make adjustments when editing as well. Using the colour balance tool will allow you to balance colours in the image so that they are rendered as accurately as possible.
Related to reason #3, editing your photos in a proper editing program will allow you to embed a colour profile with your image.
If you’ve ever uploaded a photo to Etsy and noticed the colours are all out of whack, this is an example of what happens when a photo does not have a colour profile embedded. It can be a huge source of frustration for you and misrepresents your products to your customers.
Embedding a colour profile is very important. You can read more about that in this blog post.
When push comes to shove, it all comes down to looking professional and high quality. Professional product photos are edited. Yours should be too.
You want photos that are communicate quality so that customers see your products as high quality, and editing your photos a big part of having high quality product photos.
I know you might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. That is A LOT of stuff and half of it you may have never even heard of. Don’t fear - I’m here to help! This is just the beginning of what I’m going to be discussing on my blog and my YouTube channel about photo editing. You’re in good hands. Stayed tuned.
Got a question? Pop it in the comments!
Until next time,
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.
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,