Product photography can be super tricky. I was a professional wedding and portrait photographer for a few years so I thought I’d be a natural at it. Boy was I wrong! I’ve retaken my product photos several times. Product photography is an evolving thing for me. I keep working to create the best photos that I can. Here are some basic tips that I’ve learned from my experience to help create classic product photos for Etsy that buyers will want to click.
#1: Use a simple background to let your product shine
The first photo you add to your product listing is crucial to getting views and sales. You want to make sure that your product is the star of the show. The easiest way to do this is to choose a simple background that doesn’t compete with your product. A lot of Etsy sellers choose white or wood backgrounds which are great options. They work for a lot of products but don’t feel like you have to go that route. You can think outside the box with your product photography by trying out scrapbook papers, fabrics, placemats, distressed wood, metal, wallpaper, etc. Currently, I use a dark blue piece of beadboard for all of my first photos.
I recommend experimenting with different backgrounds until you find one that lets your product shine and is a good fit for your brand. Some sellers add decorative items into their main photo as well to help draw attention and emphasize what the product is. You can do this but make sure they don’t overshadow the product. Adding additional items to the first photo is a more advanced technique because it can easily make a photo look cluttered when viewed in the search results. To start, I recommend keeping just your product and a background in your first photo.
One thing I never recommend is placing your products on the floor for your photos. Even if you have gorgeous hardwood floors, buyers are going to wonder why you’re selling them something you’ve had on the floor.
#2: Create a cohesive look for your shop
I recommend using a similar first photo for each product within your shop to create a cohesive look for your shop. This helps define your style and your brand. Think of how Target does this by using a red and white color scheme through the whole store. No matter where you are in Target you can see their branding on display. Your Etsy shop should feel the same way. Whether you use the same background for each photo or you create a theme for your photos, make sure that each first photo has a similar look and feel that represents your brand.
#3: Use natural light
Great lighting is the key to amazing product photos. To help achieve natural looking photos that are clear and bright, I always recommend using natural light and avoiding harsh flashes or artificial light. My favorite places to take photos are beside a window or door or outside under a covering such as a porch or in the shade of a building.
When using natural light make sure to avoid direct sunlight which can be too harsh. You can use a sheer curtain to help diffuse light if your photography spot only has direct sunlight. Another tip is to use a homemade reflector such as a piece of white foam board, poster board or cardboard covered in aluminum foil to bounce light on the side of the product that isn’t receiving as much natural light. Too much shadow can be as bad as too much light.
I like this blog post from White on Rice Couple that shows a creative background choice and it shows how to use a piece of white foam core to help bounce light onto the side that is opposite from the natural light source.
#4: Take shots that show scale, detail & function
You can upload 5 photos per product. Take advantage of those spots to show buyers that your product is perfect for them with these suggestions:
- A photo that shows scale can be achieved by placing your product beside a common object or use a model for apparel and accessories. This helps buyers feel confident that your product is the size they are looking for. I currently use a ruler with a text overlay that includes the size to help buyers get an idea of the size of my signs. I added the text using Canva.
- Take a close up photo that shows the detail, texture and quality of your work. Some cameras have a macro setting that is perfect for close up photos. Show a different angle or detail than you used in your other photos if possible.
- Stage a photo of your product in use to show it’s function. Help your customer imagine your product in their lives. If you sell cutting boards, put a knife and block of cheese in the photos. For jewelry such as rings or bracelets, recruit a friend to be a hand model. Home decor can be staged in your own home.
#5: Make a few simple edits
Editing photos can be tricky for Etsy sellers. It’s hard to know where to start and it’s really easy to over-edit a photo. I recommend keeping it simple by editing the exposure (how much light the photo has) and by sharpening the photo. Doing these two things helps create a bright and in focus photo that will have a classic look.
For editing photos on your phone or tablet, I recommend using a free app called Snapseed available for Android or iOS. If you are on your computer I recommend using the free version of PicMonkey or for best results I recommend Photoshop. All of these programs allow you to adjust the exposure (brightness, highlights, shadows, contrast) and sharpen the image. Edit slowly to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Less is often better when it comes to editing.
Takeaways for Great Product Photography
- Use a simple & neutral background for your first photo to let your product take the spotlight
- Show off your style and brand by choosing a similar look or theme for each product’s first photo
- Natural light is the key to achieving bright and clear product photos
- Include photos that show detail, scale and function to help your buyers imagine your product in their life
- Fine tune your photos by making a few simple edits in an image editing program
Disclaimer: The above info is what has worked really well for me in my experience of running a successful Etsy shop. While it has worked for me, you may experience a different result. Make changes slowly and be sure to save any previous information you are replacing in case you find that your previous choices worked better for you.
Join our Facebook group below if you have specific questions about product photography. I’m happy to help!