Being a visual medium, your product photos can make or break your Etsy business. I have seen countless Etsy stores thrive purely because they had stunning product photos. On the other hand, I have seen some stores with immense potential flounder because they lacked good photography skills or were trying to pinch their pennies by not hiring an expert. Thankfully, things have changed immensely in the past couple of years.
While it was impossible to get good photographs, wait, let me rephrase that. While it was very difficult to get good quality photographs with an inexpensive camera a few years ago, today even an upscale mobile phone can get you some stunning pictures.
All you need is to get the basics of product photography. And that’s where I step in folks.
Here’s a brief guide on how you can photograph your products for Etsy.
The Principles of product photography
Product photography or food photography is very different from conventional photography. The idea behind the photograph should always be to make the product appear so appealing that it makes a potential customer want to reach for their credit card.
1. Light: Photography is nothing but the amount of light that falls on the subject which in this case, is your product. Light can be your friend or your foe. Start off by practicing a couple of test shots with your camera or your mobile phone. The ideal time and set up would be early morning or late evening in a place where there’s ample and direct natural light. If you attempt to shoot in the afternoon when the sun is usually harsh, it will cast a lot of shadows on the product.
On a bright and sunny day, your yard can be the perfect makeshift photo studio. All that you need is a table, a white background and if possible, a reflector sheet which is easily available everywhere. If you are shooting against the light, placing a reflector in front of the product at the right angle will eliminate shadows and prevent harsh light from overexposing your shots.
If you are shooting for the first time, this will take time and practice. But you should get it right in a few attempts.
2. Background: Professional product photos are always shot against a white background. But nothing is written in stone. Despite being an e-commerce platform, Etsy has a very relaxed and friendly vibe about it. You can experiment with colored backgrounds too as long as it serves the purpose and accentuates the colors of your product.
Some sellers use natural settings for the backdrop and shoot their products on the grass on the lawn, on trees, stones, fences, chairs and just about anything that catches their fancy. Like I said, photography is something where there’s ample scope for creativity. Every rule that works only exists until someone makes a new one.
3. Props: A good prop will accentuate your product and the picture. It can communicate the vibe that your product exudes and the brand message too. A prop is optional especially when you are starting off though.
4. Dos and don’ts: Always frame your shot to ensure that there are no distractions or unexpected items in the picture. For example, some people click their picture in front of mirrored surfaces and end up showing their reflection in the picture. Ever heard of the guy who wanted to sell a mirror on eBay and ended up showing more than he bargained for?
5. What you need: The essentials include a good camera, a table or a room where you can set up your makeshift studio, lights and a tripod if you are shooting with a DSLR. Everything else like a reflector, a flash diffuser and props are optional. You also need tons of patience and an equal amount of practice to get the right shots.
6. Post processing: Post processing will be a very important part of getting the final outcome as you’d want to. The most popular post processing software is Photoshop. But if you are using a point and shoot cam or a mobile phone, then you do not necessarily need professional grade software. There are many applications which let you post process and add filters at the click of a button. Keep it simple. You do not want to spend hours editing your pictures.
Clicking your photos
All said and done, it all boils down to how well you click the actual pictures. Using tripods is highly recommended especially, if your products are small sized. It lets you get real close to the product rather than having to crouch or crawl on the floor or on your workstation.
You can use automated timer based settings to click the picture. This eliminates the chances of handshake or blur.
You can also use tripods with mobile phones and point-and-shoot cameras too. For automatic cameras, go to the macro mode and click the picture. Always keep an eye on the focus. The worst thing that you can do is post a picture that is out-of-focus.
Clicking close-ups for products gives the customer a feel of the product. It is almost as if they can touch the product which maximizes the chances of generating a click through or a sale. Also, don’t click just one or two pictures from commonly used angles.
Be creative and use as many angles as you can and click as many pictures as you can. Go wide, zoom in, zoom in more and the change the angle. Give them a 360 degree view of the product that helps them understand the dimensions, the color and the design to the minutest of detail.
You don’t need a huge budget or a fancy camera to get good pictures for the web. With the basics of photography, you should be able to generate some drool-worthy product pics for Etsy and for your social media marketing.