Not everyone has a fancy schmancy camera. I do have a DSLR, and some nice lenses- nothing I’d consider going pro with- but I also have a pretty trusty little point and shoot. I’ve had a few readers ask me about my pictures, which is really flattering. I am new to photography, but I L.O.V.E. taking pictures and I am really getting into it.
A lot of my pictures use my DSLR. All of the pictures in my Etsy shop use it. All have been photoshopped to look their very best (c’mon, this is how I’m trying to make a living!). While you don’t need the fancy camera, you need good software. I personally use Adobe Lightroom, and I don’t know what I would do without it. Outside of the technology though, you need to know a few tips (that I am constantly learning and trying to improve on) to take good craft/food/ Etsy shots. I know when I first started out, some of my shots were horrible (I still have some pretty bad ones in my Etsy shop if you look at my earlier stuff). It was so hard to find good information (in plain English) on how to improve my pictures, but I’ve found some tips that work and want to share them with you!
This is not going to cover photoshop or lightroom edits- just ways you can make your original picture better and more suitable for craft blogging/ Etsy shop.
There are a few things you need to try to remember when taking your shots:
*LIGHT!!!!! First, pick a bright location (but try to stay inside unless it’s a cloudy day as sometimes your projects will be completely washed out by bright sunshine). Try to have all windows open and lights on in the area you’ve set up your project. DO NOT USE YOUR FLASH! If you have a DSLR camera and separate flash, aim it at the ceiling and use it. If all you have is a standard flash on a camera, do not even think about using it. Bring in lights, open windows, do anything you can to make the space brighter.
Some items will just be hard to photograph, period. Glass is always tricky, as are lighter colored items (pastels, etc.). Take one of my Etsy shop’s offerings- this adorable little handpainted bunny has been listed in my shop forever. My mom did an awesome job on this- but I can’t seem to get a good picture of it. I am going to have to borrow my husband’s studio lights some day to get a better shot. Nothing seemed to work! Sometimes to get an item listed or a post up, you’ll just have to take the shots you get and improve later.
This sweet bunny needs a home, but her dark photo isn’t bringing any buyers…
In my make your own bakers twine post, I was in a rush to post that day- and I cringe when I see the shots up on people’s pages. Why is the one craft that’s widely featured the one with super dark photos? Just my luck…
*LOCATION!!!! Second, when you find the brightest spot to take a photo, clear out all the junk! You might have beautiful decorations on your table or wall, but they will take away from your craft. Plain walls work the best- light pastel colors (like the baby blue in my craftroom) photograph beautifully. Try to make sure your craft is the only thing you see in the camera.
This is a picture I took of a burlap table runner that I offer in my Etsy shop. It’s an ok photo, but what the heck am I selling here? This should not be your main Etsy shop photo because the item you’re selling doesn’t stand out. I am acutally still using this in my Etsy shop because it illustrates how the runner would look in use, and how other items I sell compliment i- but I definitely need some new photos for this product to sell.
It’s a good shot to have, but it should NEVER be the “intraductory” shot or a thumbnail image that is meant to draw readers/buyers in.
*PERSPECTIVE!!! Third, get in close! Don’t zoom, or crop later (except when photographing pennants- crop is ok then)- physically move yourself close to your project. When you use your crop, you can digitize your image. Standing closer to your image gives you great perspective and unique angles- and it makes your craft the star of the show. If your item offers a unique feature, zoom on that (like this ring pillow features the couple’s monogram and wedding date):
*GET MOVING!!! Fourth, move around! Take pictures from all angles. And while you’re at it, take a lot of pictures. For every 4-5 images I use I take about 30 and only use the best. Unless you like constantly uploading, just take a bunch of pictures.
See the difference angles can make when shooting a product? Straight down is pretty boring, but from the side is much more interesting. Don’t go for totally wacky angles with Etsy though, I always include some straight-on shots so the buyer can see exactly how the product looks. Artsy works to pull someone in, but they will have more confidence buying something they are certain looks the way they want it to.
Pennants are one of my favorite projects to make, and one of my least favorite things to shoot. Lighting can be tricky when you are hanging something on a wall, and you have to get such a wide shot I have such limited areas to stage from. They get their own little tip section:
*Shoot only as much as you need. Banners are w-i-d-e- so just shoot the actual banner part. Don’t worry about the strings or how it looks in a scene, unless you’re a wedding or event photographer. Just shoot the banner. If you’re selling an experience- like a kid’s party, and the banner is hanging perfectly over the cake and present table, include those too. Just keep the shot limited to exactly what you’re “selling”- and nothing else. Go ahead and crop your banner shot if you need (I always do when shooting pennants!) since there can be so much wasted space at the top and bottom of the frame.
Lastly, read up! If you want some good, professional advice, I highly recommend Scott Kelby’s books on Digital Photography. He is a phenomenal photographer and his information is in plain English.I also would high-tail it over to the Pioneer Woman’s blog, that woman can take a photo better than a lot of pros. She also offers action sets you can download in photoshop. She is my hands-down go-to for food photography- something I have a lot of homework to do to get good at!