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,
Having great product photos for Etsy and your handmade shop is really important. Like, really.
If you want to run a sustainable, legit handmade business, good product photos are one of the major keys to your Etsy success. Other things are important, like SEO, customer service, and actually having a great product, but without good photos none of those things will matter much.
Here are 6 reasons why having awesome product photos is so important for your Etsy shop:
When someone walks into a store and finds something they want to buy, think about what they do. They pick it. They feel it. They turn it over and look at it from different angles. They might smell it. If it opens, they’ll look inside.
Your photos should cover all of those different things that you think a person would do if they were buying your products in person. Help them imagine the feel of your product by capturing the texture of it in a close-up shot. Take photos of it from a variety of different angles. If it has a sense, style one of the photos with something that brings to mind that scent.
Your product photos are subconsciously (if not consciously) telling your customers what they can expect from the quality of your products. You may have the best quality product out there, but without high quality product photos no one will ever know.
When shoppers see a beautiful, well-lit, tastefully styled, and properly edited product photo, that screams “HIGH QUALITY, BUY ME, I’M AWESOME!” Poorly light, strangely styled, and improperly edited (or not edited at all) photos say “I’m not even worth a decent product photo. If you buy me at all, don’t pay more than a few bucks.” That could be farthest thing from the truth, but in the online space, people really do judge a book by it’s cover. In a sea of shops on Etsy, you want to be sure your product stands out.
So essentially, for better or worse, your product photos are speaking to quality of your product. What are you photos saying about your products?
In the vastness of the worldwide web, people are inundated with images non-stop. You can’t even scroll Facebook without having an ad pushed in your face every sixth post. Mediocre photos will quickly get lost amongst the noise of the internet, causing your photos, your products, and your shop to be overlooked. Your images need to stand out and make you recognizable - in a good way!
Some of the biggest breakthroughs for small businesses come from being featured, whether it’s by Etsy, a blogger, or an influencer. Some of my own students have had massive success being featured by bloggers with millions of followers. Those kinds of opportunity can be real game changers for your handmade business - but good photos are a must.
Just like customers are attracted to good product photos, so are those who looks for products to feature. Having good photos makes is easy for influencers to feature you. They can simply share your already awesome photo.
Not only do great product photos attract customers in general, they attract the right ones. Properly styled photos, high quality photos will exude the vibe of your brand and call out to customers who will want to buy your stuff. From the props use you, to your background, to your lifestyle photos - if all of your photos are consistent in their brand messaging, you will consistently attract your ideal customer.
For example, if you ideal customer is adventurous, outdoorsy, and environmentally conscious your photos should include environmentally-friendly props, lifestyle photos outside, and other tools that outdoorsy folks are into to compliment your product. Then, the next time your ideal customer is browsing Etsy (or Pinterest, or Instagram, etc), your photo (and product) will jump out at them.
Having photos that are clear, well-lit, properly edited, and portraying the colours of your product accurately makes it easy for customers to get a accurate sense of your product. Without those qualities in your product photos, customers can easily be mislead into thinking your product is different than how it really is.
For example, if the colours in your photo are off due to incorrect white or a lack of embedded colour profile, your customer may think they’re ordering a purple shirt when it’s really a blue shirt. Before you know it you’ll be facing a return and/or a bad review.
Colour is only one way you need to properly showcase your product. You also need to demonstrate qualities like texture, additional details or features, and the size of your product. You can do all this with different camera angles, special techniques, and by styling your product photos with a prop whose size is commonly known.
If you’re feeling a bit panicky about your product photos right now and the thoughts “I’m doomed” is running through your head - don’t worry! I’ve got your back.
We talk a lot about how to great technically great product photos, but how to brand your handmade product photos? That's another story.
As a handmade seller, you've likely heard all about the importance of branding. It's your business's identity and it communicates who you are, what you believe in, and what makes you and your products special. It makes you stand out and be recognizable. Your branding should resonate throughout your Etsy shop, your social media accounts, your logo, your product descriptions... And of course, your handmade product photos.
But, a lot of handmade sellers don't know what their brand is or even where to start. I totally get it. You just makes cool things and want to sell them. Why the need for a brand? Because having a brand is what will make your customers recognize you, love you, and sing your praises to everyone they know. It's branded handmade product photos that will make them stop scrolling in their Instagram feed or in those Etsy search results because they see an images and instantly know that it's your business and your stuff. How you style your images is what communicates your branding through your handmade product photos.
But, one of the struggles I have heard from the handmade/product-based community is that they have no idea how to style their images. I believe the words "they look crazy" have been thrown about to describe how their styled product photos look. And I understand. You add one prop, then another, then another, toss in a chaotic background and BAM. Crazy. It all happens so fast. As Ron Burgundy would say, well that escalated quickly. The reason this happens is because of uncertainty and a lack of guidelines around what should be (and should not be) included in styled photos. The beauty of your branding is that you let it be your guide.
Take some time and examine what you want your business and your brand to be all about. And then consider how your product photos will communicate your brand.
For example, perhaps your brand is clean, modern, and minimalistic - how should your photos be styled? Exactly like your brand. Clean. Modern. Minimally. So this could likely translate into white backgrounds, very few props, with props and products arrange in a structured, linear fashion. If your brand is very earthy, eco-friendly, and natural, you could easily use wood backgrounds and incorporate moss, stones, bark and the like into your photos. You may have a super trendy fashion brand and your ideal customer is a fashion-forward urbanite. Here you can have chic-looking models (or a fashionista friend) wear your clothing and shoot them in a cool urban setting.
Here is the step-by-step process to brand your handmade photos.
Take some time to figure out what your branding, and/or what you want it to be. Take an hour or so, sit down somewhere comfortable with a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine), and brainstorm. Jot down words and phrases that fit with your products and your business. Brainstorm who your ideal customers is who is buying your stuff. Write down what kinds of values they have and what's important to them. Pinpoint adjectives that describe your brand. By the time you're done, you should established a sense of your business's brand identity.
Consider that props fit with your newly established brand. Eco-friendly? Don't use plastics or props that harm the environment. Is your ideal customer older? Don't use a bunch of youthful, hip and trendy props. Use props that will being awesome supporting characters to your products and not steal the show. Stumped for ideas? Grab my 90+ Prop Ideas PDF for free by clicking here.
News flash: The background for your handmade product photos does NOT have to be white! This myth was started many years by Etsy who very quickly changed their tune. Choose simple, neutral textured backgrounds like wood, marble, slate, bead board, etc to compliment your products and your brand while creating a bit of interest and intrigue in your photos.
Once you have your background and props picked out, now it's time to set it all up and start taking photos. Defer back to your branding to determine arrange - what makes the most sense? Is having a structured, organized flat lay layout the best for your brand? Or should you set up a lifestyle scene? Or show your product in action with the props? My best advice here - try everything and see what looks the best and is the best fit for your brand.
The most important take away from this post - establish a consistent, unique look to brand your handmade product photos. Product photos that stand out with a unique look will win fans, garner you followers on social media, and turn those followers into repeat and raving customers.
Hello creatives. Instagram can be quite the powerful selling tool. There’s something about going to someone’s Instagram page and being sure of exactly what their brand and vibe is all about. I don’t know about you, but I loooove beautifully branded Instagram accounts. The best part? You can totally have one too. It’s not even as hard as you’d think. Just following a few guidelines makes a huge difference. Here are 5 steps to a beautiful, breathtaking, and branded Instagram account.
Lizzie | Creative Life + Style // @octoberjuneblog
1. Pick Your Style.
This is where the ‘branding’ part comes into it. You know your brand and what you’re all about. Is your vibe elegant? Earthy? Vibrant? Know your brand characteristics and make sure that your images reflect it. Is your brand kind of vintage? Make sure that you images support that with the way you edit them to how you style them (more on those things coming soon). If your brand is vibrant and fun, you’re going to want to include colourful images with fun styling.
2. Edit your photos consistently.
Avoid major shifts in your editing style from one photo to the next because it disrupts the cohesion of the images on your Instagram page. For example, if you use a filter that tones down the colour and darkens the shadows to create a bit of a rainy day mood, that’s totally cool (if that works for your brand – see step #1). But don’t turn around and post a vibrant, bright, and playful image right next to it. Choose an editing style or filter and stick with it. It’ll create a cohesive collection of images that fit your style. I’ll be writing a future post on my picks for the best photo editing apps for smartphones, but now here is one of my faves – A Color Story. It’s fantastic, allows for lots of flexibility, and you can save your editing steps to be applied to future images.
3. Style your photos carefully.
Keeping in mind your branding and plan out your styling. Choose a few items that will compliment your products or images. You might find that some plant material (leaves, herb bunches, lavender, moss, etc), a unique piece of pottery, a vintage camera, or some cute cookies might really add to your image and make your audience swoon over what you’re selling. I know I swoon. I’m definitely a swooner. Just make sure that it's clear from the photo what the product is that you're selling. Also, showing some life in your image from time to time makes an impact as well. A hand, some wool-socked feet, your face, whatever works. Style up it, add some life, and watch your collection go from meh to daaaamn.
4. Keep is simple.
Having just discussed the value of styling your images, I also must stress – keep it simple. Too many elements in an image might be okay as a one-off but when you put them all together as they appear in your Instagram feed, it’s just way too much. It looks busy, chaotic, and just too much for the brain to process. Your audience is going to click through your account, take a look, and say… Nope. You don’t want to overwhelm your potential followers with too many details. They should show up, see simple, beautiful images and want more. Some ways to keep it simple include sticking to a general colour palette, keeping your styling minimal (but intentional and carefully selected), and being consistent with your editing as mentioned previously.
5. Always (always) use high quality images.
There’s nothing that messes up a gorgeous collection of images faster than one low-light, grainy, or out of focus image. There is just something about one crappy quality photo that brings down the whole works and says your brand may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. I know, that’s a lot of pressure. But that’s why you’re here, right? You know how important high quality images are. If you have a DSLR camera (and know how to use it), you’re going to get the best image using that. Use your highest quality camera as much as possible. If you do use your smartphone, just make sure that you’re using good lighting and edit the images carefully and appropriately. You can check out my post, The Key To Taking Better Photos With Your Smartphone, for more info on how to do that.
There ya go, friends! I hope you find this helpful. You can do this. I believe in you!
If you have any questions or additional tips, please share them in the comments.
Until next time,