Hey there handmade sellers!
Today’s topic is definitely one of my most FAQ. As we discussed in our previous blog post, it’s not enough to simply snap a photo and upload it to your shop. Editing must be done! But, the idea of editing product photos is super overwhelming to a lot of you, and knowing what program to use is just the first step in figuring it all out. So let’s get started, shall we?
The types of programs we’ll be discussing today are strictly for computers. For photo editing apps for smartphones, check out next week’s blog post.
The Best - Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom
I’m going to just start right off with the bee’s knees. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom (they are two different programs, but you get both when you subscribe to the monthly photography package) are the industry standard when it comes to photo editing. Why? Because they are simply the best.
Photoshop and Lightroom do everything you will need (and more), they are effective, reliable, and there have been a vast amount of tutorials created around them, leaving it pretty easy to find answers to any of your question online. Even better, Photoshop and Lightroom allow you embed a colour profile with your product photo which is a necessity as it ensure your colours are rendered a true to form as possible (to read more about that, check out this post).
Photoshop and Lightroom used to cost a small fortune, leaving them really only accessible to professionals. But these days, Adobe has wised up and found a way to make their programs more accessible for the masses - through a subscription-based service. For $9.99 USD a month, you get both Photoshop and Lightroom, including all updates. For less than it would cost for two grande Starbucks vanilla lattes, that is a downright steal for this high-end, professional program.
Oh, and don’t let the fact that pros use it intimidate you. While these programs have loads of features, as handmade sellers you really only need to know a few. It’s just a matter of knowing what tools those are, and how to use them (just so happens I have a course that covers exactly that - check it out here).
Decent - Affinity
If subscriptions aren’t your thing but you still want a decent program, check out Affinity. Affinity also has a wide array of tools for photo editing, including the ones you need as handmade sellers. And it still allows you embed a colour profile.
Affinity’s design is aesthetically pleasing and looks very similar to Photoshop. The Affinity website has tutorials to get you started, and after that a lot of the Photoshop tutorials will likely translate.
Free - Gimp
I’m going to be straight with you - I don’t love Gimp. But, it’s free and it allows you to embed a colour profile with some complicated trickery.
The reasons I don’t love this program is because of the challenges with embedded a colour profile (you have to find, download, and install the colour profile before it’ll embed it with your images) and because it’s just not user friendly or intuitive. It’s clunky. But again - it’s free. And it does contain the tools you need as a handmade seller to edit your product photos.
There are fewer tutorials available for Gimp, but a lot of the tools do mimic Photoshop’s tools so you might be able to generalize some of the Photoshop tutorials out there.
It’s also imperative to note - there are other programs available out there. Some popular ones are Pixlr and PicMonkey. I don’t recommend these programs. Why? Because they don’t allow you to embed a colour profile. In fact, it strips images of their colour profile.
This is a big deal because, as I discussed in this post, if you don’t have a colour profile embedded in your photo you may find that the colours of your products are wayyy off once you’ve uploaded them to your online shop. Off colours = unhappy customers. Not good.
So, stick to the programs mentioned above and you will be well on your way to beautiful, professional-looking edited photos before you know it!
You’ve gone through the process of planning and taking your photos – good job! – and now it’s time to edit them. Here’s the thing. Editing is a careful craft. You can easily take a great shot and ruin it with poor editing. Additionally, when editing images for the purpose of selling products, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Below are the top 5 mistakes I see handmade sellers make when editing product photos – and how to fix it.
First of all – you really must edit your product photos. If your skillset of taking photos is pretty solid, you may not have to edit much, but it’s still important to crop, resize, adjust levels, etc. If you’re wondering what on Earth I’m taking about right now, never fear – there are future posts coming up very soon that address the basics of editing product photos in easy, simplified steps. Until then, rest assured – you need to be touching up your photos. If not, you’re going to end up with lackluster and drab images that do nothing to sell your work. If you want to stay tuned for the upcoming post regarding editing basics, sign up for my emails on the side menu.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to punch up the colours in your images. However, it’s really important that this is done carefully and tastefully. Oversaturated images look cheesy and cheap. So, NOT the message you want to send about your biz and products. You are better served by using the “vibrance” adjustment tool as opposed to “saturation”, as it will give your colours a punch without overdoing it.
This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to edited images: The overuse of vignetting. What is vignetting, you ask? I have provided an image below of an example of an excessive vignetting that I’ve applied to one of my images for the sake this post. Vignetting is a natural occurrence that happens when photographing images with interchangeable lenses due to lens distortion. A subtle dark vignetting can look cool on an editorial image; S-U-B-T-L-E being the key word in this sentence. A common mistake in editing is overdoing the vignetting, and it is especially inappropriate in product images. Even worse – applying a lightening vignetting (white) around the edges. Cringe-worthy. With product photos, it is best to avoid adding vignettes at all.
I understand the desire to add watermarks to your image. Image theft is a real thing. However, when you’re dealing with image of your products, watermarks take away from the goal of your image – to attract customers to your work and sell that product.
Having a small, subtle mark in the bottom corner of your photo is usually acceptable if you feel compelled to mark your image in some way. But keep in mind that images that get the most attention for your biz are often images that become featured – by blogs, on the Etsy front page, on Pinterest, etc. Images with distracting watermarks are not the ones being featured.
It’s also important to keep in mind that as a product-based seller, your business asset is your product, not your images. If you’re a photographer or you design digital prints, you should not be sharing the pure digital version of your image with or without a watermark. I recommend using digital mockups to show what your work will look like framed and on the wall. That way your potential customers have an opportunity to see your work in action, as opposed to sharing the actual image with a huge watermark splashed over it.
This one is reeeeally important. When selling products, you need to give your customers a true sense of the colour they can expect from said product. Adding colour filters affects the colour portrayal of your product. Also important to know, colour filters when not done properly (which takes a lot of skill and advanced editing) look really cheesy and cheap. The best way to ensure correct colour balance in a photo is through the use of a grey card (which will be covered in an upcoming post), but you can also use the colour balance option in your editing program to ensure that the whites are actually white, blacks are actually black, and true greys are neutral. Lots more to come on colour balance in a future post, so please stay tuned.
Now that you’re aware of these crucial editing mistakes and how to avoid them, you are well on your way to cranking out beautiful product images.
Until next time,