Hey makers! In this blog post, we're going to be talking about the three different arrangements you can use for your product photography flat lays. Let's get started.
Arrangement style number one is linear.
This is a very purposefully arranged style in which all of the items in your flat lay are arranged in a parallel or perpendicular way with one another. Everything is placed in straight lines and looks very neat and organized. This style is great for brands that really focus on things like minimalism and clean style.
It's really great for products that tend to be structured and geometrical anyway, like a stationery or notebooks for example. Another example is garments that are very simple. Maybe you're a big proponent of the capsule wardrobe. It would make sense for your brand to maintain kind of a minimalistic, simplified arrangement for you product photography flat lay.
Flat lay arrangement number two is logically placed.
For this style you want to place things in a flat lay the way that they may actually occur in real life.
Let's say you sell journals. You can set up your shot so that there's a coffee mug within arm’s reach, some cute pens, and so on. If you sell lip balm the lip balm could be spilling out of a clutch handbag with some other commonly found things in a handbag (sunglasses, cell phone, etc). So, you set up the shot to look almost like lifestyle photo, almost like it occurs in a real-life situation.
Arrangement style number three is random.
This is where you're going to place your props randomly around your product. For this strategy, you want to make sure that your product remains front and center. It should be more or less the largest thing in the shot. It needs to really stand out. It should be right in the center, and other props can be scattered around the edges. They can even be peeking in from the edge of the photo frame. You don't need to capture the entire prop in the photo, but you need to make sure that your product is entirely captured in the photo.
You should place the props in a strategic way to lead the eye toward your product by pointing them in angles towards your product creating lines that lead the eye towards your product.
The important thing to keep in mind when it comes random placement is that you need to make sure that your product is the most obvious thing in the photo. You don't want anyone to look at those kinds of photos and think, "What's really for sale here? It's not really clear what this person is selling." You definitely want to avoid that for all of your flat lays, but especially for the randomly placed strategy. This placement can look really great, but you do need to be careful about planning where you're going to put your props and how you're going to make your product the star of the show.
If you arrange your flat lay so that your product is front and center, it's the largest thing in the photo, have the props be peeking in from the sides, and have them be pointing towards your product leading the eye towards your product, your product will undoubtedly be the focal point.
And that is the three styles of arranging your product photography flat lays that you need to know!
If you're stuck for ideas when it comes to props for your flat lays, be sure to grab my free 90+ prop ideas download. I have listed over 90 ideas for props which will inspire new ideas that are a great fit for your brand and your styled product photos.
This week’s post is all about creating and sharing images on social media that make people want to buy. Creating images that connect with your ideal customer, and making them feel connected to your products and to you, is how to grow a fan following that will buy from you year after year.
One of the reasons I love buying handmade is because it’s made by an actual human. It has a story. My purchase helps someone’s dreams come true. That’s why people buy handmade. If they didn’t care about the maker, they’d probably just go to Target.
So just how do you create and share these images?
Creating connections with your customers is all about quality images and storytelling.
With social media (Facebook and Instagram) and your Etsy shop updates, you have the opportunity to connect and share images above and beyond your product listing photos. Product listing images should be fairly simple and show off the qualities of your product. Social media images offer the chance for you to tell a story - about your products and about you, the maker.
Connect with your customers on social media and in your shop updates by telling the story of your brand/business through photos. This can include:
1. Your beginnings.
How did you start out in your business? When? What season was it? What are your business's roots? What was your first product? Share photos of your first product and reflect on how far you've come. Share your first rave review and reflect on how good it felt to receive it. Celebrate your business's "birthday".
2. Your "why".
Why do you do what you do? Is it to fund your travel addiction? So you can stay home with your kids? So you can have the freedom to go where you want, when you want? So your spouse can retire? Because you just can't stop creating? Any time you feel yourself grateful for your biz and life, take a photo and share it with your following.
3. Your inspiration.
Are you inspired by nature? Architecture? Fabrics? Patterns? Other creatives? Music? The weather? Books you've read? The ocean? Think about what inspires you and photograph it. Carry your camera (or smartphone) with you wherever you go and take a snap any time you feel inspired by something. Look for inspiration everywhere you go. Not only will it enhance your social media feeds, but also your creativity in general.- If using artificial light, ensure your bulbs are somewhere around 5200k-5500K.
4. Your creative process.
What do you need to start creating? A mug of coffee? Your favourite Spotify playlist? What is the evolution your product goes through from materials to shipment? Document and share the life cycle of your product, each step of your creative process, and everything you need to bring your products to life and ship them off to their new homes.
5. Your creative process.
What and where is your haven for creativity? Where does the magic happen? What are your favourite tools? How do you adorn the walls of your creative cave? Are you perfectly organized or functionally chaotic? Do you share your space with anyone? A furry friend perhaps? Share images of your creative space with your following so they can see where your products (and soon to be their's) come to life.
6. Your product in-action.
Lifestyle photos show your product in use. They provide real-world context and help customers see your product in their life. They evoke a desire to have your products. Lifestyle photos are images that turn customers into buyers - and fans. Add a living touch to your lifestyle photos by including an actual human being, or stage a photo so that it looks like a human has just stepped away. You can recruit friends, family members, or even use yourself to model. You don’t even need to show your face. A well placed hand, a shot from the neck down, etc can go a long way.
Sharing these special behind-the-scenes glimpses and lifestyle photos help you resonate and strike a chord with customers. Even though these photos may be more casual in nature than product listing photos, the same rules apply. Your photo must be clean, well-lit, properly edited, well composed and staged tastefully.
Note: Your Facebook and Instagram feeds should not read like a catalogue. That’s what your shop is for. People won’t follow you or engage with your posts if you just post your product images. Social media is a chance for you to interact with your ideal audience, grow them into fans, and convert them into loyal customers.
Today’s post is all about developing your own aesthetic for your handmade product photos so that you stand out from crowd, look unique, and so that your images embrace your branding and attract your ideal customer.
No big deal, right?
Naw, it’s totally a huge deal. Because creating a cohesive, branded look for your product photos makes your shop and social media feeds like a magnet for the people you want to take notice (like oh I dunno, paying customers for example).
Having a strong brand is a huge step towards serious growth. More social media followers, more features, more SALES. Your branded look and rapidly growing fan following could even catch the attention of big box stores and make all your handmade dreams come true.
Why does having a branded photo aesthetic even matter?
Because having a strong brand message that comes through in your images will attract your ideal customers and make them want to buy your stuff.
Not only will they buy your stuff but they’ll talk to their friends about you, share your posts on social media, and drive traffic to your shop.
The central quality of a strong photo aesthetic is to develop cohesiveness across your images. All of the images in your online shop and on social media should exude your aesthetic.
Here are some ways you can achieve cohesiveness:
1. Always stay true to your branding.
Knowing your brand is paramount to attracting the right customers and being consistent in your images and your overall vibe. Is your brand kind of boho? Preppy? Rustic? Vintage? Flirty? Minimalistic? You images should stay true to that vibe.
2. Your backgrounds should all look like they’re part of the same collection.
They don’t necessary all need to be the exact same, but they should belong to the same tonal family (eg, lights OR darks, not a mix of both) and you really should stick with just one or two backgrounds. Too many different backgrounds makes your shop and social media feeds looks chaotic and people won’t want to stick around and browse for long. Having a cohesive look across your images will convey quality, professionalism, and give customers the confidence to make purchases.
3. Choose props that are a fit for your brand and appeal to your ideal customers.
Always choose high quality props that don’t overwhelm your product or confuse buyers as to what’s for sale. Select props that embrace the vibe of your brand and don’t contradict your brand messaging. For example, if your brand is big on being eco-friendly, you wouldn’t want to incorporate props that are bad for the environment. To read more about choosing props for your handmade product photos, check out this post.
This is probably the #1 most important thing you need order to get the most of out your equipment:
4.Whenever possible, pick a colour palette and stick with it.
Strong brand messaging is huge on colours. Choosing a colour palette can help guide your prop selection, backgrounds, and maybe even your product materials. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to two colours. A colour palette can have six, or eight colours even. They just need to fit together. Not sure where to start? Check out Design Seeds. They have hundreds (maybe thousands) of colour palettes to drool over. I apologize in advance for the heaps of time you’ll waste on that website. (sorry not sorry, because it’s awesome)
5. Stick with similar tones.
Along the same lines as stick with a colour palette, you should also stick within a similar tonal range. For example, if your brand vibe is light and airy, all of your photos should be light and airy. If your brand vibe is dark and moody, they should all be dark and moody. If your brand is bright and cheerful, they should all be bright and cheerful. You see where I’m going with this.
And there you have it! That’s how to develop and maintain a consistent brand aesthetic in your handmade product photos.
What’s your brand aesthetic like? How do you convey it in your photos? Drop it in the comments!
Today we’re talking about how to get the most out of the equipment you already have. Including those smartphones!
A lot of people think that in order to learn from me they have to have a big fancy camera and lighting equipment but that is super not true. My students have everything from smartphones to DSLR cameras. I even have an entire module in my Snap, Sell, Succeed course dedicated to smartphone photography.
Why? Because I know for some of you, that’s what you have. And dropping $500 or more on a DSLR camera just isn’t something you can swing right now.
The great news is that you can do A LOT with just a smartphone camera and regular ole daylight.
Regardless of what you’re using for a camera, there are a few tips to help you maximize the abilities of the equipment you already have.
1. Read your camera manual and practice using your camera.
I know what you’re thinking. "Cool tip bro". But it’s a legit thing. Have you read your camera manual? I bet not. If you have a DSLR or point-and-shoot camera, it would have come with camera manual (they’re also really easy to find online) and your smartphone manual should include a section on the camera (or find it online).
Knowing the modes, features, and options that your camera possesses is a big first step in getting the most out of your camera and how to use them will save you loads of time and frustration. Trust.
2. Know how light works.
This is probably the #1 most important thing you need order to get the most of out your equipment:
Wanna learn a bit more about types of lighting? Click here.
3. Make sure the image size (aka "quality") on your camera is large enough for high resolution photos.
Photos for your product listings need to be large, in order to still look good when the zoom tool is applied. You should have your image sizes set to highest jpeg option available (and if you’re advanced, you should shoot raw). I recommend you have your image setting on your camera setting to a minimum of 3000 px wide and 2400 pixels tall. (Note: if you use an iPhone you can’t change this setting, but the native file size for iPhones is plenty large enough at 4032 x 3024 px).
4. Make a DIY lightbox.
Don’t have a bunch of lighting equipment or the funds to invest? Make your own lightbox! I have personally made multiple DIY lightboxes during my in-person product photography workshops and they totally work. There are loads of YouTube videos that will guide you on to do this, but I like this one.
Once you make the lightbox (that’ll easily cost you less than $5), you can use regular desk/architect lamps that you may have sitting around your home with daylight light bulbs. If you find that light to not be sufficient enough, you may have to upgrade to tabletop studio lights (studio lights have stronger wattage), or you could try going outside during broad daylight in direct light.
5. Capture your images in raw file format.
If you’re using a smartphone, download the Lightroom app (free) and use the camera within the app. Change the file format of your images to DNG (at the top of your screen in the middle). This is raw file format and it’s like capturing a digital negative. There is so much more data captured with this kind of file and allows you so much more flexibility when editing your photos without losing quality.
If you’re using a DSLR, you can change the file format in the the shooting settings and select raw. These images will need to editing with a program like Lightroom or Photoshop (using Camera Raw). It sounds a bit scary at first, but experiment with raw files a bit and see the huge difference they can make in your editing!
Taking a lot of product photos at once, whether you’re updating your listings or creating new ones, can be hugely time consuming, but in this post I’m going to give you some awesome timesaving tips for DIY product photography.
The key to quickly get those product photos ready for your listings is preparation.
The planning phase of the photoshoot is the most important in ensuring a quick workflow. Planning involves know exactly what photos of each product you need, gathering your props, setting up your shooting space, and double checking your equipment to make sure it’s in working order.
2. Take your photos sequentially
Once you’ve planned your photoshoot, including background, props, shot list, etc, and you’ve got your block of time set aside, it’s time to start taking those photos. You want to take your photos sequentially, ie, photograph all images of all product in one setup, before moving onto the next setup.
Example: You make jewelry. You’re going to take roughly the same images of each of your pieces for the sake of cohesiveness, right?
So what you’re going to do is set up the scene for the first shot (perhaps your main image), then shoot all of your product on that setup one after another. This should go fairly quickly. If you are going to take several shots on that background, do them now. For example, the product in it’s entirety, three different angles, one close up detail shot. Done. Next product.
Then, prepare your setup for the next shots (styled shots perhaps). Shoot them all at the same, simply swapping out the pieces.
And that is how to photograph a lot of photos in a short period of time.
That’s great! But what about editing them all? That’s gotta take forever right?
3. Edit for a quick workflow
Let’s take all of those main image photos you just took. They all have very similar tones, right? Same basic colours, same background, and in need of the same editing tweaks. You can edit the first photo in that set (adjust the tones and the colour balance), and then select all the photos in that set (by shift+clicking on the last photo in the set). Once you’ve selected all of the photos you want to apply the edit to, simply click the “Sync…” button below the Develop panel and click “Check All” to select all of the edits you want to copy to the others photo. Click “OK” and bam! All of those photos are now edited. Slick. Fast.
Also with Lightroom, you can very quickly export all of the photos you’ve just edited by making sure they’re all selected and then export them. At that time you can set the size you want them all to be. They’ll all be saved at once and ready to be uploaded to your shop.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
One thing I've heard over and over again from handmade sellers is the challenge of knowing how to properly style their DIY product photos. What props to use, when, and how many?
It's super tough to know the balance between interesting but not too much, and how to make sure your product is still the star of the show.
Figuring that out is what today’s post is all about.
Let's get started!
First things first. When picking props for your photos, you need to defer to your branding.
If you're not sure about your branding, there's no better time to figure it out! Because it really does make a huge difference in your business.
Having a clear brand message will attract the right customers who will love your stuff, have no issue with your price point, and will buy from you again and again.
Plus, it'll make your business stand out from crowd, and with a clear identity you'll exude a level of confidence and professionalism in your business that others in your category may not.
I'm not going to get into the details of branding, because that's a big topic all on it's own. But don't worry, you'll still be given a lot to think about here.
Some general things to consider when it comes to props is:
- Quality. You want your products to come across as high quality, so your props need to be too. Read: No fake flowers. Choose props that have been well-made, or are natural, so they speak to the quality of your product.
- Keep it simple. One or two props will do. Seriously. Any more and your image will be cluttered, busy, and your customers will be overwhelmed. Don’t fall into the trap of adding this, and that, and oh maybe this too… Stop. Just one or two is more than enough. I promise.
- Choose props that are a fit for your brand and will appeal to your ideal customers. Here’s the part where know your brand and who you’re selling to is going to go a long way. If your brand is all about being eco-friendly and your ideal customer values that, you’ll want to avoid using props that are harmful to the environment.
- The function of props is to assist in creating emotion and desire in your customers. Associating your product with the right props will grab the attention of your ideal customers and make them want to buy. Example: if your ideal customer is a coffee lover, having a beautiful latte pictured with your product is going to make your product stand out.
- They are your product's supporting characters. Props shouldn’t overwhelmed, distract, or take away from your product. If a shopper is more intrigued by the props than your product, you’ve missed the mark. You should always choose props that don’t make the shopper wonder what exactly is for sale.
- Your product should always be front and center. This is a great way to make sure that your customers know what’s for sale and what they should be looking at. If your product fill more of the frame than anything else, and is right up front and in the middle of your photo, it will leave little doubt that it’s the star of the show.
And a quick word about backgrounds. Backgrounds are separate from props, but they've been a hot topic lately so I'll give you a quick tip.
Ditch the white background.
There's this rumour going around that backgrounds need to be white. That's a reeeeally old guideline that has long since passed. Read about that in this blog post.
Seek out backgrounds that are a good fit for your brand. If white is a good fit for your brand and you can nail your exposure and make a white background look awesome, you go for it.
But otherwise, seek out neutral, textured backgrounds that are a good fit for your branding.
Here’s a great way to figure out what props are a good fit for your products. Grab a pen and paper and jot down the answer to the following question: If your product had supporting characters, what would that be? What "goes" with your product?
Example: Scarves. Supporting characters could be a mug of cocoa, a twig of winter berries, a book, pine cones, etc.
One of my most frequently asked questions is what size and ratio Etsy product listing photos should be. Sizing and ratio is very important when it comes to your Etsy product photos, so in this post I’ll be covering the best sizing for etsy, including these topics:
The ratio refers to how wide the image is compared to how tall it is (eg, 1:1, 5:4, 4:3, etc). You set your ratio when you crop your photo in your editing process either on your computer or your smartphone, or within your camera when you take the actual photo.
Size refers to how many pixels wide and how many pixels tall your photo is. This can be adjusted when editing, but needs to be at least a certain size when captured (more on that in moment).
So why do we even care about this?
The ratio is important for two reasons.
One, when someone searches Etsy, or views your shop, the “gallery images” that are meant to capture the attention of shoppers are a ratio of 4:3 (so slightly wider than they are tall). If the photos you upload aren’t a 4:3 ratio, you risk your product being cut off and not shown in its entirety. The search results are a crucial opportunity to capture the attention of shoppers, and with part of your product not even been seen, there’s a good chance you’ll be passed over.
Two, if your product photos in your product listings are all different ratios, that will produce unsightly spaces above and below, or on the sides, of some of your photos. The “container” for your product photos will fit the largest photo, so anything smaller will show space around it.
The size (pixels) of your photo is also important, as it affects the quality of your photo especially when viewed with the zoom tool. Your photos should be 2700px along the long edge. For the best size and quality with a 4:3 ratio, your photo would be 2700 pixels wide and 2025 pixels tall. This size is perfect for Etsy's recommendations, and will allow you optimize the image for web.
Ratio: Your ratio should be 4:3.*
This means your photo will be wider than it is tall. It's a perfect size for Etsy, as this is the ratio of the thumbnails that appear in the search and in your shop view - which means your entire photo will be shown and none of your product will be cut off.
*NOTE: It appears as of April 2022 that Etsy's thumbnails have reverted back to a 5:4 ratio on both web and mobile, but I have been in touch with Etsy and they are not changing their recommendation of 4:3 as of yet. Just be aware when uploading your images and verify that your product appears fully in the thumbnail at both a 4:3 and 5:4 ratio.
Size (in pixels): 2700px wide by 2025px tall
This maintains your 4:3 ratio and ensures your photo is large enough that it will still look great when viewed with the zoom tool.
Keep in mind - your customers need to see great, high quality photos in order to feel like they're making an informed purchase. That means that if you want customers to click on your listing when it pops up in the search, they need to be able to see the whole photo (and not have parts of it cut off due to incorrect ratio).
That also means that when they enlarge your photo and/or use the zoom tool, they need to see a sharp, crisp image that shows off the details of your product - not a pixelated, low quality photo that makes your product look low quality too.
IMPORTANT: You cannot enlarge your photos after they're taken. When the photo is captured by your camera it must already be larger than your finished image. To ensure your photos are captured at a large enough size, check your camera settings. If you are using an iPhone the native size of image captured isn’t changeable, but it is large enough at 4032 x 3024 px.
Watch my YouTube video on how to re-size your images in Photoshop and Lightroom
In order for web images to load quickly (so potential customers don't lose interest), your images should be a small enough file size to load quickly. A good rule of thumb is to for the images to be 1MB or less.
To ensure your images are 1MB or less, always save your images in jpeg and if you need it, you can reduce the quality of the jpeg down to 80% without losing quality.
It is a widely-held misconception that your images should be 72 dpi.
The dpi of an image has no impact whatsoever on a digital images. It doesn't impact the image's resolution, or it's file size. It's a metric that only applies to print media, and thus isn't even uploaded with your image to the web. So you don't need to worry about what the dpi is. 72 is fine. So is 300. So is 3000. It makes no difference to digital images.
Want to edit you photos quickly and effortlessly? Check out the Lightroom Presets here.
And there you have it! The complete low down on the best sizing for Etsy product photos. Have a question? Drop it below!
This post an important one, because I know how many of you struggle with DIY product photography lighting. Lighting is the trickiest element of photography, but something that needs to understood and mastered to be successful with your product photos.
Let’s get started!
Fun fact: All light is not created equal. First, there are different kinds of light. Diffused, artificial, direct, indirect, natural, etc. Artificial and natural refer to the light sources. Diffused, direct, and indirect refer to how the light hits your products and the effect they cause. We'll discussed these in a moment. But first, light sources. When it comes to light sources, there are pros and cons of each.
Artificial (flashes, studio lights, lamps)
Pros: Easily controllable, always available
Cons: Can create issues with white balance, costs $$, and involves a learning curve
Natural (from the sun)
Pros: Tends to create accurately colour balanced images, is usually softer than artificial light, you don't have to work as hard to make it look natural because well, it is.
Cons: You're at the mercy of time and weather, it needs to be properly diffused, can create unbalance lighting across the image (ie, darker on one side than the other), and it takes work to perfect.
What’s Right For You
So what's best? That depends on your situation. If you find yourself only having time to photograph your products after dark, artificial is probably for you. If not, natural light might be for you.
Spoiler alert: You can grab my free lighting questionnaire that will help you figure out what light source is best for you at the bottom of this post.
Direct Light vs. Indirect Light vs. Diffused Light
Direct light comes directly from the source to hit your product at full strength. It creates strong highlights and harsh shadows on your images. It's not recommend in almost all situations when it comes to product photography.
Indirect light is light that is bounced of other things and then hits your product. Photographing inside or in the shade is indirect light.
Diffused light is light that is filtered through something translucent and breaks up the light rays. Using a lightbox is an example of diffused light.
The kind of light you're going for is indirect or diffused.
Direct light = bad
Indirect or diffused light = good
Indirect light can be strengthened in an area by adding white foam boards, pictured below. White foam boards can also bounce light back towards your product, reducing shadowing and evening out the overall lighting in the image.
Above is an example of indirect light.
The light is coming from the sun (natural light), and is being bounced off of the surroundings and more intentionally with the white foam board.
Above is an example of diffused light.
The light (both natural and artificial) is being filtered through the translucent material of the lightbox, breaking down the lightrays and causing them to cascade over the scene with soft, even light.
Now that you know what kinds of light are you can use for your product photos, what lighting is right for you?
Editing your handmade product photos can be super frustrating, right? I mean there about a billion different tools, confusing terminology, and where do you even start? Photo editing programs are confusing with their oh so many different tools, and it can be extremely overwhelming to figure out just how to make your photo look awesome
But it really doesn't have to be. I’m about to give you three quick tips to make your
As a handmade seller DIYing your own product photos, you don't need to know all the things when it comes to photo editing. You just need to know a few, very important things. Once you master those things, editing is leaps and bounds faster, easier, and less stressful.
One of my students even used the word "exciting" once. Seriously!
Here are my top three photo editing tips that will help editing feel a little less stressful and a bit more enjoyable:
Using the Levels tool, increase the brightness of your photo until just before you start to lose detail in the highlights. In simple terms, drag the right slider toward the left just until you start seeing part of your photo have areas of solid white pixels - then move it back a fraction. That helps you make sure your photo is bright enough, but without losing important detail. Then, do the same with the darks by dragging the left slider toward the right until the darks are pronounced. In Photoshop you can find the Levels tool at Image > Adjustments > Levels...
When it comes to product photography, making sure your colours are accurate is reeeeally important. If your colours are off, that pink scarf you sell may look more like a peach or a coral. If your customer thinks they're buying a peach or coral scarf, but instead receive a pink scarf, they will not be happy. "Brace yourself for the bad review and/or returned product" kind of not happy.
There are several different ways to adjust the white balance (aka the thing that makes sure your colours are accurate), but the simplest is to use the colour balance tool (in Photoshop it's under Image > Adjustments > Color Balance...). Move the sliders around just a little at first and see the impact it makes on your colours. Adjust them until your product's colours look accurate.
Note: White balance as a whole can be complicated, especially when you use a white background as the background may appear a slightly different shade in each. This tip is help get you started in understanding colour balance, but you may very well want to learn more about how to adjust colour balance later.
This is perhaps one of the most important things to do when editing photos. If you've ever uploaded a photo to Etsy or your website and noticed the colours look different after uploading, that's because you don't have a colour profile embedded with your image.
Think of the embedded colour profile as a post-it note of sorts attached to your photo. When you upload your photo to a website (like Etsy), the website will read the post-it note and apply just the right colour to your photo. Without that post-it note, the website might just mess those colours up.
And there you have it! My top 3 tips for editing your handmade product photos. See, editing isn’t so scary after all!
For many handmade sellers, product photos are a real thorn in their side. Product photography can feel overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be! If you master these three things, you’ll have gorgeous DIY product photos every time.
Lighting the the MOST important thing when it comes to product photography. Or any photography at all. Photography literally means “drawing with light” and an photograph is create based on the relationship of light with the items in the image. Without great lighting, your photo will have quality issues, colour issues, and the general overall aesthetic of your photo will be poor.
Lighting isn’t an easy thing to master but once you have a grasp on a set up that works for you, you’ll notice a world of difference. Seek out bright, natural light that is indirect - meaning it’s not direct sunbeams. Areas like the shade or near a bright window in your home are good places to start.
If you don’t have a suitable area for natural light, you may have to introduce artificial lights. Avoid using the built-in flash on your camera at all costs. It creates a bright foreground and a dark background in your image which is unsightly and looks unprofessional. Instead, purchase a simple tabletop lighting setup or softbox studio light kit for your setup, or if you have larger items opt for a speedlight (FYI though, only DSLR cameras can use these though). You can check out my recommendations for lighting and other equipment on my Amazon Influencer page here.
Styling your product photos is very important in drawing in the attention of your ideal customers, standing out in a sea of product images, growing your social media following, and being featured by influencers.
The key to good styling is keeping it simple and keeping it consistent with your brand. If your brand is all about being eco-friendly and that’s important to your ideal customer, you won’t want to use cheap plastic props like fake flowers. Customers are super savvy these days and they’ll see that inconsistency a mile away. A misstep like that can cost you sales and social media followers.
Choose one or two props that are consistent with your brand message and are a fit for your product. Be careful not to choose props that will overwhelm or take away from your product. Shoppers should be drawn to your product, not the props! Click here to read my blog post on where to find props for your photos.
When arranging your styled photos, keep your product front and center so it’s the star of the show. Arrange props so that they lead the eye toward your product by “pointing” them toward it or have them subtly interacting with your product.
Possibly even better than styled photos are lifestyle photos. Lifestyle photos actually show your product being used in-action in some way. Lifestyle photos create a strong connection between your product and your customers, making them envision your product in their life and making them more compelled to buy. Most product looks even better and more desirable when being shown in action.
Editing can be enough to make some handmade sellers just straight up say “nope, no editing for me thanks.” The programs can be confusing and knowing how to edit correctly can feel unachievable for makers. But, my friends, I am here to tell you right now that it is TOTALLY achievable.
The first thing to know about editing is that you only need to know a few of the tools. How to crop, how to adjust light and dark tones, and how to balance your colours are the main players you need to focus on. If you focus on just those tools, editing suddenly becomes a lot less overwhelming.
A quick note about editing programs: Make sure that your photo editing program enables you to embed a colour profile. Programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom, Affinity Photo, and Snapseed all embed color profiles. Programs like Pixlr do not.
When it comes to cropping, you should crop your product photos at a 5:4 ratio (for Etsy) or square (for your own website). Your photos should be 2000px at least along the long edge. Next, adjust your image tones. Using the levels adjustment, drag the sliders around until the tones are bright with appropriate amount of contrast. Be careful not to over-do it. Next, balance your colours using the color balance tool. Then, save your product photo (with an embedded color profile!) and you’re good to go!
Now that you know what you NEED to know, you’re ready to go out, learn, and conquer your DIY product photos! You’ll find loads of information about these topics here on my blog, in the free Facebook group, in my free webinar and trainings, and of course in my masterclasses and courses.
Got a question? Drop it in the comments!