How I Take Product Photos for Etsy and My Website

Creative Entrepreneurship, DIY + Education | 7 comments

How to take handmade product photos for etsy or your website: the simple and low cost way | the merriweather council blog

 

 

I had no real plan for how I would take my product photos for Etsy. The very first product photo I took was SO BAD. I’m sure lots of you will agree. Here it is:

 

The perfect lighting, editing apps, and more that allowed me to go from this first product photo to having great product photos for Etsy listings. | the merriweather council blog

The perfect lighting, editing apps, and more allowed me to go from this first product photo to having great product photos for Etsy listings. | the merriweather council blog

 

Holy tunafish sandwich. At least it isn’t blurry – that is the only thing that is decent about it.

 

Here is a recent product photo that I took the way I outline below:

 

The perfect lighting, editing apps, and more that allowed me to go from my first product photos to having great product photos for Etsy listings. | the merriweather council blog

The perfect lighting, editing apps, and mor allowed me to go from my first product photos to having great product photos for Etsy listings. | the merriweather council blog

 

Much improved.

Small suggestions go a long way

Pretty early on – shortly after my first few sales – I was advised that because my work was so colorful, white backgrounds would be best and I’ve stuck with that ever since.

In the past few years I’ve realized you really do not need anything fancy to take a nice product photo. Having a nice camera doesn’t hurt, of course. But if you feel too intimidated to use it, or feel frustrated by the results so far, then it isn’t doing you any favors either.

I’ve never used a light box, a light kit, or a photo studio. There are photos in my shop, on my blogs and in my newsletters that I took with my phone and edited with free apps. In fact, besides my camera, I would say that my photo taking expenses are under $50 – and that includes paid editing software.

My cameras:

iphone 5, nikon d50, canon t3i

Editing software:

VSCO, Aviary, PicMonkey*, Pixelmator

*I primarily use PicMonkey for collages, but you can edit images within PM. I use Pixelmator to edit images 90% of the time.

Pixelmator is available in the app store for $29.99. PicMonkey is $33/ year for the pro account but you can edit for free. Vsco is free and so is Aviary. There are TONS of free apps that can handle basic photo editing.

Set up:

White board (I have a few in different sizes)

Any applicable props

Window

THAT IS IT

 

How I take my product photos for Etsy. | the merriweather council blog

How I take my product photos for Etsy. | the merriweather council blog

 

Because my set up is so simple, you might be thinking I must be some sort of photography expert. Quite the opposite! I have no formal training in digital photography beyond a basic intro class I took in college. I have a few settings I like to use that require very little finagling for me if I am shooting in daylight which I consider a must – “mountain mode” “flower mode” and “manual” modes. See, I don’t even call them the correct thing.

A note about the board: Because my items are small, this size board works fine for me, but boards are available in many sizes at art supply stores. I use illustration board with a flat surface but there are textured options as well. You might prefer to use paper if you like texture and simply lay it on a board or table. This size board is generally under $5 but even larger ones are under $10. If you have larger items, you might consider two boards to create a corner or larger surface.

 

How I take my product photos for Etsy. | the merriweather council blog

How I take my product photos for Etsy. | the merriweather council blog

Related post: Tips, Tricks and Tools for Developing a Cohesive Photo Style

I set up my board – which measures about 12 inches by 18 inches – right near the window. Because our windows are sectioned, I sometimes have to move the board around to avoid the shadows. I used to shoot near a window with a thin white curtain pulled closed to diffuse the light a bit – bright sunlight is usually not the best, diffused works better so as to avoid long or dark shadows. This is why many times people will wait until it’s a bit overcast to take photos. Depending on the season and your home or studio’s exposure / orientation, certain times of the day might work better for you. You can try a few different locations and see what works best in your situation.

I usually shoot auto focus with manual light settings. If i’m shooting something small or wanting to get a very close detail shot, I use “flower” or “micro” setting. In the past, I’ve found that whatever “mountain” or “landscape” mode does, works pretty well in the light conditions I have, though I realize it is not specifically for this purpose.

Quick tip: on a dslr, the wheel gauge should be turned to the left for more light, and to the right for less light. If you are so inclined you are encouraged to learn all the ins and outs of your camera, but to make it clear that you don’t have to be a professional to take decent photos of your work yourself, I’m keeping it simple on the vocab.

The truth is that if you have decent natural light (not too bright, diffused a little bit) you should have a fairly easy time finding some auto setting that will work for you and need minimal edits in “post production.”

Related post: How to Edit Common Issues out of Product Photos using Pixelmator 

To me, it is unrealistic for the average person to have no need for post shooting edits. It takes a few minutes to edit a photo, and there are plenty of free services to do basic editing with. So, don’t feel bad if your photos look a little dark or low contrast on the camera. Most important things to get right in-camera would be sharpness and proper lighting.

All of this is to say: don’t make it harder than it needs to be! Play around with what you have and don’t feel you need to spend crazy money! I’ve written about this before, a number of years ago, much of it still holds true.

Here are some photography links + resources from Pinterest!

I hope this was helpful! Leave any questions and I’ll get back to you asap.

Webinar Footer Image

FIND WHAT YOU NEED

hello + welcome

spurge-08
Oh, hi! Welcome to The Merriweather Council. I’m Danielle and I am a maker in business and mentor to other makers in business. I teach you how to turn your crafty tendencies into profits!

Oh, I’m also really into crafts, boy bands + iced coffee. Email me anytime to say hello or send cute Backstreet Boy videos or dog pictures .. or whatever! danielle (at) merriweathercouncil.com Thanks for stopping by.

featured on

Lucky enough to have been recognized by these fabulous entities.
proof to product
living over existing
create and thrive
the product boss
dear handmade life
the business proposal

legal

This is a for profit blog and includes a few affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through one of these links, I may receive a small commission. I only bother suggesting products or services that I have used and loved because if you buy something on my suggestion and hate it that would suck. So I only suggest things i’m 99% sure you’ll love as much as I do.

7 Comments

  1. This is wonderful!! A helpful article and coming just at the right time. I have such challenges with white balance and lighting (no windows that don’t face south or west so I’m always scooting around to avoid shadows or doing some extreme gymnastics to handle light reflector and camera, and sometimes items themselves!). Great suggestions about settings to use.
    I had gone to local art shop thinking a white prepped canvas would be a good backdrop and they kindly steered me to the white boards (much less expensive).
    Thanks again!

    • So glad it was helpful to you! White boards for the win

  2. Thanks for a really helpful article. I’ve been using the IPad recently for takin photos because my DSLR always made the pics blue and it was hard to correct them. Do you think that happened because there was too much light (taken under a glass roof)?

    • you’re welcome! too blue usually is an easily correctable issue in editing but you can mess with your camera settings as well – on my camera I can select light type and also white balance. Try those? Also, in editing you can add heat or reduce cold to correct the blue-ish-ness. I hope this makes any sense…

  3. Hi, Danielle!

    It seems we’re cut from the same cloth! Great post! Thanks for sharing! ♡

    xoxoxo
    Nancy

  4. Danielle!
    Thanks for sharing this info. I am (very happily) working through your Etsy training course and am reading through the blog posts you uploaded as new content for Summer 2015. :)

    I struggle a bit with photographing my art prints, but feel a bit better equipped after reading your post. Although, if you ever end up doing a screenshot tutorial on photographing listings, I will devour it!

    Happy Summer to you, and thank you again for believing in Me!
    With Aloha,
    Mika Harmony

  5. Thank you! So excited about possibly becoming independent with photography and advertising! Very helpful.

Pin It on Pinterest