) Photography Tips For Beginners For Great Product Pictures
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Crafts Report Part 5: Product Photography Tips

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Silke Jager

I strive to publish useful and engaging articles that are beneficial to you and will help grow your business.♥ Silke
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Showcasing your products with stunning images can make the difference between a sale and getting lost among your competitors.

When it comes to showing off your crafts to potential customers online you will want to leave them with a clear understanding of what it is that you are trying to sell. In the fifth part of the Crafts Report Series I will give you photography tips that will help you take the best possible photos of your handcrafted items.

Although this article was specifically written for craft makers, the tips and advice I give here can really be utilized by anyone. No matter if you are taking photos of kitchen stuff for your food site, selling or flipping items on eBay, or if you simply want to promote your online business with great photos. I bet you will learn something new in this article.

tips for taking stunning product pictures

Let’s start out with photography equipment!

The ease of use of today’s digital cameras has allowed even novice photographers to produce high quality photographs. You don’t even need to budget for any expensive, high end camera equipment to get you started. Every smart phone on the market today is equipped with a camera good enough to let you take beautiful and interesting product photos.

Product Photography Tips

There are free apps available to increase your phone camera’s functionality. For Android phones try FXCamera from Google and for Iphones and Ipads try Snapseed from iTunes. Remember to let your phone camera focus for a few seconds before taking the shot!

Mandi from DIY Craft Photography recommends the Samsung ST150F Smart WiFi Digital Camera if your budget is microscopic and you don’t have a smartphone camera, and don’t anticipate one coming into your life soon. She says, “The photo quality is great, especially from something this size, but what really separates this camera from its competition are the extra features.

Take a look at Mandi’s camera and equipment buyer’s guide here to learn more about this camera and the other craft photographers equipment included in her review.

A lot of your online success not only depends on the camera and equipment you use, but where and how you shoot your products.

Look at this list of uber-successful Etsy sellers. One of the things they all have in common, besides making a lot of sales, are the stunning, professional and eye-catching product photos.

Top 5 Handmade sellers on Etsy
(data provided by craftcount.com)

1 ThinkPinkBows 130,646
2 Thevelvetacorn 123,171
3 RivermillEmbroidery 113,309
4 beanforest 99,353
5 threebirdnest 95,116

I think just one example product picture will get my point across!

stunning product photograph

Photo Courtesy: ThinkPinkBows shop on Etsy

What a beautiful photograph! At first glance, looking into the girl face, you hardly see the product being sold, but then your eyes move up and there it is! (By the way, the headband sells for $9.95 worldwide). Doesn’t this make you want to buy a pretty hair accessory like it for your own daughter, grand-daughter, niece or your neighbors daughter? To date 16,123 viewers thought so as well! That’s how many reviews/feedback this product has received.

Of course you can’t always have a pretty, blue eyed, blond haired little girl in your pictures to sell your products. You do need captivating photos to seize your audience and present what you offer in the best possible way.

Some basic photography tips to achieve this goal:

  • Clear the area where you plan to shoot your pictures completely before you begin
  • Natural light works best when taking photos and should be used whenever possible
  • You will need a light source that is larger than the object when taking pictures indoors
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot a lot of photos
  • Shoot close up pictures or use an online photo editor to crop the image
  • Experiment with different backgrounds
  • Include a person or favorite pet
  • Show the item while its in use
  • Use a photo editor to fix any issues
  • Have fun with it 🙂

One of biggest issues most newbie photographers have is getting the lighting right. If you can, try shooting your pictures during the day.

Overcast days work best for taking outside shots, direct sunlight is harsh and looks bad on most people and products. If you need to take pictures mid-day when the light is brightest, look for a shady spot under a tree or on a side of a building. Experiment and take photos in several different locations until you find the right spot.

Soft Light Produces Soft Shadows!

The quality and uniform distribution of light is what you will be looking for. In order to achieve soft shadows, which will showcase your product in its absolute best, you need a light source that is larger than the object. A large, dark shadow behind, under or on the side of your item will distract the eye away from your principal subject.

product photography tips

Hard vs. Soft Shadows

The more diffused or soft the light is, the better and smoother your object will look in the photograph, giving it a smooth appearance.

To find out if your photograph will have soft or dark shadows you can do this simple test. Hold one hand out in front of you, palm up, and keep it flat. Hold the index finger from your other hand a few inches above your held out hand. Look at the shadow cast by your finger. Is the shadow hard and dark? Then you need to find a way to soften your lighting.

To avoid dark shadows outdoors use a piece of white paper and cover the flash of your camera to distribute the light more evenly. If you are taking photographs indoors than you can manipulate the light in several ways. You can block out some of the light with a curtain, tissue paper or white bed sheet. You could also purchase a photo tent like this portable studio lighting set. Another option would be to build your own light box.

It is pretty easy and inexpensive (around $8 for supplies) to make a DIY Light Box using card board and white paper, and it will guarantee good looking product photographs every time.

Here is a great DIY video by Andrew Brown and Adam Knight with 5 additional tips:

Bonus Product Photography Tip:

An interesting close up product photo is almost always better than a far away shot. Move in close and fill the frame with your product(s)! Try taking close up pictures from different angles, on different surfaces and with white or colored backgrounds.

Photography close up example

Take the time to try out different camera settings, lighting, props, angles and most of all try to infuse your own personality.

In my craft marketing book I will give you other great ways to showcase your craft item or product. Learn more here –  Turn your hobby into a money making business!

The next part of the Crafts Report Series will look more closely at the different camera settings and the photo editing process. Taking a good picture is only the beginning of the photography process, you also need to learn how to edit them.

Crafts Report Part 6 – Available Jan. 2015

Have you been selling handmade products online? What camera, background, setting, etc. are you using? Leave your comments and tips below. 

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