Etsy Seller Tips – The 10 Commandments of Photographing your Products

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Your photographs are the face of our items. You can have excellent merchandise but no one will know if your photographs do not represent it. I am all for doing things on my own, and hiring a photographer will not cut it. To succeed on Etsy you do need to learn how to take excellent photographs.

I like to divide this into 10 commandments, and I can talk about each one for hours but a brief summary will have to suffice. I call these commandments as there is no way around it. You need to get this straight before expecting to succeed. While I will admit that not a  hundred percent of my photos conform to these standards I’m setting here, I have seen a huge difference in how those that conform sell.  This series is all about sharing my personal experiences on Etsy with you.

1. Focus

Compare these two photos. Which would you buy?

Photo taken without macro setting
Photo taken in the exact same conditions and position with macro on

The first photo is what life looks like when you normally wear glasses and you’re stuck without. I personally don’t go shopping without my glasses.

Unfortunately, I see photos on Etsy that look like that all the time. Usually, they are messy as well. This is really easy to fix. Use the macro setting on your regular point and shoot camera to make sure your photos are focused and not fuzzy. The macro is turned on and off using the button with the little flower symbol.

2. Details

You have five photos to let the customer know all about how amazing your product is. Use at least two of them to show close up details, that they would normally see when examining an item in a shop. Show texture as well.

This would not make a good cover photo, as you can hardly tell what it is, however it makes an excellent detail shot as you can see a snapshot of all materials used, the sharp texture of the stone, and the intricate wire wrap detail.

3. Show it in use

This will depend on the item, of course. If it’s wearable, put it on a model. Try getting a friend to model for you. A human model is much easier to associate with than a mannequin. If it’s a pretty bowl, put in some fruit. Use at least one of our five photographs for this.

Bracelets and rings are easiest to model as you can do so with one hand and photograph with the other.
Ask a friend to model, in exchange for some goodies.

4. Harmony

Make sure all your photos are consistent with each other, as well as consistent with your shop image. In an extreme example, don’t use natural props in one and industrial for another. I personally prefer clean light colored backgrounds in all of my images. You can see that my shop is clean and uncluttered, enabling you to get a good glimpse of all I have to offer.

5. Handmade feel

Keep the handmade vibes there (if, of course, your item is handmade). This is done very well by holding the item in your hand yourself.

This has two other benefits as well. It enables the shopper to feel as if she is holding it herself, and it also gives a good impression of size, better than actual measurements would.

6. Natural lighting

Try to photograph as much as possible using natural lighting. This helps avoid inaccuracies in color. It is quite embarrassing when a customer purchases an item to match a dress… and it’s a total clash because you used your flash to photograph. The best time to take photos is just after sunrise or just before sunset. If this is impossible for you, try using a light box (you can make one yourself for quite cheap.)

7. Be Creative

Show some personality. Use the occasional prop. If your item uses nature inspired colors, photograph with a pinecone… Or try draping a necklace out of a simple dish. Take a photo at an interesting angle.

8. Don’t be too creative

Remember who’s the star of the show. Don’t clutter up your image with too many props. Props are optional. Make sure to keep focus on the item for sale. I’ve seen images so cluttered, it’s hard to figure out which item is for sale.

9. Make your cover photo POP

The first photo you upload serves as a cover photo. This serves as the pull in. Make sure this photo creates a powerful first impression. The shopper will see this photo among a sea of other items. This photo should stand out.

10. Be true to you

Whatever you decide your artistic approach to photography is, remember that Etsy is all about self-expression. Let your personality shine through your photographs. Make sure your photography inspiration comes from within, rather than from other sellers.

Good luck and happy photographing!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

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  1. It is important to be clear and precise. Know what type of audience you are trying to target and what will reach them effectively.

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