Who says “selling handmade products” says “amazing photos”!
When my first products were ready to sell, I had to move on to the serious stuff and get through my anxiety about the photographic aspect of my project.
Here’s some advice that can help you take great shots to accurately represent your products.
Let’s start by inspiring yourself on the web
There are so many websites that can help you conceptualize your shots. I’m mainly thinking about Pinterest, which is a gold mine for inspiration. Etsy also abounds with lifestyle ideas that you can recreate. Take a look at what companies in your field and direct competitors are doing. A simple search using keywords in the “Images” tab on a search engine will show you many photos.
Devise a photographic composition for your product
A product that is contextualized encourages your clients to buy it because they can imagine owning the product themselves. For example, if you want to sell a painting, hang it on a pretty wall and think of including nice furniture or accessories when cropping. Or if you want to sell a handbag, hang it on a door handle or shoot it on a model’s shoulder.
Also, think about including an object that will let your clients visualize the actual size of your product. For example, put a pencil next to a book you want to sell. Books can come in different sizes, but a pencil is nearly always the same size. So, no nasty surprise when your client receives the product.
Choose a background
There are many options to choose from for your background image. You can stage your product either on furniture, a couch or on a wall for example, or you can use a different background. If you are comfortable with image processing software like PicMonkey, Pixlr or Photoshop for advanced users, you can even shoot on a white background, close-cut your product and use a digital background, which you can find on many paid websites like iStock, Creative Market or even Etsy, and also on free websites like Freepik. On the other hand, make sure that your final layout is realistic! You can also use a photographic vinyl backdrop (find them on Etsy or Amazon). Be creative and use materials like ceramic, cardboard, stones, wood, or kraft paper as a background.
Make sure your images are of a high quality
You don’t need a super-expensive camera to take good shots. Even a simple smart phone can do the job (many tutorials can be found online to optimize your camera’s settings).
Other than the tips described above, here’s a few simple rules to respect.
• Pictures must be clean. Use a tripod to stabilize your camera to make sure that they are not blurred.
• The main subject must breathe, so don’t crop too close.
• Pictures should not be dark: the product has to be clear and bright.
• Final images should not be pixelized: make sure that the cropping is generous (don’t crop a small part of your subject and then make it bigger on screen. Anticipate every option).
For close-ups, use the “macro” setting on your camera. The focus is going to be on the subject and everything around will be a bit blurred, which will make your product stand out.
Choose the perfect lighting
Lighting is a very important part of a good shot. Make sure that your shooting area is well-lit: no direct sun, but very bright. If you are working indoors, set up your shooting near the brightest window. For outdoor shots, choose “the golden hour” – one hour after dawn and one hour before dusk.
You can also take your photos in a controlled lighting area, using a photo studio tent. There are different sizes that are adapted to your subject. Certain tents are even sold with a lighting kit that has to be positioned on each side of the tent and they also come with interchangeable background colours so you can easily close-cut your product.
If you’re on a low budget, you can build your photo studio tent yourself with a cardboard box. Many tutorials can be found online. It’s quite functional.
Take many shots from different angles
The more the product is taken from different angles, the more the client can visualize it in real life. Shoot it from front, side, at an angle, with a close angle, within a context, etc. Do everything you can to satisfy your client’s curiosity.
In short, you simply have to do a little bit of research and test different approaches. This step in starting a business can be quite stressful, but once you get started, it can soon become very rewarding and also you can feel proud of what you have done.
Just out of curiosity, what do you use as a photographic backdrop? Do you choose specific materials to create original effects? Do you have tutorial you’d like to share?
In my case, I built my own backgrounds myself using wood. It’s simple and cheap – you just need some free time to make it!
See you soon!