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Product Photography Tips

Saturday, November 17, 2012



Hello & happy weekend! Recently I've received quite a few inquiries into my photography methods...so I thought I'd repost some tips I shared awhile back. They're still just as good as ever! And with the holidays coming, I'd say great photos is your very best marketing tool. I'm also sharing some of my own recent favorites, photography is a journey & something I keep working at. If you've got other tips or great photos to share, I'd love to see them, just post in the comments.  

{from 2009, slightly edited}

I remember a moment, about a month after opening my Etsy shop- after considerable photography research & after building a make-shift light box in which I sat in our bathroom & bawled. WHY! Why did these darned things come up with a pink hue?! Why a blurry mess?!


So then my Etsy photography journey began. Ah, the struggle. But- I must admit, I've come to enjoy the little photography sessions...it's like a creation of my creation.

Here's the batch of photos I took this past week & some of the tips I've used to improve my photos. Though, everywhere I look people seem to have gorgeous pics, so maybe no one needs these! But just in case! Just in case, there is a discouraged housewife out there crying in her bathroom next to a wobbly lightbox.

TIPS :
  • Read your camera manual! This helped me immensely. I grabbed a coffee & spent an afternoon with Jack napping to figure out *many* of the modes & tricks. Don't know where your manual is? No worries, it's probably available online for free...check here with this website.
  • Find the light. You DO NOT need sunlight, in fact sunlight can make photos look too bright & leave too many shadows. This is probably the biggest thing I've learned. ALL of the photos below were taken on a table near a window sill on very dreary & rainy Oregon afternoons. But since I account for the white balance (see below) it works!
  • Manual Mode. I almost always use this. It can be found on the little dial on top of the camera. It allows you to adjust for white balance (to get rid of that pink hue. Or the blue or gray or whatever it may be) the link above gives great explanation on modes. *This discovery was the second most important thing I did to improve photos. Auto mode doesn't cut it. This blog post at Digital Photography School is extremely informative about modes. (click here)
  • Macro Mode: This lets you get super duper close without your photos turning up blurry. I also use it with almost every photo I take of my products since I'm generally fairly close to them & they are small. It's the little tulip (usually) on your camera. Love it!
  • No Flash! Of course, if you're using manual mode then you probably won't have a flash. But I've found that not using that flash even in auto mode gives nice photos- if you're near light. Flash can give things a kind of red-ish, halo-ish, deep effect- the opposite of lightness & true colors.
  • Angles: Just like I learned from Tyra on America's Next Top Model, there are very few things that can be photographed straight on. Even more importantly, items can be so much more interesting when taken from an angle or different perspective.
  • Nifty Tricks: I also use the "vivid color" setting and the "AWB" or "day light" mode- all found under the ISO setting feature. Look for these in your manual ;) sometimes it makes all the difference. 
  • Background: I love me a white background. There's a bunch of fuss about this. Some folks think it's boring. Fine. Do something else. But I think it gives a natural effect with some very subtle shading. However, I do use different backgrounds to mix it up or to contrast white fabric. I have also started using some context (like cups & blocks & pencils) to add interest.  I'm currently working on more styled settings, but that's a whole other art form.  


There you have it! My thoughts on photography! Now, no more crying over photo sessions.