Thursday, October 7, 2010

Etsy Photo Help

It's time for an Etsy help post! Yay!

Today's topic: photos.

Don’t we all wish our photos were impeccable? Don’t fret, there are some very simple and easy tips to help you take brilliant photos that will display your product well. I went to the Etsy forums to get the best and most common suggestions for better photos.

Perhaps the most important part of a photo is the lighting. Never take for granted the power of good light. And no, good light does not translate into “lots of it.” In fact, too much light can be just as bad as too little. But how do you go about lighting without fancy equipment?

All you really need is some daylight and a camera. That’s it. Editing software (freeware, nothing you have to pay for) is a definite plus, and I have some recommendations, but it is not absolutely necessary.

The basics of lighting:

  • Do not take photos in direct sunlight. This will cause shadows that can distort your item’s look.
  • Afternoon light is the best.
  • Try photographing near a window. This will give you a source of light direction and really add interest to your photos.
  • Never use your flash! This will wash out your pictures, cause glare, and make for a quite unappealing picture.
  • Next we’ll consider composition. This simply means where the item is placed in the photo. In photography and design classes the Rule of Thirds is always taught, but on Etsy you want to focus on the item. Crop, crop, crop! Get as close as possible to your item and capture the greatest detail you can. This can be achieved by using the macro setting on your camera. If you’re like me and don’t have a macro lens for your professional camera, I rely on cropping and zooming quite a bit! Another thing to consider is that Etsy always uses thumbnails. If you have too much background and “atmosphere” in your photo, the automatic square cropping may make your item lost in the thumbnail. This is why I suggest centering on most photos.

    However, keeping good props for your atmosphere around can really make a difference. For instance, the other day I took photos of a gift box topper flower. I actually showed it on a present in use with Christmas trees (small ones) nearby to set the mood. Don’t get carried away though, always make sure your item is the focus. Too many props or unnecessary ones will detract from your item, and that’s a no-no.

    Next, consider your background. Many things do well on white backgrounds, though if your item is light colored you certainly want to opt for a darker option. White gives the greatest contrast to most items, and you want contrast! This will highlight the detail of your product. Stay away from busy backgrounds, especially ones that are close in color to your item! This may seem like common sense but sometimes we have brain farts and forget that basic rule. It happens, we’re human. No worries if you mess up, you can always do it over.

    Next you want to take many angled photos, meaning different shots of your item. Turn it 90 degrees, 180 degrees, for God’s sake rotate it 124 degrees, doesn’t matter, just get an interesting angle. In addition, it is always helpful to show the product in use. Utilize models if you are selling something wearable. Like I mentioned before, I showed my gift topper flower in use to give buyers an idea of what it would look like on their gifts. Consider catalogs and how they photograph their items. Successful use of models and props can make a huge difference in your listing.

    Finally, you get 5 photos on Etsy. Use them all! Don’t be afraid to post five pics of the item at different angles. The more the better. It has been suggested to always have one photo showing your item in use.

    So to sum up, these are the guidelines:

  • Use filtered natural light
  • Don’t clutter your background and consider color
  • Use interesting angles to showcase your item
  • Show your item in use in at least one photo
  • Use all five photo spots
  • Utilize props and models wisely
  • And in the wise words of blackcatsupply, “Make sure your lens is clean.”

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