Photography Tips – Make your Pictures pop and customers click!

With such such a sprawling vastness, it is sometimes hard to sift through the good from the bad on somewhere like Etsy. The easiest way for customers to do this is via the lead image you have on your listings. It’s likely that potential customers will spend less than a second seeing your product on the results page. I always look at the image before the listing title or price. This is your window of opportunity to grab their attention. Plus, great images help drive social media and thus drive people to your store.

Here’s a few simple tips to follow to ensure you achieve this.

Clarity – Make sure the first image is clear. Your product should be clearly on display and it is obvious what you are selling. Props are fine and help make the image interesting, but don’t over do it. Sometimes I’ve seen a listing and thought “That art looks great!” only to realise it’s the curtains hanging to the right that are actually listed.  Make sure everything is in focus and that you have used the ‘preview listing’ crop tool to place your image at the centre of attention.

Bright – Lighting is the key to any great image. This adds on to keeping images clear. If you have some desktop lamps, set them up near your product in a lightbox arrangement. Ideally, use windows and natural light but try to avoid harsh direct light. The best day is a nice, bright overcast day. Go outside and shoot your products. The cloud will neutralise any light and turn everything into a nice soft, bright light.

If you don’t get lighting quite right, make sure your pictures are exposed correctly – not too bright or dark. It is fairly easy to edit exposure in Photoshop or similar software. This can help make sure images don’t look too drab.

Focus – I’ve seen far too many images on Etsy that are slightly out of focus or focus on the wrong part of the image. It’s a vital basic! Avoid anything too artistic and make sure your whole product is in clear view.

White balance – Image look yellow? Like it’s just come from a freezer with bluey hues? Edit  the image (again most free programs can do this) to balance it to a natural looking white. This doesn’t have to be perfect – but anything too yellow or blue makes colours look unnatural and will help drive customers away, as they may receive something completely different to the image they’re looking at.

Brand Consistency – If you can, try and keep a similar style or feel to all of your images. This will help customers identify with you when searching products. For example, say I search “Tea Towel” and I get a page of 100 results. If 5 of those look similar then it’s fairly easy to notice, and I’m more likely to click to see what else you do – if you have 5 tea towels you probably have more. If your images all look different then this connection between your brand style and products is unlikely to occur. However, while it’s important to have consistency – make sure it’s not stale. You can have a variety of different styles and positioning, as long as the overall feel is the same.

For a great example of this in action, check out HelloDodo’s photographs. If I search Tote Bags and see a similar design on plain colour background – even if the background colours are different – it’s easy to make the connection.

Background – Keep it clear! A plain background doesn’t have to be white. Wood works great for homewares and dark grey can (such as balanced on a stone) can work really well for silver jewellery. White background Pack Shots are great for clarity, but if you want a bit more style and differentiation between other shops that are doing the same, don’t be afraid to have some clean colour behind your products.

White background makes images lovely and clear


Wood has a fantastic texture
Wood has a fantastic texture which can help make listings more appealing

Take time – These images could be in use for a few months, a year, who knows! It’s best to take a day away from making and the PC to just focus on making sure the images are perfect. If they’re dictating your sales for a year, the investment is well worth it! You don’t have to update your entire shop with new images, unless you really want to. Start listing new items with improved photographs and see what works.

Buy a camera – It sounds silly, but don’t use your smart phone. It won’t capture the detail and information that your product deserves! Even a good quality compact will do well – you don’t necessarily need a DSLR. Whatever you have – find the limits of  both yourself and the camera before you upgrade. Then when you do, you’ll have mastered what you have.

Macro and Micro – Which is best? If you have Jewellery and small items, try to shoot in mostly a Macro mode camera setting. Sell tote bags? A wider angle Macro shot will work best, but don’t forget to have a macro image to show the quality of material or any personal labels. In a shop you look at both – make sure your customers can to!

Five Images – Always always always use the 5 image slots Etsy gives you. It’s free to use, and it gives your customers more information. It doesn’t matter how many of each style you use, just fill the five! Nothing to lose but sales to gain.

I suggest:

  • Lead Image – This has to be your best image, and should be clean, clear, in focus etc.
  • Plain white background with bright lighting. This will help show all the details and makes it clear what you are selling.
  • Plain background – Different to the white background, this can be a bit more creative and complimentary.
  • Lifestyle shot – Show an item in its natural habitat. Sell a tea towel? Shoot it in the kitchen. Jewellery? Have it modelled. Give the customer an idea of what it will be like in their own home!
  • Packaged shot – This really helps give customers the confidence in how they will receive their item. Show the box it comes it, or if it’s gift wrapped etc.
  • Artsy shot – give your images a bit more feeling and have a play.

For an example of these in action, see my recently re-photographed listing. I haven’t included them all, but the variety is the key. Previously I had 5 white background shots, adding very little beyond the first image.

Competition – Find shops selling similar items. How do they compose their images? What props do they use? Is everything clear? Scout out different ideas for composing photos by seeing what other people are doing. Also, if some other sellers have dull or main images that aren’t great – take advantage! This is your chance to compete with them and get the sales they are missing out on.

Confidence – A great image helps you to build confidence in your product. It will help build social media via attractiveness on Pinterest and Twitter – and looks great in treasuries. All of this helps you, but will also help customers have confidence in your products too, as they know exactly what they’re getting!

Experiment – This is the most important thing! There’s certainly ways to take a bad image, and following the above will get you on the way to taking great images. But only you know your product truly – it’s up to you how you display it. Different products look great on different backgrounds, so really just try a bunch of different shots and see what happens! Try different prop ideas, more, less, none. If all else fails and you really can’t decide, there’s the trusty white background with good lighting.

Follow these few basic tips as much as you can and I don’t think you will go far wrong. At the end of the day, it’s all about experimenting and finding your own style that works. There is always room for improvement, so don’t feel like you need to nail it straight away.

I hope this helps! Have your own tips? Let me know in the comments.

Like my facebook page for more photography tips, tricks and experiments. Still stuck? Get in touch!


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