A guide to delightful product photography





High quality and intriguing photos are crucial when selling online. In a world where your
competition is just a click away, quality and originality must be clear. Use natural light, focus using the rule of thirds, use the best tools you can afford. What’s the next step to better photos?









Shoot from multiple angles


Online sellers need the potential buyer to feel comfortable purchasing your objects. A simple way to earn their trust is showing multiple photographs. The back of a painting may not be important, but the inside of a jewelry box would be. A macro photo gives you a chance to show detail and grab the interest of the casual viewer that may just be glancing through an Etsy treasury. Consider exhibiting texture, scale and/or everyday display of your product.


Brand your photo backgrounds (and props!)


Almost as important as the product that you’re photographing is what’s behind it. A clean white background is a safe go­-to, ­ minimally invasive, easy to achieve and generally works well with most website designs ­ but it may not fit your branding. There are lots of alternatives. A piece of wood painted in one of your brand colors. Lightly patterned fabric (after it’s been well-­ironed, of course). Textured canvas or linen. A large marble tile against a light gray wall. The world is your oyster! My personal favorite, as you can see, is a piece of drywall that I scored down the middle. It bends in half, but is all one piece on the side I use to photograph. Read more here for tips on how to achieve a truly seamless background in white or black. 


And don’t forget props -do you show your hand­stamped placemats with dinnerware in the same color family? Do you stack your wheel­thrown plates on lightly­textured napkins? Similarity or even uniformity across your product photos will make them recognizable to your customers as obviously yours.








Show your product in use


Almost as important as the photographs showing the different sides of your product are the 

photos showing it in use. This is an excellent way to show scale and allude to the lifestyle of 

your ideal customer. You might show a model wearing your jewelry while dressed up for an 

elegant black tie event or ready for a day of teaching art, depending on who you’re trying to 

appeal to. 


Take more photos than you need


Always be prepared for the worst. The photo that you think will turn out the best may have a 

stray cat hair (or a stray cat) somewhere in it. It might be slightly out of focus, but you can’t tell until you get it on the computer screen. Or maybe you manage to accidentally delete it while you’re looking through photos on your camera or phone. Either way, if you take eight photos of one set­up, with slight readjustments in between, odds are that at least one will be exactly what you need.







Mind the color temperature


To be quite fair, this is one I’m still trying to master. Here’s an excellent article on the basics of white balance and color temperature. If white balance is something you would like to avoid dealing with, try to shoot primarily with natural light in a room where there’s nothing like fluorescent light to muddy your balance.


Straighten the horizon


Taking crooked photos is entirely forgivable. However, with the amount of free apps available, posting crooked photos is easily avoidable. If you’re taking photos with your smartphone, VSCO is my favorite very editing app. Straighten that horizon line, fix your exposure (My phone always exposes a bit lower than I’d like. Consistently +2 exposure, every time.), and proudly post your well­aligned pic. If you use a program like Lightroom, straightening the horizon is an easy fix with the crop overlay tool.









Correct camera lens distortion


This one is for the ladies that shoot with a DSLR and edit in Lightroom. Different lenses with 

distort your photos in different ways ­ have you ever taken a photo of a room, just to notice all of the vertical or horizontal lines seem a little... wrong? ­ but Lightroom has fantastic tools to fix that.  


Avoid over­editing


It’s very easy to see when photos have had the exposure ramped way up to compensate for low light levels or when a preset or action has been used that just doesn’t suit the photo. Be nice to your photographs! If you’re having to do a whole lot of editing, you may need to revisit how to use your camera or look into a better set­up.


PS: Check out these seriously efficient ways to market your art. Less time posting and cross-
posting on various social media platforms means more time to, y’know, make things.







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Erika Gibson aims  to empower and encourage others to create, regardless of if they have an art degree or even the ability to draw a straight line. Erika is a designer and ceramicist from Eastern North Carolina. She is usually working elbow-deep in clay or squinting at her computer monitor; otherwise, she can be found gardening, baking, or experimenting with new mediums in her studio.