Imagine walking into a store and the lights are off. Everything is dark and you can barely see anything around you. How would you find what you want? How about a similar scenario in an online store? What if you went to a website to purchase items and the photos were too dark or confusing? Would you purchase something if you couldn’t really see it?
Product shots are a crucial part of online craft selling. Since buyers are unable to see our crafted items in person to experience them fully – holding them, feeling them, smelling them, and so on – it is our job to try to communicate these important aspects in visual terms. Although the task of taking product shots can seem quite daunting, it’s important to remember that with practice and perseverance, we can surprise ourselves with great results and earn more business.
The quality of some craft product shots might lead us to believe that fancy equipment was used, or that a trained professional was behind the camera. Usually this is not the case. Often, the person taking the photo is just like us, without an impressive degree or years of product photography experience. Often, they use a simple camera. So what supplies are needed for a great product shot? The only supplies you really need are a basic digital camera, a simple background, and some natural light. Sounds simple enough but, as we’ve discussed, seeing is believing. Here are six elements of a great product shot.
1. Camera Mode
Your camera should be in automatic mode. The macro setting (represented by a flower icon on most cameras) helps to capture details such as that of the silver earring hook seen here.
Natural lighting (which does not require a flash) works best, as artificial lighting can create a yellowing effect and a flash can create a harsh look. A window is a great place to get natural light. Try to avoid windows where direct sunlight is present.
3. Camera Angle
Angling the camera in different directions will produce different photographic results. Initially, it would be best to practice taking photos of your products head on (as in this photo). Once you feel comfortable with that, you can experiment with other angles and directions.
White is definitely an all-purpose background color. In this case, I used a white mug, but you could use paper, a wall, a table, or tiles. The main point is to use a background color that enhances the beauty of the product, rather than one that overwhelms it. Soft, mellow shades of most colors work effectively for this purpose.
Props can be a fun way to accentuate a product by enhancing its appearance. In this case, the colored pencils are used to bring out the creative design of the earrings. If you’re going to use props for interesting effects, try to think in terms of your product. Is it earthy or natural? Is it modern? Is it retro? Is it playful and fun? What sort of props could be used to demonstrate this and display your product effectively?
6. Product Function
If your product has a function potential customers will want to see that function illustrated in the images you use. In the case of the earrings, I’ve positioned them so that people can get a sense of how they look when hanging.
Keep practicing and remember to think like a customer. They want to see what makes your product special. Tell us about your product photography experiences. What lessons have you learned along the way?
Kelly Hall, who sells jewelry from her Etsy shop, and blogs about her creative and photographic adventures at the Lost Earring, caught Meylah's eye because of her super product shots. So we asked her to write about them!