Oooooh, the bane of every seller’s existence: product photos. How to show off your product, look professional, and show your personality? What kind of background, what colour?
I figured it could be fun if we looked at all the
horrible different photo styles I’ve gone through in the past 6 years, and explain my train of thought behind them.
The first thing I ever sold on Etsy. A dainty harness necklace thrown over a wrinkly shirt on my dress form in my bedroom. The curtain and bookcase were cropped out in this picture, but in many they weren’t.
I call this the “I’m a person who keeps too much stuff so the only clean clear spot to photograph is my floor”.
…And then we hit the “Hold the necklace up against the wall with one hand and take the picture with the other” part of my creative process. This one held up next to a picture I took from a magazine.
Here things are starting to get better. I’m using the same mirrored platters that I used for craft fairs to display products, which helped with the light. Props also started being incorporated. It’s about this time that I started learning how to use a non point-and-shoot camera, and learned about natural light and exposure. These are still some of my favourite pictures because the shells went so well together. I haven’t yet found such a good prop to accompany my other pieces.
Here we’ve got to the point where my packaging is simplified, and my windowsills are dark green so they needed to be covered for shots.. It works, but it’s not my favourite, but when you’re virtually living from a suitcase you do what you can with small areas. I think I would rather not have the business cards in the photo, but once they’re on the cards I can’t be bothered to take them off…
And here we are now. I’ve since purchased a macro lens which allows for some great closeup shots. For context, these are the same size as the ones above. I’ll probably stick with a white background (a few pieces of fresh printer paper usually), but on occasion you might see something different (like the blue and silver filigree necklace hung on my cutting board in a previous post.) I think I won’t go AS close as this for most shots, simply because it shows things you can’t even notice with the naked eye that to me are distracting. It’s such a pain to go back and blow off invisible pieces of dust before taking the pictures again…
My favourite tips for photographing jewellery:
- Natural light is your friend. If you don’t have a flash setup/lightbox, get yourself near a window (or outside) during the day. Then make sure your shadow isn’t in the shot!
- If the shadows are too harsh from your light source, diffuse it a bit with paper, tissue paper, kleenex. Tape it to your window if you have to. This also helps reduce reflections on shiny pieces (like the tiny little trees you can see in my pieces, thanks to my bedroom view.)
- Learn to use what you’ve got. If you only have a small camera with a tendency to blur, find something to sit your camera on and set a timer so you’re not touching it when the picture goes off. If you’ve got an SLR/mirrorless/higher end camera, learn to use more than the auto function. You can blur out distracting backgrounds and make sure your whites look white, not grey, with a few changes to the settings.
- If using props, use ones that fit your aesthetic. Seashells work with seashells, but they would have worked much less with that ribcage necklace up there. If you make a variety of things, maybe skip or simplify the props so things are consistent across the board.
- The camera adds ten pounds… Of dust. Even if it doesn’t look like much in person, it’s amplified in photos. Same goes for smudges on your background and fingerprints.
- Finally, don’t do too much processing. A filter on Instagram is fine, but if someone wants to buy something and they can’t tell what colour it really is (or see details that have been faded out) you’re gonna have a bad time.
What do you prefer when seeing a product? Do you want to see it on someone, in a box, or photoshopped to look like it’s in space? Let me know what you do, or what you like to see in the comments 🙂