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Tips for Improving Your Product Photos

The best craft photos online are those that show off the items to best effect. To that end, here are some tips to help you shoot better product photos—which should result in higher sales.

Center the Item

To take effective photographs, you have to learn proper composition. That means centering the item in the center of the frame. Don’t position your craft off-center, as in Figure 4.10; that just wastes space!

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10. The framing is artistic but wastes space on the page—the item should be centered and cropped instead.

Make It Large

You want your craft to fill up the entire picture, so that your customers can best see what you’re selling. That means getting close enough to the item (or using your camera’s zoom lens) so that it fills up the entire frame, and getting close enough to the object so that it fills up the entire picture. Don’t stand halfway across the room and shoot a very small object; get close up and make it big!

Shoot at an Angle

You should take your photo in front of your craft—but not literally the front. Most items are a tad more appealing when shot from a slight angle. Instead of moving the camera, turn the item so that you’re shooting a 3/4 profile, as shown in Figure 4.11.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11. Shoot your craft at a slight angle, not head on.

Shoot Multiple Photos

For most crafts you sell, you want to take more than one photo. Photograph the item from the angled front, of course, but if the sides and top are important, angle the item (or move the camera) to shoot them, as well. You may also want to shoot close ups of any product details—the inset of a ring or bracelet, for example, or the stitching on a quilt or sweater. Photograph anything that’s important to potential customers.

Avoid Glare

If you’re shooting a glass or plastic item, or an item in plastic wrap or similar packaging, or just an item that’s naturally shiny, you have to work hard to avoid glare from whatever lighting source you’re using. This is one reason why I typically don’t recommend using a single-point flash—without any fill lighting, it produces too much glare. You avoid glare by not using a flash, adding fill lighting (to the sides of the object), diffusing the lighting source (by using a softbox or bouncing the light off a reflector or nearby wall), or just turning the item until the glare goes away. Just beware of the glare problem, and somehow compensate for it.

Accessorize Your Photos

Add some seasonal interest to your craft photos by adding appropriate props and accessories to the picture, as shown in Figure 4.12. If you’re selling homemade candy, include a fancy plate or candy jar. If you’re selling handcrafted baskets, fill the baskets with colorful fruit and vegetables. You get the idea.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12. If you’re selling fruit baskets, photograph them with colorful fruit inside!(Photo courtesy Etsy shop CharestStudios)

Props can also add some seasonal fun to your photos. During the Christmas season, shoot your items next to a small Christmas tree or fake snowman. At Halloween, use a jack o’ lantern as a prop. During the hot summer months, have a bikini model pose with your item. (Okay, maybe that last suggestion is a bit overboard... unless you’re selling swimwear, that is.) In any case, use props to make your photos stand out—whatever the season.

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