5 Etsy Product Photography Tips

January 23, 2012 separator Photography

I’ve noticed a bummer of a trend on Etsy. There are tons of shops with wonderful products but no sales. The overwhelming reason behind the zeroes? Really bad photos – plain and simple. That may sound harsh, but think about this: Your customers can’t hold your goods. They can’t try them on or enjoy the vibrancy of their colors in person. To sell online, you have to make your photos speak for your product. Beth of Lackluster Co. (my fave online vintage shop!) is here to help you do just that. 

The importance of good product photography. Practicing good product photography is key to helping you successfully sell your products. You want to be able to stand out from the crowd and present your items in a way that really makes the item look polished.


1.   Choose a simple background. Your background shouldn’t be distracting to your customers. Try to keep all items in the photo related to the product you’re selling. Whether it’s being shot in its natural environment, or you’re styling the photo with props, make sure everything in the photo works with each other, not against. When in doubt, stick with a neutral background to help draw attention to your product and its details/features, or if you’re feeling colorful, just make sure to avoid a background that clashes with your items.
2.   Get creative. While your background should remain simple, don’t be afraid to add some props into the mix to spice up the overall product imagery. For instance, adding a few books or paper items to a storage piece you’re selling will help show scale as well as helping to illustrate how a potential buyer might house their own belongings. 

3.   Use natural lighting. Stay away from using your camera flash and artificial lighting. Using the flash on your camera will make your item appear flat and dull, and artificial lighting can throw off the colors drastically, while highlighting the items in all the wrong places. Find a nice, evenly lit spot in the house (or outside in the shade). Try to avoid direct sunlight, as the shadows and lighting will be too dramatic. You also want to make sure your light source is coming from the sides. If your item is backlit, the exposure will be too dark on the front of the item. Another great tip is to use a big piece of white foam board across from your light source, which will also help to light your product evenly! 
4.   Take too many pictures. Shoot from all sorts of angles and positions. Take closeups of details, and make sure to capture all of the items features. You want the buyer to know exactly what they’re getting!
5.   Photography is only as good as the editing. Lastly, and perhaps one of the most important points — no photo is perfect right off of the camera. It’s bound to need some editing, whether it’s color balance, brightness/contrast, or the exposure. Bring the photo into your favorite editing program, and tweak it until it looks just right. Finally, have fun with it and be creative. And don’t forget to apply all of the other great tips you’ve learned throughout the month on Shrimp Salad Circus!

Beth is a vintage and design-obsessed twenty-something. When she’s not perusing flea markets and auctions for treasures, she spends her days as a freelance package designer.
Beth & Lackluster Co. elsewhere
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  1. I’ve been into photography for a long time, but I was interested to read your blog post as a few interesting tricks were new to me and I will use them in my passion for photography. It’s a pity that my camera recently broke down and I was looking for a long time where to buy the same one. It’s good that my friend who also loves to take pictures advised me to read the reviews on https://tadi-brothers.pissedconsumer.com/review.html and I saw that many people like the quality of their camcorders. It turned out to be useful for me at that moment and I hope that it can help others who are looking for where to buy a camera.

  2. If the product photos is attractive then product sell will definitely increased. Natural and very light background is best i am agree with you. Very useful tips you have shared here. its great.

  3. Awesome! Useful, valid, straight to the point. Really appreciate these insights.

  4. Hi,

    Great post. One question in point 3 you talk about using natural lighting. I live in a pretty rainy overcast country and I dont have any windows in my studio so natural lighting is not the easiest for me. I built myself a lightbox You can see it here http://six0sixdesign.blogspot.ie/2011/11/in-studio.html but I don’t think I am using the right lighting as I still find even after alot of editing that my photo’s are a bit cold. Here is my shop. http://www.etsy.com/shop/six0six
    Id really appreciate ANY advice you can give me.

    Thanks Vanessa

  5. thanks for the terrific tips – I need them badly! My home is jewel tone colored so finding neutral lighting is difficult. Must try harder…

  6. Of course! I think in online promotion, the most important thing advertisers must consider, next to content, is the appearance of their products shown through photos. You said it here, I’ll say it again, that they should shoot their products from different angles and make sure that every important detail of your product is shown close up or in good camera focus. These photos are the only thing your audiences can see and observe, so you have to really make them stand out. Editing is definitely allowed to give drama and style to your product. 😀

    Jamie Viggiano

  7. Number 5 isn’t completely true. You should know how to use the camera. Not just rely on editing.

    So Rule number 5 should be Practice. Learn the functions of the camera and know how to use it.

  8. oh my goodness – I just so happened to click through Pinterest and stumbled upon your blog. I probably sound like a typical commenter, but what a fabulous blog you have! I like how approachable your posts are and how much I feel I can learn from what you write. This is such an inspiration. Thank you!

  9. These are great tips! I don’t have a shop but I’m wanting to do a better job of capturing images of the things I make.

  10. I’m really excited that Lackluster did this post – they have one of the best vintage shops on Etsy! Great advice from Beth, and extra points from being from Lancaster 😀

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