Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Etsy Shop Photo Tips

As some of you may know, from time to time I am asked to critique a shop. Yes, sometimes I actually have the time to do so. Most of the time I just simply cannot do it. Recently however I was asked to look at shop and I had time to do it. I will not go into a lot of details, let's just say the shop had been open for a couple of years and needed SERIOUS help. After two years the shop only had 10 sales.

What did I attribute the lack of sales to? Well first off let me just say that every one of the pictures in slot #1 were decent. A little washed out from lightning them in photo editing software but they were not blurry or cropped poorly or anything like that. Without a $2500+ camera you'll never get the crisp clean photos like you see in magazines. However, even with a $150 to $500 camera you can get some decent shots.

Back to the story. So, the first image was decent but the other images were horrible. They were not cropped, they were not color corrected and there was no white on the white background. They were dark and uninviting. I just did not understand why the first image was decent and all the other images looked like... well... crap. So I asked the person why were the other images so terrible? (Of course I have a little more tact than that- not much but some) And they said it took too much time!

Now, all of my photos are far from perfect. I started out with a $75 camera and only recently upgraded to a $200 camera. I have a lot of photos to retake with the new camera. It is an ongoing process. By the time I get the rest of the photos re-shot with the new camera I hopefully will have saved up enough $$$ to purchase a $500 camera and it will all start again. In the meantime I use a few tips I picked up along the way and I would like to share them with you.

1. You have 5 slots for pictures. If you can take 5 photos from 5 different viewpoints use all 5 slots. If you cannot, then have at least 3 of the 5 slots filled. (If you are on ArtFire you have 10 slots.) More is better because your customers cannot touch your product.

2. Use hard light on soft items and soft light on hard items. That means if you are taking photos of crocheted items you can use direct light- Sunlight being the best. If you are taking pictures of things with reflective surfaces you should use indirect light. Use light through something like cloth or light diffusers.

3. Use a light box. (I have some other articles on light boxes. Just check out the tag cloud to the right for more info on that.) I found a light box on eBay for $30 and it works just fine. It is 16x16 but they come in sizes up to 48x48 (Of course the cost goes up a lot the bigger you buy) And there are instructions all over the internet on how to build a light box.

4. Read your camera's manual. I am not kidding, do it! When you are done with the manual get online and look up tutorials for your camera. Seriously folks point and shoot does not mean don't read up on how!

5. Invest in a photo editing program. The best on the market is probably Photo Shop. There are some inexpensive versions of it but it is still going to cost you some money. It is money well spent. There are also some free programs out there that will do the same things as Photo Shop. The learning curve on them is the investment. Gimp is a great program and will do everything that the more expensive ones will do.

The point is, there is no reason for your photos to look like you took them with your smart phone. The amount of money you invest into a decent camera and editing software will come back to you with your increase in sales. Yes, it takes time to get it right but it is worth getting right!


  1. Interesting! I didn't know anything about hard and soft light. Thanks!

  2. Just wanted to mention a couple of my favorite image editing programs. Both are free! - I've been using this program for 10 years or so. At least. While I'm sure it has more capability, I use it for basic cropping, a little color adjusting, and adding text (and watermarks) to images. aka "paint dot net" - This looks like Photoshop to me! I mainly use this for making stray fuzz and hairs and those funky white spots go away. Just be sure you've enlarged your image to at least 500%. It can do much more than this, but I've not been able to figure it out yet.