Showcasing products visually is one of the first ways to sell just about anything. I’ve had to experiment over the years of selling my own work on Etsy. For a while my product photos weren’t the best, but I’ve improved with time. I can share with you here examples of my first attempts, and more recent ones having used better skills and materials.
- LightBox – This is the one I use here. This is a box with either internal lighting, or windows for directional lights.
- Mini Tripod – This is a great tool for getting stable shots at different angles, without any blur. Any of the other focusing features on your camera won’t be disrupted. There are many sizes and types of tripods, so search around.
- Backdrop – In my case, my backdrops came with my lightbox kit. However, you can also choose your backdrops whether they are physical places, or an artificial setup you make yourself.
- Accents – Seashells, decorative rocks, or floral pieces are great additions to spruce up product images. You can even use themed items for specific holidays or seasons depending on what you can find. I have been using seashells and sea stars recently. You can pick up these accents at places like Michael’s, or any craft related stores.
- Smartphone or Digital Camera – You can use either of these. Make sure the capture resolution is 12 megapixels or more. I often use my camera phone, but also have a digital camera, too.
- Photo Editing Software – I personally use Adobe Photoshop for my photo editing after the shoot is done. However, there are other free photo editing apps you can utilize for this purpose. You may also be able to edit the camera settings, and even images on your phone.
Step 1: Setting Up The Lightbox
I first arrange my accents, and product position. My products are typically centered with specifically chosen accent pieces. I also switch on the LED lights inside my lightbox, and choose between cool and warm light tones.
Step 2: Prepping Camera/Tripod
I usually make sure my phone, or camera is charged, then start adjusting settings. Some things you may want to check are white balance, turn off flash, and set quality settings to the higher end. The tripod is pretty straightforward, and you should position it at the right height to get the shots you want. You can adjust this for different angle shots.
Step 3: Shooting
Take several different product photos and then evaluate them. This can involve showing the items in context (ie; in use), in packaging, and with a basic white backdrop. You will need to be the judge of what works for your brand. I tend to prefer the more basic of the three types, but I have some product photos showing packaging.
Step 4: Photo Editing
Using Photoshop, I usually go in and crop images, do some color correction if needed, and removing any unwanted objects. There are some other great photo editing sites such as Canva, Fotor, Pxlr, and Snapseed.
Examples of my First and Most Recent Product Images
Progression from 2021 to a year later using a lightbox instead of using natural light and busy backgrounds. Artificial light has allowed me to develop cleaner, more professional looking product images.
Conclusion: Why Product Images Matter
Product images are the first focal point for your customers, and they need to succeed in drawing them in. Keep consistent with shoot style, branding, and quality, as these will boost your online presence. Each of these skills takes time, and won’t develop overnight. As long as you utilize the toolkit mentioned here, you can experiment over the months and years to develop branding and style for your products. I’m always continuing my own journey with this and other aspects of selling my work. Hope this helps others learn to photograph their own work, too.