Thursday, April 12, 2012

Photography for online sellers

You are an artist or a crafter...
You make beautiful things...
You would like to be successful selling your creations online, but you are not sure where to start...
Or you already have an online shop and would like to improve it...

Think of photography.
Good product photography is the key to successful online selling. The photos are the first thing seen by your potential customers, with good photography your chances of attracting people to your shop are growing much bigger. Very often the photos might be the very reason for which a visitor will click the 'buy' button, turning into a buyer.

Earrings from dekkoline

It's nice to have visitors, and it's even better to have many buyers. If you are not very happy with your stats, maybe it's time to look at your photography?
Also, if your photography is good but your stats are not - little changes introduced to your photos might help.

I am not going to cover all aspects of product photography in just one article, so for now I will limit myself to the very key points you should keep in mind while starting to shoot your items.

Never use photos that are blurry, dark, desaturated, accidentally cropped, crowded with lots of unnecessary props. Or photos on which one cannot see what you are trying to sell. The photos have to speak by themselves, don't expect that  people will read your listing's title and description just to figure out what you are offering them.

Never shoot only the number of photos you are going to use with your listing. Shoot more: in different light, at different angles, with different backgrounds. If you are using manual settings of your camera, try out many of them. If your experience with photography is not great, note down all the important info about each of your shots together with some notes about the resulting photo - you will end up with great reference for the future this way.

Set of jewelry from Tauriel

Always shoot in good light. And good light not only means bright!
It is best to shoot your product in natural daylight - preferably outside or next to a big window.
Or you can use some simple studio equipment, like a softbox or a lightbox together with daylight lamps.
Using a flash is one very bad option, using regular home lighting is another one.
The basic rule for the light is that it should be white and diffused.

Never over-do the backgrounds. Remember: it is your product that you are selling, it is your product that you need to show. Creative backgrounds are not a must - if you do not have a really good idea for one, keep it safe by keeping it simple.
Light backgrounds work well in most cases. You can experiment with a sheet of white or light gray paper, an acrylic block, light wood, sheet of steel and many more. Don't assume one type of a background is going to work best for your items, try out as many options as you can and pay attention not only to the color of your background, but also to its texture.
If you choose the white background - keep it really white. If you cannot set the right white balance on your camera, there is a big chance your nice white background will turn out to be grayish, blueish or pinkish. Never let it go - fix it with a photo editing application (if you don't have one installed, there always is

Concrete pots from roughfusion

Always try to use a model when shooting jewelry, clothing and accessories - but never shoot one-of-a-kind earrings on a model. Some sellers do it, adding a note somewhere in the description that before shipping the ear wires will be replaced with new ones. To many potential sellers it does not look convincing, so if you want to show the proportions try to come up with another idea than putting them in your model's ears.

Always try to make your photography stand out, this is the best way to get noticed. Watch the successful shops, not only those selling items similar to yours. See how they photograph different kinds of products, pay attention to the composition of their photos, check the backgrounds. Check their old listings (you have big chances of finding them among the sold items) and see what has changed in the shop's photography along the way. Try to figure out why certain tricks work for certain products and some others don't. This exercise will help you in judging your own photos, it will also teach you that there are many different ways of presenting similar products to choose from.

Earrings from MADEbyMADA

So, those were few of the most important things to consider when shooting photos for your shop.
It is impossible to cover everything in just one post, so this article is just a start to a new column dealing with product photography problems.
I would like this column to be useful so I'll be happy to hear from you what  problems you would like to read about, what techniques you would like to have explained. I will try to answer your questions as soon as possible.

Poletsians who would like to read the summary of this article in Polish are welcome to check this forum thread.


  1. Great article!

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wonderful article!!! You make it sound so easy....

  3. Świetny artykuł- przyglądałem się szczególnie bardzo ładnie wykonanym zdjęciom:)


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