Awesome Tips For Selecting The Best Backgrounds For Your Etsy Product Photos

It’s not uncommon for Etsy sellers to take photos of their products and completely overlook the background of their photos. While lighting is an area many makers work on improving, selecting a good background is just as important. When you get both your lighting and the background down, you’ll have the basic foundation needed to create a great photo to sell your handmade products online.

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Why is the background of your Etsy product photo so important?

If the background of your product photos is an afterthought and you’re not getting views, it’s time to see if your backgrounds are contributing to the lack of customers visiting your Etsy shop.

Remember, your product photos are a major player in getting traffic and sales for your Etsy shop so it’s time to pay attention to what you’re photographing your product against. The right background will complement your product and help make it stand out in a photo, which is important, especially if you’re selling on Etsy.

When customers are browsing Etsy to search for a product, they’re quickly scanning the search results to see what listings not only fit their criteria, but also which visually catch their eye. 

Many customers tend to gravitate towards bright, clear product photos because they’re easy to see and stand out. If your background is visually busy or dark, customers might not see your listing as easily.

So if you’re ready, let’s go over from common background mistakes that Etsy sellers make and what you can do to fix them!

Mistake #1 - Using backgrounds that are the same color as the product

If your product is brown or has prominent elements of brown and the background you selected is a wood color that’s similar to the shade of your product, your product may be difficult to see in a product photo. But if you select a different background such as white or cream color background, your product will pop against the background be much easier to see, especially if a customer comes across your listing in a search, so make sure your background and product aren’t blending in with each other.

Mistake #2 - Your background has a busy pattern or texture

Depending on what background you choose, it’s important to make sure it’s not taking away from your product. Sometimes fabrics (especially if it’s wrinkled) or textured surfaces like wood, brick, tile or marble can make your background look busy. When selecting a background, make sure it isn’t taking away from your product which is supposed to be the main subject of your photo. 

Mistake #3 - The background is dominating your photo

If you look at your product photo, is the background mostly taking up the photo instead of your product? When your background dominates the photo instead of your product, your customer may not be able to see your product easily. They’ll instead be looking at what else is going on in the photo. Or worse, just scroll past your listing. So before taking your photos, watch your framing! 

Mistake #4 - The background is visually distracting

Whether you’re taking product photos indoors or outdoors, sometimes the background has unattractive distractions. If you’re photographing your products and in the background is your living room where you can see your TV or items on your coffee table, your customers are going to notice that. If you’re taking photos outside at a park and behind your product is a playground or a fence with a distracting post, they’re going to see that. Think about what’s going on behind your product and do your best to eliminate any distractions by changing locations or changing the angle you take photos. The cleaner the background, the better your photo will look.

Mistake #5 - The background is crooked or lopsided

One of the things I strongly recommend any craft seller who is photographing their products is to get a tripod. Seeing crooked or lopsided horizons that are supposed to be straight looks off and frankly, lazy to a customer. Using a tripod can help with keeping your camera level and stable when taking photos. And if you notice after that your photo is a little crooked, we’re human after all, fix it  when you edit your photos.

Mistake #6 - Your product is too close to the background

Depending on what your product is, leaning your product against a background or your product being too close to the background may look weird. Allowing some space between your background and your product can provide the breathing space it needs to look more natural (especially if your product isn’t meant to be leaned against a wall or on the floor, etc.) and also reduce any unwanted shadows or lighting distractions. If your product can’t stay up on its own, feel free to prop it up with something like a can of beans or mug.

Mistake #7 - Your background is dirty, messy, etc.

An important thing you should be doing when photographing your products is making sure the space where you’re photographing is clean. If your product isn’t meant to help clean up messes or get dirty, seeing spots, dirt or dust in background is not going to look good in your photos. Remember, you’re not photographing for Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace here. You’re photographing for customers who want beautiful, handmade products so be sure to do a quick scan of your space to make sure it’s clear of any unwanted dust bunnies. 

What background should I use?

There’s lots of options when it comes to selecting the right background for your handmade products. While figuring out what best complements your product, you should always take into consideration what kind of look you’re going for and what your brand is. If you create products that are neutral in color and give a minimalist feel, a colorful background might not be the look you want. Or if you make really colorful, fun products you may want to choose white so your products stand out. 

When selecting backgrounds, remember that you don’t have to be committed to it forever. Many craft sellers will go through different backgrounds over the course of their business so if you love your current background and it’s working for you, great! If not, change it up and see how you feel about it in a few months. 

1. White is always a great option

White has been the most popular choice for product backgrounds for many reasons, such as:

  • It eliminates all distractions from your product
  • It’s clean
  • It’s simple
  • It’s easy for your product to be showcased in blogs, online magazines, etc.
  • It makes for nice consistency
  • It looks super professional

2. Light neutrals are a great alternative to white 

Light neutrals such as grays or browns are also great choices too. Many products look great against a light colored background so test different shades out.

3. Go bold with color, but with caution!

If you want to use colorful backgrounds, make sure it doesn’t dominate or distract from your product. If your background has a pattern to it, it may look busy so stick to plain colored background.

4. Try natural textures

Other great choices are woods, marbles and fabrics. If you do choose to go this route, make sure the patterns aren’t too busy or they can make it visually hard to see your product.

Looking for background inspiration from other Etsy sellers?  See how these Etsy shops got creative with their product photography backgrounds!

Final thoughts

When looking at your current background or selecting a new one …

  • Make sure your background doesn’t blend in with your product 
  • Don’t use busy patterns that can take away from your product
  • Keep your horizons level (use a tripod!)
  • Pick a background that makes your product stand out 
  • Make sure your background is clean and free of dust, etc.
  • Use the same background for all your product photos to create consistency.

What’s your background of choice for your product photos? Has it changed since you started your business? Leave a comment below and let me know!

About the author

Imelda Jimenez-LaMar is a product photography coach and former Etsy seller, who said goodbye to her corporate job to create a business teaching photography. She is on a mission to demystify product photography for makers who want to create product photos that sell their handmade products online and grow their handmade business.

    • Thanks so much, Susan! Yes, I love the bird against the yellow background, too!

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