Make Your Handmade Products Look Good With These Photography Composition Tips

Something I hear from makers is, “I just want my products to look good in photos.”

While there’s a lot of factors that go into what makes a good product photo, one of the things that can take your photos to the next level composition.

Composition is something that comes up often in the creative arts world. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, composition is the arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form.

But you might be saying, “I’m not trying to create an artsy product photo. I just want a good product photo that sells my products.”

It’s okay, I get it. I know you’re not trying to be a professional product photographer. But it’s still important to think about how you’re arranging your product and any other elements to create a photo that catches the eye of your customers.

Let’s go over how you can create a more visually attractive photo that not only makes your business look more polished, but also attracts customers online.  

A heads up! There are exceptions to the rules/guidelines below. There are plenty of product photos that do not follow these rules so remember, these are not set in stone. But they are helpful to think about when photographing your handmade products.

Keep your horizons straight

A common mistake I see with makers when scrolling through listings on Etsy is seeing crooked horizons in their photos.

Crooked or lopsided product photos aren't attractive. It can communicate to your customer that you didn't think much about what you were doing when you took the photo and you didn’t want to take the time to fix it before uploading it to your product listing. It's such a small detail, yet it can make someone wondering if you're not fixing this clear problem then where else are you cutting corners in your business?  In short, crooked product photos are not a good impression you want to give to customers.

So how do you fix this? Before you take a product photo, make sure the horizon (or whatever you're photographing) is level. Using a tripod will help a lot with this because it can stabilize your camera in place. Plus, many cameras and build in camera apps on phones have a grid or level option that can tell you if the camera is not level. 

If you discover that your photo is crooked when you’re editing your photos (because I know you’re the type of seller who edits and makes sure you upload great product photos online!), be sure to fix it! It can be easily adjusted in almost any photo editing app. 

Make sure your product photos are straight so you show customers you care about how you present your products and your business to them. It can really make a difference!

Rule of Odds

Rule of odds something that comes up often in photography. It says if you have an odd number of subjects in a photo, it creates a more visually appealing and interesting photo than if you had an even number. If you’re photographing a product and want to include props, just pick 2 props so you have an odd number of things in your photo. Then play around with the arrangement, but making sure your product still remains the star of your photo.

Rule of Thirds

This is one of the most talked-about “rules” in photography. It basically says that if you break up a photo into thirds vertically and horizontally, the 4 points where the lines intersect are ideal locations to place your subject. Placing your product in one of these intersections can create a more visually interesting photo. Plus, it can also be an ideal photo to use for marketing purposes since if you add text, it won’t be obscured by your product. 


When photographing your products, it’s important to make sure that your customer can see your product and any other elements in your photo.

First, make sure your product is in the frame. This may seem obvious, but I’ve come across product listings where maybe the strap of a bag is cut off, or you can only see half of the product and this can look awkward and sloppy to customers. Before you take a photo, scan the perimeter of your screen and make sure what needs to be in the photo is.

Once your product is in the frame, can you easily see your product? Is there too much or not enough space around it? Can you read and see the label clearly? 

This photo has too much empty space around the product, making it look awkward and difficult to read the product label.

Sometimes you need to play around with your framing to see what looks best. Not having  enough space around your make a product look tight or squished in a photo. On the flip side, having too much space can make it hard to see your product and also look awkward if it's only taking up a small portion of your photo. Experiment with close up shots and further away shots. Also take into consideration what these photos will be used for and what you want them to communicate to your customer. 

By getting closer to the product, it's easier to read the product label and visually looks much better.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to better compose and frame your photos takes practice. But the more you practice these tips, the more you'll see your photos improve over time. Try out some of these tips next time you’re photographing your products and of course, don’t be afraid to experiment!

What tip are you going to try? I'd love to hear from you so leave a comment below!

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.

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