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How To's, Lighting

The Must-Have Tools To Make Your Handmade Product Photos Look Good

When it comes to taking your own product photos, you may think all you need is some light, your product and a camera (or your phone). And of course, some type of background. While that’s true to some extent, you’ll get photos but you might not get good product photos.

You see, when I was photographing my products for my Etsy shop, the results I was getting were just using a white background with artificial light and my camera was nowhere close to some of the amazing product photos I was seeing in other Etsy shops. Especially the ones that were successful and popular. While they weren’t the worst product photos, they weren’t great. 

My product photos when I sold on Etsy

During that time, I tried DIYing my own light box tent that was so popular at the time (and still is, but if you want to know why I don’t like them, you can watch the video below), but I didn't like the results I was getting.

I’m sure I did occasionally try to reference the Etsy Seller Handbook section on photography, but I wasn’t doing enough to learn WHY my photos were turning out the way they were and what I needed to do to improve them.

Fast forward to today, now I know the tools I should have used to help improve my product photos and they mostly have to do with controlling the lighting.

My current product photos

If you’re selling your crafts online and taking your own product photos, here are 3 must-have items I suggest you have with you next time you take photos.

Tripod

If you have a tripod for your camera (or to hold your phone) and you’re not using it, use it! If you don’t have one, you need to buy one. And I’m not talking about those little mini tripod stands that are under a foot. I’m talking about tripods that allow you to significantly raise and lower your camera. The more flexibility you have you have to adjust the height the better.

There’s a few reason tripods are a must:

  • They stabilize your camera (bye bye blurry photos)
  • You can easily swap your products out when photographing them
  • Allows you to frame your photos more consistently

Let’s face it, blurry, unfocused, crooked photos look bad when you’re using them to sell your products. They don’t make your business look professional. In fact, they can give a bad impression when selling your handmade products online.

But using a tripod can provide you with stabilization, making it easy to adjust the framing of your photos without having to move your camera all the time.

Because who wants to have to keep picking up and putting down their camera when they’re taking photos? Make your life easier and use a tripod to take your product photos. You’ll wonder why you didn’t use one sooner. 

Diffusion material

I’ve come across so many product photos on Etsy that would look so much better if only they had diffused the lighting.

Why?

While light is important, oftentimes you need to diffuse the light. It’s why it’s great to take product photos (or even portrait photos) on overcast days. The clouds act like a giant piece of diffusion material to help diffuse the sunlight so you don’t get harsh lighting. It softens the light and makes for beautiful, even lighting. 

Diffusion material could be anything from an actual diffusion panel (above) which you can buy online, or an old white bed sheet, an old white t-shirt, tracing paper and so on that goes in front of your light source.

So if you're getting unwanted shadows and glare, try diffusing your light!

Reflector

Is one side of your product looking a little dark? If so, a reflector can help with this. You can buy some white foam core board and prop it up next to the spot you want to brighten up, or you can DIY this. Tape some white printer paper to a cardboard box, use an old white shirt and so on. This can really help brighten up your photos a lot.

If you want to learn more about how I use these tools when I take product photos, click here to download a free PDF guide where I show you how to get professional looking product photos in 3 simple steps. 

Other useful items

Books, boxes, canned goods - all make for great ways to prop up reflectors, backdrops, etc.

Clothes pins, safety pins, clamps - great to secure or hang things, etc.

Microfiber cloth, compressed air can - keep your space and products free of dust, finger prints, etc.

Tape - great for taping up backgrounds, taping foam core board together, etc.

While there are more tools that can come in handy when photographing your handmade products, these suggestions can give you a good starting point the next time you go to photograph your products.

Do you use any of these tools when you photograph your handmade products? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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