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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). While that’s true you need these 3 things, it doesn't mean you'll end up with a photos that will not only make your products look great, but get you the sales you want.

My product photos when I sold on Etsy

Back when I photographed my products for my Etsy shop, the results I was getting were nowhere close to some of the amazing product photos I was seeing in other Etsy shops. While my photos weren’t horrible, they weren't as good as I wanted them to be. 


After lots of experimenting and practicing on my own, I now know the exact tools I should have been using back then to create beautiful product photos I so wanted.


If you’re taking your own product photos, here are 5 must-have tools you should be using to create product photos that attract customers and increase your chances in making more sales online.

1. 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 or see if you can borrow 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 you need, 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. 

2. 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 you may hear you should 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, 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!


3. Reflector


Is one side of your product looking dark? If so, a reflector can help with this. You can buy 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 and voilà, you have a reflector! This can really help brighten up your photos a lot.

4. Lighting


The most "budget" friendly option when it comes to lighting is natural light. It's a great option if you have access to a window in your space that you can get close to and allows a lot of light to come in. But if your space is dark even with natural light (such as if you have an overhang above your window outside), the weather is ever-changing or you want the option to take photos any time of day, buying lights is ideal.


Continuous lighting, meaning the light source is always on, is a great option for makers because it's easy to work with and you can use it with whatever type of camera you're using.


Whether you purchase a ring light, large soft boxes or even your standard light bulb to use in a lamp, make sure you purchase daylight (~6500k bulbs) bulbs. This lighting mimics natural light and will make your photos look better.  


5. Background


The background you select to use in your product photos can make a big difference in how your photo looks and feels. I encourage you to keep your background simple and clean.


If you don't have a background already that you like, you can always pick up a roll of white or light brown craft paper from pretty much any craft or art supply store. You can also buy nicer backgrounds online or even DIY your own if you want.


Whatever background you select, make sure your product stands out against it. If you want more ideas on what backgrounds you can use for your products, I've dedicated an entire blog post to this topic which you can check out here.


Other useful items


  • Books, boxes, canned goods - all make for great ways to prop up your product, 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!


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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