Why The Colors In Your Etsy Product Photos Don’t Look Right

Do you ever take photos of your handmade products for your Etsy shop or Shopify store and when you look back at your photos, you wonder why your photos look a bit “orange” or “green”? 

One of my old product photos from my selling Etsy days.

Getting the colors accurate in your product photos is really important and it is something I know makers struggle with. Color accuracy is important when selling your crafts online because the last thing you want is a bad customer review that says the product they received from you is not the same color they saw in your listing photos.

So how do you stop getting photos that look orange, green or blue? We'll dive into why this happens and how you can fix it so you can post photos that accurately represent your products to customers online. 

What’s white balance?

In basic terms, white balance is how warm or cool the colors in your photos appear. Different sources of light have different color temperatures that you should be mindful of when photographing your products.  

In case you didn’t know, our eyes and brain automatically adjust to different lighting conditions which may make it harder to see when light may look blue, orange, etc. Cameras on the other hand, most have an auto white balance (AWB) feature which takes a guess at what the lighting conditions are when you take a photo.

Want to learn more about how to get your lighting right when photographing your crafts for your online business? Check out these posts! 

The problem with auto white balance

While your camera can guess the lighting source correctly, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it has a difficult time reading the light source which is why you may end up with orangey or blue-ish photos. Having the option to manually adjust the white balance is better so you can make sure the colors in your photo are correct. 

Here's an example of how a white piece of paper can look different depending on the white balance settings. I took these photos in a west-facing window on a bright, sunny day.

Do you see how the color changes depending on the settings? Some look warmer while others look cooler. 

You can fix the white balance when you edit your photos, but it’s best to try and set the white balance to the lighting source you’re using so you have minimal color correcting to do later. Believe me, depending on how severe the color cast is, it may not be worth editing to fix it, so make your life easier by correcting the white balance before you take a photo. 

How to adjust your white balance

Most cameras (DSLRs and point and shoot cameras) have an option to adjust and set the white balance. You may need to do a little digging to find where this setting is so check your camera manual if you can’t locate it.

For my digital point and shoot camera, these are the icons and what each of them means:

If you use your phone to take photos, check your camera app to see if you have the option to adjust the white balance. Some only have an auto white balance option like my phone does so if you have that issue, you may need to download a camera app that allows you to adjust the white balance.

I downloaded the camera app Camera FV-5 for Android. This app gives me a lot more control over the camera in my phone, like being able to adjust the shutter speed, ISO and so on. Here are the options for white balance in the Camera FV-5 app:

If you’re on iOS, you may want to try Camera+ as it does give you the option to adjust the white balance settings. Note this app isn’t free so be sure to shop around and look for other apps that have the white balance adjustment feature.

Once you find the settings to adjust the white balance, think about what the lighting source is. Are you taking photos using natural light? If it's sunny without a cloud in the sky, try the sunny icon option. Are you taking photos in the shade? Try the cloudy option. Remember, you’re not striving for perfection but just doing your best to select the white balance setting that makes the colors in your photo look as close to the real thing in person. The colors in your photo will look neutral when it’s a good match with the light source.

If you can’t find a setting that matches well, you may be able to manually set the white balance so you can set it to what looks best. 

Don't mix your light sources

When you're taking photos, make sure you're not mixing your light sources. If you're taking photos next to a window with natural light and you have other indoor lights on where you're at, it may be difficult for you to set the correct white balance. If you're using natural light, be sure to shut off any indoor lights you may have on.

If you're using studio lights to photograph your crafts, turn off any other indoor lights and close any curtains or shades that may be letting in any outside light. This will make white balancing your camera a lot easier.

Be sure to still edit your photos!

After you take your photos, you’re not out of the woods yet! 

When you edit your photos, this is the time to make any adjustments to the white balance if needed. Many editing apps and software have a white balance feature. It may be called white balance, color balance or color temperature. Don't stick to the auto white balance because as I mentioned above, it isn't always correct. I highly recommend adjusting the white balance manually so you can adjust the colors in your photo to look as accurate as possible. I also recommend during this time to also adjust the brightness, contrast, etc., accordingly to make your photo look the best it can before you upload them to your listings. Don’t make these common editing mistakes craft sellers make when editing their photos.

If you want to learn how to easily edit your product photos for your Etsy listings, check out this blog post where I show you how to do it.

Final thoughts

Hopefully this helps give you a better understanding of why your colors may be off when you take photos of your products and how to fix it! Having more control over your camera settings will make photographing your handmade products much easier and give you great looking photos for your online craft business.

Do you adjust the white balance before you photograph your craft products? 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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