For anyone who crafts products with care, Etsy is a great platform for reaching new customers. The site attracts over 89 million buyers a year, and provides all the tools you need to start selling.
Of course, you’re not the only person trying to grab a tasty slice of this $13.4 billion pie. If you want to stand out in a crowded online marketplace, learning how to take Etsy photos that grab the attention of customers is a smart move.
In this post, we’re going to find out what makes a great Etsy product photo, and explore the techniques and tools used by top sellers.
When people go shopping in the real world, they usually follow their eyes. When something catches their attention, they wander over to take a closer look.
The same applies on Etsy. With thousands of products to browse through, people are only likely to tap or click on something that looks interesting. Most of the time, this kind of curiosity is driven by great product photography.
But that isn’t the only reason to pay attention to your product photos on Etsy.
In search results and category pages, your product is represented by only one image. However, Etsy listings have room for up to 10 photos.
This gives you the opportunity to showcase your product from different angles, and display any variants. You can also show your product in use — whether that’s a bracelet on an elegant wrist, or a gardening tool in muddy hands.
It’s definitely possible to build a business on Etsy through self promotion.
That said, being featured on the platform can unlock much more explosive growth.
Etsy editors regularly pick out good-looking products for top billing in newsletters, social media posts, and on the main site. A natural consequence is that way more people will see your listings.
How do you get featured? There is no exact formula. But having some pretty product photos is a vital part of the equation. Etsy is only going to promote something that enhances their reputation, after all.
While product photos can be used for marketing, they should accurately reflect your product and provide information to potential customers.
If your shots fulfill these requirements, the quality of your product will shine. It should also be clear to customers what to expect, meaning you are likely to see fewer returns.
As we have discovered, the quality of your product photos can have a major impact on your Etsy business. Get it right, and you could be a handmade millionaire.
So, you may be wondering — how do I take great product photos without a Hollywood movie budget?
Well, the first point to consider is what type of product photos you might want to capture. Here are some of the key shots to grab in your home studio:
Every good Etsy listing contains a simple studio shot. That’s the one where all you see is the product, on a clean background.
Depending on the size or complexity of your product, you might need to grab two or three of these photos. They help buyers to understand the product and see any relevant details.
To help buyers to imagine how they might use your product, you could try capturing some lifestyle images.
This could be a bookstand doing its job on a shelf, a model wearing your jewelry, or cooking utensils being used in a kitchen.
The key to taking good lifestyle shots is to make the scene look authentic, while still focusing on the product. Aim to set the scene, but keep your lens on the star of the show.
With handmade and bespoke products, much of the beauty is in the detail. Potential customers may not notice these finer points in studio or lifestyle images, so you might want to dedicate some time to close up photography.
That is your chance to pick out the small things that really matter. This could be the quality of your stitching, the glaze on your pottery, or the grain of hand-polished wood furniture.
When you browse in a real store, it’s easy to gauge whether any individual product is the right size for your needs. But online, that sense of scale is harder to find.
To help out your customers, you could capture one or two photos that provide a sense of scale. To make this work, you need to place your product next to a universal item, or a human hand, which can provide a reference.
When people buy from Amazon, they usually don’t care where that product came from. But on Etsy, shoppers are looking for something unique or handmade.
As an Etsy seller, you can use images to deliver your artisanal backstory. All you need to do is capture yourself adding the finishing touches to your product, or even take a snap during the packaging process.
Want to get even more creative? Check out this post on e-commerce product photography for even more ideas!
Now we have a full understanding of the assignment, it’s time to look at the process behind product photography.
Let’s get straight to the point. If you have a DSLR, use it. If you don’t, your phone will do just fine.
In fact, there are advantages to using your phone.
With a camera, you have to transfer photos across to your computer and spend time in Photoshop before you can upload the pics. With your phone, you can quickly shoot, edit, and upload in minutes. And potential customers probably won’t notice any difference.
No matter what kind of camera you’re using, lighting is really important.
Most products look their best in bright, diffused light. If you can host your photo shoot outside, or near a window, natural light works well. It makes colors sing, and warm evening light adds that Instagrammable glow.
If you need to shoot indoors, we recommend using some powerful table lamps as your light sources, or a dedicated flash with a diffuser on the front.
On the flip side, you should probably avoid using the built-in flash on your camera or phone.
Why? Direct flash might be better than shooting in total darkness, but the harsh light creates overblown highlights and deep shadows. And the “Blair Witch Project” look probably isn’t going to help you sell on Etsy.
When you take photos for your Etsy store, your product should always be the star of the show. For this reason, it’s worth paying attention to any possible distractions as you line up each shot.
If you can see clutter, you need to take action. The easiest fix is simply to hang up a plain sheet behind your product. If you can find a big enough sheet, you could just place your product on top of this DIY background.
If you’re serious about Etsy success, you could spend a little cash on a small pop-up lightbox studio. These cost as little as $30, and they provide a perfect white background for smaller products. Some even have built-in lighting for that extra professional polish.
Bear in mind that there is a digital option, too. If you snap a product using the Pixelcut app on your iPhone, you can easily remove the background with a quick swipe.
Beginners in Etsy product photography often don’t give too much thought to angles. It’s only natural to shoot from eye or waist height, after all.
But to grab the attention of potential buyers, you might want to get a little more creative. The last thing that anyone wants to see is 10 images that all look the same.
Getting down low or placing your camera directly above the product can add visual interest, and show off different features. These angles can also work well for showing certain products in context, or giving a sense of scale.
While you don’t want to add too many distractions, we do recommend working with props.
For instance, you could fill your handmade desk organizer with pens, or place some vegetables on your bespoke chopping board.
As long as these items don’t majorly distract from what you’re trying to sell, they can really enhance your product listing photos. It all helps potential buyers to understand what the product will look like in everyday use.
When you come to shoot and edit photos for your Etsy listings, it’s a good idea to think about how those images will be displayed.
Etsy recommends that you compose photos in landscape or square format, because these sizes will highlight any product in the center of the frame. If you shoot or crop your photos in portrait format, you may find that vital parts of the image are cropped by the Etsy interface.
You should also try to ensure that your images are high quality. According to Etsy, listing images should measure at least 2000 pixels along the shortest side, with a resolution of 72 PPI.
In terms of thumbnails for your listings, aim for a 4:3 ratio, with a nice big margin around your product. In some cases, you might need to shoot some photos specifically for this format.
The topic of sizing and cropping leads us nicely to our final principle: you need a photo editor.
Even if you take the perfect photo every time, you’re still going to need some way to resize and crop. But there are many other reasons why a dedicated app should be on your phone.
For a start, you might want to adjust lighting or color. Some apps also allow you to “heal” any unwanted dust spots or marks, add your own virtual frames, and insert text.
Pixelcut also allows you to use any color or image as a backdrop, and you can add drop shadows and reflections for extra visual interest.
Of course, you can do most of this in Photoshop. The difference is, Pixelcut lets you snap, edit, and upload in one quick workflow. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes, and you need zero knowledge of image editing.
As with most e-commerce platforms, Etsy is a visual place. The quality of your photos can be the difference between selling out and not selling at all.
If you want to take your Etsy product photography to the next level, download Pixelcut today and join more than 10 million small businesses already using the app!