Taking great photos of your handmade products to use online
If you’re selling crafts online you’ll want the most flattering images of them you can find. Taking a great photo will do your products justice, which is what you want when you’ve spent all your time making them! Your product is the hero and its worth can suffer because of a poorly taken shot. Our friends at Cre8ion gave us some really good basic tips for great photography to share with our clients. So here goes!
You don’t need a professional, David Bailey style camera! If you have a smart phone you have everything you need – the technology has come on in leaps and bounds!
Lighting is very important! Make sure that the light is in front of the product to make it look clear and bright. You can buy mini light-boxes which are ideal for taking product shots of smaller crafts such as jewellery. You can then use different coloured backgrounds inside and the box will shine a really bright, natural light onto your items giving you a very clear, bright image with a neutral background. Your smart phone and light box work together to provide you with a perfect solution, even on a dark and murky day!
If you are starting out and you are trying to keep your costs down you could try using a white sheet as a backdrop and find as much natural light as you can. Explore your house to find where the lighting is at its most flattering for your products. Natural light works wonders and gives a true idea of the colour of your products.
Take different types of shots – go for a mix of studio shots and ‘slice of life’ shots. The kind of shot you would take with your light box is a studio shot, it’s just focussing on the product with a neutral background. It’s all about the product.
‘Slice of life’ photos are all about seeing your products in situ, showing how they might look when they are in use and giving an idea of scale. These are lifestyle shots, making your customer want to live the lifestyle that includes your products. Using a selfie stick allows you to get in the picture too!
Another way to do lifestyle shots is with short videos of 3-5 seconds – a neat, short clip of how your product looks when it moves (handmade dangly earrings for example that shimmer when they catch the light). A video might give more visual information and show your product in a better light than a still shot.
You can take short videos with phone and SLR, just to add to the experience. Video gives you a chance to showcase the product in a live environment and show people interacting with it. Short bursts are enough, you don’t need to go full on Hollywood quite yet!
You now have a range of shots in your arsenal to use alongside each other when selling crafts online. Studio shots taken with your light box or white sheet, Slice of Life shots showing your products in situ (a necklace being worn or cushions on a sofa) and then a little short video, if appropriate.
Always follow the rule of thirds to frame your shots well. Most phones have a 9 square grid for this reason – use the grid to focus your main point of interest where the lines intersect. Doing this will make your picture more interesting. If you are taking a picture that has something in the background or you’re in a more natural setting your item may not be slap bang in the middle but placed where the lines intersect, in the bottom left for example. You can also blur out the background if necessary when using the nine square grid on an IPhone. This approach works best when taking shots in situ.
Be authentic rather than perfect. Don’t delay selling your crafts online just because your shots aren’t 100% perfect. As long as it’s clear, with good lighting that shows the colours and the features of the product it just needs to be true to you. Remember that websites are a moving feast, unlike print. You can make changes regularly and quickly and update and refine them over time, maybe when you have more time and resources to take better shots and swap them out.
Include important details, such as ingredients, close up, or other things that make your product unique. The more detail you can communicate quickly in your photos, the more confidence the buyer will have in the quality of the product. Show the scale of what you have made as that is really important to the buyer as well ( a pound coin in the picture for example) as well as in the descriptions. Show your products from different angles (especially above and beneath) to show as much detail as you can to the buyer. Then they’ll receive exactly what they are expecting.
Avoid common mistakes:
Naff lighting – lighting with the window behind for example.
Pictures that are blurry or out of focus.
Pictures that don’t show your audience enough detail.
Pictures with something in the background that shouldn’t be there. Is there a mirror behind you showing that you are still wearing your pyjamas whilst taking photos?
Pictures that doesn’t exude quality will not capture the beauty of your product or its workmanship.
Hopefully this little ‘snapshot’ will help you to take the kind of product shots that will boost sales. Don’t spend more time trying to take a good photo of your products than it did to make them in the first place! And if you need any help with insurance for your craft business, we are here!