This week on our podcast, we’re talking about how to taking good creative photos of your art or handmade products. Having good product photography in your online handmade business is so important. It’s one of the most important things you can do because bright, clean, beautiful photos lend credibility to an artist or entrepreneur’s work and can get people excited about what you create!
Keep reading to find links to our FAVORITE tools & apps to take photos (from your iPhone) so good that they look like mock-ups.
Before we begin, let's mention 2 *really* important things.
First, good photos take practice!
You might not get everything perfect the first couple of times, so practice photos, research and learn photography techniques and just keep doing it.
Second, what’s my perfect photo isn’t your perfect photo!
There are some guidelines about what does best on certain social media or e commerce platforms, but it’s also really important to find your unique style. Play around with different things and figure out what feels like “YOU” that inspires you and makes you happy.
If one of your goals this year is to improve your photography, this is the podcast episode for you.
Also...having good photos in your Etsy or e-commerce shop is not really a negotiable at this point. You can’t have a successful online business without beautiful photos. It just won’t work. If you want to make sales - of any kind, whether that’s selling art, personal commissions, handmade jewelry, soaps, baby gifts, or anything, you have to have great pictures.
Also, if you’re listening right now and you’re like "ugh, I am SO bad at photos," don’t leave! It’s okay to acknowledge that you want to improve and grow your photography skills.
Don’t feel bad about this.
But, if you know that you’re personally not WOW’d by your photos, your customers probably aren’t either.
So, maybe it’s time to practice and learn.
Let's talk about Photography Apps! We want you to get out your phone out because you’ll want to download some of these apps. Unless you’re driving. Then do this later.
I take most of my photos on my iphone, directly in the iphone camera app, but when it comes to editing, I have a couple of apps that I prefer to use:
This is it is my #1 app for editing both lifestyle photos and product photography. It’s easy to use, and I love the brush tool for brightening up specific areas and especially for making white backgrounds actually white.
While I use Snapseed when I want my photos to be really bright, often with a white background and vibrant colors, I use A Color Story if I want my photos to have a more stylized feel. And by stylized, I mean a photo that is more like a lifestyle shot or feels more authentic. I may add a hazy filter, or a pink tint, or any of the lighting effects that are available on A Color Story.
Another thing I use apps for are time-lapse videos. People love seeing a peek into the process of making your handmade items and art, so videos are a good way to show them!
Next, let’s talk about the supplies we use to create great photos.
An overhead tripod is a must for taking process videos. There are a lot of options out there, but I actually just have a simple desk clamp gooseneck monopod that holds my clips onto my desk and puts my phone up above my workspace to film.
Here's the one I LOVE! (affiliate link)
Fun supplies also make such a good addition to a flat lay photograph, and the best part is, is that they aren’t just “props”. You can use them as well as photograph them.
Some perfect examples I have of this are my golden scissors and pink unicorn paint brushes.
Both are functional supplies that I use everyday in my process, but I like to include them in the photographs I take of my art because they are unique looking supplies. The golden scissors aren’t your average everyday orange pair of scissors, and the paintbrushes are filled with glitter that moves around as I paint, so they are very eye-catching and make your posts stand out.
Let's talk about backdrops!
A white backdrop is amazing for taking bright white photos, but you can also have fun and use backdrops in different colors or patterns.
You can search Etsy or amazon for Vinyl Photo Backdrops to look through all of the options. I have a couple of different colors like white, pink, and even a pink wood grain so it looks like We take photos on top of pink wood, but it’s actually a vinyl backdrop. I like to use the vinyl backgrounds as I can clean them pretty easily after I have recorded process videos on top of them and gotten paint everywhere.
Here's a vinyl backdrop similar to the one we use most often. (affiliate link)
If you don’t have the budget for vinyl backdrops right now, you can find a similar, but more temporary solution by using poster board. You can actually find poster board in a lot of fun patterns at most craft stores. It’s helpful if you have multiple sheets of white poster board to bounce the natural light off of.
We also have a couple of other things we wanted to talk about when it comes to taking the best photos of your art and creativity!
Lighting: You have so many options!There are a ton of studio lighting set ups out there available to purchase, you can use a light box to take great well lit photos if your products or art are small enough to fit easily inside it.
I think natural light looks amazing in photos, but it is very important to time it right as you’re working with the sun. you want to take your photos in diffused natural light, so basically you just don’t want to have your art in direct sunlight or you would get harsh shadows. You have to work with the weather. If it’s too sunny, you’ll get those dark shadows, or if it’s too rainy outside, your photos won’t be as naturally bright.
The sunlight rule applies to taking photos outside as well. If you’re taking lifestyle product shots outside and it’s sunny, try to find a place in the shade or out of direct sun. Or try to go out during the Golden hour, which are the hours around sunrise and sunset, where the light is less hard and can actually be pretty magical if you’d like to get some glowy sunlight photos!
Clean your phone and camera lens. You probably don’t even realize that it’s got finger print oils and smudges on it or even dust. Think about it, when’s the last time you cleaned your phone?
One more tip I use is to go slower by waiting a second after you take the photo before moving. Some phones or cameras are amazing and have great quality and fast shutters, but then others are slower to take the photo.
So if you press the shutter button, then immediately move, but the camera is still taking the photo, you can end up with blurry or grainy photos.
Practicing your photography goes a really long way. If you keep at it, just like anything, really. If you don’t like the photo you took today, tomorrow think about why & if you can improve on that. If it’s the lighting, move your setup, or if it’s the styling, play around with some new supplies and props. Just have fun with it really, don’t take it too seriously, but be consistent by taking a lot of photos daily!
We’re seen our photos really improve over the past couple of years with these tools and practicing every day. It’s also been so fun.
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Thanks for listening friends! If you have any questions about product validation and research, reach out to us on instagram @shopstudiosisters