Photography tips

I know many of our team members are new, some have been on Etsy for a while and some are like me, have been on Etsy for years.  My goal is to help everyone get more views and sell their wonderful shop items, so here are some tips on photographing your items.  Ahhhhh…to use a white background or not, that is the question.  And, here is my answer:

If you study the Front Page Treasuries you will notice that a mass amount of curators actually prefer white or neutral backgrounds.

Most FP Curators will tell you bluntly, if your item isn’t on a white or neutral background chances are they wont feature it. Why? They love the crisp and professional appearance white backgrounds offer.

This is a personal preference, as for me, I prefer white backgrounds for my items because they are brightly colored, I don’t want to over stimulate my shoppers with TOO much color!

Notice in the picture above that the item is so bright in color that if it were to have a colored background it would be over-kill.

Of course you must keep in mind not everyone is “Plain Vanilla” and some of us like to indulge in a more “Flavorful” option, and so that brings me to this; Colored backgrounds are fine if they are done in a way that is visually appealing to the shopper. You don’t want to place your gorgeous pink knit scarf on a screaming blue background, or your lovely lavender jewelry on a fire engine red background.

Use colors that work with your item, think about this: Your item needs to attract the shoppers eye, not get distracted or be visually over-stimulated by a too much of a good thing.

Look at these beautiful items, that were photographed on beautiful color backgrounds. You want to make sure that your background compliments your items like the ones featured below. These were are truly stunning, notice how the color makes the item pop!

This black background is perfect for this jewelry by devorajewellery, it really makes the item more dazzling!

Scarlet or red hues are hard to match items with, however LeBoudoirNoir did a stunning job photographing her item in this photo!

I always suggest that you play around with colored backgrounds, take photos of your item on a few different backgrounds and then view them to see which is more visually appealing. Use props sparingly and make sure your items “FLOW” and match each other.

LunaTerra created a beautiful background that complimented her item very well.

Here are some tips on using color:

White/light neutral:The white or light colored neutral can be striking because it provides a stark contrast. It’s simple and works for a large variety of products. Be careful with your light balance when using this background. Experiment until you get a setting that is just right with bright, balanced light. You may need to change your settings for different items, depending on the item colors, so don’t be afraid to keep making adjustments until you are satisfied with the photo.

Gray/dark neutral: Gray can provide a softer neutral than white does without compromising the stark contrast. Be careful not to use a background that’s too dark or your item may get lost in the shadows.

JumiFelt has one of the most amazing use of a gray background for their item, it holds your attention by making the item “POP”!

Patterned Backgrounds: Rule of thumb, use minimal patterned background. You dont want a “BUSY” background that will deter attention away from your item. Use lightly patterned backgrounds, and ones that work with your item. The following items below have “Patterned” backgrounds that work with the item photographed.

Notice with yifatbareket shop item she used a lightly patterned background.

LBlackbournJewelry shop had the right idea with this background, notice that they kept it to a minimal so the item really “Stands Out”.

gazellejewelry shop item was photographed beautifully with a “Lightly Patterned” background, notice how well the background used “WORKS” with the earrings, they really stand out and grab your attention!

Color(s) to match the item: Some sellers like to choose background colors that will compliment their items. Sometimes this provides clarity will not come out with a stark color. Be careful that the new color does not distract from your item.

Here are some great examples below:

TheSpangledMaker made the perfect choice in this red background, it really complimented these cuff links well.

Notice how well laTeefahDoLLs1898 background matches her item? The item and background work really well together.

New or old book – open or closed, and script: The open book provides a similar black/white contrast that the sheet music does. Think about what sort of book would suit the items that you’re photographing. Consider the color and age of the book as well as the size and characteristics of the font. Almost anything vintage is very popular on Etsy. Don’t use a vintage image for this background or prop choice if it doesn’t fit with your items. There are lots of modern as well as different types of retro books to choose from that may be a better fit.

Here are some great examples of how to use books for props in your photographs:

Roomofyourown did a fabulous job incorporating a book as a prop for her item.

recreated1 used a great background that resembles a vintage magazine ad, notice how it doesn’t overpower her item, but instead “Matches” the feel of her pendant.

Snobishdesign incorporated script as a background for her lovely item, notice how it isn’t overpowering her item.

Prop that fits your shop style: Again, be careful to use props that fit your shop. Don’t use props simply because they are trendy. Also make sure that the props that you’re using compliment your items and don’t distract from them.

I love the way SchneiderGallery incorporated a clear glass rod as a prop to showcase their ring.

Music/sheet music: There are many types of sheet music out there. If music is one of your passions, try experiment with different music backgrounds. Make sure that it doesn’t distract from the piece and that your item coordinates with the black and white.

Here is an item from Harrysgirls that was photographed on sheet music, notice how the sheet music compliments the bracelet:

Magazines/old cards/other photos: Pictures can make interesting backdrops when the colors and style compliment your items. Just make sure not to get an over cluttered look.

VickiDianeDesigns did a wonderful job using a photograph as a background for her jewelry, it fits together very well.

Outdoor settings: There are numerous possibilities for outdoor settings including grass, benches, and cement. If possible, avoid shooting in direct sunlight. Look for settings that have filtered sunlight. If you’re shooting small items, you can create cheap light filters by using your light box outside or using other simple set ups with white cardboard, fabric, or paper.

I love the outdoor setting chasitypetersen uses (as well as a live model) for their handmade scarf, it meshes very well together for a “Natural” look and feel.

Indoor settings: If you’re not interested in using a light box, there are lots of indoor settings to try, such as window sills, tables, counters, make sure it coordinates with your item!

Search for areas in your house that have lots of natural light. If you’ve found an ideal backdrop that doesn’t have much natural light or you’re planning to do a lot of shooting during non-daylight hours or when it’s overcast, consider using Ott bulbs.

These mugs by CANADIANCREATIONZ look perfect sitting upon a shelf, a great way to display an items indoors.

kerijoy did a phenomenal job pf photographing her art. It is great in the aspect that the shopper can “SEE” how the art will look hanging on a wall.

Mannequin: It is almost always beneficial to show your items modeled. A mannequin is one option for this. Depending on the type of items that you’re photographing, you can use either a full or half body. You can use a hand model for bracelets and rings. If you don’t want to model all of your items on a mannequin, shoot one or two items from a product line on the mannequin and include these shots as examples for all product line listings. You can also use necklace displays to demonstrate how necklaces and pendants will hang.

HappyCapatiller used a mannequin for displaying her item, it worked very well and shows the item off nicely.

Here, filofashion made great use of a mannequin to showcase their item!

Live model: Again, you can use one photo as an example for entire line of products or made to order items if you don’t want to model or use models for everything that you made. If you aren’t comfortable with modeling your own items, see if you can recruit a friend or family member to model for you. If you model your own items, use the self-timer on your camera or have someone shoot photos for you.

Live models can make your item come to life like in the photograph of this item by stelladottir.

This item from Urte gives the shopper a great idea of how the clothing will fit on a toddler, this is a great example of how to make a live model work for your item.

Use of a Light box: I LOVE my light box! The best investment I could have made! Dont get me wrong, I also believe in using natural light light as much as possible, with or without a light box. There is no one right way to photograph your items so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Here is a great example of an item I photographed without a light box (specifically for this article) notice how drab it is and also the red tinge it adopted?

Now, here is the same item photographed in my light box. Notice how crisp and bright my item is and just by using a light box!

Packaging prop: One way to stay competitive on Etsy is to have attractive, personalized packaging. Some sellers choose to enclose a photo that showcases their packaging. I chose to include my packaging in some listings. I have seen many sellers photograph their jewelry on their packaging as a prop, truly a neat idea that can produce a beautiful outcome!

Here is a great example from AmpleGoddess:

Size prop: It is helpful to have at least one photo for a listing that indicates the size of the object. Even if you include measurements in the listing (which you should), this visual is still important. You can include a small object such as a coin in the photo to provide a frame of reference. You can also hold the object in your hand or if appropriate, model it yourself.

I love how DeLoop shows off her item size by holding it, notice how she cropped the image so that only a portion of the hand is in the photograph.

All in all, experiment as much as you can. Your photograph is how you sell your items, really put your “all” into it!

One last and very important note, if you are trying to get your items on the Front Page of Etsy, it is very important to refrain from posting any type of TEXT or COPYRIGHT images on your items. (Example is using copyrighted props, etc.)

If you have any comments, advice or questions, leave them below. 🙂

Peace, Love and Hippie Chic Jewelz



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