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Category: Tutorials

Product Photography: Shooting your product

Finding a set up that works for you

Now that you have a better idea of how to take photos of your products in natural light, let’s explore actually photographing your product. In these next blog posts, you will learn lots of tips and tricks on setting up a shooting area, finding the best angle to shoot your product, how to capture the best pics to display your work, and more

Surfaces and backgrounds

What kind of vibe do you want? Are you shooting some clean shots for Etsy, are you trying to do some more editorial shots (your product in use)? You should try to do both! Etsy handbooks always suggest you have good product photos as well as photos of your product in use. These types of photos are great for selling your product through an image alone, and also great for social media and promotional imagery.

Discover your needs

First thing, do your research. What do you make? What vendor sells something similar and does well on Etsy? What do their photos look like? Who has something similar and has 10000 followers on Instagram, tons of likes and lots of comments? What does their feed look like?
What is your brand? What kind of look represents that? Is your work more rustic? Modern? Contemporary? Who is your target audience?
Answering these questions will help you get an idea of what look your image should have. I always suggest having a cleaner product shot, and then more editorial images that can show scale, use, etc. Finding a set up that is either permanent or easy to set up or both is key to keeping up with your photography needs.
Here are some examples of product photos I love on Instagram to give you a little inspiration

The Glitzy Gazelle is from Ontario, she makes this beautiful resin and polymer jewelry and her photos are great! She does a great job getting some nice clean product shots, and also some adding in visual interest (with textures from backgrounds and other items) and she does a beautiful job taking photos that show scale and use. These types of images are so very attainable for anyone – they require little set up, some imagination and nice light.

Little Custom Creations makes beautiful textile butterfly décor. They are incredibly successful with online sales and hail from Australia. Their Instagram and website feature beautiful artistic photos that show both the detail of their work as well as beautifully designed images that show the use of it.

Some other inspiration for clean images:

and some more editorial/products in use shots:

Product Photography: Using Natural Light Part 4

The product is about 2-3 feet from the background

You should now know exactly how to take your product photo with the light you are using, now let’s talk about the piece lots of people forget needs light too – backgrounds.

Backgrounds matter

Your background is an important part of your image. It sets the tone for the style you want, and while you want it to… fade into the background, it also needs a little love too.
The farther the background is from the product, the blurrier it will become. This is a great way to have a nice background make you product pop.

Your background also needs some light. The farther away it is from your light source, the darker your background will become. This is great if you are looking for something moody, but if you want something brighter (see below pic), you want to ensure you have enough light on the background too. If you have the option to situate your background near the light source you absolutely should. However, if you cannot move a wall closer to the window then this is where adding a few boards around your background will help.

Product Photography: Using Natural Light Part 3

You know how to place your product, what window you are using and when you are talking the shot. Now lets talk about how to add in more light or “bounce light”

“Bounce” in more light

What is “bouncing” light?? It is using a reflective surface for your light source to bounce off of and then that light bounce or reflects onto your subject. It is redirecting light.
How it works:
1. First you need something to bounce your light with. A shiny or matte white board is your best bet. You can pick up either a piece of foam core or Bristol board from the dollar store. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but the larger it is the more light you can bounce and the softer it will appear

2. Then you need to place or hold your board parallel to your light source, on the other side of your product (the side that the light is not closest to)

3. Experiment – move your board around a little and see how it effects the shadows on your product. Try adding in a second board above or another near where you are shooting from. Shift the boards back and forth, angled, side to side and see what gives you the best result

4. Take your pic!
5. See my next two blog posts for background tips, inspiration and set up ideas

Product Photography: Using Natural Light Part 2

Ok, so we talked about where to place your product. Now let’s chat about what is the best window in your space and when you should use it.

Its first thing in the morning the sun is streaming into your room. It’s so bright and warm, but not the best time to take pics. I love to use an eastern facing window between about 9:30 am and 11:30am or in the afternoon between 2pm and 4pm. Depending where you live and which way your windows face this could be different. Watch for lots of sun beams, we want to avoid shooting in a sun beam as much as possible. Take a few pics during the day to determine when you will have the “softest” light. This is when your image looks nice and bright but the light is very even, and not directional. You may find that a couple of windows look great at different times of day. I would pick a window that works best to set up on a regular basis or have a permanent set up. Having some lighting consistency in your images can make your work look more professional.

When we compare the images through the day, we can see a lot of differences in light. If you look at the shadow cast by the candle, you can see that at some times of day its quite harsh (almost black and crisp), and at other times it is soft grey and almost blurry. You want to pic the time of day that gives you the softest light. For me, around 1145 am at this time of year is going to give me the best light.
Another take away from this comparison is that during different times of day, not only is the quality of your light different, but also the temperature – this is the colour of the light. Later in the day the light is more blue, and earlier more yellow. The temperature can easily be altered later, so try to focus more on type of light you are getting vs the colour.


Editor’s Note: Products used are from Lamb & Kiss

Product Photography: Using Natural Light Part 1

Natural light is one of the easiest ways to photograph your products, with the minimal amount of equipment, and amazing results!
However, it can be a little tricky if you haven’t done it before – weird shadows , your colours looking off, or your image being too bright are just some of the obstacles you may encounter. Lets talk about some tips and tricks to get the absolute best photo you can.

Product Placement

Shooting with window behind me

Shooting near windows can be tricky business. Make sure your window is never behind your subject/product – a window should not be your backdrop. Instead situate your product so the light hits the front of your product or the front and the side.

If ever you are unsure, take a few shots a few different ways and compare results. Here are a few shots with the subject in the same place, and the camera in different places:

Shooting with window behind product

Shooting with window behind me

This is a great way to get lots of light on your product, but look out for your body potentially blocking your light. You will also see some shadowing behind your subject too

Shooting with product near window

Shooting with window behind product

With the window behind the product, you get lots of light on the backside but very little on the front of your products. This is not the best way to shoot your products

Shooting with product near window

With the window to the side of your product, you get a good even amount of light on one side of your product. You want to try to place your product so that the light is hitting at least part of the front. This my favorite way to shoot my product, because it produces natural shadows that enhance the image and has a good even about of light. BUT for this to work best we need to add in some light. We will talk about that soon!!

Navigating the Confusing World of Product Photography

You made this beautiful creation. You have spent time, energy, gave this piece a little slice of your soul and created it with love. Now you have to photograph it too???!!!

If any of you are like me, having to create this item but then to try to take these amazing photos so you can share and sell it online, is frustrating, to say the least. 99% of makers I have talked to have some kind of frustration dealing with shooting their product. Some just don’t know where to start, or have trouble figuring out how best photograph their specific product.

Others find that there are so many tutorials, products and suggestions on how to shoot their product it feels overwhelming. There are so many aspects of taking photos of your products, but it can be fairly simple, and I am here to help. Over this series I am going to share some tips and tricks of the trade to help you navigate this crazy world of photography so you can really focus you creativity on making and selling your creations – without tears and stress.

Over this series I am going to walk you through a number of different aspects of product photography, including:

  • Lighting – how to find the right light and use it advantageously
  • Basic Composition techniques
  • Backgrounds and product placement
  • Editing
  • Styling images to your brand
  • Equipment suggestions and how to DIY your own tools

I hope you stay with me over the course of this series and please feel free to leave comments below with any questions or suggestions that you may have.


Follow along with our Maker Member Meghan from Sew Shenanigans as she takes you through the wonderous world of product photography.