Whether you have an Etsy shop or a craft blog, your photography is a crucial part of your online presence. Good pictures make people want to buy your items and replicate your crafts! A good picture can draw in your audience and make them stay, and sets you up as an authority on your subject.
You don't have to have a fancy camera to take good pictures- you can get some great shots with a point and shoot camera with a few simple tips (and some photo editing! Good software, in my book, is a MUST!).
First, think of how you are composing your shots. Try to stage your product in a way your reader/customer would be using your item. For example, with my Etsy shop's burlap pew cones, I always try to put some cute dried or silk flowers in them. I hang them in front of my door, or on a Shepard's hook like you might find at an outdoor wedding. I haven't had time yet to take them to church, but soon I will.
Second, be aware of how you are composing your shot. You want to get in close to your product, but still give it some sense of scale. Take this first picture of the pew cone-
There is just so much door in the shot, it is completely uninteresting. While yes, you can crop down your image, you will get a much better end product if you get right up close (sometimes when you crop, the image will get pixelated when you then enlarge it back to the original shot's size).
By just taking a few steps closer, you have a dramatically different picture.
The cone looks so much better! I've still included enough detail of the door (the peephole and hook) to give the cone some scale, but by filling the frame with my subject, my readers should be drawn into my photo. When your shot is in a crowded marketplace like Etsy, or a link party that's bursting at the seams it needs to stand out to get noticed.
Now that it's staged well, let's do some quick edits to this shot to make it pop even more. I am using Adobe Lightroom- but you can do these actions on Adobe Elements and iPhoto, too (some of the wording will be different in iPhoto). These are just four BASIC ways to edit your photos- we will cover more later.
When you have a photo you like, there are a few easy adjustments you can do to make them "pop" and add depth to your shot. I start by adjusting the exposure and the blacks (on iPhoto under edit (the edit next to your photo, not in the top bar) you'll click "lighten" and "saturate". It won't look as good as Adobe fixes, but it will do a decent job). Under the "develop" tab in lightroom, you'll find the first adjustments at the top:
See how there's a bit more color and brighter highlights?
You can then add darker edges to your photo (to make it a little more dramatic, and to really set it apart from the background) by adjusting the Vignette. I am using the "lens correction" adjustments under the Vignette category.
You can also download some free presets online to give your photos all sorts of vintage, aged, grainy and black and white looks. Google "free preset" and download what stands out to you (any website you download from will have instructions on how to upload the presets into elements, lightroom, or photoshop). When they are uploaded, click on them and it's magically changed for you!
A super-artsy shot using Steller Guru's "Green Gold"
Finally, sometimes you are just going to have to play with light, and accept that not all crafts photograph well. For example, when I made my Picnic Bunting, we were going through a long, dark week in Northern Colorado. I just couldn't seem to get a good shot- all of the outdoor shots were dark and dreary- and when I took photos inside, the banner's shiny plastic reflected too much light. With my Etsy shop, I would have waited a few days to take an acceptable photo- but with my craft blog I just had to offer my apologies and move on! Similarly, the labeled herb jars I just featured were downright impossible to make look cute. The glass just doesn't photograph well- while it looks wonderful in light. I have a newfound admiration for people who sell glass products online- they have some fabulous photographers because that is NOT an easy one to master!