Photography is usually the number one concern for Etsy sellers. Taking great pictures, and choosing the right images for our listings, is an important part of having a successful shop. Oh Canada Team member Darcy, of Splurge, shares some of her secrets to fantastic Etsy photos.
Oh Canada: What type of camera do you use?
Darcy: I use a Canon PowerShot SD850 IS. While I bought a much fancier camera last year, I haven't had the time nor desire to begin using it. I love that this one fits in the back pocket of my weekend jeans. What I don't like is that it has limited options for focus and close up shots.
Oh Canada: How do you light your images?
Darcy: I try and use natural light as much as possible. I do have 2 natural light lamps though I rarely use them in spring and summer. As the days get shorter in Calgary and good lighting harder to find, I will begin using the lamps again.
Oh Canada: Do you ever use a light box?
Darcy: No, I don't use a light box. I did make one last year and spent a lot of time with diffused lighting and product staging but felt my end result was too sterile for my designs. I have seen many photos on Etsy taken with a light box and they are excellent - it's just not for me.
Oh Canada: What materials do you like to use for backgrounds?
Darcy: I prefer natural wood backgrounds. I find the easiest background to use is grey weathered cedar as it works with almost every colour. The soft background also makes those photos easier to include in treasuries with a mix of items (in my opinion). I've moved more to a different wood background for aesthetics but I do miss grey, especially when working with blue and green items.
Oh Canada: Do you ever use models or props for staging your photos?
Darcy: No, I don't use props other than display items to show earrings hanging or a necklace on a bust. The design of my jewelry is simple and modern and I want the photos to have the same feel as my work.
Oh Canada: What’s your best tip for staging product shots?
Darcy: Watch your lighting!
Oh Canada: What’s the minimum number of photos you take per item?
Darcy: I take at least 10 photos per item, but often more if I find the layout or the lighting is tricky.
Oh Canada: Do you edit your photos before using them?
Darcy: Yes and no. I run the photos through free Picasa software but the edits don't seem to stick once I've transferred the photos to Etsy. I'm afraid that what you see in my listings may be exactly how the photo was taken. My goal in 2011 is to learn and use the PhotoShop software I've got stashed away.
Oh Canada: In your opinion, what makes a great “first photo” on Etsy?
Darcy: I would have to say it depends on the product category. I like when you don't necessarily see all of the item in the first photo or it is taken at an angle to pull you into the photo. Ideally the first photo gets people into the listing and the rest of the photos get them into your shop.
Oh Canada: When making treasuries, what do you look for in a first photo?
Darcy: Well, the easiest answer is kids and pets. If you've got one or the other in a treasury, you are likely to have more people clicking. Aside from that, strong photos with good lighting and good clarity.
Oh Canada: Can you share any more Etsy photo tips?
Darcy: Use the macro setting on your camera if you want to highlight details in a small piece. Adjust your white balance on your camera if you find photos in a light box or light background to be too yellow or blue. Use the forums to search for more information on photography.
One of the best things about using a distinct background and angle for your lead shots like Splurge is recognition. When people see your thumbnails, do they think "I know that shop!"?
Want to get more Etsy photo tips? Here are a few popular forum threads and blog posts with helpful ideas:
Etsy’s Guide to Photography
Stop Being Invisible
How to Improve Your Photos
Copyright 2010 Oh Canada and Splurge