photography tips

Make sure you have good light.

• Never have a window behind your products.
• Try not to have a window behind you, because you will cast a shadow over your products.
• Place your set-up next to a window, so that the light falls more naturally on your products. Do not place them in direct sunlight, however; north and south-facing windows are best. Use east and west facing windows only if the sun is not shining directly in. See the photos below for some samples of how to place your items near a window (not what the final image would look like).
• Try to only use natural light if you can—if you have to use lights, try using lamps and not overhead lights, placing them to the sides and not beaming light directly on your product.

Determine the best set up.

• Are your products easier to shoot from the side or from the top down?
o Flat items: might be easier to shoot from the top down so you do not have to try to hang them up. You will have to hold your phone in order to take these pictures.
o Dimensional items: easier to shoot from the side, which allows you to turn it 360°. You will need to set up a background and a surface for your products to sit on.
• Backgrounds
o If your products are colorful, consider a neutral background or muted color. This could be a piece of wood (an old door or panel, an old cutting board, or a piece of finished wood large enough to put your items against), a piece of fabric, or a wall (if located by a window)
o If your item is fairly neutral, you can use some color to brighten up the photo. Stay away from busy patterns or colors that don’t go with your product. If your product does not have bright white in it, stay away from bright white backgrounds.

Add some atmosphere.

• Sometimes it can help to add some props to show people how to use your product. Make sure to let them know in the item description if your props are not included in the purchase.
• For this time of year, you might add some Christmas greenery to make it festive.
• If your item has a specific use, make sure to show it being used in that way. People see the image before they read about it, and you want to capture their interest and give them an idea of what it’s for before they click away
• Keep things simple when you stage—you don't want your product to get lost in too many objects.
• Think about also taking a few shots with multiple products in them set up in decorative way to put on social media (and for us to use on this site).

Use a tripod to help with consistency and focus.

• There are some fairly inexpensive options for phone holders that can act as a tripod (see the image below for a favorite that can take pictures from top down and from the side). They can cost between $10 and $40 or more, and can make a photoshoot go much faster and easier.
• If you don’t have something that can hold your phone still, don’t worry! See the image below of the makeshift book setup. Just make sure to use smaller books so that they don’t end up in your photo or block too much of your view. If your phone needs to be higher, stack some larger books underneath.
• If you use the book set up (or a tabletop tripod) a table that is at the same height or lower than the table you are setting the items on works best. However, you can always raise and lower the table using books or boxes.
• If you use the book set up (or a tabletop tripod) a table that is at the same height or lower than the table you are setting the items on works best. However, you can always raise and lower the table using books or boxes.
• Choose a table that is at the same height or lower than the table you are setting the items on. You can always raise and lower the table using books or boxes.

Take your photos.

• Most phones have you touch where you want to focus. Make sure the product is what is in focus.
• Take two or three of each shot, just to make sure things are in focus. Take one vertical and one horizontal if you can. Make sure the entire piece is in the photo. Take one with something for size reference if you can.
• Remember that you will want to crop these depending on what your website/online retail method displays.
• Remember that the light changes as the day goes on. You may want to do several batches of photos at the same time each day for a few days to get more consistent lighting. A cloudy day will look different than a sunny day, but sometimes you can adjust the settings on your phone camera to compensate for that.
• If your product has more than one side (or an inside and outside) make sure to take enough pictures to give an accurate representation to the customer. Keep in mind if your online platform has an image limit.

Edit and upload your photos.

• Make sure to crop your images to the same size or ratio. I suggest cropping them a little bit even if you are leaving them the same direction that you took them, as you can close in on the important part of the image. Remember to check whatever store platform you are using to see what images would work best. Typically I use either a 5:7, 4:5, or 1:1 depending on what site or social media profile I am working on.
• Most phones have a way to crop the pictures right on there. Not sure how to crop your images? Google is your best friend! Just type in the type of phone you have and “how to crop images”
• For social media, keep in mind how things show up. Facebook is best with horizontal photos and Instagram works best with square photos.
• When you upload your photos, make sure to adjust the order so the photo you want seen first shows up first. For example, you probably don’t want the back or inside of your product showing up first.