Product Photography on Etsy

I started off taking photos on a sheet in bright sunlight when I started on Etsy and was quickly told that they weren’t very good. Then I moved to taking photos on a mannequin in front of a brick wall in the shade outside my house, and while they were a lot better, I had no idea how to improve.

I didn’t (and still don’t) have a lot of money to spend on photography props and lights. I was lucky enough to meet Lyndsey James at an Etsy Team Captain Summit in Berlin. She teaches product photography with her business Photocraft and set up a free webinar that I attended and learned some tips to improve my photos.

For my inside photos for small items, I went out and bought a sheet of MDF (particle board) and got it cut into pieces that I thought would work. I’d get bigger pieces next time for the size of the items I make. I painted one piece white, covered a large piece with wallpaper – an off-white with a brocade-style pattern of large roses and covered 2 sides of a smaller piece with 2 more wallpapers. I bought a roll for the big sheet, and got samples for the smaller one.

Inside set-up
Inside set-up

I covered a piece of cardboard I already had with aluminum foil to use as a reflector.
I got a plain piece of net curtain to use as a diffuser on the window; it’s attached with blue tac. I only take photos in indirect light, no sunlight. Cloudy days are very good for photo-taking. I take maybe 7-8 shots at different angles, different parts of the item, and spend more time setting up for each item then taking photos. It’s a lot faster and much less frustrating than taking 40+ photos and trying to figure out which ones are good enough to use. I use bits out of boxes of pot pourri in different colours as accents.

I prop my camera on a stack of books as needed and use the timer on my camera. I’ve used this set up with an old point & shoot camera, an ipad and my new DSLR, and have had good results from all of them. Even a camera phone nowadays has a better camera on it than that old point & shoot….

Sometimes I need to lighten up the photos, but most of the time I only have to crop them. Here’s a shot of a lotion bottle with the foil and without – it really does make a difference!

Without foil
Without foil
With foil
With foil

I’ll do another post about my outside photo-taking for my scarves…. which is now here

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