Monday , 27 March 2017
One of the most asked about and important aspects of an online shop is it’s photos. A prospective purchaser has only the computer to envision your item. You want to try to convey in a photo what one would see and feel if they were able to physically touch the item. What is the color, the size, the texture?

What is the color, the size, the texture? Product Photography Tips for your Online Shop

One of the most asked about and important aspects of an online shop is it’s photos.  A prospective purchaser has only the computer to envision your item.  You want to try to convey in a photo what one would see and feel if they were able to physically touch the item.  What is the color, the size, the texture?

I really struggled with my photography, and I still do now but luckily I have gotten much better.  I searched the net, asked questions in online forums and what I got was the deafening sound of crickets.  I even asked a couple of friends who do professional photography and they noted that jewelry is by far one of the hardest items to photograph.  So for the next two years I got really chummy with my camera.  I use a Cannon Powershot SX20IS.  However it is not so much about the camera as it is about the set up.  And photo editing software is your best friend.  I wasted a lot of time and money on set ups that just didn’t work for me.  Outdoor direct sun is too harsh and shadowing is too heavy to be diffused properly for up close items.  I tried doing it under a covered area in the shade and this also didn’t work as it gave a bluish cast to the photos.  I tried a light box.  What a waste of money this was.  I didn’t care for it AT ALL.  The light was very harsh and artificial looking.  And dealing with the reflection off of jewelry was a nightmare.  There are ways around this but again, more money.  I decided it wasn’t right for the look I was trying to convey.  If you are looking for a catalog type image this could work for you.  It will give clean crisp images, but for me they are a bit too sterile.  I am an artist so I wanted to have arty type images.

What has worked best for me is direct morning light between 9 am and 11 am through a window.  I hold up a piece of tracing paper between the window and the item as it help to diffuse and reflect the light.  It helps cut down on shadow and reflections of the camera or items around the room.  You want to make sure you have your white balance set properly.  Play with your camera and figure out what looks best.  I always use a cloudy day setting. You will want to set your exposure also.  Exposure is the amount of light collected in the sensor.  Too much and it will be washed out and too little and it will appear too dark.  But it is better it be too dark then too light as darkness can be corrected in your editing.  Your goal is to get the best possible photo prior to edit.  For most items you are going to want to use your macro setting.  This is the setting on your digital camera with the little flower.  This is best for close ups of your items.  You will want to look at your camera manual to familiarize yourself with how these settings work.

As far as backgrounds go props are nice but I feel they distract from the item.  You want the viewer to be clear on what you are selling and make sure nothing else is detracting from your item.  I use a large floor tile for my background.  You want a matte finish so there isn’t a lot of reflection and you want a light color, something neutral.  Also you don’t want a lot of texture especially with the macro setting.

Bronze Coil Wrapped Chalcedony Necklace By Bellina Creations

Finally a tripod.  You may feel as if you are holding relatively still but many cameras can pick up even the tiniest of shake causing your photo to just not be as clear as you would like.  I rarely use a tripod because of my set up as it doesn’t allow me to get close enough and easily get the angles I would like.  So I use the table to stabilize the camera.  Take lots of photos from different angles.  I freely hold my tracing paper so I can move it around and play with different amounts of light.

Lastly you want a way to convey the size of the item as well as well as what it looks like on.  Descriptions are great but rarely is a customer going to sit down and break out a ruler to see what the dimensions you listed actually look like.  They are going to go by your photos.  So find a way to show size.  Hold it in your hand, put it next to a object such as a coin, and if it is an item to be worn show it so.  If you can get someone to model it for you wonderful.  And if not get a mannequin bust do the job for you.  They don’t complain and they work for free.

Bronze Coil Wrapped Chalcedony Necklace By Bellina Creations

I did not learn overnight and there was a lot of trial and error.  Rome wasn’t built in a day so give yourself time to find out what works best for you and hopefully these tips will help get you on your way.  I will provide more tips and tricks for how to edit your photos in upcoming blog posts.

Guest post by: Bellina Creations 

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25 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. It is a big learning curve for me take pictures of my jewelry. It needs lots of trial and error.

    acupofsparkle.etsy.com

  2. I’m currently researching buying a mannequin. I’m hoping they will make a longer necklace look good. I find those so hard to look good in a photo. Loved reading this article, thanks.

    • I have a smaller bust from Michaels, and when I photograph my longer necklaces, I tie up the chain in the back to make the necklace sit nicely and to photograph well.

  3. This is really helpful! I really like your suggestion for using tracing paper to diffuse light – can’t wait to try that!

  4. Great article bellina!. I’m going to go and buy tracing paper so i can take pictures in the am. I stopped doing that because the pictures never looked good and started taking pictures in the afternoon in a window that faces east because that gives me the best picture but limits when i can take my pictures. Anyway my point is that i appreciate the tracing paper point:)

  5. What a wonderful article Bellina. I loved reading it. Very helpful…tracing paper, who would have thought?

    Thank-you!

  6. Thanks for the tips. You are right about the trial and error. I just read last week that each camera has an actual macro setting distance. The smaller the distance, the better the details in the closeup. My Kodak Easyshare has a macro distance of 10, whereas some of the Canons (and other cameras) have a macro distance of 1, which gives better closeups. No one tells you about all of these little details for shooting small photography items. There is a blog about Small Object Photography, http://smallobjectphotography.blogspot.com/, that I started following to get good ideas. I found out about it through Handmadeology, of course. Good Luck with your sales!

    VansDollTreasures.etsy.com

  7. Bobbi helms. Fatdogbeads

    Great article. I agree about the
    Iight box. It was a waste for me. I make a lot of bracelets and found a
    Nice jewelry stand in the shape of a hand. And i also went to home depot and bought a number of different tiles. Best $10 investment i made!

  8. Thank you all! So glad I could help. Vannessa I agree really knowing the camera and it’s capabiliites is vitaly important. I would prefer an SLR with a macro lens but it’s costly. Maybe down the road.

    Bobbi I totally agree! I got a HUGE tile and it cost me only a few dollars. Now the money I wasted on the light box and all the lighting..now THAT makes me cringe!

  9. Thank yo sooo much for this very helpful information.

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve tried everything that you’ve mentioned and my pictures sucked until I bought a Canon SLR. Much better pictures, but now they’ll be glorious because of your excellent tips!!

  11. Photos have always been my down fall as well. Chek out my photos and give any tips please. http://www.etsy.com/shop/Blessed2010

    Have a great day

  12. I have the same camera as you. Great tips! I never would have thought to use the cloudy day setting. I’ll give it a whirl. Jeanie, I have the same problem with photographing long necklaces. I tie them up and hang them on “Sophie”, (my resin girl head), but she isn’t quite life-sized either, so that really isn’t representing the size as well as I’d like. I like the idea of holding it in my hand. That would show the size of the pendant at least. Great tips!
    Dawn

  13. Great article!!
    Thanks for the tips, there is DEFINITELY a BIG learning curve!!

  14. This is incredible and noteworthy advice!
    I set my jewelry on my paper on the higest part my bead table. Then moved my bead table to the window. I took shots of 3 pieces of jewelry in an hour or just a bit more. Sometimes this has taken me an hour for each piece.
    I changed my settings to cloudy, as suggested also.
    I have never gotten pic’s as well as these, and hardly any editing. Most of them just took a crop and resize!
    I am still a small person, BUT there is a lotta BIG advice in this article. so, read, and apply, and you’ll be amazed as I was/as <3

  15. I’m so hapy the tips are helping. This is only part of the big picture. Photo editing is the rest. I will write about a step by step article on that soon.

    Denise I would try brightening your photos a bit. Picasa offers a totally free program that you can use to edit photos in minutes.

  16. Dawn I do exactly that in some of my photos to show size. I think I paid maybe $30 for my bust. It is very long so it easily displays a longer piece. But I still struggle with photos of that. They never come out as detailed as I could like.

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/76058116/blue-cobalt-ocean-teardrop-necklace

  17. Hi,
    Really informative and easy to digest blog. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to your next tips. Have a good day, sell alot, and stay grounded. peace, elizabeth

  18. Please don’t forget to visit my blog:

    http://bellinacreations.blogspot.com/ as I have many more helpful articles there.

  19. Great tips. I’ve had a really hard time photographing my work. I have origami paper mobiles that are large in size but small on details. I’ve tried so many different techniques and lots of natural light but it’s still not there. I’d love some suggestions, maybe there is something out there that I’m missing. Peace & ♥ AnnMarie http://www.etsy.com/shop/amgdesignstudio

  20. Helpful post! Thank you! I still struggle with photos, but I am improving.

  21. Great tips, thanks! I have incorporated many of them as I’ve learned about them recently and they have all helped my photography improve also.

    Another tip I learned from a photography friend is to take a piece of cardboard and cover it with foil to use as a reflector. It will softly reflect light back onto your item and it can help decrease shadows. You’ll have to hold the cardboard yourself or have a friend do it for you but it works well.

  22. I photograph a lot of pillows. Do you have any specific tips for photographing them. I thought about a light box but I suspect that is not the best solution. Generally pillows need to lean against something to be photographed.

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