The Etsy Blog

Shop Makeover Series: Photographing for Success

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

As part of our Shop Makeover series, here we focus on photography.

The absolute best way to give your Etsy shop a makeover is to take the best possible photographs of your products, no question.

Why is it such a big deal? Photographs are the number one visual description you can give to a shopper when browsing on Etsy: they are the first step in attracting people to your items. Think about it: when you shop in a store, you like to look at an item, maybe pick it up, feel its weight and texture. These are all ways of shopping and making decisions during the shopping process, so you want to be on top of your game since you can’t physically hand your products to your shopper.  You need to show them, through your photographs, what your product is at its best, what is feels like, how big it is, all sides of it, and how it might function in their world.  The best part is, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture professional looking photographs of your products.

Questions to ask yourself when taking photos:

• What type of environment does my product live in?

Creating or “staging” an environment for your photo is a great way to market your items to shoppers; it gives them a sense of the function and also creates a feeling or mood that might be desirable to your shopper.  To find creative staging ideas, flip through your favorite product or clothing catalogues and check out the different ways you can group items together to maximize the usability of your products.

Hot tip: Does your product function outside or inside? Photographing an item outside (that doesn’t belong in an outside environment) can throw your shopper off.  You can photograph your items inside with great natural light next to a windowsill!

• What type of background works best for my products?

Photographing with backgrounds suited to your products is key.  Backgrounds can be tricky, and if they aren’t done well, can distract your buyer from looking at your item.  You can never go wrong using a solid colored background, at least to start out with.  Make your products “pop” and stand out to the eye by using a lighter colored background for dark colored items, and vice versa. If you have a muted item, use a dark background. Experiment with different backgrounds until you find what works best with your products.

Hot tip: Hard cover books, cardstock, ironed flat fabric, wood, and scrapbooking paper are all great backgrounds to play around with.  Stay away from using your floor, bedspread, carpet, grass, sidewalk, or other everyday items as backgrounds: they make your photos look less professional.

• What type of lighting works best for my products?

In most cases, natural lighting is the best type to highlight your products.  You can achieve the look of natural lighting by setting your products near a windowsill and taking angled shots. Don’t forget to take advantage of using the” macro” setting on your digital camera to pick out those fine details. Also, set your EV white balance to enhance the brightness of your photos.

Don’t have windows where you live? Take your items outside, either in the morning or afternoon when the sun is not directly overhead, and set your products down on a solid background that you can crop. If you can’t work with natural lighting or it doesn’t maximize the look of your products, try making and using a light box with this simple tutorial.

Hot tip: Never use the flash on your camera for product shots. It washes out natural coloring and details in your products.

• Am I editing my photographs to maximize my sales on Etsy?

Believe it or not, you can edit your photos in a way to help your products stand out. When editing your photos, crop them the way you want them to appear in a square; this is how they will appear in your shop. Crop your images in a way that focuses directly on the image without too much background or space remaining to distract your viewer.

Cropping detailed shots of your images is an effective way to show off your product and make your shopper feel like they can see it up close (almost as if they are picking it up themselves).  Photoshop and Gimp are both well known and effective photo editing programs. If you don’t already have a photo editing program on your computer or just don’t understand how your current program works, download PicasaPicasa is a free downloadable photo editing program made by Google that is super user friendly; it allows you to crop, change color, adjust lighting, sharpen, and many other editing tools!

Hot tip: Scroll through the Time Machine 2 sold items or the Gift Guides and click on the pictures that jump out most to you.  Take a look at the cropping and editing of these photos and use them as your inspiration.

Things you can do immediately to give your shop an instant photo makeover:

• Take all of your new product listing photos in natural light, next to a windowsill on some sort of a solid background, with no flash on your camera.
• Take several different angled shots of the item from close and far away.
• Once you have the photos loaded on your computer, you can edit them to your liking and delete all but the five you will use for your listing.
• Look over the items currently listed in your shop and take the time to re-shoot them using your new photography skills. Trust me, it will pay off in the end.

Still need some help?  Watch this little video we made to help you along with the photographing process.

Now go retake your photos and see what a difference it makes in the way your shop looks!

  • ColibriDreams

    ColibriDreams says:

    Thanks for the article! I checked few of my first photos, and I'm definitely going to shoot them again... Maybe I even relist them.

    6 years ago

  • yumiyumi

    yumiyumi says:

    This is such a great article :) I've been thinking about photographing my art to give my customers a better idea of what they look like in person and I really appreciate the tips!

    6 years ago

  • spugmeistress

    spugmeistress says:

    Just to add to the image-editing options, for people who might not be able to download programs to their computer or want something quick and easy, websites like http://www.phixr.com or http://www.pxn8.com might be the answer. also flickr has in built photo-editing now too.

    6 years ago

  • tashamck

    tashamck says:

    http://www.picnik.com is another online photo editing option and it works great alongside flickr.

    6 years ago

  • threemusesart

    threemusesart says:

    Wonderful article... I had to learn most of this through asking a million questions and taking a million product photos. Thanks for putting this together!

    6 years ago

  • EtsyStore Admin

    EtsyStore says:

    I'm so glad you like it and are getting some good information from the article! Thanks so much for all the tips and links! Keep them coming. http://webresizer.com is also a great photo editor that we use here in the Labs! Mary

    6 years ago

  • MayaBella

    MayaBella says:

    AH!!! I have had the worst time getting my pictures right. I am going to go work on it more using these tips. I swear im going to lose all my hair by the time I get good pics!

    6 years ago

  • MayaBella

    MayaBella says:

    I think a problem I have is that the light coming in the window is different from day to day. So my pics are not consistent. It is so frustrating! I have a lot of confidence in my product but I dont think my pictures do them justice! :(

    6 years ago

  • hippiehempstress

    hippiehempstress says:

    i followed most of the advice on this page, and boy did it make a difference! here are some of my old pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14557330@N08/sets/72157603679803467/ here's my shop with the NEW photos: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5502895 I've been getting lots more views and hearts, just in the last 2 or 3 hours since i changed them! i wish i had taken a screen shot of my shop before... it was horrid. *L* My friend who's a web designer is working on a new banner and avatar for me. When that's done i'll be good to go!

    6 years ago

  • bluevalentinepress

    bluevalentinepress says:

    Thanks so much for a great article. I've been following the whole series and finding it very helpful. Today I took the time to re-do most of my photos using many of your tips. Thanks! Beth

    6 years ago

  • quirkybags

    quirkybags says:

    There are some great suggestions here. I would love to see an article specifically about photographing large items. For example, large totes, blankets, quilts, furniture and similar items.

    6 years ago

  • PrettyPennyPlastics

    PrettyPennyPlastics says:

    A++ Would watch again!

    6 years ago

  • makemesmile

    makemesmile says:

    Great makeover, hippiehempstress! (I'm still trying to find my perfect photo setting.)=^x^=

    6 years ago

  • GracefulBabies

    GracefulBabies says:

    thank thank I love the part about the models. I sell childrens clothing but I wasnt sure if I should continue having models or use a body form. I am going to keep the models and just a use a consitant background. Thank you!

    6 years ago

  • suella

    suella says:

    Thanks a load. I'm still playing with the camera and lighting but I edited some previous items with new pictures and I think it's made such a huge difference. Definitely worth taking the time to mess around.

    6 years ago

  • ArtFlair

    ArtFlair says:

    I decided to try some new photo's of my artwork. (Encouraged by fellow forum goers.) I started looking at my "subjects" as though they were a 3D object and re-shot most of my work. Fingers crossed- hope it pays off. http://www.flickr.com/photos/22904158@N08/sets/72157603782902090/detail/

    6 years ago

  • HelloHobbies

    HelloHobbies says:

    great article and amazing video :D

    6 years ago

  • theflashbulb

    theflashbulb says:

    thanks for the great tips (and it looks like you guys had a lot of fun making the video)

    5 years ago

  • BlackStarDesigns

    BlackStarDesigns says:

    Great info in this video!

    5 years ago

  • tonyaomps

    tonyaomps says:

    First thing in the morning I am going to take new pictures of my items for sale using the tips from the video! Thanks again!

    5 years ago

  • LynnsBeadsNThings

    LynnsBeadsNThings says:

    Some great tips here! I have revamped once but think I need to give it another go! Thanks

    5 years ago

  • SugarPopKreations

    SugarPopKreations says:

    can I ask the default size for pics, no matter how I crop-resize them my pics always seem to get cut off. I use paint shop pro and even tried a screenshot to get the size with no luck. Thanks for the great article.

    5 years ago

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo says:

    Make sure your default size is at least 430x430 pixels square!

    5 years ago

  • CoolSunshine

    CoolSunshine says:

    i have a ways to go, but i am having fun with props and background.

    5 years ago

  • snowfaerie

    snowfaerie says:

    Great ideas for re doing photos! I'll be sure to try some of these! Thank you.

    5 years ago

  • twistedsisterarts

    twistedsisterarts says:

    I wish I would have seen this sooner. I'm gonna get busy.

    5 years ago

  • PDXfabricdeli

    PDXfabricdeli says:

    Good advise, I have yet to master the realy "good" close up. Thanks

    5 years ago

  • inkets

    inkets says:

    tHAnk yOU, vEry HeLpfUl!!! sOoOoOoOo mAnY gReAt phOtOs oN EtSy it'S cLEar iT rEaLly mAkEs aLL tHe dIfFerEnCE!!!!!

    5 years ago

  • jemily

    jemily says:

    Thank you so much for the informative information on photos! I have revamped my shop! Old photos: http://www.etsy.com/view_transaction.php?transaction_id=11371392 http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=16478944 New photos: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18152542 http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=19641836 What a difference!

    5 years ago

  • RockOnAccessories

    RockOnAccessories says:

    awesome article, thanks for all the tips....I'm off to re-photograph!

    5 years ago

  • SweetMelissaDesigns

    SweetMelissaDesigns says:

    Great tips! Thank you!

    5 years ago

  • sosustainable

    sosustainable says:

    this article is super helpful! thanks.

    5 years ago

  • rosalee2

    rosalee2 says:

    Thanks for all the tips,very helpful.

    5 years ago

  • belladonnabaubles

    belladonnabaubles says:

    thanks for the great advice! i spent hours photographing my items and then when i went to upload all of them, it said my pixel size was too large. i was stumped! is this what the "macro" setting does?

    5 years ago

  • kellee11

    kellee11 says:

    Thanks so much for this visual article. My picture taking is beginner at best, but the info in this article was very helpful. Makes me want to re-take most of my pics. Thanks again!

    5 years ago

  • 2007Mommy

    2007Mommy says:

    Oh Thanks so much! Now I'm on the hunt for supplies so I can improve my shots! Thanks so much!

    5 years ago

  • grandmasjewelry777

    grandmasjewelry777 says:

    Thanks so much GMJ

    5 years ago

  • SarikArt

    SarikArt says:

    I have been giving a lot of time to my photo's and have been very happy with all the positice feedback I have had from friends and family. I use a leaf as the background for my jewerlly and it has really worked for my items. Great video, thank you for allways getting so much great info to us all etsy Sellers!

    5 years ago

  • snipandtuckdesigns

    snipandtuckdesigns says:

    Thanks so much for the help I need it my photos just don't POP hopefully now they will. I'm going out now to give it a go.

    4 years ago

  • ChateauDesigns

    ChateauDesigns says:

    Oh boy, I think I'm going to have to re-take my pictures. Hope I have better results this time. Thanks for all the tips.

    4 years ago

  • PrudenceOctavia

    PrudenceOctavia says:

    the right picture does make all the difference - great tips, thanks

    4 years ago

  • CandiedBeauty

    CandiedBeauty says:

    awesome thanks!

    4 years ago

  • LilLizaJane

    LilLizaJane says:

    I have the same problem as Belladonnabaubles! I've taken LOADS of photos in preparation for listing for the first time and they've taken me AGES and now I find the file size is too large for your site. Spent a lot on a new camera to do the job too! I'm not a happy bunny. Can any of these editing sites reduce the file size?

    4 years ago

  • SewManyFreckles

    SewManyFreckles says:

    Great tips! I can't wait to try them out.

    4 years ago

  • steampunkjunq

    steampunkjunq says:

    Very good information! Thanks! :)

    4 years ago

  • usnavyretiredvet

    usnavyretiredvet says:

    Great article! You mentioned that Etsy crops listing photos to 430 pixels wide. When I joined Etsy just over 2 years ago, the instructions stated they need to be 1,000 by 1,000 pixels. Has that requirement been changed? All of my listing photos are 1000 by 1000 pixels, and they all show within the frame edges. Am I missing something?

    4 years ago

  • animalartista

    animalartista says:

    great article! Thanks for the tips!

    4 years ago

  • littlemoandfriends

    littlemoandfriends says:

    always a good read when i want to tidy up my shop sometimes and photograph my stationery and art! cheers!

    4 years ago

  • LaComtesseDeTalaru

    LaComtesseDeTalaru says:

    Oh goody. I just bought a light fold up box today and was wondering how to improve my pics as I am not entirely happy with them. I hope to update most of the shots this weekend.

    4 years ago

  • suwanneesongdesigns

    suwanneesongdesigns says:

    Thanks much for the info. As a newbie, it was quite helpful. I'll be taking some new photos tomorrow, for sure!!!

    4 years ago

  • kinaloon

    kinaloon says:

    I'm taking new photos tonight, thanks for the tips.

    4 years ago

  • Tina669

    Tina669 says:

    Great info in this video!

    4 years ago

  • Pearlk2

    Pearlk2 says:

    Thanks for the tips!

    4 years ago

  • Lindstar

    Lindstar says:

    Now if only I had a camera that worked. :( Mine gave up the ghost last time I took product shots. It was old. Didn't seem to be happy with all the zooming I was doing.

    4 years ago

  • roadtripping

    roadtripping says:

    I need help with larger items (too big for a light box) , with pics taken after dark, inside. What lighting is best?

    4 years ago

  • littleclouds

    littleclouds says:

    oooh I love SugarElfs plushies !!! love the videos too, always make me laff

    4 years ago

  • alyssakaycollections

    alyssakaycollections says:

    Thanks so much for all the wonderful information. Even with good information I struggle. I should take a photography class! :-) I will push on!

    4 years ago

  • JeansVintageCloset

    JeansVintageCloset says:

    Thank you for all the time and care in creating this article, it is a very informative, good read and great and easy to follow tips

    4 years ago

  • Pearlk2

    Pearlk2 says:

    great

    4 years ago

  • BadTrash

    BadTrash says:

    This helps sooOOOOooo much!! Thank you for providing us such valuable info. Thank you!

    4 years ago

  • BethanyOgle

    BethanyOgle says:

    Thanks for the white balance info!

    4 years ago

  • RivkaBerman

    RivkaBerman says:

    Great Article! Very helpful.

    4 years ago

  • rozzie

    rozzie says:

    A must read by every seller!

    4 years ago

  • merryroseberry

    merryroseberry says:

    Very good advice! I got all inspired after reading this wonderful makeover-series and took brand new and WAY better pictures of all of my products, and now my Etsy shop looks unbelieveably lively and lovely in comparison to how it used to look <3 Trying these tips makes you think afterwards: "What was I thinking back then taking those lame photos from too far, in artificial light, with a flash on and with a messy backround?" Big thank you, this is such a great article!

    4 years ago

  • EliseShop

    EliseShop says:

    Great common sense advise! I do love great backgrounds... And now I browse for background anytime I'm outside! I hope this will improve my sales rates! :) Thx!

    4 years ago

  • GodsLilBlessings

    GodsLilBlessings says:

    I am looking into buying a new, better camera to take pictures with. Does anyone recommend a good camera that takes good quality pictures? I mostly make baby blankets and dishcloths. I will take all the advice you can give. If you wouldn't mind sending me a convo with the camera recommendations I would appreciate it.

    3 years ago

  • mnhince

    mnhince says:

    Fantastic, thank you so much. My photos always needs improving and my shop is a little bland right now. I can't wait to try these ideas out!

    3 years ago

  • sewnewthings

    sewnewthings says:

    Oh my goodness, I have so much more to learn....the carpet backgrounds, the white balance....off to tweak my photos and improve things

    3 years ago

  • simplewhimsey

    simplewhimsey says:

    thanks for the tips. I need help and tips for larger items. I make fabric banners that sometimes up to 9 feet long.

    3 years ago

  • Leslie23

    Leslie23 says:

    Thank you for this!! I need to reshoot many of my items!!

    3 years ago

  • AmericanHandmade

    AmericanHandmade says:

    Great Article and Wonderful Examples of Great Photos. Thanks so much. I sometimes learn more by observing what catches my eye and stands out the most than just reading about it.

    3 years ago

  • ikabags

    ikabags says:

    Thanks so much for a great article.

    3 years ago

  • FickleFrog

    FickleFrog says:

    Thanks, very helpful

    3 years ago

  • chisseko

    chisseko says:

    Great timing too! I just joined Etsy and i'm dying for advice. Thanks for the most informative tidbits.

    3 years ago

  • VitalTemptation

    VitalTemptation says:

    Great article! Thank you!

    3 years ago

  • ginalimosaics

    ginalimosaics says:

    thanks for the great tips! i've taken hundreds (if not thousands) of photos and still not happy with them....will continue with your wonderful tips

    3 years ago

  • taintbosh

    taintbosh says:

    Thanks, I'm still trying to master this, and every article helps!

    3 years ago

  • AgateCabachon

    AgateCabachon says:

    White balance & EV shift are 2 different things, not the same as described in the video. White balance makes sure that a white object looks white under different lighting conditions (florescent, incandescent, daylight, evening/morning, etc). EV shift is a way to increase or decrease the exposure (in relation to the automatic exposure the camera chooses) of your image to look like you want it.

    3 years ago

  • AmyandPia

    AmyandPia says:

    It's wonderful that for every question I have, Etsy has an answer somewhere! Learning to improve my photography is going to be easy with all this help - thakns!

    3 years ago

  • CloudLoveBaby

    CloudLoveBaby says:

    Cute video! Thanks for the tips.

    3 years ago

  • DIVINEsweetness

    DIVINEsweetness says:

    photographing is the most challenging part in setting up my shop. Thanks for the additional infos!

    3 years ago

  • ourhobbytoyourhome

    ourhobbytoyourhome says:

    Thank you for all the great tips and advice!!! What a helpful article.

    3 years ago

  • mayicarles

    mayicarles says:

    AWESOMEEEE video :) thanks for the tips. i have found that creating a unique mood + atmosphere + style to all my photos has helped dramatically in branding and having viewers recognize my shop quickly. i know shooting in grass is tricky and can look unprofessional, but when done well i think the end result is wonderful. my photos are taken outside and have found very positive feedback from that. so i would recommend listen to your inner voice. sometimes breaking the rules is the best move you can take :P xo, mayi

    3 years ago

  • lynncobb

    lynncobb says:

    i tried to check out picasa, but i don't get it. I don't want to share photos on any website, all i want to do is find a way to SIMPLY modify the photos that i load on to the computer. currently i have iphoto, this picasa thing seems to need me to sign up for some other google account...what does that mean? Again, it feels like layers and layers of websites that i have to learn how to use in order to get to the one i want...i don't see how this is user friendly. iphoto already involved about 25 clicks in the right order to get photos from the computer on to etsy. Why doesn't etsy have some way to modify photos on etsy's site? I have another website, all i have to do is click on the photo and poooof, there it is on the site. simple. if anyone has a simple way to modify photos, or find the right set of clicks to get me to the modifying page on picasa let me know. also, does a "google" account mean "gmail" or is it something else?

    3 years ago

  • PersephoneMoon

    PersephoneMoon says:

    Thanks for the ideas, I thought I was beginning to understand, but I have so much to learn:)

    3 years ago

  • kalicat

    kalicat says:

    great video

    3 years ago

  • kathartstudio

    kathartstudio says:

    Great ideas! Loved the video, too.

    3 years ago

  • GemdropsoftheFalls

    GemdropsoftheFalls says:

    Thank you for the advice. We are already in the process of reshooting to replace some old photos. But we found that natural light is our best friend!

    3 years ago

  • lilprincessbow

    lilprincessbow says:

    Great article! sao useful!

    3 years ago

  • Marsilia21

    Marsilia21 says:

    very helpful!

    3 years ago

  • Curveology

    Curveology says:

    Wow. I have already been doing some of the things mentioned in these articles, however, after reviewing some of the current items in my shop (I just started), I am deleting many photos and will have to retake all the photos again. They're right, natural light IS the best light. In looking over my photos, my best photos were done in natural light instead of the photosutdio, which I have a tendency to over expose and it looks crazy on monitors other than my own computer. Thanks for this article. Getting ready to go through all of my photos now.

    3 years ago

  • adelajewelry

    adelajewelry says:

    Thanks soooooooooo much, I'm new at this and I appreciate the useful info! Peace

    3 years ago

  • Lillypicadilly

    Lillypicadilly says:

    Thank you so much. I like reading to improve what I do. Taking photos is a skill that enhances every image that is used to be enjoyed in every walk of life. Nothing like excellent photos, I will have to keep working at that.

    3 years ago

  • StellaMagiaDesigns

    StellaMagiaDesigns says:

    Is it recommended to use 5 photos for everything you list?

    3 years ago

  • YsmDesigns

    YsmDesigns says:

    Very helpful tips. Thank you so much

    3 years ago

  • Karismafinejewellery

    Karismafinejewellery says:

    Great tips, heading to my camera:)

    3 years ago

  • thestrandline

    thestrandline says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I'm new to Etsy and need all the help I can get. I have listed a few items but after reading this I think tomorrow morning's job is to retake the photographs :)

    3 years ago

  • SaraMartineDesigns

    SaraMartineDesigns says:

    What type of camera would be good to purchase for photographing small jewelry items? I have not worked on my shop because I can't seem to get the photographs taken properly....eekk

    3 years ago

  • mayreedesigns

    mayreedesigns says:

    wow ! I am so impress with all the comments and feed back. I am just getting started. I have not taken pictures of my items yet. I am somewhat like SaraMartineDesigns, wanting to get the right camera to take great pictures. My items are mainly clothing, plus size women clothes. I am working on deciding whether to have live models or a dress form. I know I will really need to know what I am doing in photographing a person.

    2 years ago

  • ohambiguity

    Jenn Corriveau from PetiteMaus says:

    great article with lots of awesom tips..thanks!!

    1 year ago

  • floroparc

    Elena Valeva from floroparc says:

    Difficult task... I've started reading some tutorials about advertising photography and find them pretty helpful.

    277 days ago

  • SusanJaneJewels

    Susan McDonald from SusanJaneJewels says:

    Great article with some great tips!! I always felt that I needed a new camera and now I see that I can take much better and more meaningful photos by following some key tips!! And how did I miss the advice of NO FLASH??!! Wow!! much better photos. Also, took 2 whole days to try propping and styling my products! Again, wow! what a difference! Thank you for the helpful advice!

    235 days ago

  • charlesresen

    Charles Resen from AnniesJewelryDezign says:

    Have been experimenting with photos, with light box correct camera setting, sharp picture white balance check. But the white back ground still has a grey hue to it any suggections. I know it is grey scale unfortunately following the many directions to address this the results improve a bit but not to the level you expect. Canon 40d, Manual setting, large, ISO 80, F8.0 - 11.0 Macro and tripod with box and three photography lights.. Working with reshoot today some Ok some not still none that are the results inconsistent no setting changes.

    143 days ago