This is arguably THE single most important element you will do for your shop. A single photograph will tell a prospective customer so many things about you and your product and you cannot afford to waste that opportunity. There's a reason that window dressers in large department stores are paid a small fortune!
Below are some top tips for capturing great photographs and maximising the time a customer spends on your shop page (the more time = the more likely to buy).
The question I hear at least once I day is "do I need a fancy camera?" Well, no is the short answer. Certainly not in the short term anyway, but if you already have one, great, put it to good use. If you don't, an iPhone one will work (iPad cameras have less resolution so don't work as well). It's much more important to get the detail and the styling/composition right than the pixels.
You could also hire a camera (from a camera shop) for a couple of days and get all your pictures done in one go (some people find it easier to get things done if there's external time pressure).
Practice really does make perfect and you'll want a variety of shots for each item. Here are some tips.
- Use ALL the photo's you can (Etsy allows 5 per item, eBay 12 - it can vary greatly so check first)
- Have at least one close-up where the craftsmanship can be appreciated
- Have at least one picture showing the entire product
- Have one or two pictures with the item in context (see styling tips below)
- Show the piece from different angles (especially if it has depth or is 3D)
- If it's jewellery or clothing, showing your item on a model scores highly
- Group the item with similar items in your collection (if it's appropriate)
- Use a complementary background for your item - black or white works very well for jewellery, for example
- Heavily patterned fabric within the picture can very often detract from the item you're selling so try to avoid those
- Take your pictures in as much natural light as you can and avoid shadows
- If you can, use a light box. You can hire one from a camera shop, buy one for about £100 or you can make a light box
- Be careful when using filters. They may represent a very different colour on screen and that can lead to disappointed customers. If you don't feel the colour is truly represented in your pictures, say so.
Props and Themes
Presenting "lifestyle" shots which give your product context are great for attracting attention. Props create a setting for your product and brand, visually answer questions about the product’s size and style, and help customers imagine the item's use when they can see it in situ. Be careful not to make the prop the main focus of attention and each prop in the photo should serve a purpose and keep the viewer focused on the product you're trying to sell. One way to ensure that the buyer knows your props are in fact props (and not included in the sale) is to position the props partly out of the frame so that they are slightly cropped. This will also make the scene look more realistic and draw focus to the product.
- Ladders - use these to showcase wreaths, pictures, cups/mugs, cushions and other soft furnishings. This one is used as a bed side table but it gives some great ideas on styling. Bookshelves work in a similar way.
- Chairs - look how marvellously this has been styled by Tilly Anna for her Not on the High Street shop. A simple use of the cushion in situ, with a reminder (the glasses) of who the gift might be for and where it could be placed in YOUR home.
- Sideboards - although you could display glasses in many settings, I like the different uses of textures in this styled photo and of course a vase of flowers is always going to give it a lift. It's a simple idea but an effective one.
- Deconstruct - if you're selling a kit or multiple pieces, make sure you deconstruct all the elements and ALSO show the finished product (can be in separate pictures but this simple one of a hot chocolate making kit from next has it all neatly in one picture).
- Collections - adding complementary pieces together to showcase their beauty not only encourages a multi buy ("I simply must have ALL of them") but can help demonstrate their use. This tea sea set from Bombay Duck went straight in my basket once I saw them altogether!
- Humour - if it's appropriate, use humour in your pictures. It tends to make them stick out and can draw people in, imparting a positive feeling towards your brand (always a good thing)! I used this picture from Bombay Duck. I don't really like the cushions but I love the picture and it made me click on many more pages after that.
For other inspirational ideas, why not look at online shops that sell in the same category as you?
Above all, take the buyer by the hand and let them see exactly why they NEED to have your creative makes in their life or in the lives of the people they love. That is the ONLY job of the photograph. Achieve that and you can tick that off as a win!
***some of this post has been taken from Play to Profit Beginners Course - Turning your Creative Passion into a Profitable Business