Product Photography Tips: Etsy Edition

Today’s product photography tips come from Etsy, that enchanted land of DIY and extreme crafts. We’ve curated a list of our favorite inspirational product shots, whose va-va-voom goes to show that the most important ingredient in effective photos isn’t fancy equipment; it’s imagination.

No budget? No problem. Each of these product photography tips focuses on simple things you can do to add oomph to your storefront.

1. Get a good prop 

Lesson one: it’s not important to have fancy props. It’s important to have the right props. This adorable hedgehog tote by Lyndsey Green is complimented by an equally adorable pinecone hedgehog. The pinecone props add to the product’s playful, handcrafted whimsy.

2. Use your photo to say something 

Lest you think that all our product photography tips are gonna be, “Go outside, shake a tree, profit,” here’s why MyPieceOfWood‘s pinecone is actually totally different than the example above: it’s neatly arranged atop fancy hewn wood. The two props communicate a product that’s rustic but refined—a perfect fit for wooden earrings.

Pro tip: Put the spotlight on your product with PicMonkey’s Focal Soften effect. Just click on the product, and the rest of the image will soften dreamily behind it.

3. Show (and tell)

For Strange Women sells “natural botanical perfume from a strange apothecary,” and everything about their store gives you a mad-wife-in-the-attic vibe. (Which in this case we think is a good thing.) This image is the perfect product photo marriage: great label design, a soft background, and props (bone, parchment) that evoke the product. This is especially helpful for an item you can see but not smell.

4. Make your own fun

Okay, we love everything that’s going on here. What we love most, though, is the way that ChadFloydWoodworks has created a product photo that supports the item. Rather than looking around, seeing a lack of animated plumber models for hire, and giving up hope for the perfect photo, Chad decided: “You know what? All I need to make this work are coordinating overalls and some mustaches.”*

5. Don’t underestimate the power of cute 

Pip and Bean, purveyor of personalized superhero capes for kids, is winning on a lot of levels in this shot. Not only is the image uniquely framed, but they’ve found a too-stinkin’-cute subject to ham it up! As with Mario and Luigi, this approach is powerful because it matches their brand: the girl in this photo using a goldfish costume exactly the way it’s meant to be used—for goofy, silly fun.

6. Experiment with angles

Lesson number we-lost-track: get some perspective! This image from BKY Kid is striking for its birds-eye POV, and it packs a heart-melting emotional wallop to boot. Who can resist a dad playing with adorable children? Not us, that’s who.

Pro tip: If you’re leery of taking product photos from an unusual angle, plan to use only one on your product page. The rest of images can display what you’re selling in a more traditional manner.

7. Tell a story

With just a pirate hat and some paper in bottles, Natalia Szylkin has created a tableau of a brother and sister using their toy chest as a pirate ship. In just one shot, we get a story everybody knows—the one about kids whose imaginations turn cardboard boxes into spaceships and castles.

If you’re having trouble thinking of a good shot, try coming up with a story that fits your product: a parent reading fairytales to a child wrapped in your handmade pastel quilt, or a pair of siblings gleefully destroying their kitchen as they bake with your cooking set.

8. Know your customers

Cats are not always the most reliable photo subjects, but CatastrophiCreations uses that law of the jungle to their advantage. The twisty posture in this shot is instantly relatable to cat owners. Who needs a perfectly posed feline when you’ve got kitty candids? 

9. Be basic, not boring

Holy rule of thirds, Batman! This beautifully composed photo is simple, clean, and unexpected, thanks to a guest-starring role by a glamorous porcelain bowl. The bowl functions like a traditional white background, letting Jennifer Casady‘s silver earrings stand out, but provides greater visual interest.

Pro tip: Make your shot crisp and pristine by using a tripod to keep your camera steady.

10. Zoom in 

Etsy seller Aprimiao mixes fun and focus in this image. Displaying this cat ring on a branch supports the kitty’s “hang in there” pose, while the photo’s soft, dark background makes the bright and focused ring the undisputed star of the show.

If you can’t attain this effect with your camera, you can edit it into your shot with Focal Soften. (Pretty useful effect, right?)

11. Break new (back)ground

Now here’s a shot sure to score big with bibliophiles. That’s a smart choice for a necklace with word charms on it! FierceDeer‘s abecedarian take on product photography meshes perfectly with loquacious lockets, but maybe your own product would look good against a vintage game board, a map, or a pool table. Think outside the lightbox.

12. Coordinate with your product description

In the case of this rugged, rowdy beard conditioner, the product photography matches the writing used to describe the item. WildRoseHerbs has titled this set: “Wild Man Beard Oil Conditioner – Trial Size Sampler Mens Stocking Stuffer.”

Check this out: where’s the wild man? In wood grain and unevenly finished leather. What about the stocking stuffer? Evergreen boughs and berries.

That’s some subliminal sharpshooting, Tex.

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Elisa Chavez

Elisa Chavez is a content writer here at PicMonkey, where she hopes to change the world one dinosaur selfie at a time. She is also a nationally ranked slam poet, champion shopper, and doting dog mama.