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tips for photographing your handmade products

 I am always trying to improve the quality of my product photos because they showcase all of the hard work you put into your handmade creations. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I have learned on product photography since I started my handmade jewelry business in 2021.

 

First off, all of my product photos you see on dontworrydesigns.com (and on my Etsy) and taken by me on my iPhone 11. I eventually want to upgrade my device to a better camera, but for right now it works pretty well for my needs. My goal is always to do very little editing, because it's important to me that my customers see the authentic and unique details of my handmade designs. I edit out things like dust, lint, and cat hair (which I have a LOT of in my studio with two cats!) and ensure my lighting is bright and natural. 

Read on to learn how you can improve your product photos for your handmade business.

lighting and setup are key.

Natural light is your best friend. Place your jewelry near a large window or in a well-lit area. I typically avoid using direct sunlight as it is less flattering for my products, but some people prefer a high contrast look so that's up to you to experiment with!

Use a clean, plain background that doesn't distract from your product. White or neutral-colored backgrounds work best. My photography area is a DIY setup consisting of an IKEA LACK table and a plain white tabletop. I place my jewelry on the LACK table, with the table top leaning up behind it. I also use something white (in my case, the white lid of a storage bin or a large sheet of white paper) across from my light source to help bounce light onto the darker side of my product. This helps reduce shadows (and therefore reduces photo editing time).

Here is a visual example of my setup.

 

Try experimenting with different surfaces like colored paper or textured fabrics to add depth and character to your shots. You can also incorporate props like faux flowers, trays, and other decorative items to help reflect your brand aesthetic or theme of the photo.

During the shoot for my Valentine's Day collection, I incorporated faux flowers into my shots to to create a more romantic vibe.

 

stablize your camera.

Early into starting my business I purchased an Olivia content creator tool from Paparazzo which has been a gamechanger for me (Note:  am in no way affiliated with this company - just a happy customer!)

It has a clip that holds your phone into place for easy photo capture and is especially useful for video. You want to do your best to prevent any camera shake, especially for close-up shots so your customers can see the details of your product. 

experiment with composition.

Play around with different angles, try overhead shots, close-ups, and diagonal angles. You can develop your own style of product photography that is unique to you and your brand. 

Use the rule of thirds to create a balanced composition. The "rule of thirds" is a basic guideline in photography that helps you compose more visually pleasing and balanced pictures. Imagine you divide your photo into a grid with two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, like a tic-tac-toe board. This grid creates nine equally sized rectangles, and the intersections of these lines are where your main subject or points of interest should ideally be placed. In other words, instead of placing your subject right in the center of the frame, you position it along one of these lines or at one of the intersections. This off-center placement often results in a more interesting photo. You can read more here.

editing.

Some business owners edit their photos directly in their social media tools, which is completely fine! I prefer to edit on my laptop so I can really zoom in and check the details. I also don't like using filters because I think they often distort the look of my jewelry. As I mentioned above, my goal with product photography is always to have the photos look as close to real life so my customers know what to expect when they receive their order.

The most important editing tool in my arsenal is Photopea. My husband originally discovered this tool on a reddit thread and it has been a gamechanger for me. When I started my business I didn't have a lot of budget to spend on Adobe Photoshop, but I wanted something as robust. Photopea is a web version of Photoshop, and it's free. I highly recommend this tool to absolutely everyone who will listen.

practice!

Practice is key to improving your photography skills. Experiment with different settings and techniques to find what works best for your small business. The quality and personality of your jewelry photos can greatly influence your brand perception. Take your time to get the lighting and composition right, and don't hesitate to retake shots until you're satisfied with the results.

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