When I made the decision last year to sell online, I knew I needed to make some serious upgrades. The main change had to do with my photos. I could bug hubby to be my photographer since he’s the pro, but I really wanted to do it myself. He’s given me a lot of helpful tips but the kind of photos he shoots differs from what I was looking for.
I really started educating myself by reading lots of articles on the subject and the main thrust is having good lighting. We live in a small apartment so we don’t have adequate space for a studio. What do you do when you don’t have all the tools? You make do! So, we took a portion of our bedroom and split it to have a small area for shooting right next to the window. Natural light is key and it’s the basis for good photography. But, I did invest in a few items for when the weather isn’t cooperating!
NOTE: Affiliate links do appear in the post so purchasing from any of these links will benefit my small business at no additional cost to you.
I came across these ring lights that were advertised on Instagram. They come small enough to clip on a desk BUT also they’re available really large that comes with a full size tripod. I got two of the table top ones but they weren’t strong enough to give me adequate light. I was struggling against harsh shadows and two-tone lighting, etc. Most of these problems can’t be solved in post production either. So, we bought the large ring light on the tripod and I’m so glad we did! It has two color settings for warm and cool tones. The ring is large to cover our small photo studio and it comes with attachment for connecting my smartphone if I want to do videos.
We also bought a large photo tent and since the ring light is adjustable, hubby could position the light to horizontally to cover the top of the photo tent.
These were two of the major improvements I made. And, I’m sharing 10 tips that I used to improve my photos:
- Good Light. This is key. The main area for us to shoot is near our window so we can get as much natural light as possible. However, when the light outside is not favorable or if it’s late at night, studio lights are essential.
- Add Props. I chose some simple extras to go with my products like flowers or leaves. Also, using sequins or beads to create an interesting look is fun. That said, I still try to keep it simple and not go overboard. The product should still be the focal point, not the props and sometimes I don’t use any props.
- Composition: Placement is very important too. I shoot mainly flatlay, but I will rotate products and position any props on either the left or right side. The angle can make the subject look more interesting rather than just shooting straight on. Also, I try not to photograph dead center. Shooting just to the right or left provides interest.
- Use a good camera or camera phone: Whether you use a professional camera or a phone, it needs to be capable of taking really good, high quality, high resolution photos or else they’ll come out looking either blurry, dull or even underexposed. I use a LG Fiesta 2 LTE Android smartphone, it has a long-lasting battery life, shoots up to 4160 x 3120 pixels. The pictures it takes is incredible and has a 13 MP rear-facing autofocus camera with flash and f/2.2 low-light lens. It also has a zoom feature, which I hardly use. I stand pretty close to my subject so zooming in isn’t necessary.
- Shoot with a tripod and/or camera timer. Using a tripod and/or a timer to shoot is great for stabilization to avoid camera shake. I do hand hold but I try to stand very still (feet apart) and wait till after the photo is taken before I move again.
- Create a design board. This tip isn’t really related to actually clicking the shutter but I think it’s important to mention. I created collections on my phone and saved photos from other creators for inspiration.
- Less is more. I’m a minimalist person plus I love neutrals so my style is mainly clean, white or feminine colors like rose gold, seafoam or pale neutrals. I don’t like a lot of objects in my photos either but that doesn’t mean you have to follow my lead. I’ve seen many photos of lots of objects with different colors that looked incredible. On the other hand, I’ve seen beautiful photos with no objects, just the point of interest. It’s just a matter of finding your own style and capitalizing on that. For me, the less busier my pictures are, the more I like them.
- Post-production effects. I use Photoshop for my post editing, but there are other ways to enhance your photos which I’ll mention in a minute. In Photoshop, I work with levels (also called histogram), hues and brightness/contrast. In levels, I add more brightness but also I’ll look at my shadows/highlights and adjust those as needed.
- Choose the right backdrop. I invested in white poster board because I like a clean, minimalist look. I also have some woodgrain 24″ x 24″ poster board that has a realistic outdoor pattern. These work well for my products (see some pics below).
- Shoot at the right time and in the right mood. This might sound funny, but for me it’s essential. If I’m in a rush, I don’t have the patience necessary and I make mistakes. If my mood isn’t right, same thing. I like to be happy and able to take a couple of hours where I’m not in the middle of something.
Because, it’s not just clicking a button… there’s a lot of work to do: (a) pull out the props I plan to use (if any), (b) set up each product, (c) take the photos, (d) send them to the PC for editing, (e) do the photo editing, (f) convert to PNGs, (g) add to the Shop and; (h) advertise on social media. Taking my time ensures I will like the photos and they’ll look good when published. I want my photos in the highest quality possible.
Here’s a few examples of cards I photographed for my Kim’s Handcrafted Cards eBay store. I really loved how the end results turned out. Good photography is essential for selling online as the picture is the first opportunity to grab a customer’s attention to purchase our products.