Etsy How-to

How to Take Professional Etsy Product Photos (On a Budget!)

With a few simple tweaks, anyone can take professional Etsy product photos on a budget. And you don’t even need a fancy DSLR or mirrorless camera! All you need is a smartphone and free editing software. Here’s how to take professional photos for your Etsy listings.

Your product photos are the first part of your listing that anyone will notice. So if they’re not eye-catching, you’ll never hook a new customer.

Why are photos so important? It’s the easiest way for the average consumer to understand what you’re selling. And it’s the best way to entice them to click on your listing.

In this article, we’ll look at how to put your best product photos first and how to make them irresistible for scrolling Etsy shoppers.

Why are product photos so important on Etsy?

Etsy is a global marketplace. Which means consumers from all walks of life and cultures shop there. And while everyone comes from a unique background and speaks a different language, a picture is worth a thousand words. Almost everyone can look at a product photo and understand what you’re selling (don’t worry, we’ll talk more about alt-text later in this article). Which means good product photography should be one of your highest priorities.

A good product photo should show exactly what your product is. Or make you curious about what it might be. Or make you eager to learn more about how it works.

Sure, writing good Etsy product descriptions is essential too. But reading about a product without seeing a photo is a tough sell. So unless you’re a wordsmith that can sell the mystery of your product over its actual design, a professional product photo is your best bet at landing a sale.

Product photos are so crucial that you may consider hiring a professional photographer. But this might not be feasible for all business owners. The good news is there are several cost-effective ways to take high-quality product photos with the equipment you most likely already have lying around.

Let’s take a look!

What are high-quality Etsy product photos?

High-quality photos are essential for selling your products on Etsy because they give customers a clear idea of what they’re buying. With good lighting, you can draw the attention of your buyer’s eye to a unique detail in your products.

And with excellent staging, you can appeal to your customer’s ideal lifestyle, making it impossible for them to scroll by without first taking a closer look.

When it comes to high-quality Etsy product photos, customers are more likely to buy products they can see in detail and from various angles.

And if your photos look professional, your customers will expect a high-quality product.

6 Budget-friendly ways to improve the quality of your Etsy product photos

You can undoubtedly capture professional Etsy product photos while on a tight budget. You just need an eye for detail and creativity. Here are a couple ways to accomplish this:

#1. Use natural light to take professional Etsy product photos.

Natural light is the best way to capture the actual colors and details of your Etsy products.

When taking photos, position your product near a window on a bright or sunny day. Place your camera at an angle that allows the light to illuminate your product, but not in a way that’s distracting.

Remember, when working with natural lighting and a clear window, your products will cast a pretty harsh shadow. Keep this in mind when placing your camera.

However, you can edit out these shadows later or use them to add a dramatic element to your photos.

The advantage of natural light is extended when shooting outdoors. Go outside on a cloudy day or when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and you’ll find fewer shadows and a slightly different hue to your photos.

On a cloudy day, the colors will be a bit more muted and drab. While on a sunny day, the colors will pop and shine. Depending on the mood you’re going for, neither is a better option than the other.

#2. Use a tripod to take sharper images.

While you can take photos without a tripod, using one can make a big difference in the quality of your product photos. 

A tripod is a helpful tool for product photography because it keeps your camera steady while taking pictures. You might think you have a steady hand, but you’ll see how wonky you are when taking detailed macro-level photos.

Use the High Dynamic Range (HDR) setting from your phone or camera to get crisper images that are sharp in detail. But remember that when you’re taking HDR photos, a tripod is almost necessary to help you capture a steady shot.

The HDR setting will take multiple photos at various exposure levels, then automatically stitch them together into one picture. This creates a richer photograph that displays deep colors and details. Using a tripod will ensure your camera doesn’t shake between each picture, allowing for a sharper final image.

Tripods are a relatively cheap way to level up your product photography. They’re easy to set up and store and can be used for lifestyle shots and close-ups. Spend a little extra on a versatile tripod, and you won’t regret it. 

#3. Create a clean backdrop free of distractions.

We’ve all gotten used to shopping on Amazon, a marketplace that’s pioneered eCommerce in many ways. And one of those ways is product photography. Consumers now expect to see product photos on a plain or neutral background, free of distractions.

While you might think this comes off as a bit boring, it’s important to showcase your product from multiple angles on a plain background. You can still include various lifestyle photos but don’t forget to snap a couple pictures that are free of distractions.

This allows your product to be the image’s main focus, highlighting its features and what makes it unique — precisely why so many Amazon sellers do this.

Depending on the size of your product, a white background can be made with anything from a piece of paper to a t-shirt to a bedsheet.

Experiment with various lighting types and materials to see what works best for your product and situation. 

#4. Take some close-up shots of your products.

As mentioned earlier, white backgrounds help show off the intricate details of your products. But you can emphasize these details by taking close-up photos of these areas or features. 

If your phone has a macro setting, this can be useful for these close-ups. Depending on your phone type, this feature may be displayed by a flower icon or automatically switch into macro when you get close enough to your subject. However, you should look up your specific phone to make sure you’re using this setting properly to squeeze out as much detail as possible.

Change your camera to this setting, then get your product in focus, and slowly bring the camera closer without losing focus. If this doesn’t work, try getting in nice and close and then turning on the macro setting.

Depending on your camera, you might want to adjust settings like shutter speed, focal length, etc.

Once you get this setting down right, you’ll be able to take highly detailed product photos of intricate aspects of your product. Use these photos to show off unique details in your product and help paint a better picture of what it is you’re selling. 

Remember to take your time. There’s no rush. In fact, macro-photography can open up an entirely new world to the creative mind!

#5. Experiment with various settings on your phone or camera.

Nowadays, smartphones are like mini professional cameras. While they don’t quite rival an expensive DSLR or mirrorless camera, they offer a surprising amount of features that are easy to use in a small form factor.

Try experimenting with the following settings to squeeze the most out of your Etsy product photos.

Adjust these camera settings to capture more professional-looking product photos:

Aperture: Also referred to as f/stop, this controls how much light passes through your camera lens. You’ll find this in your camera under the f setting, written as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, and so on. Essentially, the lower the number, the blurrier your background will be. And the higher the number, the more your foreground and background will all be in focus. On smartphones, this feature may only be available in Portrait Mode.

ISO: If your smartphone allows you to change your ISO, you should most likely stick with the lowest number possible (ISO 100). This will give you a sharper image without any noise or grain (unless that’s a creative choice you’re going for). A low ISO should be possible to achieve with large amounts of natural lighting. However, if your room is too dark, you may need to raise your ISO.

Exposure: While this also controls how much light passes through your camera lens, exposure in photography is typically controlled by changing your aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Since not all smartphones allow you to change these settings, you can manually adjust your exposure to make your photos brighter or darker. On some smartphones, this can be adjusted before taking a picture or after.

Flash: You should use flash sparingly or not at all. Since you’ll be taking your product photos in a well-lit space, flash may be a bit overkill. However, you can try experimenting with this setting to create a dramatic product photo that’s brightly lit with harsh shadows in the background.

If you’re experienced with photography basics, you can try using a free pro camera app to gain access to even more settings. Lightroom mobile is free and easy to work with, allowing you to sync your product photos with other Adobe apps, like Photoshop.

Related: 6 Ways to Use Photoshop for Etsy to Get Noticed

#6. Avoid using cookie-cutter stock photos and mockups

We see this all too often on Etsy. There are multiple third-party platforms out there that aid you in your handmade business efforts, giving you access to default stock photos for mockups.

While these can be great for a beginning Etsy seller to get their products listed and available on the marketplace, they’re boring. If you spend time browsing products on Etsy, you’ll see multiple sellers using the same models and backdrops for their listing photos.

Not only does this blur the lines between your shop and your competition, but it can also be a bit off-putting to customers. For example, suppose they see the exact cookie-cutter mockups across multiple shops. In that case, they may opt for a listing that features unique listing photography instead of one using the same scenery as everyone else.

Should you use ALT-Text for your Etsy product photography? [Bonus Tip]

While there’s no evidence that Etsy SEO considers alt-text, we do know that other search engines, like Google, will. But more importantly, alt-text can sometimes be the only way consumers with a visual impairment or disability can know what your listing photo is all about.

Shoppers can receive a description of your listing photo through screen readers, but only if you write it under your alt-text. To do this, click the pencil icon when uploading your listing photos. From there, you can write up to 250 characters to describe each of your listing photos.

Alt-text can give sellers an opportunity to include various keywords that may be picked up by external search engines. To achieve this while also giving those who use screen readers a fair chance to understand what you’re selling, we recommend you write alt-text in natural, flowing sentences.

Professional Photography Tips for Popular Etsy Products

Now that you know a few different methods to take professional-looking product photos, here are some tips for specific Etsy products. Incorporate these low-budget suggestions into your photography workflow to take higher-quality listing photos.

How to Take Etsy Product Photos for Home Decor

  • Use a background that complements the colors of the product.
  • Show the product in use to give customers an idea of how it can be used naturally in their homes.
  • Use props or accessories that fit your product’s style or theme.
  • Incorporate popular design aspects that fit your target customer’s ideal lifestyle.

How to Take Etsy Product Photos for Craft Supplies

  • Craft supplies don’t always need lifestyle shots, but customers need to see the product in use on a finished product.
  • Use a plain, white backdrop for a single unit or to highlight details. 
  • Consider using close-up shots to show quality, durability, and various textures.

How to Take Etsy Product Photos for Digital Products

  • Notoriously tricky to photograph, consider printing your own digital prints and taking lifestyle photos. 
  • Alternatively, invest in digitally editing your products onto various stock backgrounds or mockups.
  • Avoid using popular mockups that your competition already uses.
  • Show screenshots of how your digital download can be further edited in various software.

How to Take Etsy Product Photos for Gifts

  • Use bright and colorful backdrops to make your product pop.
  • Show the gift packaging or wrapping to give your buyer an idea of the receiver’s experience upon receiving the gift. 
  • Create a warm and welcoming feel to your photos.
  • Take lifestyle photos with the ideal gift receiver in mind.

How to Take Etsy Product Photos for Jewelry

  • Use a macro lens or macro setting to capture small and minute details of the jewelry.
  • Experiment with lighting to showcase the shine, sparkle, and jewelry textures.
  • Show the product being worn or styled to give customers an idea of its appearance.
  • Use a reflective surface or mirror to create exciting reflections and highlights.

How to Take Etsy Product Photos for Clothing

  • Use a plain backdrop or wall to create a simple, clean background for the clothing to stand out.
  • Ensure the clothing is evenly-lit to accurately show the color and texture.
  • Use a model or mannequin to show how the clothing fits and looks when worn.
  • Show different angles of the clothing, including close-ups of details such as buttons or stitching.
  • Consider adding props or accessories to show how the clothing can be styled.

How to Take Photos of Vintage Etsy Products

  • Use props or accessories that fit the era or style of the product.
  • Avoid getting too creative — lean towards transparent and honest photography rather than showy or experimental. 
  • Show any signs of wear or age on the product to give it character and authenticity.
  • Use natural lighting to help showcase the product’s actual color.

Over to you

We’re visual creatures and consume with our eyes. That’s why a picture says a thousand words. 

Double down on your photography, and you’ll see that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to do so. So experiment, find what works for you and your products, and see your views and profits grow!

Grow your online business, develop your SEO, and launch your sales into the stratosphere.

Read The Squeeze each week to see what’s new with Etsy and the growing industry of eCommerce. There’s a lot of noise out there getting in the way of your success. Cut to the chase with tips and tricks you can implement in your business right now. Let The Squeeze be your guide.


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