If you’re running an etsy shop or ecommerce business from home, chances are, you’re taking the photos of your products yourself. You don’t have a team of photographers and stylists waiting to jump in between shots and adjust everything before the shutter clicks. You are the one-man-band, doing every bit of it. With a little work, you can learn to take professional photos at home for your website or blog.
A great photo can set your products apart and be the determining factor of a shopper choosing to purchase from your shop over another. Without great photos, even a superior product can be difficult to sell. The same goes for bloggers; great content can easily be overlooked if the photos are falling short.
What makes a great photo?
Bright, crisp, clear images are more eye catching. Never post a blurry image. If you’re taking flat lay shots, look at what your competition is doing and try to recreate it in your own style. Just because everyone seems to have a marble background doesn’t mean you have to have one; pick what works for you and your products. But take a cue from your competition; if they are killing it with gorgeous, bright styled photos on Instagram, try to mimic that in your images.
For shooting wedding invitations, I like to use a neutral-colored styling board for the backdrop, since I want the invitations to be the focal point. I even have a tutorial on how I make my own styling boards. You can still arrange complementary items around your product to enhance the shot, but be careful not to get things too busy. Less is often more here.
I like to use erasers, pens, pencils, ribbons, faux plants, vases, and sometimes live greenery and flowers. I usually leave the live plants to days where I’m shooting multiple products or invitation suites, so I’m getting more bang for my buck with the plants.
Another good tip is to use risers to bring your items up off the background. I like to do this with an eraser, washi tape, or other small items. It helps your photos to have a little more dimension and it can be nice to layer things. You can see how I did that below, so the invitation stands out the most among the other pieces of the invitation suite.
Hack a photography studio
Find an indirect light source. For me, this is a corner room, with a window on two sides, so there’s plenty of sunshine. I like to stay out of direct sunlight, and look for a more filtered light to avoid shadows. You don’t want harsh shadows.
I like to put my styling board flat on the floor (or table), then get two white foam core boards, and put one on the back (against a wall) and the other on the far side of my light source. (The foam core boards are going to form a 90-degree angle/L-shape). Then, I arrange my products (usually invitations), on the board. These help reflect plenty of light onto your products.
If you’re interested in finding styling boards, check out my post on how I made my own.
Do I need an expensive camera or editing software to take professional photos at home?
Not necessarily. While a DSLR camera can take lovely photographs and allow you to control how the photo is taken, you can definitely get by with today’s cell phone cameras. I like to edit my photos in Adobe Photoshop if they’re taken on my camera, but there are certainly plenty of app options out there if you don’t use Photoshop.
Adobe Photoshop Hack
Once you learn to take professional photos at home for your business, you’ll need to know how to use them. If you have Photoshop, but have no idea how to edit a photo, here’s my best hack:
Open the photo you want to edit in Photoshop. Crop it to the size you want it to be. Hit Control M (or Command M on a Mac) and the Curves box will pop up. Barely drag the line toward the upper left corner and hit ok. This will lighten your photo and give you that bright look you’re looking for. And if you don’t like the edit, simply hit Ctrl Z to go back to its original form.
Other Editing Hacks
My current fave for editing photos on my phone is A Color Story app. It’s $25.00/year, but totally worth it if you’re doing any editing at all. You just click any photo you want to edit, then click on tools > brighten to adjust the brightness of your image. You also have the option to adjust the Curves, too, just like Photoshop, but often brightening is enough. Blog-worthy photos almost instantly, without having to upload them to your computer.
It’s not expensive or difficult to step up your photo game. If you’re in the business of online sales or blogging, you can’t get by with mediocre photos. And remember, practice makes perfect. You’ll get in a rhythm and be able to take professional photos at home in no time.