Ten Quick Tips for Busy People Who Need Better Product Images

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, Ebay, Etsy, the list of places to post online is practically endless. Whether you’re taking a bow over a fab new project you’ve just finished, or trying to earn extra income by selling online, your items won’t get the kind of attention you want without good images. Like so many of you, there’s never enough time in a day so I thought I’d share my best ten quick tips.

There are loads of websites with great in depth tutorials on product photography. This is not one of them.  I’m a busy non-photographer who needs to keep costs down while getting better product images.  After countless trial and error episodes, here’s my list of ten quick tips. 

Quick Tip - Stage your objectTen Quick Tips

1) Make sure everything is clean! (both the item you’re shooting, and your camera lens)

Ten Quick Tips: Use natural light2) Take time to stage. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate scene.  Try using a lamp, a book, a plant, or some flowers. Choose some items that work with the design theme of what you’re selling and keep it simple. Highlight the item, not the accessories.

3) Shoot with natural light whenever you can. Open a door, draw open the curtains, take the item outside.

4) A tripod is the professional choice, but who has time for that? Try bracing your arms close to your sides or balancing your forearm on stable surface. It will help tame the little shakes that can make the picture blur.

5) Find a straight line and follow it. If you are taking pictures of a kitchen you’ve refinished, pick a wall, door, or cabinet and make sure your line is straight.Ten Quick Tips: Straight Lines

When shooting an image of a cabinet piece head on, be sure your phone is not tilted forward or back. Tilting forward will make it look top heavy, tilting the bottom of the phone out will make the top look small. Ten Quick Tips; Watch those linesNotice the top of the armoire in this “before / After” image looks bigger than the bottom. The after shot isn’t perfect, but the proportions are better because the camera had less tilt.




6) Take caTen Quick Tips: Shoot a chair at a 3/4 angle re with chairs. Shooting straight on can make a chair look squatty. Positioning the chair at a 3/4 angle usually gives truer proportions.

7) Practice looking at the entire image in the view finder. Become aware of what’s in the background, foreground, and sides.  You’re concentrating on the subject or object and may not notice everything, but your camera will.

8) If you can’t find an uncluttered spot for a large furniture item, try using either a dark or light sheet or blanket as a backdrop. Taking items outside works well too if you have a nice area of greenery or garden.

9) For small items, take a minute to set up a make shift studio. There is great info on the web for setting up a makeshift light box to use when taking images of small items like jewelry. But again, who has time for that?Ten Quick Tips: setting up a makeshift studio doesn't need to cost a penny
This is a picture of  the “studio” I set up on the fly at home.  It’s an old bathrobe, a mini chest of drawers, a coleman lantern, and a portable phone that I tucked under the robe to tilt small items forward when needed.  Ten Quick Tips: hang the earringsOh, and the folded cloth under the lantern worked well for clipping earrings too. Not pretty, but it worked.

The necklace towards the top of the page, these earrings, and the brooch to the right are images I took with that crazy set up.2015-07-12 17.19.54-1

10) Take lots of pictures. Try shooting straight on, at an angle, from above, kneel down and shoot up, highlight details with a close-up image and don’t forget to get “before” shots if you’re restyling.

I hope my ten quick tips were helpful. If you have any tips that you’ve found to be helpful, please post a comment and share.  I’m always on the lookout for ways to make things easier, faster, and better. Kathleen

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