One of the most important aspects of having a handmade business is making sure your products appeal to the eye, especially when you’re selling online. Remember: the customer can’t handle your handmade goods in person while deciding whether or not to make a purchase the way they could at a craft booth or small shop. You’ve spent hours adding details to your products, but do the photos you post do them justice? Do they reveal the texture of the yarn, paper, or fabric you’re using? It is imperative to make sure your customers can glean all of this information by looking at your photos.
That’s why I spent some time talking with Creative Income’s photographer, Tom Krawczyk, in order to put together a list of photography tips for new business owners.
Glossary of Important Terms
Aperture: A hole that can adjusted to different sizes in order to control the amount of light reaching your camera’s image center.
Shutter: A device that controls the amount of time that light is allowed to reach the image.
Depth of field: The distance between the nearest and farthest object in the photo
Setting Up Your Space
The lights 3200K gives off a warmer, more natural light, compared to a higher K which gives off a colder hue. You can buy lights like these on Amazon.com. The bulbs can be found for under $15 each, and the clamp lamps/reflectors run for about $12 each. We improvised by clamping our lights to a step ladder and a tripod–how’s that for DIY? The white backdrop is held up with a backdrop support stand, which can also be found on Amazon for approximately $40. There are various backdrops you can choose from, but in product photography, it is best to use a neutral backdrop.
Notice how in the photo on the left, the texture of the yarn is a bit ambiguous. Yes, the yarn looks soft, but when you take in the photo on the right, where the fibers of the yarn are sharply in focus, there’s no arguing which image would better entice a customer looking to buy a cozy scarf or sweater. In order to obtain a crisp, detail-rich photo, we would suggest using a tripod and a high shutter speed. With a fast enough shutter speed, a tripod may not be necessary.
The “exposure” of a photograph refers to the amount of light being let in through the lens of the camera. It is determined through shutter speed and aperture settings. The photo on the left is underexposed and the photo on the right has been exposed properly. Yes, the photo on the left is in focus, and the background is neutral, but the skeins of yarn appear to be darker in color than they actually are. This is something that is easily looked over if other aspects of the photo look right. It’s important to make sure the images in your photos look as closely as possible to the way they look to your naked eye. Customers who can’t trust a product to look as it did on your website will be inclined to leave poor reviews.
Depth of Field
Perhaps you’re taking your product photos in your craft room and have never thought about how supplies, materials, or tools hanging in the background may distract from your product. Remember: this photo is on your site to encourage sales. You want as much attention as possible put on the product. If you cannot take pictures of your products with a blank, neutral background, make sure your camera is set to ensure a small depth of field. This can be observed in the photo on the right. Notice how, in this photo, the skeins of yarn “pop” right away–i.e. your eye is drawn straight to them. To establish a small depth of field, you want a small aperture.
Photos and advice credited to: Tom Krawczyk