Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

5 Common Photography Mistakes

Could lackluster product photos be hurting your sales? Find out how to avoid common pitfalls in Chapter 13 of our Ultimate Guide to Product Photography.

By Etsy Staff May 29, 2017
Photo by Pen + Paint

Whether it’s a blurry close-up or an overexposed image, subpar product photography can have a negative impact on your online sales. Here are five of the most common photography mistakes new online sellers make, and how you can avoid them.

1. Low lighting

When you don’t have enough light, your camera often tries to compensate for this by lengthening the exposure, which can lead to blurry or grainy photos. Shoppers want to be able to see what they’re getting. No matter what it is you’re selling, dimly-lit photos can turn off potential customers.

How to fix it: Shoot your products near a sunny window, and try using a reflector, such as a piece of white poster board, to direct more light onto your product and eliminate shadows.

2. Using flash

When you’re shooting your products indoors, it’s tempting to use your camera’s built-in flash to brighten things up. But using flash can create unflattering glares, cause shadows, and distort the colors of your item.

How to fix it: If you need to shoot photos and there’s not enough natural light, use a light box or softbox lights to illuminate your item without harsh glares.

3. Blurry shots

Out-of-focus images come across as unprofessional and can leave the buyer uncertain about the quality of the item they’re considering. If shoppers can’t clearly see your item, they probably won’t buy it.

How to fix it: Experiment with the focus settings on your camera. On most digital cameras, holding the shutter button halfway down cues the camera to set a new focal point. Similarly, many smartphones let you tap the screen in the area that you want the camera to focus on before snapping the shot. When you’re trying to capture close-up details of your product or shoot smaller items like jewelry, use the macro setting on your digital camera, often represented with a flower symbol, to improve the focus. Stabilizing your camera on a tripod or a stack of books can also make your photos crisper.

4. Too much clutter

Photographing your product in the context of a scene (such as shooting a pillow on a couch or shooting a set of plates on a dining table) can help your customers envision your item in their lives. However, if you use a lot of props in your photo, it may confuse potential customers about what exactly is for sale.

How to fix it: Avoid overwhelming shoppers with too many props or busy backdrops, especially when it comes to your primary product image. Your product should be the star of the shot. When in doubt, opt for simplicity and shoot your item by itself in front of a solid, well-lit backdrop.

5. Not enough information

If you want to make the sale, online shoppers need to be able to quickly gauge the size and condition of products they’re thinking about buying. When they can’t tell from your photos how big the item is, what color it is, or other important details, it can lead to lost sales—or returns.

How to fix it: Include shots from multiple angles (front, back, bottom, top, side) in your listing. Make sure to include shots of any wear or cosmetic damage as well. You can demonstrate scale with a photo that shows your product side-by-side with other recognizable objects. And you can show the fit and cut of wearable items, such as clothing or accessories, by shooting them on a model. By providing shoppers with ample information through clear, high-quality photos, they’ll get to know—and love—your item.

Continue reading > Chapter 14: Product Photography Checklist

Go back > The Ultimate Guide to Product Photography

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