There's one little tool in your image editing software that you need to become fast friends with. It's called a cropping tool and not many people are very familiar with it. Nonetheless, I suggest you get to know it really well, because it can help you to make the best of your product images in mere seconds.
The thing is, when we take pictures, we think of what we're seeing in the viewfinder. If image doesn't seem to fit in the shot, we either move back or turn the whole camera sideways in attempts to find the best fit. Logically, it makes a lot of sense, we want our hard work shown in it's full glory, so how can we leave parts of it out of the picture all together? Well, I guess the saying is right: sometimes less is more. At least for the main product image.
Let me explain. Real cropping, or as professionals call it - framing, should begin long before you get to your computer, more specifically - while you're still photographing. I suggest you do several types of shots. Several simple, straight-up ones, that DO fit the whole thing. Few photos of product in use or at least next to another easily identifiable yet stylish object, to show the scale). And finally, as many as you can, photos that focus strictly on your item's most interesting (visually) aspects. Experiment with different angles (don't be afraid to move your camera around, try to get lower, eye level with it, try to look at it from all sides), get really close - play with macro mode
on your camera, focus on different parts of your item. Let the others get dramatically blurry. (Depth of field
is a great trick that most cameras nowadays are capable of performing without any effort or even basic knowledge of "serious photography".
Yes, the best kept secret of picture-taking for Etsy and other craft-community-sites with pre-set image size is CROPPING. How many times, I observed very decent pictures looking like... nothing, really, because of the way they were originally shot and then non-cropped. So, when you're done shooting, load the photos onto your computer. Be absolutely sure to duplicate all the "raw" original files and work only on the copied versions.
Think of your cropping tool as a frame. You know that in most places (except for the actual product-view, which is not really gonna happen if your don't attract as many instantly interested potential buyers with your eye-grabbing front "preview") The abbreviated listings on your Shop's main page, as well as Treasury Listings and consequently - potential front page images, not to mention Chatroom-posted ones, are slightly horizontal. What it means, is that there is a little more width than there is height. VERY IMPORTANT consideration. Especially if you have a necklace, dress or a scarf, that, well, is naturally long. Remember, even though your photo will load and fit the Etsy's "up to 1000px wide" rule, what's gonna show most of the time is just that middle part that will fit into the horizontal rectangular shape that is one of those "windows" I mentioned before. This is where creative cropping comes to the rescue.
This kind of thing is easier shown in examples and I have just the right ones for you. Here are some examples of dramatic changes you can make in your photography with a few very easy tricks:
Angle + Close-up:
(c) Studio Elan
Crop + depth of field:
Just a simple crop:
And here are some more examples of very successful cropping:
Now, this is the PERFECT example of what I'm trying to tell you, first of all because of it's simplicity. Beautiful product, "no-frills" background, even lighting. And just see how a very simple angle change and different framing (or cropping afterwards) can change the image from bland to cool:
(c) Jane Deaux
Here's another example that many of your probably have seen around Etsy. Fun, colorful bag, no background. The straight-up photo is fine, there's nothing wrong to it, but add (or shall I say subtract? ;) some creative cropping and exact same image becomes totally front-page-worthy. You can see more interesting detail, it grabs your attention right away.
(c) Studio Cherie
This striking book, although still very good looking standing straight up, really shines when shown at an angle and even though it doesn't all "fit in" (hence - cropping), the best features are shown front and center, angle adding to visual interest.
(c) Moon Bindery
Another beautiful jewelry sample. This is anything BUT simple. Intricate, colorful piece is good to see as a whole, but even more interesting, close up and cut off :)
(c) Idyll Hands
If your item is larger, for example it's a piece of clothing, such as this beautiful tee, the same rules apply. The more detail the better. The closer you get, while still showing the overall shape-the more your potential buyer will be intrigued to see the whole thing:
And finally, here are some helpful links for you:
On-line photo editing software Picnik
Free downloadable software
Affordable semi-professional software
: Photosop Elements
Etsy Helpful Articles
: Feature Friendly Photos
and Front Page Worthy Photos
There's an excellent Etsy Shop Makeovers Flickr group
that encourages people to post their "before and after" photos. Most of the wonderful images in this tutorial came from this group with permission of their great authors. Please be sure to check out their stores on Etsy by clicking on the names under the photos.
A little bit about myself: My name is RaShell, I have an Etsy Shop, called Doodlage
, in which I offer Rocks (yes, I doodle on real smooth river and ocean rocks!), Paper (that's your garden-variety doodles, drawings and prints), and Scissors (one-of-a-kind, original paper cuts and collages created using beautiful Japanese Chiyogami papers). Get it? Paper-Scissors-Rock.
I also wrote 2 Photo for Etsy Help articles which I offer in my shop - "Photography Tips and Tricks
" and "Etsy Photo DOs & DON'Ts
". Both deal mostly with creative aspects of your picture taking - backgrounds, props, angles, as well as some technical issues - lighting, sizes, etc. They will give you a push in the right direction if your already mastered basic picture taking techniques, but need some more interest, a "punch" to your photos.
Because your product really is, as good as it shows on your photos ;)