Photo Tutorial Part 2

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Welcome to part II of our photo tutorial! Now that you have some essential photography basics down, let us show you how to add a little pizzazz to your pics!

What’s your angle?

Interesting angles can help your products stand out from the crowd.

Take lots of photographs and try using unusual angles and interesting close-ups to give your photos some interest. Notice how in these two photos, the angle is straight ahead. They are good quality photos, but they’re not terribly exciting.

angle head on 1angle head on 2

In this version, using a different angle instantly gives the photographs more personality.

angled 1angled 2

Of course you still want to make sure that you have “normal” angles within your listings so that people can see what the finished product actually looks like, but throwing some funky angles into the mix makes for eye-catching photos that will get you noticed.

Cut it out!

Just like angles, a unique crop can also make your photographs more fun to look at. Having your product smack dab in the middle of the frame is okay, but look at how much more interesting this flower photo becomes when it goes off the edge of the frame.
Crop-BoringCrop-Interesting

Even if the original photo you took doesn’t have a cool crop, it’s easy to do using free photo editing tools. Our favorite free photo editors are the free version of Photoshop, available at Photoshop.com under the tools menu, and Picmonkey.com. But just about any free photo editor out there will let you crop your photos.

Props to you

Consider what props you could use for your images. Props should enhance your image without being distracting.

In this photo, the clear glass marbles add some interest, but because they are a neutral color, they don’t divert attention away from the flower.
Props-Enhance
You can also use the tools of your trade as props for your photo to emphasize the hand-crafted nature of the item. A knitter could use knitting needles and yarn, a painter brushes and tubes of paint, and so on.
Props-Tools
Props can also help you convey information about your product. A picture is worth a thousand words, and though including size and other relevant information within the text is important, photographs are often a more tangible way for customers to get a feel for product’s properties.

Here a ruler and a quarter help to show the scale of the item for sale. Instead of just saying the button is 1.25” wide, now the customer has a better idea what that size actually means because it’s shown in relation to the quarter.
Props-Size
A photo showing the item in action also helps the customer get a better sense of how the product can be used and help them envision using the item themselves.
Props in action

What’s going on back there?

Just as props should not compete for attention with the item, backgrounds should also be carefully considered. A chaotic or messy background serves as a distraction from the item you are trying to sell. No one wants to buy a purse that’s photographed sitting on your messy dining room table, no matter how beautiful it is!

Many people use a light box for taking product photographs because almost any product looks good on a plain white backdrop.

If you don’t have the money to invest in a light box, the same effect can be achieved very inexpensively using a large sheet of white poster board. Simply curve the poster board into a soft “L” shape and place it next to an open window or take your setup outside. All the photos you’ve seen so far with a white background were taken using white poster board as the backdrop.

Other good photo backdrops include kraft paper, wood, and fabric that compliments the object you are photographing.
wood bgfabric bg

If you aren’t lucky enough to have some beautifully weathered wood you can use for photographs, we’ve got you covered! Click on the link below to download our free fake wood backdrop. The file is designed to be seamless if you wanted to print out multiples and tile them together to create a larger backdrop. Just print out as many as you need, trim off the white borders of top “tiles”, and line up the matching edges and tape or glue together.

Download our free wood backdrop!

Monkeying around

Now that you’ve got a hang of the basics, why not have a little fun with your photos? Applying some cool filters is yet another way you can enhance your images. Picmonkey.com has some really nice effects and most of them are free. In Picmonkey, filters are found by selecting the magic wand at the left. Use the various sliders for the desired effect to find what looks best for your image. Just remember any effects you use should serve to enhance your products, so don’t go TOO crazy. Effects are like makeup. A little looks nice, but if you overdo it, things start to get a little scary!

You can also use Picmonkey to add a watermark to your images. Select the butterfly icon at the left. Under the “Your Own” dropdown menu, find an image of your logo, preferably one with a transparent background. You can then place the logo on top of your photo and resize and position as needed. If you want the logo to be less prominent, you can increase the fade to make it more transparent, change the color so that it colorizes the whole logo, or change the blend mode to darken, hard light, multiply, or overlay. (Multiply works best if your logo has a white background instead of a transparent background). The mode that will look the nicest depends on your photo and your particular logo, so play around!

Here we first used the Orton filter in Picmonkey. Then we added our logo as a watermark to the lower left corner. We changed the color of our logo to white, increased the fade, and then changed the blend mode to hard light. Easy!
editing picmonkey watermark-01

Most tools at Picmonkey.com are free. If you’d like to try to premium features, you can use this link to get a free 30 day trial of PicMonkey Royale!

We hope that with these tips in your toolbelt, you’ll be more confident in taking (and editing!) great product photos and increase traffic to your shops!

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