How to take great product photos for your Etsy shop

One of the keys to selling successfully on Etsy is to have great product photos which create a desire in your target audience to buy the product immediately.

You are ready to launch your fabulous Etsy shop, you’ve got your products in place, you’ve got a shop banner & shop icon done up, and now you want to LIST them on your brand new shop. OR, you already have an Etsy shop and are looking to take your shop to the next level. You’ve come to the right place.

A word about gear:

Having a lot of great gear is NOT necessary to create great photographs – this is from someone who has been a professional photographer and still does commercial stock photography. What IS important are positioning and light. Knowing how to use your model Rebel DSLR properly is far better than having a high end DSLR but not setting up your shots properly. Follow this guide and you’ll see what I mean, promise.

  1. Get the right shooting backdrop / background material

I cannot stress enough on the importance of this. Depending on your product type, you first need to get the right product background in place. To figure out what kind of background you want, look around other stores in your sector and see:

  • what catches your fancy
  • what you feel resonates your brand
  • what you think you can consistently create for each of your products

The last one is important because it serves no purpose to go all out on a fancy on-location shoot for your first ten products, and then have to shoot the next ten products on your BED. So be wise, and selective.

One timeless and elegant way of displaying a product is shooting on a plain white background / backdrop. Take a look at this shop. And this. This is easy to create, looks classic and noise free and is very doable. For this method, you need at least two, if not three, white foam boards. You should be able to find these at any local art store around you.

Set it up as a trifold, and close to your source of light to get dreamy white backgrounds. See this picture for reference.

2. Use Natural Light

Now that you have your background prepped, we come to the next most important point – source of light. I am a natural light photographer and I recommend you try to start with natural light (as you get more advanced in your product photography skills, you can add other sources of light like on and off-camera flash). All you need for this is a large window and some empty space near it (you’ll set up your trifold in this area).

If you’re starting a new business, this source of light will most likely be a part of your home (and that’s great). 2-3 days before your shoot, just observe that spot and try to note what time of the day that area is most brightly lit but there is no direct sunlight hitting that area. This is your holy grail of natural lighting heaven.

3. The Right Angles

Great. So you have your light and your trifold set up. But WHAT do you shoot? For this, you need to consider where you’re selling. If you’re selling on your website, then you probably have a lot of freedom and flexibility as to how many product images you can include. However, Etsy has a limit of 5 photos that you can upload.

Of those five, I would recommend leaving the fifth as a “static infographic” for the viewers, encouraging them to favourite the product or your shop, or just giving them some must-know information about your product, or to announce a deal (like buy 2 get 1 free etc.). The last image is hot real estate for encouraging ACTION from your viewers so use it right. I digress.

Coming back to product shots, that leaves us with 4 product images. Let them be these:

  • The Overall View: How the product looks overall, if they saw it on a physical store shelf
  • The Close up View: How some details on the product look like up close 
  • The Aspirational View: How the product looks in action (being used by someone or simply IN use)

Your first product image – the Overall View – needs to grab the attention of viewers when it comes up in Etsy’s search results. You can even choose to use the Aspirational View image as your cover shot – many times, this will look the most attractive.

To decide which shot should make it to your cover, do some testing. Search, and scroll through search results fairly quickly and in a disinterested way and see if your eyeballs stop at your own image. If they don’t (which is likely to be the case 99.99% of the time unless you’re a pro product photographer – in which case please leave some tips behind here!) then mess around with your photos and with their order until you find the sweet spot. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but this WILL get you results.

4. Be Pinterest Friendly

Make your first image a long, Pinterest friendly image so that when someone pins your photo (you should be the first one to do it- pin it right after you upload your product!), then a long, super eye-grabby image gets pinned. It’s way more likely for this image to attract more visitors than a horizontal image would. Etsy receives a LOT of traffic from Pinterest, and people on Pinterest are 2 out of 3 times looking to buy something, so get noticed by them with your cool Pinterest strategy.

Most of all, get out there, take photos and PUT THEM UP. Every thing else will fall into place. Just do it!

Here’s a little summary of this huge post above. Save it for easy reference later (or hey, be a doll, and pin it!):How-to-take-great-product-photos-for-etsy-shop

3 thoughts on “How to take great product photos for your Etsy shop

  1. Hey! Thank you for the kind words :) The background size should definitely be large enough to allow for some negative space in the composition.

    If you’re asking about how big the image itself should be, then that depends on the platform you’re uploading the photos on. Product images should at least be 500 px wide to make sure the customer can get a good look at it without pixelation.

    – Sneha

What do you think?