There are many elements in your Etsy shop that establish a unique overall shop personality. However, few items have as much impact on that personality as your product photography. Photographs come up in search, inspire inclusion in treasuries, cause shoppers to “click through” to your shop, and ultimately demonstrate to a potential buyer that your product is something they “must have”.
Within seconds of arriving in your shop, a decision will be made to stay and “shop around” or leave for another destination. The photographs used will immediately create an image in the eyes of our potential buyers allowing them to determine if your product is “right” for them. In fact, if they are searching in Etsy, the lead photograph often determines if they will visit the shop at all.
So, how do you discover that photo personality that will convey the image you are looking for? I think it is a balance of thinking and experimenting.
Finding Your Style
A number of business tip posts here on EcoEtsy have focused on discovering the personality of your shop and ensuring that style comes through in everything you do – from avatars, to banners, to your shop profile. As mentioned above, the photography on your site is likely the loudest “voice” in that overall personality.
In the post Discovering Your Visual Identity, there was a suggestion to use three words to describe the visual look of your shop. If you have identified these words, they could be a great guide in the overall style of the photos you take. If you don’t have three words, take a few minutes and try to come up with a simple direction for your style.
In addition to your guiding words, an inspiration board can be very helpful to guide you toward the image you want your photography to convey. I’ve found inspiration by searching on Etsy and noticing, really noticing the photos I’m drawn to and asking myself what it is about the photo that pulls me in. You can also take a look back at treasuries you’ve created. The photos of the shops you included could be clear indications of the “voice” that you admire and would like to have in your own shop.
Brainstorm Photo Options
Before taking any pictures, consider spending some quiet time brainstorming ideas for backgrounds, props, angles, and more. Having ideas in mind prior to picking up the camera will take pressure off finding inspiration the day you decide to photograph. As you start to brainstorm, here are some things to consider:
- Backgrounds – Keeping your background to just one or two options can help a lot in getting a consistent look across the shop. You can try a number of different ideas to find the right one, but should narrow them down to create a more cohesive look in your shop.
- Props – The best advice here is to tread carefully. Keeping your photos simple with a good amount of white space will allow your product to be the star of every photograph. While there are many Etsy sellers that do a wonderful job of including props, proceed with caution. Too many props can detract from your product.
- Angles – Consider different angles to take the photos from….above the item, at the same level, turned 90 degrees, upside down, etc. This provides a way to create a “wow” with an angle the shopper doesn’t expect.
- Close Ups – Sometimes photos can be a great method to intrigue a buyer and draw them in to learn more. Close ups are a great method of creating intrigue. While close ups can draw you in, they can’t survive on their own. You definitely need shots that show the complete product.
- In Use – Whenever possible, it is a good idea to try to photograph your items “in use” so that your shoppers can visualize how the item will fit in their life. Clothing and jewelry designers should definitely consider using model shots to demonstrate the items being worn.
- Packaged up – You might also consider photography your item packaged up for delivery. This way the customer can envision the product exactly as it would arrive in their home.
Once you have drawn shoppers in and they are considering an item, it is important that they get a complete “feel” for the item through the five photographs provided. Since they can’t pick the item up and turn it around in their hands, your photos need to do that for them. With five photo slots available for each listing on Etsy, you should ensure that you are maximizing the use of each of these shots!
After you have a great list of ideas, it’s time to set aside some time to experiment. This should be a really fun session without the pressure of getting listings online. You can try many things and it is OK, in fact expected, that some of your “great ideas” just don’t work out very well. The purpose of these experiment sessions is to find looks that you love and fit your vision perfectly and weed out the ideas that just aren’t the right fit.
Establish a Direction
Once you have had time to experiment, try different things, and find imagery that you love, it is important to establish a clear direction for your shop photography. A single direction will allow you to have a more consistent visual presence. Then, when shoppers see your photos anywhere on Etsy, there will no question where those products and photos are from. That branded look can help you make tremendous strides in awareness and consideration for your shop.
Your overall direction should include these details:
- Backgrounds that will be used
- Prop description (if applicable)
- Preferred angles
- Five photos – What shots will fill each slot (close up, packaging, in use, on model, etc.)
A little cheat for getting a consistent look with your shop photos and using this consistency to reinforce your brand is to take 5 similar photos of each item…….If you have five somewhat consistent pictures for each item, it will be very easy to give the pages of your shop a cohesive, but eclectic and interesting visual by varying which picture you use as your FIRST picture.
Once you have decided on a clear direction, it’s time to get out there and start taking LOTS of photos. If your shop is full of items, you might want to make the transition over a few weeks or more. You could set goals of updating 3-5 listings each day until you get through your entire shop.
Rearrange Your Shop
After all your new, beautiful photos have been loaded in your shop, you should take some time to look at the overall composition of each page through the eyes of a shopper. You can use the rearrange feature on Etsy to move your items around on the page to make the group look as visually appealing together as possible.
The rearrange button should be on the bottom left of your shop page when you are logged in. If you don’t see the button there, go into your shop settings under “options” ensure that the feature is enabled.
As you arrive at the end of this post, some of you may be wondering where the tips are for taking great photographs and editing them to look perfect in your shop. I didn’t forget, but felt there was too much content for just one post. Check back in two weeks for tips on the technical side of taking great photos.
Just like all of the other aspects of your Etsy shop, I would consider the photography to be ever evolving. My own shop is on it’s third iteration of product photography. As I look back from where I was to where I am now, I see tremendous improvement in the photos – an evolution of the backgrounds, angles, and improved technique. I still see opportunities to make the photos even better (like adding model shots and product packaging), but I am very proud of the progress I’m making. Small steps will make a big difference over time.
Let the rest of the team know any tips you have for discovering the look that is right for your shop.
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