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At A Handcrafted Business it is all about great craft business advice!
Top 5 handmade product photography mistakes
My mission in life is to give great craft business advice to help you make more money from your craft business – which, though true, does sound pretty pompous but it actually means I LOVE handmade and I love seeing gorgeous pictures and photographs.
The best handmade product photographs stand out a mile and sell your products effortlessly. The worst are doing more harm than good when it comes to selling your handmade goodies, and are probably costing you sales!
As well as having a love of handmade I also used to be a professional photographer and so I do have a few professional tips and tricks up my sleeves!
Taking great handmade product photographs is far easier than you think – in fact I can pretty much guarantee you are over thinking it.
Top of the list of worries is lighting – which actually is down at number four on my list of mistakes!
When you are showing your photos off online you need your photographs to compensate for your audiences lack of touch, smell, and even in some cases taste.
Your photographs need to delight and inspire whilst also being true.
The more photographs you take avoiding my 5 handmade product photography mistakes and the more you experiment the better you will get.
Oh and you don’t need an expensive camera either; I’ll tell you all about that in my next craft business advice article.
The first, and worst, mistake in handmade product photography is an out of focus product. Or the background in focus and not the product. If the product is out of focus retake the photo. Simple.
The photograph exists to help your potential buyer fall in love with your make or piece of artwork. To do this it needs to be pin sharp! Nothing else will do!
Now you can make fine tweaks using a digital software package, in fact I very slightly adjust the sharpness on every photo I edit BUT this doe not and cannot correct any photos which are out of focus or suffering from blur. These digital tweaks improve what you have not correct it!
If you are relying on auto-focus on a digital camera make sure you know where it is focusing (or adjust where it focuses).
If you are using a smart phone did you know the phone will focus where you tap on the screen? This will not only give you an image with the focus where you want it but it will also adjust the exposure too.
The second big mistake in handmade product photography is not noticing every single thing that is in shot or deliberately adding things which aren’t needed.
Now I love lifestyle shots and when they are done well they can really bring a product to life. They can inspire and help a customer visualise owning and using your product, however get it wrong and they just distract your potential customer to the point they don’t really notice your make.
Do you remember the House Doctor on television who used to help people sell their houses? It must have been about ten years or so ago she was on our screens, so not surprising if you don’t. The House Doctor used to go into houses that were stuck on the property market and basically declutter and paint everything magnolia. It was about creating a neutral canvas so potential buyers could walk in an envisage their own furniture and living arrangements in their prospective new home without getting distracted by bright orange walls and ornaments everywhere.
Buyers, whether buying houses or handmade products, are easily confused; you need to create beautiful lifestyle images which compliment your products and are perfectly suited to catch your ideal customers eye.
It isn’t just lifestyle images that can suffer with background distraction. If you are using a background which is too small and catch the edges in shot that will distract too. You need a larger background or to be able to crop out the offending lines. Or if you are taking shots using your kitchen worktop or table, make sure you notice what can be seen behind your product. You can crop in camera or after using the wonders of digital technology – however you do it please just make sure you can’t see the washing up that is waiting patiently for you in the sink.
The third mistake in handmade product photography is poor cropping or bad positioning.
Always remember the reason you are taking your handmade product photographs is to show off and sell your product so make sure the photograph is all about your wonderful handmade product.
Arty images with odd angles, positioning and unusual cropping can really help you stand out from the crowd in your marketing especially on social media however they can hurt product listings.
On a product listing you need to make sure that you have images showing the whole product clearly and simply, as well as close up photographs of product detailing.
As you take your photograph know when and how you intend to use it; before you click the shutter button look at the the whole frame, does it fulfill your needs? Is everything in shot that needs to be?
The fourth mistake in handmade product photography is bad lighting
Despite this being fourth on my list this is the one that creates the most worry and concern. Stop worrying about a few shadows here and there and just make sure that your pic is a true representation of the product.
You want to make sure the colours are right, and that your customer will receive a product that looks like the one in the photograph.
Natural light on an overcast day will product the best results.
If you want to take photos on a day where there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun is casting harsh shadows then hang a white cotton bed sheet over your curtain pole to diffuse the light.
Good focus and a great background, with the right angles mean that you don’t need perfect lighting.
One quick tip – if you are taking the photo on a smart phone most cameras will adjust the exposure where you tap the screen, so try tapping in a few different paces and see what happens to the lighting. (Be careful as this can also throw off focus!)
The fifth mistake in handmade product photography is unintentionally misleading customers
This is last on the list but actually very serious.
I’m not for a second suggesting anyone would deliberately mislead but customers don’t always read the small print, and they assume what they see is what they will be buying!
Be careful when you….
- add in a second product into a photo when you sell in singles
- tweak with the photo digitally changing the colour of the product
- show product in a background which it isn’t suitable for use
- show product with accessories you don’t sell or sell separately
My advice here is simply to be very careful. You have do have a little more leniency with images you use for marketing however where you are selling your handmade product only use photographs which clearly show what a customer will receive. Where you include lifestyle images include a note on the image itself to cover yourself – in the same way video game adverts often state ‘not actual footage’.
One question I am asked is how many photographs do I need?
Every product, make and piece of art is different however you need at least one clear image showing exactly what your customer is buying, a photo of the back as well as the front is a nice touch. A photo or two of any details (this can be details on the product or how you package for postage) helps and last on the list of importance is a nice lifestyle shot. This means you could easily end up with up to 5 images for one product.
Do you find taking photos a joy or a chore? Drop me a comment below and let me know. If you have a specific question ask that too, I might just be able to help.