One of the most important aspects of your vintage Etsy shop.
Good product photos sell more frequently and faster than bad to okay product photos. Period.
Think to your own shopping experience.
If you were shopping for a skirt, and you narrowed it down to these two options, which do you think you would ultimately decide on?
Most people will pick the skirt on the right. It looks cleaner, more professional, and overall more trustworthy. The seller on the right looks like they’ve done this before. The seller on the left looks like they’re pretty new to the game.
I do want to say that the photo on the left is not necessarily a bad photo. It’s well lit, shows the form of the skirt, and overall is headed in the right direction.
Two side notes:
One. I am digging through piles of bills and debt as much as the next person. I have achieved these photos on a budget, and I want to show you so you can do the same if need be!
Two. These are just the techniques and equipment I use. There are so many ways to achieve nice product photos. You can model instead of using a dress form. You can use a hot pink sheet instead of white….whatever! Take what I do, and make it your own!
Alright, let’s dive into it.
- Room with natural light
- White Sheet
- Large White Paper
- Dress Form/ Mannequin
- Phone Tripod Mount
- Shutter Release Remote
- Editing Software
Find details and recommendations for all equipment below:
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you use those links I will earn a commission. I only recommend brands that I both use or trust. Thank you for supporting Lexi Goes Thrifting.
1. A Room with Natural Light
A well lit room with natural light is really what made the biggest difference with my product photos.
Natural Light vs Artificial Light
Natural light is light that comes from the sun
Artificial light is manmade light (ex: the light-switch you turn on in your room)
Using natural light will best show your product as is. It will give us the closest depiction of the actual colors of our product (which is so important) and will overall minimize the amount of editing we have to do after we take the photo
Let’s look at these 2 photos below:
The photo on the left was shot in my old apartment with a little bit of natural light, but mostly artificial light.
The photo on the right was shot in my new, well lit space, with lots of natural lighting.
Photos with natural lighting look much better than those with artificial- it’s no question!
Try taking your photos in a room that gets lots of natural sunlight.
What if I don’t have a space?
I know it can be tough finding a space that will work for us, and our homes. For some it may mean finding a space to take photos outside of your home.
But unless you have a bunch of photography lights and equipment, a room lit with natural light is going to be your product photography best friend! And will make a huge difference.
If that’s just not possible in your living space, look to outside. You can easily hang a sheet behind your house to get some nice product shots.
2. A White Flat Sheet
A white flat sheet is what I use for my backdrop on all of my clothing product photos.
If you don’t like the look of folds in the fabric, you can certainly iron it out and pull it taught to achieve a solid background as well.
This is absolutely something you can find at the thrift store, so check there first. If not, you are looking for a basic white sheet. Queen or King size will be best.
If at all possible, I recommend finding a space in your home where you can keep your white sheet up at all times.
Having a dedicated work space for product photography has been a huge shift for me. Save yourself your valuable time and pick a space that will work every single time, and keep it relatively set up. I promise it is well worth it to not have to set up every single time you have to take product photos.
How did I do this? Simply nail (or tack) your sheet high up on the wall, and roll it up when you need it out of place. Easy peasy.
Because of my space, I have to utilize a corner instead of a flat wall. If this is the same for you, simply look into purchasing 2 sheets instead of one. I have a white door on one side, so I use that with my white sheet covering the other wall to create my clean background.
Here is a sample photo of what natural light + a white sheet looks like with NO editing
Pretty nice right?
3. Dress Form / Mannequin
If you decide to go the route of a dress form or mannequin like me, I advise you to choose one that fits the feel of your shop.
There are many different options, from modern to antique, and all are going to provide a different look to your shop.
I found my adjustable vintage mannequin on craigslist for $50. If you want to save some cash, try searching your local Craigslist before purchasing new like I did!
If you would like to purchase a new one, here are a few you could consider from amazon
Remember: This mannequin will essentially be the face of your shop.
So take your time, and choose one you really love!
The camera you choose is going to primarily depend on your budget- because there are lots of options and choices.
I’m not going to get to into that, but if you want some professional camera recommendations for different budgets, read this super informative post here by the Minimalist Baker.
What I want to drill in is it is completely possible to take high quality product photos with your smartphone.
So if that is what you are working with, you can still achieve great product photos!
I want to show you the two pieces of equipment I use to take my photos, and what those photos look like with each; a Nikon D60 DSLR camera, and an iPhone 6s.
Continue reading to view samples of each
5. White Paper
To take pictures of non-clothing products, I use a super simple set up of 2-3 pieces of white paper.
I use paper from a big drawing pad (I have a lot just hanging around) but feel free to use whatever works. White foam-core or poster-board are my recommendations, as they are sturdy and will work with you 🙂
Set up your paper in your well lit room next to a window, and you are golden!
Here are a few photos of my simple set up to get awesome product photos for my shop, with both my camera, and iPhone, to show you the difference:
As you can see, both products look pretty damn good! So if a fancy camera isn’t in the budget right now, don’t worry about it. You can create really great product photos without it
You can take your product photography efficiency one step further by making yourself a Photo Light Box.
To learn more about DIY Photo Light Boxes, and how to make your own, head to this super awesome tutorial from Flax & Twine here.
A tripod is also going to be your product photography best friend. We have no room for fuzzy photos in our product photography, and a tripod will eliminate that possibility.
Tripods will also allow us to photo our products in lower light (like taking photos as scheduled, even if it’s a cloudier day)
It’s also important to not that if you want to be in any of your product photos, a tripod makes taking pictures by yourself, of yourself, 1000 times easier.
There are all sorts of tripods out there. Again, I would check the thrift store out before purchasing new (I see tripods pretty often!)
You don’t need anything too crazy or fancy. Here are a few options (I have the first one):
7. Phone attachment
Taking pictures with your phone?
Here is a tripod mount that will allow you to use your tripod with your phone.
This is the exact phone attachment I have, works great, and should work with most smartphones.
8. Shutter Release Remote
A shutter release remote will be your best friend if you want to both take your product shots and be in them. Even something as simple as putting your hand in the shot is 100 times easier with a shutter release remote.
Tripod + shutter release remote = gold!
If you can’t squeeze a shutter release remote in the budget, utilize the 3-second or 10-second delay function on your phone or camera in place of the remote
9. Editing Software
This isn’t instagram- no filters welcome! We want to be honest to our customers about what they are ordering.
I think finding editing software to do these two things will get you started on the right foot:
- General Photo Editing – brightness, contrast, cropping…
- Ability to combine multiple photos into one (to optimize our Etsy item listing cover photo)
What do I use? Photoshop
I went to art school, so I have had photoshop purchased for quite some time. But I totally understand it’s a large investment some of us may not be able to make.
So let’s look elsewhere…
Here are two FREE alternatives:
Beginner Beans has a super informative tutorial on editing photos with Pic Monkey- check it out to learn exactly how to edit your photos
I use for all of my blogging and social media graphics. I even choose it over photoshop for making graphics because it’s that user friendly! You can easily combine photos in Canva as well. Check out a beginners Canva tutorial here.