Monday, July 25, 2011

How to: Pictures that Sell

I've been getting a ton of inquiries about how to take crisp creative pictures for websites like Etsy, Ebay and Craigslist to help further their site traffic and I wanted to help everyone in one shot. Taking pictures with your cell phone doesn't have to disable you from taking awesome pictures either. Read this article to find out more to get more bang for your Craigslist buck!

Here are some GREAT tips on how to take quality images without being a pro! ::


Elvis decanter
  • If you can find a way to use natural light, do it. Set up your shot near a window (or near a white wall if it reflects enough window light).
  • If you have a yard and the weather’s nice enough to shoot outside, drag a card table out back and set up an impromptu studio. Early morning and late afternoon light will be easier to shoot in than harsh, direct, noontime sun.
  • If you can’t use natural light, be sure to use the white balance function on your camera. You can also use image editing software like Photoshop to clean up your photos after the fact. Play with the color balance to take out any color casts you may have picked up from artificial lighting, and lighten the photos if they’re too dim. This is particularly important if you’re trying to show the color of your item.
  • Using a flash may work for tutorials and larger items, but won’t work for small items like jewelry. You can try to tape a little piece of white tissue paper over your flash to avoid glare.
  • If you have a cardboard box lying around, you can make your own soft box. You’ll be amazed how playing with lighting can improve your photos.    


    gemmafactrix rings
    • Keep your backgrounds as simple as possible.
    • If your worktable is ugly but it’s the only place you can set up, cover the surface with some nice paper from the art supply store. Tablecloths work fine if their well-ironed; wrinkles will distract the eye.
    • For tutorials, light backgrounds tend to work best. Color can work if it’s not too distracting and doesn’t clash with what you’re photographing.
    • For small items such as jewelry, you can use more interesting backgrounds. Use vintage books and industrial surfaces to show off you jewelry on Etsy, and it works great. Wood, paper, cloth and metal can all add a little something to your images.
    • For tutorials and larger items like clothing, you’ll have to pull back to get everything in the shot. Make sure the rest of your studio/ apartment/ mobile command unit isn’t visible in the shot. Set up by a blank wall and use it as a backdrop.
    • Be aware that if you have windows or mirrored surfaces in your shot, your reflection will show up as well. Don’t forget to put some pants on unless you want to become an internet phenomenon.  


      • Use a tripod even if you think you have enough light. When you’re taking photos of small objects, a little camera shake can end up blurring major details.
      • For small items, get in as close as you can. Make the viewer feel like they could reach out and touch it. Use the macro setting on your camera.
      • If you have an SLR, you can pick up a couple of close-up filters- they’re a cheaper alternative to fancy zoom lenses.
      • More importantly, don’t get in so close that your camera can’t focus. Good sharp focus is more important than filling the frame.
      • Since you’re going to use these photos on the web, you can always take the photo at a higher resolution and use Photoshop to crop in tight. You’ll probably still have resolution to spare when you’re done.
      • If you’re taking pictures of a tutorial and need to show your hands performing a step, get a friend to help you out. It’s just too hard to get a good photo of your own hands, unless you make yourself an amazing head-cam.

             Photo Credits: rings: Gemmafactrix, deer shirt: Pretty Raccoon, others: Kelly Jensen. Featured necklace by Lusterbunny.

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