Hints for Getting the Lighting Right in Your Etsy Photos
No doubt about it, when you're photographing your work to post on your Etsy shop, good lighting is essential. Without it, your camera simply can't capture the color and texture of your piece.
You don't need to start selling your plasma to afford an expensive lighting rig. When it comes to photographing the goodies you've made for your Etsy shop, natural lighting — say, from a north-facing window or even outside on an overcast day — is best. It's by far the most flattering light source. In addition, it enables you to capture the colors and texture of your piece.
Unless you live with the Inuits and it's that season when the sun never sets, shooting at night is a bad idea — mostly because simply not much natural light is available.
Instead, you want to photograph during the "golden hours." Use the natural light available in the early morning, right after the sun rises, or near sunset, when the sun is low in the sky. You'll find the natural light during these periods to be as flattering as 4-inch heels.
Direct sunlight can overexpose your photo, washing it out. If you can't avoid direct sunlight, try diffusing the light — for example, positioning a sheer curtain between the sun and the piece you're photographing.
Notice the difference between an object photographed in full sun
and one photographed in diffused light.
Notice how the diffused light in the second image softens the whole shot.
Another option you can try when you can't avoid direct sunlight is positioning your piece so that the sun is behind it. This technique creates a warm glow around the edges. (In this scenario, you may need to use reflectors or, as a last resort, your flash. If you must use your flash, diffuse it to avoid casting harsh shadows on your piece.)
If you can avoid it, don't use your flash when photographing items for your Etsy shop — unless harsh shadows, glare, reflections, and a generally flat appearance will somehow enhance your item's salability. If you simply cannot achieve the necessary exposure without using your flash, consider covering the flash with tracing paper, white facial tissue, or some other sheer material to diffuse it.
Instead of using your flash, you can put reflectors to work. Use white walls or other home-grown reflective items (think white poster board, a hanging bed sheet, or, for a brighter reflection, a mirror) to "bounce" light onto your piece.
A reflector wasn't used here and produced an image that is dark and a wee bit muddy; its colors just don't stand out.
In contrast, with a reflector, the face of the angel pops a bit more, for an overall brighter, happier look.
Especially if you craft wee things — jewelry, personalized guitar picks, pet portraits on grains of rice — you may want to consider using a light tent. A light tent, sometimes called a light box, is a small structure made of transparent white fabric or plastic in which you place your item to photograph it. Light tents, which can be used with natural light or a simple lighting kit, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Alternatively, you can build your own for a song. For help, visit the Etsy Seller Handbook.