How to Use Props for Great Etsy Photos

Props are a great way to add interest to your shot or convey something about the item you’re selling on Etsy. The trick to using them is making sure they don’t detract from what you’re selling or confuse buyers. A prop must enhance your piece, conveying to buyers its possibilities. Props also must reflect your brand. If your brand is elegant, steer clear of props that scream “Behold my quirkiness!”

The swell thing about props is that they’re everywhere! You can find potential props in your garden shed, your craft closet, your grandmother’s attic, your nephew’s toy chest, or your uncle’s garage. Experiment with lots of different props to see what works best. For example, you can use props as follows:

  • To convey the scale of your piece: Using a universal prop — something everyone recognizes, like a coin, a book, a pencil, a chair, a toy, food, or whatnot — is a great way to show potential buyers the size of your piece.

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wilson]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wilson
  • To show how your piece can be used: By putting your piece in its “natural environment,” you give potential buyers an idea of how they can use it. For example, if you make USB drives shaped like R2-D2, you may insert one into your laptop’s USB port. Or maybe you craft gorgeous place cards. You may position one atop a lovely vintage plate, to reinforce what your item is.

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wallberg, e photography]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wallberg, e photography
  • To reflect how your piece was made: Do you use special tools to construct your item? If so, consider using those implements as props. Knitting needles, embroidery hoops, pliers, cutters, paintbrushes, pencils, scissors, blowtorches — all these constitute excellent props; they add interest by conveying how the piece was made.

  • To suggest what inspired your piece: Did the idea for your piece come to you while you were walking in the woods? Then a leaf, branch, or pine cone may make an excellent prop. Or if you had the epiphany for your piece while strolling along the seashore, a bit of sand or a seashell may serve as a prop.

  • To complement your piece: A great way to create interest is to place your piece alongside an object that complements it visually. Maybe the object you use as a prop is a complementary color — for example, the object is violet, and your piece is yellow. Or maybe the object reflects the genre — say, the object is a vintage bowling pin, and your piece is a hand-sewn bowling shirt.

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of the Etsy shop Whispering Willow]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of the Etsy shop Whispering Willow
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