How to Compose Appealing Photos of Your Etsy Merchandise - dummies

How to Compose Appealing Photos of Your Etsy Merchandise

By Kate Gatski, Kate Shoup

One way to help make your Etsy product photos captivating is to have a keen eye for composition — the arrangement of visual elements in an image. Just because you’re not a professional photographer doesn’t mean you can’t compose some really swell photos of your own for your Etsy shop.

Basic composition principles

As you shoot your pieces, keep these basic compositional points in mind:

  • Angle the camera. Angling, or tilting, the camera puts the subject slightly off center and creates movement and flow. The result: a more dynamic, intriguing image.

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of Colette Urquhart]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of Colette Urquhart
  • Shoot tight. Filling the frame with your subject not only adds visual impact, but also enables potential buyers to see how well made your piece is.

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of Kristen Timmers]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of Kristen Timmers
  • Blur the background. By using a shallow depth of field (read: a low f-stop setting), you can blur the background to dramatically highlight your piece.

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of the Etsy shop Betsy and Bess (Christopher and Adrienne Scott)]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of the Etsy shop Betsy and Bess (Christopher and Adrienne Scott)

    When the background is blurred, you can shoot in almost any setting; just make sure that the background colors don’t clash with your subject.

  • Remember that less is more. Don’t crowd the scene with extraneous objects. Otherwise, potential buyers may not understand exactly which item in your photo is for sale.

  • Frame your subject. One way to draw the viewer’s eye to your piece is to frame it — that is, place some darker element in the perimeter. This technique helps prevent the viewer’s eye from straying from your item.

  • Group pieces. Especially if you make itsy-bitsy goodies, you can try grouping them to catch a buyer’s eye. Not only does this make a more eye-catching photograph, but it also shows potential buyers how pieces in your collection work together. Be sure to note in your listing description which item is actually for sale. Also, avoid groups that are too large; three to five pieces is plenty.

Apply the rule of thirds

In addition to conveying a sense of tension and energy, the rule of thirds helps pique the viewer’s interest. According to this rule, you should use two horizontal lines and two vertical lines to divide the scene you’re photographing into nine equal parts. Then place key elements at any of the four points where the lines intersect, or use the lines themselves as guides to compose your image.


Note: With some digital cameras, you can display a grid on the LCD viewfinder, enabling you to organize your image around the lines and cross points.

[Credit: Photo courtesy of Heather Torre]
Credit: Photo courtesy of Heather Torre