It’s time to talk..photography! I received so many questions about how I make my Etsy shop look so consistent. In reality, to get my photos to look good took absolute ages. It was a slow process because I was trying to figure it all about by myself. I knew that when selling on Etsy, besides a brilliant SEO, photography is the one that counts next.
Ok, let’s go back at the end of 2016 when I opened my shop. I didn’t have a clue about the importance of good photos. I would put a lot of effort into creating the inserts, I would print it, use it for some time and if I was happy with it I would upload it. I just wanted to create something that people find useful and not just fill my shop with bulk. That being said, I was excited to upload it so you can all enjoy it.
With one problem.
My photography was bad, so the number of few clicks here and there was reflecting in the number of sales I was getting.
This is one of my first photographed inserts. The entire image is cropped up so wrong, the colours are so off, the pink fields are so washed off are barely noticeable and the overall image is way too dark.
Since then my photography improved so much and the sales reflected that.
I noticed a huge increase in the views that I was getting and started to get more confident about growing my shop.
Now SEO plays an equal amount of importance in getting found on Etsy, but if the picture doesn’t feel attractive, you won’t get THE click. Small businesses are under more pressure than ever to create products that engage buyers and offers them something unique, but you won’t get the chance to prove that if the first image doesn’t stand out.
The photos that you use to create your brand imagery represent the personality of your business, and you should aim to make it professional and cohesive to get that first impression right.
From taking photos with my iPhone, I invested in a DSLR camera and started taking things more seriously. I became motivated because I knew something has to change if I wanted to see some real results. It certainly was challenging and a significant learning process but I came up with a system that works perfectly for me, which I’ll share in detail below.
Here is one image from my listing, big change.
1. I started telling a story
When you assemble your flatlay, the best way to connect with your buyer is to tell a story that describes a moment in time. Create a narrative to your image whilest keeping it playful and interesting.
In my images, I want to invite the buyer into my planning process, grab a cup of tea, light up some candle and start planning in a place that inspires you.
1. Lighting matters
Now, should you use natural or artificial light?
Well, for me, the best light is the one coming through my window in the morning in front of my office window.
Don’t be afraid to explore other areas of your house to get that perfect shot. Move around until you manage to get the best light. I even shot in front of the main entrance with the door wide open. Whatever works.
I would always aim to shoot with the natural lighting, but this is not always an option. We live in the UK, and there are lots of gloomy days, and some days I can’t do it first thing in the morning as I have to work around my kid’s schedule. This can be later at night or on a rainy day. In that case, I would use the artificial light, and if needed, I would brighten it up a bit during the editing process.
2. Bird eye’s view
The aim of a flat lay is to shot above the object. I use a two-step folding stool to get that extra height if I’m not using the tripod. If your flat lay is on the ground you can get away with just standing up, but if it’s on a desk or other table it won’t be enough heigh to capture the entire composition in the screen.
Create some distance between you and the
Take a few shots and keep adjusting the props until it looks just right.
3. Have a photo kit ready to go
Over the past couple of months, I started collecting pretty things for my props, different backgrounds and, details that I can use over and over again to showcase my planner inserts. I store these items in my Ikea cabinets and besides making my office beautiful they are very practical. When I search for props I try to be very picky and always keep within my brand colours which are baby pink, greys, and golden tones.
Also, try to pick objects that vary in size to create more visual interest
These props add a visual interest to my photography and it makes the item that I want to showcase more interesting in a lifestyle shot. This can create inspiration for your buyers to imagine the product in use and see if it’s a good fit for them.
4. Choose your colour palette
The colour coordination adds to the overall polish. Keep within 1-2 colours mixed with neutrals and metallic textures.
Here are some of the props that I collect and use in different composition and mix and match them.
I like stashing them on top of each other to give my photos some dimension. My brand colours are soft pink, greys and different tones of golden so whenever I buy a new prop I keep within that colour scheme.
Here are some of my favourite:
- pink, white & gold notebook
- pink charm hardbound journal
- gold dots spiral
- pink with quote notebook
- large black decor dots
These covers work great together, and if you have a starter kit like this, you can make many combinations. The Kate Spade notebooks have a beautiful interior cover which you can use as well as the outer cover. Try to open the notebooks and add them on top of each other or around the edge centred around your main item to create a focal point.
Sticky notes, pens & pencils
It takes time and creativity to come up with the perfect flat lay. The success of your shot depends on the placement of the items in the picture. It takes a lot of moving around the objects, so have the patience to create a composition you like.
I like to use pencils to make sure I balance the colours so it’s not too much pink one side and none on the other, so just by adding another pop of the same colour will create the overall image feel more balanced.
The trusted golden pens which appear almost in all my shots because I think it makes such a fantastic addition to any image. I like to add them in a pen pot in the corner of the image or to keep one next to my planner inserts.
These heart-shaped sticky notes and quote cards are from Kikki K and one of my favourite place to find beautiful props.
I want my products to stand out and to be the main focus on my photo so most often I use backgrounds such as this marble contact paper and also have another background which I did some DIY from some tongue and groove MDF to get that shiplap look.
Printed wrapping paper is one of the cheapest solutions. When I find a great pattern I use it to create different layers to give my photos more dimension. Some of my favourites are: white with gold foil dots and these reversible ones.
I also tried adding all my props on the bed, the crisp minimalist look that the linen gives it a rustic vibe and you can layer different textures such as a corner of a pillowcase and an edge of a blanket to tell a story and represent a moment in time, such as relaxing, or planning early morning, or before bedtime.
Fabrics & ribbons
One of my favourite things to use in my photos is this sheepskin and simple ribbons that I make myself from satin ribbon. Like with everything in my photos I want to set the mood for what my brand is all about. The sheepskin, I found to be one of the best textures to give my images a soft feel and the ribbon adds that extra touch of femininity and elegance to the shot. For the ribbons, I have 3 difference colours white, baby pink and a light grey as well as a combination of narrow and wider ribbons.
Jewellery, sequins and other knick-knacks.
When you take a flat lay there are lots of little gaps that you can fill in by placing some star sequins and earrings, rings. Make sure you leave enough space between the objects to help them stand out but create interest.
Different colour will draw your eyes to a different part of the image and help shape the mood. Think about colour theory and make sure you convey the right message in your shots whenever possible.
Always start with your main object and work the props around it.
I love using golden because it gives that extra to my images. A bowl with a gold trim, a jewellery box a stunning geode coaster and of course my trusted star confetti that is in most of my shots help narrate the story of your shot and set the mood whilst balancing the composition with pops of colour and textures.
Candles– I have a good selection of candles that I can always pull out one and create some ambience in my images. I love the pots as they are made to look gorgeous in your home and come in different textures such as
- Candle cloche
- geometric rose gold tea light candle holder
- hexagonal tealight in gold
- copper jar candle
- blush copper candle
I love the effect that you can get in your photography by placing fairy lights in the background of your images and give them a blurry effect.
All these props are in line with my branding and to keep it easy for myself I have them all in once place stored on display in my office. It serves as an inspiration and is always ready to use rather than having them spread around the house.
I like to base my photography around a colour scheme and stick with it so it’s easily recognizable and create a brand awareness.
5. Became a flat lay fanatic
Look for inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest and you’ll start to get plenty of ideas and find your style.
Flat lays are the best way to feature planner inserts. To get a great flat lay the placement of your items needs to be just right so creating a balanced composition means a lot of moving around until you are happy with the way it looks.
Layering with different materials such as the sheepskin, books on top of each other, trays, creates depth to the image and makes it more interesting and appealing to the eye.
6. Crop it just right
The process of creating a beautiful flat lay is in the combination of the products, the way is laid out, how the photo is captured and cropped. Cropping it too close to the main focal point can look a bit clumsy whilst leaving too much space becomes uninteresting. Invite your buyer closer to the product by doing some close-ups amongst images with a wider overview.
7. Have the right equipment
I’ll list below some of my trusted items that I use:
- Camera- I use this cannon 6d wi-fi enabled.
- lens- my favourite lens Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8
- photo props
- the actual product
8. Start by setting up the scene
I start by choosing the background and set the main product down. I put my camera on the tripod and angle it to point straight down and let it zoomed out to the maximum this way I would have the option to crop it in the editing phase.
Next, I connect the camera to the software that I use to take pictures directly from my computer, EOS Utility. This allows me to see how the picture looks straight into my computer on a big screen and get a good feel for it rather than check it out on the small screen of my camera where I don’t get to see if the focus was right.
To teether your camera to your computer you would have to download Canon EOS Utility and install it into your computer.
If your camera is wireless in the MENU of your camera choose Wireless communication settings -> Wi-Fi settings and enable the Wi-Fi. Next, go to Wi-Fi function and select your computer, it will make a quick search and it will pair your camera to your computer. Next, you’ll see this window
To enable the live shot click on the Live view shoot and you’ll get here.
To take a photo press the big black button next to the battery level indicator.
Your picture will be saved in a folder and displayed here.
9. Editing is key
To edit I use Lightroom. If all the photos were taking in one session in the same lighting I would create a preset in Lightroom and apply it to all the photos. After that all I need to do it see which photos I want to save and if there is any cropping to do I would do it at that point before exporting them and giving them a relevant name.
To create a new preset adjust the image the way you want it to look from the dials in the right side of the screen, then go in the Preset menu and the left-hand side and click on the ” + ” and name your new preset.
Now you can select all the images that you took in the same lighting and apply that preset. To finish I like to go through the imports and see which images I like the most and give 5 stars and I will only be exporting those ones only. To do that select an image and hit the 5 buttons on your keyboard and your image will be assigned the 5 stars. To show only those images, above the imports click on the 5 stars and only those images will display. To export select all with Cmd + A and hit export.
I know that this is a very very brief overview of this process. Everything that I learned about Lightroom which helped me systemise the process of batch editing and having great result every.single.
Have a look at this:
One click change and 10 seconds to make the rest of my 40 images that I shot to make them look like this. No need to fiddle with each individual photo.
You can also export them in batches or select just the ones that you like and export those ones only.
This process has helped me so much to keep creating beautiful inserts for you guys in my shop because I know now I can truly showcase how stunning these items and do them justice.
So this is my 9 steps process that I rinse and repeat everytime I take a shot. If you have any other tips on how to create this process more smooth please let your comments down below so we can learn from each other.
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