How to take and edit professional looking photos of your craft products – tutorial.

One of the challenges of online selling is taking good shots of your products. Your pictures need to look enticing, be clear, and be informative. It’s important to get your pictures looking the business because (obviously) the online shopper cannot touch or feel your products (unless they buy them!).

I personally think that craft product shots look more professional when all of the shots have something in common with each other e.g. same model/s wearing the products, same backgound/s same size shots, same shape shots, same style, same frames etc. etc. etc. Of course how you choose to present your shots is a personal thing and will also be very dependent on the flavour of the craft that you sell. I want my shop to be reasonably modern, simple to use, and clean to look at. To that end, my product shots are all the same size, and they all have a pure white coloured backgound. The benefit of having a plain coloured or white background for your shots is that the product is in full focus and there is nothing in the background to distract the onlooker. So I am going to show you how I take product shots with a pure white background…

FYI: I use a Pentax Optio 550 camera, and I use Photoshop CS2 for image editing.

1. Take your shot using the whitest back drop that you have. I just use an A3 pad of layout paper which is very white (but it’s still not pure white as you will see later…). I’ve seen a very cool link on how to make your own photostudio (on the cheap) via this cool craft site. Before you take the shot inrease the exposure to make the camera take a brighter, lighter picture (I think it’s the exposure anyway, do you know what it is, could you tell me?) Light is very important for product shots, they just make things look better. When shots are too dark things look dingy.

Here’s a zoomed out photo (un-brightened) of the purse chain that I am going to take. All very hi-tech isn’t it? :)

2. Here is the original shot in Photoshop CS2. Even though I brightened up the shot with my camera you can see that the white paper has still come up grey. So I need to make the background pure white. To do this click on IMAGE in the the top left hand menu, then scroll down to ADJUSTMENTS, then click on LEVELS…

3. To whiten the background, type in the INPUT LEVELS (right hand side) box a number from ‘230’ to ‘245’, (it depends on how white your photo is, just experiment!) then click OK. Try to get the background as white as you can without changing the colour of your product too much. Don’t worry if you can’t get your back ground pure white, we can do something about this later…

4. OK so this is white enough for now. I prefer to make my pics a square shape. To do the same, click on RECTANGULAR MARQUEE TOOL (the square shape made from dashes) in the top left hand corner of the tool box (the tool box is the thing with all of thumbnails of pens, brushes, etc on it on the left hand side of the screen). Then drag the cross whilst holding down shift (which will make the shape square) at the same time over your image to make the size of the square shape that you want. When you have a square shape selected on your image, open a new work page (FILE, NEW) and drag your squared image over to the new work page. Now you have a new work page with your squared image on it, shut the old image down, you don’t need it anymore.

5. Now the image is on the new pure white work page you can see the background of my pic still not pure white, you can see still see blue grey on the left of my pic. So I’ve clicked on the ERASER TOOL (which is the 6th box down on the left in the tool box), and I’m going to rub out as much of the blue grey as I can without rubbing out the purse chain or tape measure as well…!

6. Here you can see that I’ve rubbed out as much of the blue grey as I could. Now it looks like there are munchy marks around the tape measure and metal loop – they have to go! What I’m going to do is soften and blend those munch marks so the edges are no longer hard and they will end up looking like shadows. So I click on the DODGE TOOL (7th box down on the right hand side). After clicking on the DODGE TOOL look just under the menu bar, ensure that it says ‘SHADOWS’ in the Range Box, and there is ‘100%’ in the Exposure box. Now use the dodge tool by passing the tool over the munchy marks and repeatedly clicking…magic eh?

7. Hurrah! No more munchy marks and the darker areas now look like natural shadows…

8. Now to make my pic a square shape I click on the RECTANGULAR MARQUEE TOOL again, and hold down shift and I select the square shape that I want on my pic…

9. Then I click on IMAGE (in the top drop down menu), and then click on CROP so I am now left with the square photo…

10. Then (in the same menu – IMAGE) I click on IMAGE SIZE and type in the size that I want, I save my handiwork, and then I’m done! And here is the finished result!

Which craft shops have your favourite craft product photos? Why not share links to your fave shops in your comments so we can all be inspired by them too :)

Comments

  1. says

    Gosh! Well, thanks for that. It all sounds very complucated. I’m rubbish at pictures and don’t have any editing software so I guess I’ll have to get some. My tip though (FWIW) is to take pics of things in your bath.

  2. says

    Taking a pic in the bath! That’s a cool idea if you have a white tub Anna!

    Lindsay, I learned about the Dodge tool from a web designer friend. I think you could use Photoshop for a squillion years and still not know how to use all of it!

  3. says

    Fantastic. Just fantastic. Going to make hubby read it tonight so he can see that i REALLY do need new software. What a techno baby you are!!!!

  4. says

    Hi all,

    Just a quick tip that might help. Once you have taken your pic on a white background, in photoshop CS go in to image

  5. says

    This blog is going to be so useful for me i can see it!! Mitch does all my photography but we rarely use photoshop ( no excuse either I am a MAC user) will be trying this out when I get round to vamping up my site again. Thanks!

  6. says

    Firstly, thanks, girls, for the compliment.
    I think my photos are apt to show handmade things or other items on my blog, but I would take different ones if they were for a shop. Then I’d probably prefer those with a white background to focus on the goods.
    I use Lightroom or Gimp for my rainy day grey skies photos. Also I take a lot of pictures of one object and often choose completely different ones than I thought would be the favourites… try new angles, details or more unusual setups. But again, those are photos for blogging, not selling. For selling I would go for straight forward/honest/without frills to make clear what you get for your money.

  7. Carol says

    I love helpful photo tips! I think a DIY studio will eliminate a lot of necessary photo manipulations, but I have yet to make my own. I still have to do a lot of work with Paint Shop Pro.

    Some of my favorite sites however, don’t use the typical white back drop:
    http://www.lindatrentjewelry.com
    http://www.purlbee.com/ (not the store site, but their blog)
    http://www.helloyarn.com/shop.php and her blog too!
    http://heatherbailey.typepad.com/heather_bailey/
    http://brooklyntweed.blogspot.com/

  8. says

    Thanks for the great photoshop tips to help create professional images. I struggle with photoshop & whenever I need something done I usually ask my teenager to help out.. which he usually does disgruntingly.

    I still find it hard to take a good shot of any greeting cards I create. Any suggestions?

  9. says

    Hi all (again),

    For whatever reason, only the very first sentence of my comment appeared, so, here it is again- apologies if this ends up as a duplicate post.

    Anyway, once you’ve taken your pic on a white background and opened it in photoshop cs, go into image> adustments> curves. Click on the white eyedropper in the window that opens, then click on the whitest area in the photo. This will white balance and brighten your pic. You can keep clicking here and there on the different white areas of your pic until you’re happy with the results. Now click on the black eyedropper and click on the darkest area of your pic- this will intensify the dark areas by making the darkest area a true black. Again you can click here and there on the pic until you’re happy. Finally, though this step might not be necessary, click on the mid point of the graph in the curves window and drag this up very slightly- this will point up the midtones of your pic. This whole technique is very useful even if you didn’t take your pic on a white background- just use the brightest and darkest area of whatever photo you’re using. I do this on every photo I take (and you can click on my name to visit my photography website if you’re interested).

    Anyway, apologies for length, but I hope this helps someone.

  10. says

    I’m really glad that you liked this post, and thanks for your links and comments :)

    Hi Udi, anytime, it’s a great post!

    Sigh I often wish I had a tecchi hubby who could do the photography and editing stuff for me…I’m glad that AL is a good cook though

    Thanks for the extra tips Alex & Ryan much appreciated!

  11. says

    Lisa, just wanted to say how hugely helpful this tute has been. I took my first “proper” pic yesterday (of a bag I made from one of your tutes) which you can see on my blog. It has made a massive difference. Thanks so much.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Photojojo just published a tutorial of sorts about the photography part. There’s also this tutorial over at CraftBoom!, which relies more heavily on post processing. I know that post processing is […]

  2. […] Of course how you choose to present your shots is a personal thing and will also be very dependent on the flavour of the craft that you sell. The benefit of having a plain coloured or white background for your shots is that the product is in full focus and there is nothing in the background to distract the onlooker.2 […]

  3. beautiful desserts…

    I made them yesterday and I edited the photo after reading Lisa Lams tutorial on how to make a professional looking photo of a craft item. I never had used the dodge tool before and I like it really!

    I’ve got a problem with the peach-coco-recipe t…

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