Guide for Shooting Great Product Photos
Learn how to shoot and prepare your product photos for selling on the Internet
selling work online the customer does not have
the benefit of handling the piece, therefore
it is really the photography that sells the piece.
With this in mind it is important to have quality
images. Ideally you would hire a professional
product photographer to shoot photos of your
work of art. After all, you have spent a great
deal of time creating the art, you want to display
it in the best possible light. If you can't justify
hiring a professional photographer, then you
can take your own product photos if you keep
a few things in mind when taking your photos.
Providing an outstanding product photo is the most important task you
can do to improve your sales as an artist.
Step 1. The Equipment
a Digital Camera
possible, use a digital camera
since it will eliminate the need to convert
the photo to a digital file which can reduce
the quality of photograph.
35 MM Instructions
you must use a 35mm, use film at 400 speed or
better including 250 or 100. You will also need
to have your photos converted to digital files.
You can have this done when you take the film
in for developing. Make sure the developer knows
that you want high resolution digital files.
Sometimes they reduce file size on the assumption
that is what you want. They should give you a
CD of your photo files.
You will use this CD to access your photo
files and transmit them to us with your application
and later through our Artist's Dashboard. (
more instructions below.)
You can also have your
photos scanned to convert them into digital files.
Many copy centers such as Kinkos or Mail Boxes
Etc. can do the scanning for you.
Step 2. The Settings
Select the Highest Resolution
your camera to the highest quality or resolution.
Step 3. Setting the Scene
Select an Appropriate
shoot your photos
way you can avoid using a flash which will often
distort art. Almost any outside day light will
do. Slightly overcast days (without being too
dark) can produce very good results when taking
pictures outdoors, as the light is naturally
well balanced and not too intense. If
direct sunlight produces black shadows that
have no detail, use white cards positioned just
out of frame to bounce light into dark areas.
Shooting Indoors - Using artificial light:
If you must shoot indoors take some time to
set up artificial lighting. If you do not
have access to photography lights, you may want
to purchase a couple of common halogen lights
available at most hardware stores. (Incandescent
and fluorescent lights cause unwanted color
When placing the lights, imagine that
the lights are attached at the opposite ends
of a rod held level with your object. Place
one light slightly in back of your subject on
one side and the other slightly in front on
the other side. Have both lights facing the
subject. You may also use white poster boards
to help reflect additional light onto the subject.
If you must use a straight-on camera flash,
cover it with a tissue. Experiment.
Dealing with Glare
Move lights around. Try placing them at less than 22
1/2 degrees from the subject, never 45 degrees.
your background simple:
are only interested in the product
A non-distracting background is essential.
Use a building wall, or purchase matte board
and craft a backdrop for your work. Don't use
pure white, as it tends to create too much contrast
in your photo. Place the art object against
a background of contrasting color. Ideally,
light objects should be photographed against a dark
or black background. Do not use texture or patterned
back drops. If you use a cloth backdrop, avoid
wrinkles and buckles.
things you use to prop up the art. The only thing
in your photo should be the product item as
it is to be sold. So if you are selling an item
without a frame, photograph it without the frame.
Unless you are
selling the work with a frame, always shoot your
product photos without a frame.
Sculpture can be placed on a table in front
of background paper, foam core, or darkness.
Hang paintings on something vertical and secure.
Pin works on paper to a vertical corkboard or
piece of homosote. Try to position your artwork securely on a flat surface such that you can photograph it straight on (at right angles). Take the time to do this right
and you will be surprised at the professional
results you can obtain.
Use a Tripod to keep the camera still. Lots
of camera stores rent their lights and
tripods. If you do not have a tripod, find something
on which to set your camera on.
Step 4. Taking the Photo
the photograph - Technique
- Move close - Buyers want to see detail,
so really make your item take up the whole frame.
Consider taking a close-up of a section of the
item in addition to the entire object in order
to give buyers a better idea of the item's actual
- Keep the product in the center of the frame
your viewfinder with the entire subject leaving
a little space around the work to make sure
you capture the entire subject. We will do
the necessary cropping.
- When photographing
paintings, check that the edges of the paintings
are straight (parallel) with the sides and
the top/bottom edges of the viewfinder. If
they are not straight then your camera is
not positioned squarely in front of the piece,
or your artwork needs to be tilted up or
- Make sure that the camera is parallel and
level to your piece of art. Use a level
to make sure the front of the lens, the side
of the camera and the top of the camera are
- Focus your camera as carefully as possible.
Out of focus images are more difficult to
correct than exposure problems.
Many of today's smaller automatic focus cameras
cannot focus at a close distance. Check the
manual or instructions for your camera to
see what the minimum focal distance is.
- Only display one
item at a time in the photos.
- Take lots of photos. Take multiple
photos of every product. Shoot from different
angles. Frame the product within the camera view
finder several different ways. If you have a
camera with manual exposure controls, take shots
of each piece with slightly under and slightly
over exposed settings in addition to shooting
at the correct exposure. This will give you a
variety of results to choose from. Then you can
select the best photos to upload to us.
in some cases you will want to shoot from various
angles to provide the customer with a complete
view of your work of art.
- Avoid using lenses
such as a wide angle that might distort your
Step 5. Preparing the Image
Please submit your
images using the following guidelines:
Platform: Windows XP, NT or 98
- Pixel Dimension: 2000 pixels (at the
image's longest dimension) 575 pixels is
the minimum size we can post to the site
300 pixels per inch
- Mode: RGB Color
- File Format: PNG,
TIFF, PICT, JPEG, GIF
- No watermark please
your photo files using the following naming convention:
Initial Photo: First
Initial+Last Name+ Product ID or
Additional Photos: Add
a, b, c, etc following the number
your edited picture as one of the file types
listed in the specifications
how (in most programs):
Save As from the File menu.
Name your file using the style indicated above
Select a file type from the Save
as Type drop-down list.
(See options above)
Remember where you stored the files
Don't worry about the file
We would prefer a high quality digital
photo that we compress for optimizing the download
time. The smallest side should be at least 575
pixels. We prefer 2,000 pixels. This is so that
the largest image of your product is not an enlargement.
It is better to start out large and compress
than to start small and enlarge.
Step 6. Legal Considerations
you have been accepted and are uploading product
photos to display on the site, you will need
to obtain a photo release from any individuals
in your photos. You also need a release when
you use a private building such as a business
in your photo. For your convenience you can find
a copy of each release type here.