Product Photography: Ideas for the small business owner

When you run a small business, letting your products shine becomes key to the success or possible failure of it. In 2010 I opened my first shop using  Etsy as my platform. I was selling cards, prints and mirrors, and I had a few sales. Over the next couple of years I added to, and edited my product line and their photos. Last year, I decided to hire the help of a product photographer. A decision I had been mulling over for quite a while.

Sales had not been progressing as much as I would have hoped and I wanted to maximise the potential of each product. Holly Booth, a product photographer based in Derby, took my direction to fulfil my very simple vision. To make my products shine, to show them styled and to allow my customers to experience the qualities and colours of each product.

We achieved this with some basic things. Simple props were used to pick up on moods and colours. For example, Christmas cards were photographed with small festive decorations, and mugs were photographed on books that enhanced the colours and offered interesting angles to be created.


Left: Winter Wolf Christmas Card, from Right: Winter Stripe Mug, from (Photos by Holly Booth)

I asked a few fellow small business owners about their thoughts on photography. Joanne Hawker, who runs a small business which has flourished under a discerning eye, says her two top tips would be to use natural light, which she believes is better than any kind of artificial light, and recommends manual mode when using a digital camera. She says that this allows for more photo editing options later on. 

Left: A selection of Joanne’s products, available HERE. Right: A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilful Sailor print, available HERE.

She also swears by the use of a tripod, which doesn’t have to be a huge expense.  She says, “It can eliminate shaky, blurry pictures on a badly lit day”.

Harriet Gray, who has seen as vast amount of success with her online shop, believes that the use of props and textures can really make a photo work, “Textures, wood, shiny surfaces or plants are always a good choice”. Keep these items consistent and try not to over complicate these items either.

One thing Harriet does particularly well is to show her products in use. I am referring in particular to her pictures of nail transfers and tattoos. It shows the scale and quality of these products really well, and it definitely adds to a lifestyle that she is creating so well around her brand.


Left: Sloth nail transfers, available HERE. Right: Cat tattoo, available HERE

Some key things for you to absolutely consider, particularly if you are thinking of doing your own product photographs are:

  • Natural light
  • A good digital camera. This will probably be your biggest expense but don’t be put off, because a good camera will last a very long time.
  • A tripod
  • Collect appropriate props. Keep them simple and think of colours, textures and scale.
  • Good photo editing software. You will always have to resize your images for various platforms and you may need to do some basic and simple changes at the end of the day.

Another thing I think is important to remember is to always save high resolution pictures for press. You never know when a journalist may want to use your images. If you can cut them out on white that may be better.

One thing to remember is that your product photography is a reflection of you and your brand. Try to remember this consistently as you prepare and take you photos.

Strong photography may make a big difference to how your shop succeeds so take some time to really consider all the things mentioned above, and lastly, don’t forget to enjoy.


You can see more of Alices work by visiting her website and Etsy shop


Su Mwamba
20 Nov 2014 09:23
Thanks for these great tips. Product photography is definitely an area on which I still need to work, but as a soon-to-be new owner of a digital camera, I'm looking forward to being able to experiment soon...
Printers St Albans
23 Nov 2014 23:57
Product photography can absolutely make or break marketing projects. When clients invest in great imagery it makes the printing and website creation so much more enjoyable.
24 Nov 2014 11:18
This is a brilliant article! I really love Harriets nail transfers too!
Lauren Parker
24 Nov 2014 14:54
Great tips here, I definitely agree that great photos of your products really help with selling. Going to start getting some props into mine!
Alex Wilkie
27 Nov 2014 10:49
a picture still speaks a thousand words.
30 Nov 2014 11:32
Brill article will help with my business.
08 Dec 2014 16:12
Thanks for the awesome article!
Crafty Lemon
12 Dec 2014 12:40
Great article, really helpful thanks.
03 May 2015 16:39
Great tips, I particularly like the props idea using books for interesting angles and bringing out colours.
Andrew Burridge
09 Nov 2015 10:07
Thanks for the tips! Will certainly come in handy :)
16 Feb 2016 05:42
For small businesses I would say, always keep the thing simple. Take a perfect shot keeping all the points mentioned above and after taking a shot just apply some basic editing task. Dont do over editing in any of your shot!
Rachael Lucas
18 Apr 2016 22:10
Fantastic tips! Will definitely be making use of these!
01 May 2016 13:22
I'm really enjoying your blogs
05 Jul 2016 21:17
great tips ! thanks !
31 Jul 2016 12:38
Very handy tips. Keep it simple and you will be up.!!!
05 Sep 2016 13:17
Getting my Christmas stock sorted so really helpful advice here :)
clipping path service
04 Oct 2016 08:59
Highly Creative, Thanks For Such A Very Nice Post. Keep it up.
08 Feb 2017 11:32
brilliant advice, thanks!
Bryony Bishop
24 Apr 2017 14:06
There really is no substitute for professional photography when it comes to product marketing. A little know how can go a long way!

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