Etsy Photograph Basics… In Praise of the Neutral Background

Why should you care about your photograph backgrounds? Because each photograph you place on Etsy, especially the first photo for your listing is an advertisement, an invitation, a reason to “open” your shop door. And you have a LOT of competition. Your listing needs to stand out against 20 other products on a page, not including the promoted items. Let me reiterate that…. TWENTY. And you have about 5 seconds or less to catch a buyers/searchers attention.

Unfortunately too many sellers make the mistake of trying to catch attention with BRIGHT, BOLD COLOR IN THE BACKGROUND. Notice the caps… yes I’m yelling. That’s because if you are using bright colors in the background, that is what you are doing. You are yelling at YOUR CUSTOMER and more then likely turning them away. Also, bright colors can often clash with your product, and most importantly totally over shadow it.

It is important to remember that color has a psychological effect on people. The reason most fast foods decorate with bright yellows, reds and oranges is that those colors make people uncomfortable… and it moves people out of the restaurant in a hurry. In higher end restaurants, they make their money by you staying and ordering more, so they decorate in soothing greens, blues and tans.

Color meaning also changes from culture to culture. Take the color red… if a bride wore a red bridal dress in the United States it would be considered odd and that she was perhaps a woman of ill-repute. But in India it is the color of purity and used frequently in wedding attire. The traditional white wedding dress means innocence and purity in European cultures, but death in Japan.

Here is a short article on colors and moods that you might find helpful.

Using a neutral background with help “display” your product. By neutral I mean gray, white, black and sometimes tan. Neutral can also be considered some greens and blues. Two things to keep in mind about your background: 1. don’t let your background over-power your product; 2. make sure your product doesn’t disappear into your background.

Below is an example of bad backgrounds:


In the first photo, the color of the background is blending with the product. The product doesn’t “pop”. In a sea of twenty other photos, your eye will pass right over it. The second photo, while doesn’t scream at you, the description of the earrings are Pink Flower Power. The yellow background has totally changed the color of the earrings. In the last photo you can hardly see the product. The background should have some color to enhance the earrings.

Below is an example of good background choices:

background1In the first photo the seller used white, the earrings stand out and you can clearly see the color. The dark grey was a great choice for the silver birds, the color is not reflected in the earrings and you can easily see them. The same with great use of the green background against the pearls. The product stands out and the background is not getting all the attention.

Take some time to look at photos on Etsy and critique them. Are they good? Are they appealing? Does it give me a headache to look at? Do you like the look and feel? If so then save the photos as an example of what you want to strive for.


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