Etsy Photograph Basics… Change Your Point of View

The next subject I’m going to tackle is perspective, centering and depth of field. By altering these things you can take your photos to another level.

A Little Off Center

Too often when taking photos we have a tendency to center our object dead center in the photo. This tendency is reinforced by our camera’s center focus. Unfortunately this makes the photo very static, and often boring. In order to create a more dynamic image most visual artist’s use the “Rule of Thirds“. The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. This link has a good explanation and examples of the rule of thirds.

Basically the easiest way to compose your photos using this guideline is center your product within the viewfinder, then shift the center away from the center of your object. Take the time to see whether your product looks better to the right third, the left third, or perhaps to the top of bottom. Take several photos… this is when it really pays to have that digital camera.

If you are having a hard time using the rule of thirds while taking the photograph you can use photo editing software to crop your photo to make it more dynamic. Since Etsy uses a square format for its pages it makes it easier to crop your photos for a more artistic look.

Below is an example of using the rule of thirds. The photo on the left was the original, the one on the right was re-cropped using the rule. Notice how your eye wants to move around the photo on the right. The curved bottom of the rim draws your eye back up to the top of the hat.


Some items like the bracelet below create their own movement and event though it is centered in the photograph, it is following the rule of thirds.


Change Your Perspective

Another way to spice up your photos is to change your perspective. When taking photos, we have a tendency to lay them down on a flat surface, then stand over product and take the photo. This too can make a very static image.

Try shooting your products at eye level. Kneel down take a look. Try shooting from eye level, slightly above and slightly below eye level.  Something so simple and make a big difference in your photos.


How Deep is Your Field

Another technique you can use for your photos is having a shallow depth of field. When you have a shallow depth of field only focal point  is in focus and as the rest of the image “falls away” from the camera lens it becomes blurred. Using a shallow depth of field keeps your eye focused on the most important part of the photo and eliminates background distractions.

When using a SLR camera depth of field is determined by your aperture setting (f-stop) and lens focal length. Setting a large aperture (wide open iris) gives narrow depth of field, and a small aperture (closed down iris) gives a wide depth of field. With a digital point-and-shoot you can manage your depth of field through the macro (tulip icon) setting.

With photo-editing software you can easily change a photo’s depth of field. Here is a link to an Adobe Photoshop/Elements tutorial on changing the depth of field.

The photos below show examples of depth of field.  The first photo has a wide depth of field so everything is in focus, even the printed page under the earrings. The second the focus is to the front blurring to the back. And in the third the focus is on the back object with the front object being blurred.


Up Close and Personal

Do not be afraid of getting close to your subject. There are many examples on Etsy where an item is lost in a sea of blankness. Buyers want to see what they are buying, they don’t want to search your photo for it. Once again use the macro function on your camera to get really close to your subject. This is also another application for photo-editing software… being able to crop your photos.

In the example below the left photo is exactly how I found it on Etsy, in the right photo I simply cropped the photo to zoom in on the earrings.


Opening the Shop Door

Don’t worry about not showing all of your object in your first photo. Remember… you’re trying to get people to open the door to your shop. You have four other photos to represent your product in. Especially with your first photo you want to create interest, you want to tempt, you want them to come on in!


6 Responses to “Etsy Photograph Basics… Change Your Point of View”

  1. Great tips, although I’ve read many of them in other places, it’s always good to be reminded (and I need to figure out how to change the depth of field on my camera so I can play with that….)

  2. Hi there! Just wanted to say that this entry is pretty good and helpful! I’ll be back to read it! 🙂

  3. Awesome tips! I love the photo examples. Very helpful! Thanks!

  4. thisnortherngirl Says:

    Great tips, really helpful! I will have to try playing with my dof in future. I’ve always made an effort to go for max dof, but the example you use with shallow dof are really effective!

    There is always so much to learn when try to photograph products well.


  5. Heyamy very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. I also wanted to there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

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