DIY Product Photography Tips for Handmade Business Owners | Rekha Krishnamurthi | Skillshare

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DIY Product Photography Tips for Handmade Business Owners

teacher avatar Rekha Krishnamurthi, Mixed Media and Digital Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Lesson 1: Photography Checklist


    • 3.

      Lesson 2: Tools To Use


    • 4.

      Lesson 3: Gathering Inspiration & Selecting the Background


    • 5.

      Lesson 4: Setting up to photograph


    • 6.

      Lesson 5: Basic Photo Editing with Photoshop


    • 7.

      Lesson 6: Photo Editing with PicMonkey


    • 8.

      Lesson 7: Compare Edited Images


    • 9.

      Lesson 8: Removing the Background


    • 10.

      Lesson 9: Assignment & Conclusion


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About This Class


In this class you will learn easy DIY product photography tips that will help you improve your product photos and enhance your visual brand story.   This class is targeted towards crafters and makers who sell handmade product via Etsy, their own website or on Amazon Handmade.  This is a beginner level class.  This is NOT a professional photography class but rather DIY tips that I've learned along the way and now want to share with you!

As an Etsy & Amazon Handmade seller, I know the importance of having high quality product photos.  As much as I love working with professional photographers, the reality is that I don’t always have the budget to hire them.  So I’ve had to learn as many DIY techniques as possible so that I can take better quality product photos.

In this class, here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How to effectively plan using a Product Photography Checklist
  • How to gather inspiration for your product photoshoot
  • How to select the best background for the main product image
  • How to set up and take quality product photography
  • Basic photo editing techniques using Photoshop or PicMonkey that will help improve picture quality
  • Tools you can use to remove the background

For the class project, you will take a compelling product photo and use the techniques taught in this class to help tell a visual story about your brand.

I look forward to seeing you in class!

Please note:  This class focuses on tips that will help improve your overall photo styling and can apply to both iPhone and Android users.   

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Rekha Krishnamurthi

Mixed Media and Digital Artist


I’m a mixed media/fiber artist, printmaker and digital designer who loves to teach, inspire & empower others to acquire new skills and gain knowledge.

I design and handcraft product that I sell on my website,, and Etsy .  My product line includes marbled ring dish sets, hand dyed kitchen & table linens, block print wall art, silk painting kits and DIY craft kits.  I'm involved in every aspect of my business - from product design, to product packaging, digital marketing, shipping strategy, writing SEO friendly product titles/descriptions/tags and much more.   There is a lot to do when running a small business and at times it can be overwhelming! But this is what has pushed me to develop streamlined business processes and a strong... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: they're welcome to my class. My name is Rekha, and I'm the founder of Divine and why dot com. That's my design studio, where I specialize in hand dyed textiles and prints, and I'm also Etsy seller and I know firsthand In order to be successful and sell on Etsy, you really do need to have good quality product photography. I want to make a disclaimer. I'm not a professional photographer, however. I have a professional online seller. And since having my Etsy business, I have really learned a lot about product photography along the way. And that's what this class is about. I want to equip you the handmade maker, and create a business owner with D. I. Y techniques that will help you take better quality product photography. So let's get started. All you have to do is cook on the enroll button and I will see you in class 2. Lesson 1: Photography Checklist: in this segment, I'll show you my product photography checklist. Now one of the biggest challenges I face as a small, creative business owner is how not to feel overwhelmed with all the tests that I need to get done in order to run and grow my small business. So I'm in the habit of creating checklists and using it as a planning tool. And that's what I want to show you in this segment. The product photography checklist. I'm going to go over this at a high levels, and you get a big picture of all the steps involved. And as you continue to complete this class, each segment will go into more detail on these specific areas. All have this checklist toothy Project section of the class. It will be a pdf that you can just download. So now let's take a look at this checklist. So I've divided this up into sections. I've got the preparation section and taking photography, editing and removing the background so there's four sections. So the first section on preparation you first want to allocate like a morning or afternoon four product photography dedicate at least one hour to take the various product shots, and then you also want to decide on which product you want to photograph. Don't select all your products because it's just too much and too overwhelming. It is better just to focus on one product at a time. And, you know, divide your time throughout the week or on the weekends. Just spread it out. Gather all the tools and supplies you need. Of course, you your iPhone camera or any camera, your tripod, posterboard or neutral color background any any additional items that you need to create your styled shots. Make sure you have those all year by so that you're not scrambling to find everything. Now when you're taking the photography, just definitely pay attention to the quality of natural light that you have coming in at that time. Over time, as you practice, you'll figure out the best time to photograph your products in your space. You want to arrange the products on your background. I normally use a poster boat for posterboard. You'll see that when I get into that section of this class, but whatever background you've selected arranger products on your background, attach your camera to the tripod and start clicking you can play around with your phone camera features. Sometimes I do find when I have the HDR feature on, it does produce an excellent photo, and sometimes it just doesn't. So I often experiment with HDR and without HDR, and then I figure out which is the better picture and then just take us many pictures, as you need to the next we get into the editing section. So if you have an iPhone and a Mac, your photos should automatically load in tow. I photo, and you should go to see them on your desktop or your laptop. So, as you're reviewing the photos, you want to definitely select the best quality ones that you want to edit. So I usually copy paste right from my I photo. I copy Paste these into a folder on my desktop, and I would rename all the photos into something meaningful. I don't leave it with the default name that the camera just assigns to it. I always renamed them with a meaningful name. And if you are using photo shop, if you have a Mac and you're using photo shop, then you can just select the image right click and then select, open with and then select Adobe Photoshopped. Alternatively, you could just open photo shop and then open the photo within Photoshopped. The other photo editing tool you can use is pic monkey, so you would create an account with Pic Monkey and then open the photo within pic Monkey and the photo shop editing tools. And I'm going to go over with these in more detail in each segment. But if you're using photo shop, these are the main editing tools that I used to edit my photos. I use levels, curves, vibrant, hue, saturation, sharpen. And then I just save it as a J. Peck. So those are mine main photo editing tools that I use in a photo shop, which I will be covering in the segment when we get to that in this class and then in pic monkey. What if I'm using pic monkey to edit, um, photographs? You import the image. I cropped the crop, the image to remove that extra background and the editing features I use. There are exposure, so I just the exposure of just colors adjust the sharpness and clarity, and then I read size. If I need to And then finally, once the pictures air edited, I use a tool called Clipping Magic to remove the background. So even though I have photographed on a white background, I still need to remove the background to give that more of a crisp, clean look. And you can use Photoshopped to remove the background. I just prefer to use clipping magic. I find it much easier for me than Photoshopped, so I have signed up for being magic. It is a paid tool. It's not free, but it's it's fairly reasonable. You upload the picture to clipping magic, and then you just highlight the different areas of the product that you want to keep and what you want to have removed, and then you just save and download it. So once again, I'm going to go over these sections in different segments. So stay tuned because the details are coming. But this just gives you an overview of all the steps involved in taking quality product photography, so I will see you in the next segment 3. Lesson 2: Tools To Use: in the segment will go over the tools you need. It's really very simple. You don't need a lot of tools and equipment, and you don't need to spend a lot of money in the beginning. As you practice and improve your own photography techniques, you'll figure out what works best, and then you can upgrade your tools at that time. As you can see, my set up is very simple. I use a white poster board, a tripod and my iPhone six s plus, and that's pretty much it. You might want a small stool nearby or something that you can proper camera up against. And the tripod I use is the Jobi grip tight gorilla pod stand. It cost 1995 and I bought it on Amazon. I've included a link to this tripod in the about section of this class. 4. Lesson 3: Gathering Inspiration & Selecting the Background: in this segment, we're going to talk about gathering inspiration. So before you start taking your product photos, I highly encourage you to browse Etsy Sellers and other online vendors to be inspired and see what catches your attention. Take a look at the photos that you see and really deep dive and decided. Like, What do you like about it? What draws your attention to it? You know what draws you to it? What do you like about it? What's kind of style do you like, really Pay attention to these details and make sure you make a note about all of this. So, for example, if we take Ah, look at some of these at sea sellers like this is simply new. And you can see most of the photographs are on a very neutral background, which just gives it an overall very, very cohesive look. It has a really nice feel to the online shop. The visual merchandising is is very cohesive. It makes you want to click on the images and see what the shop has to offer. If we take a look at another Etsy seller brief me love boutique, even this one, The cellar you can see a lot of her images are on a neutral background, which is a wood background, and this actually goes well with her product line. So you don't always have to choose, like just a plain white solid background or a solid light color background. You can you choose a background with texture, but just make sure that the product is really the focal point and not the background. So you don't want the background to be too busy. So this one as well it's fairly cohesive. It makes you want to click on some of the images toe, learn more about their products. Ah, and you know she does change some of the background colors on different product lines, and that's okay. Depends on again that the type of product, although I do recommend trying to stick with a very similar background for all your product as much as you can. Now. One of my favorite go to sites is anthropology. I. I love to browse anthropology and take a look at how they have style their products. I it just has a really nice look and feel when you browse through here and you can see all their products are on this very neutral grayb background, which is great. The products are fairly colorful, and so the mood beautif background is like perfect for beat their product lines. And if you are to click on any one of these, you can see here like the main product photo like the product is highlighted and you've got the gray color background. And then if you click through some of the other product images, they are more styled. And so it gives you a little bit more of an idea of how these products look with other products. But the main photo is still an individual product shot with a very neutral bad background. So again, you don't necessarily have to choose a pure white background. But definitely you want to stick to a neutral color background when you are shooting your product photography. 5. Lesson 4: Setting up to photograph: in the segment. I'll go over how to set up your shot. You find we want to find a space where you have good quality natural light. I often prefer a day that is slightly overcast instead of bright sun, because too much sun can cause shadows, so you want a first. Attach your phone to a tripod and, depending on what angle you're taking the shot. Adjust the tripod accordingly. So for an overhead photo, it is really handy to have a small table or stool nearby, you might want to tape the tripod and phone to the tables that you could take a steady shock. Now for other close ups and side views, you can bend the legs of the tripod in such a way that it will allow you to take good shots from different angles. You'll have to experiment to play around with it a little bit and take us many photos as you need to. Now on my iPhone, there is an HDR feature, which you can turn on so I don't use flash. I shoot everything in manual, but sometimes I will turn on the HDR feature. But I'll be honest. I don't always get the best quality image with this HDR feature turned on. So usually I just keep it off and I don't use it at all. I just shoot in raw manual camera. As I mentioned before, the key is to experiment until you're happy with the results. And once you're happy with the quality and the quantity of images that you've taken, I then spend time on editing and removing the background, which we're going to go over in the next few segments. So before you start editing, make sure you review all your photos and only keep the ones do you think are good quality while deleting the rest. 6. Lesson 5: Basic Photo Editing with Photoshop: in this segment, I'm going to go over some basic photo editing tools and photoshopped that you can use to improve the quality of your product picture. Now, these air very basic edits. I am not a photo shop expert, but these are tools that I use to help improve the quality of my product pictures. So I do have a monthly subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. And with the subscription, I do get access to photo shop illustrator and in design. If you want access to photo shop on Lee, you can sign up for a single plan. And I believe monthly access to photo shop only is 9 99 a month. Okay, so once you have Photoshopped open, you're going Teoh, bring in your image. So for that to just go file open and you find the image that you want. So I've already done that step. So here is the image that I want to edit and improve the picture quality. So the first thing I do is to crop and get rid of some of this extra background. So I use the crop tool which is right here, and I just sort of grab the edges and bring them in. Okay? And then you have to just click, move your move out of this area and then hit, return or enter, and that removed the grid line. So I now have, um my picture just cropped, and I normally make a copy. So that way, I just have the original if I need to, and then I've got the new edited version. So to make a copy, I go to this part of the screen over here, and I take the background and I just drag it down, and then you can see a copies made. So I'm gonna work on the background copy version. So I use I go through these, Um, the editing tools that I'm gonna share with you is what I do for every product shot that I edit. So let's take a look. So, first of all, I go up to image and I select adjustments, and I start with levels. So levels this will adjust the lightness and darkness in your photo. So, from the far left side, this is where you have the darker colors, a darker pixels. Okay. And on this side, it's the white pixel. So it goes from dark on the left, all the way, toe light on the right. Okay, so, no, What I normally do is I'll start with the right slider right here, and I'll just bring it in. And then same thing with the left slide. I'll just bring that in a little bit to adjust the lightness and darkness of the image. And the other thing I do is I hold the option keys. If you're on a Mac, you hold the option key. I think if you're on a PC, you'll hold the control key, I think. But if you're on a Mac, you hold option key and I'll go back and I'll slide these and you can see that if I slide it too much. There's all this white in the background, so I know that's not that's too much. It's gonna be too much lightness and my pictures. I want to slide it back to where I don't see too much white, which is just right about here, okay? And the same way I'm gonna hold that option key again and slide this. So here There's too much. There's not enough darkness here. If I slide this too much. It's too dark, so I don't want that either. So I want to adjust this to the point where I don't see any black. And that shows me Then this is the right amount of darkness that should be in this image. So I'm gonna release that, and then I'm gonna click on OK, okay, Then the next adjustment I go to, I go back to image. I go to adjustments and I go to curves. And what curves does it just those mid tones like the mid tone colors. So I'll pick a point on this line and I'll just sort of move it and see, like I can see here. It's too light. I can see here. It's too dark. So I'll just sort of, you know, it's my own aesthetic. What I think looks good. So I'll just adjust it. And I might just, you know, there may not be an adjustment needed, so if I feel like it's not really doing anything, you may be right here. I'm gonna hold it right there and then I'm gonna click on OK, and then next I go to image adjustments. I go to Vibrance and I just adjust that. Make sure the colors were vibrant. I just the saturation. And then I go back to adjustments and hue saturation and just take a look. I don't You may not always need to adjust this, but I just will adjust it just a little bit. And again, it's all based on your own aesthetic and what you think you know looks good. So you have to use your own judgment. Then I click on OK, And then finally, the last edit that I may cause I go to filter and I go down to sharpen because I'm gonna sharpen the image. Okay, so that just sharpened just a little bit. I only do it sharpen once, because if I click on sharpen too many times, it might over sharpen. And that doesn't look that great. So this is my edited photo, and I now want to save this so I'll go to file save as it will, because I made a copy. It's automatically gonna save it as a photo shop file, but I want to save it as a J peg. So I'll save it as a J peg, and it will automatically add coffee right here, so you'll know this is the new version. But I'm going to just change this. I'm going to call it, um, edited photo shop photo Sha two because I've already done a previous edit before. So that way I know this is the new at it, so they'll save this and my image quality. I'm gonna keep it at 10. And that's it. So this is my edited photo in photo shop. Like I said before, these are just some very, very basic edits. I am not a Photoshopped expert. However, these air the edits that I use when I'm trying to improve my product pictures and they do seem to they seem to look better once I've done these edits. So, um, this is ah, step that I do. I recommend that you also used to improve your picture quality 7. Lesson 6: Photo Editing with PicMonkey: in this segment, I'm going to go over how to edit a photo in Pic Monkey. Now the first thing you want to do is create an account I go to pick monkey dot com and create a free account so you can sign up for free. There's a lot of features that you do get for free and then later on, if you want to update it, you can upgrade and joined the paid plan. With the paid plan, you do get a few more editing features and different fonts and different colors and things like that. But you can do a lot with the free plan, and it's great for photo editing if you are not comfortable with using photo shop or you don't have access to photo shop. So once you've created your account in Pic Monkey, you want to now edit your photos so you can click on edit and your photo will be on your computer so you'll just click on computer and find the photo that you're looking for. Okay, so the first thing I might want to do his first crop of some of the excess white background so I'll click on crop and I will just adjust my margins for the crop tool. Okay? And click apply. You have to click. Apply If you don't click, apply. It won't. It won't keep the changes you just made. Now I want to start adjusting the color and the brightness. I normally don't do auto adjust. I mean, you can, but I just prefer to adjust my colors. Ah, and the shadows and brightness and saturation manually. So the first thing I do is go to exposure and I will just manually adjust and I'm eyeballing it to see, like at what point? It starts to look better. Probably add a little more contrast. You can play around with that a little bit more. More contrast. Um maybe reduced the highlights just a bit. And I'll leave the shadows the way they are to shadow. Okay, So once I'm satisfied with my adjustments for exposure, a click on apply and the next I go to colors. And here I want this to be a little more saturated, so I'll increase the saturation, and I want to warm up the temperature a little bit. But not too much, actually. I might just stop, right? So you have to just eyeballs. I'll stop right here. Actually, I'll stop right there, Okay? And then I'll click on applied, and then I go to sharpen, and I'll just sharpen it up, and I'll just make it more clear, clear and sharpen. Okay? And then once I'm satisfied with that, I'll click on apply. And this is my edited photo. If I want to resize it, I can do that here. I can adjust the pixels to something smaller or just keep it as is. And I'll keep this as is. And then once my photo is evident here, Aiken, just save it. So I click on save and you could just click on save to your computer or if you want to, you can also just right click on the image itself and do a save. As so I might just save it here. I'm actually gonna change this to edit it and pink monkey. So I just know, and then I just save it. And if you wanted to save us at the PNG, you could also just switch it to P and G as well. I normally just save most of mine images as Jake head. And that's really how you edit a photo in Pic Monkey 8. Lesson 7: Compare Edited Images: Now let's take a look and compare the edited images here on the left, we have the original image. This was taken with my iPhone camera. It is totally unedited. What we have in the middle is the edited version that was edited using photo shop. And what we have on the right is the image that was edited with pic monkey. So you can compare pic monkey and Photoshopped. Now I do think photo shop is just a little bit sharper, a little bit more clear. Um, and it just looks a little bit more better, but you can see with pig monkey. It's not that bad. So if you don't have access to photo shop or you don't wanna pay the monthly subscription for put photo shop, just know that you could get pretty decent results with pic monkey as well. So you can play around a little bit more with pic monkey and maybe even refined the editing a little bit more and make the limb or clear. But overall, the results between photo shop and pick, monkey or not, are not too bad, although I still I feel that Photoshopped does produce better results 9. Lesson 8: Removing the Background: in this segment will go over how to remove the background. Even though you may have photographed your product on a white background, it is still a good idea to have another version of your image without the background in my Etsy shop. I do mix it up. Some of my product images have the background remove and some don't. However, I am trying to start to be more consistent where that main product image will not have the background and some of the styled images. You know they may be mixed up. They may have the background or not have the background. But there are other marketplaces, such as house dot com, on that marketplace. It is required that the main product image not have a background. So if you upload an image with the white background still there, they will not approve it, and you will not be able to sell your product via that platform until you update your image . Teoh have the background removed, and also, if you're creating any kind of marketing material or social media graphics, it just looks so much better not to have the background included. So let's take a look at these two Facebook covers that I created, I created thes and pick monkey. And on the left you can see here this is the image with background is still there, the back rooms not removed so you can still see that. And, you know, this was photographed on a white background, but it still shows. And then on the right, you can see that I remove the background and it just looks so much cleaner and more professional. And that's why you really should take the time and effort to remove the background from your product images. Okay, so I use a tool called clipping Magic. Now you can remove the background with Photoshopped as well. I have done that, but I just I have used footage shot, but I prefer clipping magic. I just feel it so much easier for me, and it's a lot quicker, and this is not a free tool is a pay tool, but they have different payment plans, and I have opted for the light one, So I just It's about 15 credits a month. It's 3 99 a month. It's very affordable, and it really helps me to improve the quality of my product image. So it's fairly straightforward to use the first of all. Once you sign up for your plan, you can just, you know, upload the image right here, and I'm going to use this image. So this is the image that I had already edited in photo shop. Remember? We did that in the previous segment, so it's already edited Photoshopped. The colors are brighter, more crisp, it's sharper. And this is what I want to remove the background. So it brings up the image, and you can actually you can enlarge it very easily, and you can use this hand right here to move in on the space that you actually want to focus on. So what you would do is you first want to mark the area that you want to keep. So for that used the threat, the circle with the green with the plus. Okay, on your just going to, you know, slowly just sort of mark the area like this is all the part of the product that I want to keep. So I'm just gonna carefully go around here like this. Okay, so I would complete this for all four of these products that are in the image. So just sort of go along that, you know, you want to be close to the product, but not too close. And you can see once I start removing the background, you'll see it on the on the right. So I'm just gonna carefully mark the product, Go back up here and you can always if you accidentally, you know, highlight the wrong area. There is an eraser tool. So you could easily do these scripts. Is uses Eraser tool right here on just fix anything. So first, let me just mark off this whole area right here, okay? So once you have blocked off like this is like, wherever the green is, I want to keep this part like I don't want to remove the product image so that now I want to actually remove all of this background space overhears I'm gonna click on the red dot with the it looks like a stop sign, and then I just start to, you know, start to go on the outline of this and the line. The algorithm for this software just automatically will know when it will follow. Wherever I put the line so if I accidentally cut into deep, I could always correct it. So it's not, and it's very easy to correct. Okay, So I will just, you know, And here you can see on the right side, it's showing me I can see where, as I'm doing it, I can tell where the background has been removed. So I would just complete it for this whole product right here and see, You can tell that I went a little in a little too deep over here, So all I would do is take that eraser tool and I would just sort of erase it right there. Okay. And that fixes that up. And then I can go back to removing the background again and just go really close like this . Okay, so I could probably even go a little closer over here. You can see here, right? But I don't want to go to close because I don't want it totally take away from, you know, the product by mistake. So So that looks fairly Okay. So I may still clean it up a little bit more. Okay. So you could just create more here. Maybe here. Okay. And then If I actually make this smaller, you can see it looks better, right? The background has been removed and it looks better. So I would do the same process for all the products. Okay, which I'm not going to complete it right now because it's gonna take some time. But you get the idea You would just do the same process for all the products and remove the background for where wherever you want, wherever you need to. And then it's gonna look like this so it will save with the PNG version. So it will be. Look, it will look like this. And then what I normally do is I will open up pic monkey. I will import that P and G version and then I will save it as a J peg. You probably do the same thing with photo shop, but I just use pic monkey and it is now saved as a J peg. And it just looked so much cleaner. And that's how you would remove the background of your product images 10. Lesson 9: Assignment & Conclusion: your assignment is to create a compelling product photograph that will help you tell a visual story about your brand. Share it with us for feedback and also let us know what tools you used to use Photoshopped . Did you use pic monkey? Do you use a different type of tripod? Just share it with us and you can also share your pictures with me on Instagram. Just follow me a divine and why? And when you're posting pictures, just tag me a divine and why? So that brings us to the end. Thanks for being part of my class. I hope this class inspired you with new ways to take better quality product photos. It can be a time consuming process, but the more planned you are, the smoother it will go. And we just remember the key to having a successful etc business or any e commerce business is to have amazing product photography