7 Sins of 2D Art Photography and How to Repent

This guest post was written by Rachel Daley from Made Freshly. 

Capturing the full essence of your artwork isn’t as simple as the click of the shutter.

The goal of photographing your artwork is to take clean, crisp photos that highlight the craftsmanship of your work. You want potential customers to see your artwork in all its glory, feeling all of its texture, experiencing all of its value. Your art isn’t sub-par, so your product photography shouldn’t be either.

Sins of 2D Art Product Photography

You know how important your product photography is to sales, but maybe you can’t hire a professional product photographer and don’t know how to take the shots yourself.

The reason your photos aren’t coming out like you want is because you have been unknowingly committing photography sins! Maybe the colors were off (why does this purple look pink?!) or your images looked flat and their true weight wasn’t portrayed in the high quality that you want.

The good news is, these sins are forgivable, and fixable. Today is the day your art photographs make a serious lifestyle change. Get ready to see the difference in sales!

Without further ado, here are the 7 Sins of 2D Art Photography:

Sin #1: Using a Low Res Image

A highly-pixelated image does your product no justice. To avoid this problem and get sharp photographs, set your camera to the highest resolution (whether it is a DSLR or a phone camera, you will have this option).

Sin #2: Not Using a Tripod

For any kind of product photography, a tripod is your best friend! If you don’t have a tripod laying around, improvise by setting your camera on something flat and sturdy like a table, or turn on your camera’s “Steady-Cam” feature.

Sin #3: Using the Wrong Lighting

Beware of fluorescent and harsh artificial lighting! They can wash out your art and cheapen the overall look. Instead, try diffused natural lighting.

Sin #4: Not Adjusting Your White Balance

When you’re buying something, what you see had better be what you get! White balance is a crucial part of product photography because it determines the warmth of your image, and therefore the coloring.

  • On your phone you can change your white balance from “auto” to a setting that better matches your lighting situation (Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, etc.). Choose the setting that gives you the most accurate colors.
  • For a DSLR, use a plain piece of paper as reference point to adjust your white balance in the settings.  Anthony Hutchinson gives you the steps here:

Custom White Balance Tips

Sin #5: Creating Glare

Like your polarized sunglasses are used to combat glare, so should your camera! Use a polarizing filter on your camera lens to get rid of any glare that could distract from your piece.

Sin #6: Using the Wrong Background

Choosing your background is a big deal! Good backgrounds add texture without overshadowing the artwork.

Sticker Hut Product Photo

Sin #7: Not Creating the Feel of 3D

This is the ultimate sin, and the ultimate challenge you will come across.  Now this doesn’t mean creating 3D versions of your art, it means showcasing all dimensions of your art AS a 3D item, because that’s what your customers are going to be buying.  Here are some ideas to give your artwork some weight as a product:

  • experiment with different angles of lighting (again, shadows)
  • use a frame (adds dimension physically, and with shadows)
  • hold your art (gives your art some physical context)

Show your piece with a background as well as a close up on just the art itself.

2D Art Product Photography

Matt Bomer by Elizaveta Kuznetsova (photographs by Rachel Daley)

Are you guilty of any of these sins?

If so, now you can fix them!  Remembering what to do instead will keep your photos out of trouble:

  • Keep it high res!
  • Use a tripod for steadiness
  • Use natural/soft lighting
  • Adjust your white balance
  • Use a polarizing filter to get rid of glare
  • Choose contrasting backgrounds that aren’t too distracting
  • Give your art some weight with props and lighting

Okay now that you’ve taken the perfect photo, there’s one last step before premiering it to the world. Don’t waste all the work you just did my uploading low quality images. Always make sure you properly optimize your images for the web through Photoshop before uploading them. Finally your product photos are website ready and free of sin.

Happy shooting!

About the author, Rachel Daley:

Rachel DaleyWhen Rachel isn’t busy being a content writer for MadeFreshly, you can probably find her at a track meet or on an adventure with her DSLR.

With a passion for everything creative, Rachel is an avid art appreciator, from Man Ray to the neighborhood kid with a Polaroid. Getting to be creative and help others do what they love for a living makes her job the perfect one.

You can find Rachel on Twitter at @FreshlyRach.

Made Freshly

MadeFreshly is the easiest online store solution out there. Create your own custom store without being super tech-savvy. Start making money doing what you love!

Rachel

It was so great working with you Julie! Thanks for posting :)

7 Creative Ways to Share Your Product Photography – Part 3

Looking for another creative way to share your product photography with potential customers? (see previous posts here: Creative Way #1 and Creative Way #2)

Share your product photography with MOO

Creative Way #3 – MOO Cards

Have you ever received a business card from a person and then promptly thrown it into the trashcan because of its lackluster design? You don’t want that to happen to your business cards, do you?

I’ve posted about MOO and their great business cards before (Add a Business Card to your Marketing Bag of Tricks), but have you heard about MOO’s Printfinity feature?

Printfinity allows you to print a different product photo on each business card in a pack! That’s a ton of different product photos that you can feature if you wish!

Learn more about MOO’s Printfinity here and check out the cool video at this link too!
http://us.moo.com/about/printfinity.html

Here are just a few fun ways to share your business cards:

Hand out your business card at craft fairs.

If you use Printfinity to showcase multiple product photos on your cards, display the cards on a table with the product photos face up, along with a sign that says, “Take a card . . . any card!”

Place a few cards inside your product packaging.

Include one for the customer to remember your shop by, and a few extras for the customer to share with others.

Keep your business cards handy in your bag (or pocket) to give to people you meet.

Fan out the business cards (with various product photos on them) and tell the person to pick one. This is a fun way to engage the person and show them multiple product photos at the same time!

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Want to see samples of MOO cards before committing to an order? MOO will send you a sample pack of gorgeous cards so you can see and feel the wonderful quality. Find out more about the MOO sample pack here.

I hope you’ll give this idea a try. MOO cards are a fun way to share your product photography!

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This post is not sponsored by MOO. I just love their business cards and want to spread the word!

[…] Additional Reading about this topic: 7 Creative Ways to Share Your Product Photography – MOO Cards […]

Be Strategic when Selecting your Pinterest Board Cover Images

Whether you pin images to Pinterest for your own personal use or curate boards for a target audience on behalf of a brand, you probably understand the importance of your Pinterest board cover images.

But is your only criteria an image that is bright, eye-catching, or pretty? How about using some strategy when selecting your Pinterest board cover images? Read on for the scoop.

selecting your Pinterest board cover images

While browsing Pinterest recently, I came across a fantastic board by Colleen Pastoor called Perfect Parties. (By the way, if you are even remotely interested in party decor or themes, you simply MUST check out this board!)

Colleen Pastoor Pinterest

The board caught my eye because of the adorable polka dotted cover image. I mean, who can resist those polka dots? :)

I clicked Colleen’s board and went in search of that image that I’d seen on the cover to find the original source.

I scrolled and scrolled, but the polka dotted image wasn’t visible at first. I had to scroll through dozens of other (fabulous) party images before I found the polka dotted cutlery set from Wrap and Revel.

As I was scrolling through Colleen’s board, I had a “lightbulb moment.”

Whether Colleen knew it or not, she used a smart strategy when she selected her Pinterest board cover image.

1. She chose an attractive image as her board cover.

Polka dots are a popular pattern right now, and they make the viewer want to click.

2. She chose a cover image that represented her board theme well.

Polka dots often appear at parties, especially parties for children. This particular image also appeals to the sophisticated party-goer, with the lacy doily.

3. She chose a cover image that appeared deep in her Pinterest board.

By this, I mean that I needed to scroll through lots of other images before I found the cover image. This is the key to the strategy.

By the time I found that polka dotted image, I had already fallen in love with her board. I was hooked. Captivated. Inspired.

had to follow that board! And I did.

Please note that I am not discouraging you from choosing a recent pin as your cover image. If a recent pin best represents your board, by all means – choose that one!

I’m just encouraging you to consider a board cover image that appears farther down (deeper) in your board. This will encourage people to scroll through most of your board (and might even prompt them to follow the board).

I must admit that I haven’t tried this strategy yet. I’m going to try it for a while and see if it makes a difference in my new(ish) Pinterest account. How about you? Are you willing to try this strategy when selecting your Pinterest board cover images?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Additional reading on this topic: How to Change Pinterest Board Cover Images

Thanks so much for featuring my board Julie! I have so much fun picking out the covers for my Pinterest boards- when someone lands on my page I want to make sure they stick around :)

Julie @ On the Dot Creations

You are quite welcome, Colleen! Thanks for the inspiration!

[…] chalkboard- it’s on my mantle right now and I love that thing.  Also this week, Julie at On The Dot blogged about my Pinterest board Perfect Parties and how to choose your cover images. Apparently […]

Great tip!

Great advice!

xoxo,
Victoria

Create Scale in your Product Photography

One of the best ways to create satisfied customers is to make sure that your product photos accurately portray the size of your product. If customers receive a product that is bigger or smaller than what they expected, they will likely be frustrated. Use scale in your product photography to avoid this frustration.

scale in product photography

If potential customers have never seen products like yours before, they may not have any idea how big they are. That’s where scale comes in. You need to give your customers some point of reference (something familiar) that they can use to estimate how large your products are.

polka dot air plant holders
A beautiful example of this concept is found in this adorable listing for polka dotted air plant holders from The Crafted Life. Etsy seller Rachel has captured some lovely close-up shots of her plant holders. These holders fill the frame, so one might think that they are larger, but the image with the model’s hand (at the top of this post) tells the whole truth. Without that image, a potential customer might have a difficult time telling how large the plant holders are.

Some ideas to provide scale in your product photography:

  • Photograph a model wearing or holding your product.
  • Photograph your product alongside an object that customers would associate with a product like yours. For example, if you sell handmade purses, photograph them with a coin purse, a cell phone, or a set of keys.

Thanks, Rachel, for inspiring us with your product photos! Head over to Rachel’s shop and browse around. I think she has a thing for polka dots, too! :)

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This is fantastic!

xoxo,

Victoria

Hi Julie,

This is a awesome post for handmade makers because they need to speak to their customers through their images.

Not everyone is going to know the size of a product, And reading dimensions even though helpful, is so boring..

Your way of presenting scale is much more fun..

Blessings Janet

Julie @ On the Dot Creations

Thanks so much for your comment, Janet! That’s a neat way to think of it: “Handmade makers . . . speak to their customers through their images.” Love that! :)