Photographing Your Items for the Best Impact


All your efforts have paid off. You’ve brought your talents and enthusiasm to bear and you are ready to start selling your items to clients. The only thing left is to photograph them and put them online! But…you want your items to be presented in the best and most professional way possible. Lots of sellers have fantastic images for their projects. How can you get impactful, impressive photographs of your images? It’s easier than you think, and you’re going to get started right now!


Take a moment and sit down with the item you’ve decided to sell. Ask yourself what it is about the item that you think will most appeal to buyers. Is it how the item is used? Color? Materials? What makes it special? This is important because later on, once you’ve got the technical aspects handled, this will guide how you style your photographs of your item.


Now that you’ve decided how you want to style your items you need to consider what sort of camera you want to use to take your photographs. Here you have a pretty wide selection to choose from. It’s very likely you already own one type of camera or another. The three main types to choose from are; phone camera, point-and-shoot, and DSLR/Mirrorless cameras.

Each of these come with relative considerations such as price, flexibility, and features. However, each of them can be used to make professional-looking impactful photographs of your images that will impress clients.

The main features that you will need from whatever camera you choose are these:

  • Some manual control to change exposure. This can be down on screen on many phones and by exposure compensation on many cameras. This affects how responsive the camera will be to light.
  • Close-focusing for smaller items like jewelry is essential. You want to be able to show the detail in your item. For point-and-shoot cameras, this is probably a built in setting. Phone and DLSR/Mirrorless cameras may need special lenses to get truly close-up.


Lighting has a great impact on how professional and appealing your items are going to be presented, more so even than the camera you use. You want your lighting to be even and pleasant. Always consider using natural light as your first option. This can be the light that comes in from a window or even a patio door. If weather permits you can even take your setup outside.

You will want to avoid the harsh light that is present during very sudden days or when the sun is directly overhead (usually around noon). Overcome this by shooting in the early mornings or later in the afternoon when the light is more pleasant.

Softening light through diffusion is a technique you should be familiar with. It’s easier than you might think. If you are using a window for natural light sheer curtains are a great diffuser. Simply using a piece of poster board to reflect light onto your item can lessen shadows and add clarity.

You should avoid using your camera’s built-in flash. It will only produce harsh shadows and highlights that do not serve to present your item well.


How you best display your items is not only about lighting and gear. The background you place your items against will go a long way toward not only buyer appeal, but toward establishing a brand identity for you. Give some real consideration to how you want to be perceived by buyers.

For example, if you feature items that use natural materials like wood you should consider using wooden pallets or pieces of wood laminate for your setting. Wood laminate comes in a number of different styles and can be found at many hardware and home furnishing stores.

You can easily create a small “studio” by using one type of material as the backdrop and another for your tabletop. Try several different styles until you find one that works for your items.

Also, consider photographing your items in the way they’ll be used. If your item is art, photograph it on display. If jewelry, co-opt someone to where it. If a functional item, photograph it in use and by itself to present a clear idea to potential buyers.


Try to find the best view to present your item. This might be a top-down view for flatter items like wallets, or a side on view for items like rings or bracelets (pro tip: drop down and get on the level of items like jewelry. This is a good perspective to show detail).


  • TABLETOP LIGHT BOX/LIGHT TENT – If your items are smaller to medium-sized you might benefit from a table-top lightbox. This is basically a box with translucent sides and top that allow light into the box. A piece of white or colored paper is attached to the back of the box and curved at the bottom where your item sits. This creates a seamless background that might work for some items.
  • OFF-CAMERA LIGHTING – Off-camera lighting can be as simple as a desk lamp or as complex as dedicated camera flash units and LED lighting. If your circumstances don’t allow you to use window light effectively this might be an option.


Once your photos are taken it’s time to move on to the next step. If you’ve opted for using your phone for your photography you have a lot of options for photo editors. Apps like Snapseed, VSCO, and others are popular and easy to use.

Whichever editor you choose should enable you to enhance the clarity and color of your photo easily, as well as sharpen, crop, and rotate. Filters can help with establishing a mood, but be careful not to overdo it. The goal is to provide a realistic image of your item. The buyer must have a clear idea of what you are selling.


Photographing your items in a way that will impress potential buyers is not as daunting as it might seem. With a little practice and the same enthusiasm that brought you this far, you’ll be well on your way!

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