handmade business

Worth 1000 words

Everything on the internet tells me that the most important thing when trying to sell online is having amazing photographs. It makes sense – people fall in love with pictures. But I’m struggling to find that elusive shot that is crisp and clean while also translating the essence of the item. I feel like my teddy bears, dolls and rattles come out looking a little flat in my pictures.

The favoured look on Etsy seems to be the pure white background. It makes the item stand out and the colours pop, but often gives no sense of personality or context.

ainsley close (2)
Ainsley the cloth doll looking a bit lost on white…


Conversely, different backgrounds can detract from the object and confuse the buyer. It’s a fine line. I’ve noticed in other people’s photos, a bit of context can bring an object to life and help you imagine how the object would look in your home. You can fall in love with a photo’s great styling – you can actually covet the world that object comes from. Trying to achieve that, however, is a lofty goal and one I imagine is harder to attain than one might think.

I do want to put more of a sense of place around my bears and dolls though – build a story around them. So I’ve been playing with a few ideas. I remembered my boys have a larger-than-life sized fairy-tale book. So I thought I’d try it that out as a background for my mermaids. And oddly enough, the first page I turned to was The Little Mermaid!

mermaid sadie DPS
Sadie the mermaid cloth doll, now in context!

I find it stands out in the Etsy search, but I’m still not sure it really does my little mermaid justice. I’m not sure what’s missing, it’s just doesn’t give me tingles the way some incredible Etsy product shots do.

I’d been avoiding it, because of the hassle – you know the saying about working with animals and children… but a friend mentioned some of the best shots of children’s toys have the child in them. So I gave that a go too.

bunny rattle dark blue baby
Bunny rattle – fast asleep and dreaming

I think this has been my favourite photo so far. Our #3 was far more compliant that I would have given him credit for. This bunny rattle sold within a couple of days of listing. Maybe this is the key!

I think finding your product photography style is an evolution and I’m willing to keep experimenting until I find the magic formula that I feel really speaks for my creations.

This is my most recent attempt:

handmade jointed wook teddy bear felix hands.jpg
Felix the teddy bear – in good hands

I’ve just listed him in my shop, so I’ll wait and see if I’m on the right track…



3 thoughts on “Worth 1000 words

  1. I know what you mean about how some items just don’t photograph well against a white backdrop, but not all makers are blessed with your eye. A fair number of the photos I see on Etsy of makers’ items in use or posed among other things look horrible. You should offer photo styling services!


    1. Oh gosh! Thank you! I mainly added those pics to show how far I still have to go with styling and how it’s important to experiment. I’m learning a lot about the appeal of an image being more in the styling than the quality of the camera. Thanks for stopping by! BTW, I love your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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