Home Seller TipsProduct Photography Tips Photo Tips from Folksy – Getting in Close!

Photo Tips from Folksy – Getting in Close!

Getting really sharp clear photos is vital to increase buyer confidence. Now you can add 5 images to your listings here at Folksy there is no excuse not to get in really close and use some of these new image slots to show potential buyers the beautiful details of your handmade items and supplies. Sellers like Folksy’s Owl on the Sill make it look so easy! But how do they get such crisp close up images?

In a recent seller interview, Sarah from ‘Babylonglegs’ commented “Good photographs are essential, as the person looking to buy your product can’t touch or see it for real. You have to make them feel like they can, so they share your confidence in its quality and desirability.” We think she’s right!

But how do you get in close without ending up with out of focus, blurred images?

Use your Macro setting!

The macro function on your digital camera (usually denoted by a little flower) allows you to get really close to your subject, showing off all its details at larger than life size. Your buyer will be assured of the quality of the fine detail of your handmade item if they can clearly see stitches, fastenings and joints, as they would if they held it in their own hands in a bricks and mortar shop.

It’s not just tiny things that look good up close! Although if you do sell small detailed items like jewellery, beads or even tiny hedgehogs like Moss Mountain, using your macro setting is vital.

There are a few important factors you need to take into consideration when using your macro setting to avoid blurred and out of focus images. It’s important to take your time – sharp, bright photos are one of the vital elements to a professional look and a succesful shop so it’s worth the effort.

Camera Shake

Where possible use a tripod – camera shake is magnified when using the macro setting. You can buy tripods second hand, just ask in the forums, one of our members will happily recommend somewhere to pick one up!


If you can’t use a tripod then make sure there is lots of light available to allow for an increased shutter speed. The quicker the shutter opens and closes the less chance of blur.  Lighting is one of the most important things to consider when taking good product shots. Also when you are getting in close with your camera bear in mind that both you and the camera will cast shadows over the subject. Moving position or using a tripod and either a shutter release cable or self timer can help eliminate this problem.

Depth of Field

Using the macro function limits the ‘depth of field’, that is the area in the image that is in sharp focus. Check in the lcd panel or viewfinder that you have the right area in focus. This is especially relevant if using a super macro setting as the plane of sharp focus can be reduced to just a few millimetres. Folksy seller Chain of Daisies has used this to great artistic effect in her listings, as with these earrings above.

Too Close

Even macro lenses have a limit. Your manual will give you the exact figure of how close you can get. Many modern digital cameras are virtually point blank! A lot of whirring and an inability to focus usually signifies the camera is struggling. If you half depress the shutter, to allow the camera to find its focus before finally taking the shot this may help. Alternatively take a step back, focus on and then slowly move in closer.

We’d love to hear your comments and the tips you have for improving the photographs in your listings.

We’re going to be featuring a series of posts soon on how to makeover your shop, descriptions, banners, photographs and marketing. If you have any before and after shots we’d love you to email them for us to use. Contact Folksy – hilary@folksy.co.uk. We’re always looking for contributors and ideas from the Folksy community to make this blog a really great resource for you all.

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Victoria June 3, 2010 - 10:04 am

I recently started shooting pictures of my items outside. Its really improved the quality of colour in my pictures, I’d recommend trying it to anyone!

Steph - Owl on the Sill June 3, 2010 - 10:12 am

How lovely to see one of my photos in the Folksy blog this morning, thank you! The best thing I can suggest is to take a LOT of photos. The odds are that if you’re trying to do everything right, then at least one of those photos is going to be a good one! Good luck everyone!

heather aka NiftyKnits June 3, 2010 - 10:39 am

Great post as always haptree! As Steph says, if you’re going to use 5 photos you need to take WAY more than 5. Think about your background – we’ve all giggled, I’m sure, at ebay photos taken on a scruffy carpet or with distracting items littered behind. Scale is vital too – the little hedgehog shown on a hand is great. Imagine if he was without a reference? He might be an inch high, or maybe a giant 6 feet.

heather aka NiftyKnits June 3, 2010 - 10:41 am

And if all else fails ( we can’t always rely on our British outdoors!) I’d thoroughly recommend spending the £70ish on photoshop elements. I wish I’d bought it sooner, and I have notoriously tight purse strings.

Anne June 3, 2010 - 10:45 am

That would be a great subject for another post Heather. I’ve got Photoshop Elements but have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it. I need help!

Shaz from Oddsox June 3, 2010 - 11:49 am

All photography tips always gratefully received – just need to get better at it now! Thanks. Shaz x

Top Floor Treasures June 3, 2010 - 2:55 pm

Great article Hilary! My best tip is to use a tripod like you’ve mentioned, but also to have it on self-timer, which eliminates any shake when you press the button to take the photo. Also, if like me you have lost your tripod, set up a chair, then pile boxes, books and other flat things on top until you reach desired height, then sit the camera on top of all that to take the photo, hehe!

Andrea Berry ( polka) June 3, 2010 - 3:53 pm

I love taking photos especially close up I always use the macro setting especially for the close ups on my brooches. My tip would be definately use as much natural light, I prefer to go outside but take photos in the shade, bright sunlight is too harsh. If its raining try to get right up to the patio door so you get as much light as possible

Hilary June 3, 2010 - 4:16 pm

Thanks for all the great comments!
I’ve just been learning all about ‘bokeh’ it’s the word for the effect of a shallow depth of field (from using wide aperture and especially noticeable in macro photography) – It comes from a Japanese word. It’s fab to finally have a word for this rather than a whole sentence or paragraph! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh you can have good bokeh – like chain of daisies and owl on the sills macro shots or bad bokeh where the blur is in the wrong place. So next time you see a blurred shot on folksy you can nod your head and say that’s bad bokeh!!!

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