Home Seller TipsProduct Photography Tips Five Folksy shops get a product shot makeover

Five Folksy shops get a product shot makeover

by Camilla

yeshen venema, mrs foxs handmade, bird house press, folksy

When you’re selling online, good product shots are crucial. So last month we offered five Folksy sellers a product shoot with (the brilliant) professional photographer Yeshen Venema and a chance to learn how to take better product shots.

The shoots took place at Yeshen’s home in London and at Folksy HQ in Sheffield, and show what’s possible without fancy studio sets or equipment, but with a few carefully chosen props, some basic camera knowledge and lots of ideas. As Yeshen says, “Product photography is not all that technical, once you get the simple things right: exposure, sharpness, composition. It’s just as much about telling your story through a few choice props.”

As well as arming them with a handful of professional product shots, we wanted the shoots to be a chance for the makers to pick up photography tips, share ideas and hopefully gain enough confidence and knowledge to take amazing photographs themselves.

We split the shoots into different product types and we’ll be showing the results on the blog over the next few weeks, along with tips for photographing different types of objects – from cards, prints and notebooks, to cushions, jewellery and glass – to help other makers pick up practical tips and learn how to get the best results for each product.

In the meantime, here are some of the before-and-after shots from the makers who took part, which show what’s possible with a camera, some time, confidence and a little bit of knowledge.

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Before and After product shots…
* all ‘after’ photographs by Yeshen Venema 

jenny sibthorp, jenny sibthorp pheasant cushion
Screen-printed Pheasant Cushion by Jenny Sibthorp, before (left) and after (right)

“What I learned during the shoot? So much! A sensible use of props – not too large, not too distracting, but something interesting nonetheless. The use of light, the use of coloured card to offset the colours of prints, and finding a way to tell the audience the size of the product by giving some point of reference, in my case using the wooden chair for the small square cushions. I loved the fact that we got to share the day with another designer of another discipline, as this added another layer to our photographic education! The process of shooting Alma Caira’s beautiful glass ware was a completely different approach.

I’ve learnt a lot about how to approach my own product photography in the future (although I’d prefer to use Yeshen!), I now have a huge array of brilliant product shots which I’ve been able to use to update my online shops and business cards, and it’s given me the confidence to start marketing my work to a greater extent. Finally I feel that my shots do my products justice!”
Jenny Sibthorp

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alma caira fused glass, alma caira bird
Fused Glass Bird Decoration by Alma Cairabefore (left) and after (right)

“It was a joy to view my work afresh through Yeshen’s imaginative perspective. Like many Folksy sellers I create unique products which need to be photographed individually. Yeshen was kind enough to share some tricks of the trade which have greatly improved the images that I now produce. Folksy suggested my shop was lacking decent lifestyle shots, so I paid particular attention to Yeshen’s creative use of props (which justifies keeping all my junk shop finds!). I’m so grateful to Folksy and Yeshen for this opportunity, it’s completely renewed my love of photography, thanks so much!”
Alma Caira

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before and after product shots
Knitted Lavender Heart by Jules Hogan, before on a plain background (left) and after in a lifestyle shot (right)

“The Folksy shoot with Yeshen went even better than I had hoped and I am thrilled with the results. It was great watching the master at work and I picked up lots of hints on how to improve my photography. My photos beforehand lacked interest, but with a handful of props, backdrops and good lighting, the images now tell a story. I’ve now got a set of fantastic images that I can use for my Folksy shop, my own website and for publicity – and I’ve learnt new skills for taking my own photographs.”
Jules Hogan

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product shots, before and after, Yeshen Venema, Folksy shoots,
Felted Mice by Mrs Fox’s Handmade, before (left) and after (right)

“The whole experience left us feeling positive and revived. We learned about the benefits to be had by wisely choosing a suitable background colour for your creations, and obvious as it may seem in retrospect, the best gem Yeshen bestowed upon us was that a nice clean white is not necessarily the best colour to go for. Another thing we’d not really thought about in the past was taking close-up detailed shots – so closing in to expose any smaller detail that may be lost in a larger full shot.”
Jackie and Nina, Mrs Fox’s Handmade

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bird house press, before and after
Owl Print and Notebook by Bird House Press, before (left) and after (right)

“Having the opportunity to have my items photographed professionally was immensely helpful. Not only did I get professional-looking images which have drastically improved the look of my shop, but I also picked up tips that will help me recreate a similar setting back at home for all the other items I couldn’t take with me! My products tend to be flat, so the difficulty I’ve had in the past is how to display them so they look as smart in a photograph as they do in real life! I don’t have an awful lot of room in my house, so I used to take most of my photos outside where I was very constrained by the weather. I used to attach prints to my fence by way of a bull dog clip, and cards and notebooks were photographed on the wooden table in my garden. Short of weighing down every print and card, it was hard to stop them flapping around in the wind!

Thanks to the photo shoot I’ve been able to return indoors, and set up shots that I’m really happy with. Being at the photo shoot, seeing how product photography can be done, has given me the confidence to retake my photos, and feel better about them. So hopefully – as I systematically go though the items I have – the images will start to look less like an afternoon in my garden (attaching prints to fence panels) and more like product photography!”
Rachel, Bird House Press

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And a final word from Yeshen…
“One of the highlights for me was how the makers interacted with each other. I’m used to working one-on-one, but in London and Sheffield we were sharing ideas as the shoots progressed. It was inspirational! I hope we can do this again… plans are afoot!”


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LizzieMade April 23, 2014 - 8:54 am

Fab article and how lovely to see some of the great results. I just invested in a better camera, as I know my own photos need some improvements. This article – and other recent photo-taking help posts – will be really useful for advice and tips, as I try to re-vamp my listings!

Thanks you!

Mrs Fox April 23, 2014 - 9:33 am

Thanks Folksy and Yeshen! It was lovely working with Yeshen, meeting the Folksy Folk and meeting other sellers on the shoot. So, if plans are afoot for more of these sessions, Folksy sellers should keep eyes peeled for a great opportunity.

laura lane April 23, 2014 - 9:46 am

Wow! Seriously what a difference…. i deff need to do this!!! But as Yeshen mentioned, working in a group would be helpful, as its so easy to get routined when taking photos of work… Great work guys!!!

Simmi Duffin - Grace's Favours April 23, 2014 - 10:07 am

Brilliant article and having followed the blog for a while it’s really lovely to see some of the results from the photo shoots!

yeshen April 23, 2014 - 1:39 pm

So happy to see the results up here, even more pleased to see the guys creating their own shots at home. I hope we can set up another London session this Spring! Would you interested Laura?

Pauline Vinall April 30, 2014 - 6:32 pm

What a difference it has made to the shade and light plus colour well done

Jewelled Web – April 2014 – Link Love | Fashionable Clothing January 22, 2015 - 6:49 am

[…] and helpful post on Folksy about photographing your crafts, with equally helpful before and after […]

Shop Talk : Jules Hogan - September 1, 2015 - 9:25 pm

[…] were one of the makers who took part in our photo shoots with Yeshen. How do you think the product shots he took have helped you and your shop? The shoot with Yeshen […]

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