jeff piece

It doesn’t take much time scanning online marketplaces for handmade items to see common mistakes in product photography.

I realise that since the items are handmade by very small business, perhaps just one person, that there is not a photo team to work on the sales images. But there are so many small things that can be improved, often at no cost to you, that would make your product shots go from substandard to stellar.

It can simply be a technique here or there, understanding a setting on the camera, or changing the way something is displayed that lets your product stand out from the rest.

Here is a list of common mistakes that I see in product photography:

  1. Poor lighting – Either too flat and dull or too harsh and contrasty
  2. Color balance – Greys and whites should be neutral in color
  3. Color cast – Watch for odd colors washing in from a window or a light
  4. Item too small in the image – Make the product a large portion of the image
  5. Not representative of the product – make sure colors are accurate and scale understandable
  6. Underexposed – No detail in the shadows
  7. Overexposed – No detail in the highlights
  8. Pixelated – Watch for blocky edges on what should be smooth edges
  9. Stretched image – Be careful when resizing and image so it does not change proportions
  10. Model with poor expressions – The human face is capable of 40+ expression don’t send the wrong message
  11. Models with bad poses – They should look natural and comfortable
  12. Poor staging – Put the product where is intended to be used
  13. Distracting backdrop – Make sure the backdrop does not compete with the subject
  14. Strange effects or filters – Save effects and filters for things other than product photos
  15. Grainy images – This happens while shooting in dark places
  16. Blurry images – Watch carefully for clean, sharp focus
  17. Not leading with your best image – Don’t hide you best image put it up front
  18. Dirty products – Dust is everywhere. Clean before a photo shoot and clean again in post
  19. Strong hard shadows – Hard shadows distract from the subject
  20. Composition – Watch out for odd angles and things being cut by the edges of the frame



Professional product photographers spend their lives perfecting their craft. If you are a maker, you may not have these years of experience to draw upon but you can improve your photos by watching for these mistakes and taking corrective action when you see them.

To see these mistakes, you have to be objective and honest when reviewing your own photos.

If you see something that needs attention, don’t be afraid to refine your approach. Often a bit of research on a technique, learning a camera setting, or changing the way something is presented will make a three-star pic into a five-star photograph.


Want even more information on how to make your photography eye-catching to customers? Check out The Create & Thrive Guide to Product Photography, which covers basic photography processes that eliminate these common mistakes and help make your products pop thanks to composition, backgrounds, and lighting.

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