Product photography lessons from Instagram


Beautiful product photography is often the key to getting noticed online…especially with the popularity of image based social media like Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest. You can have the most interesting art in the world, but if you don’t have compelling images of it to share on your website, through social media or in your print pieces, the chances of getting noticed can be slim.

Because of the visual nature of Instagram, some of the of the most eye-catching product photography can often be found there. Here are five Instagram accounts with great product photography and some key takeaways you can use for your own product shots.


Sea Candy Jewelry


Tip #1: Use product groupings

Individual product images are great, but don’t be afraid to group similar products together to show a range of what you have available.



Tip #2: Take closeup shots

Some of the most striking shots in Sea Candy’s Instagram stream are of the close up shots of the jewelry that show off the texture and color of the glass and metal. While full product or to scale shots are important, some of your most interesting product shots can come from getting really close.


Tip #3: Try interesting settings

One of the things I love about Sea Candy’s photography is that they aren’t afraid to photograph in different settings, yet the settings all seem to have a common look and feel. Try to vary your backgrounds while keeping a common theme among your photographs.




Sprinkles Cupcakes


Tip #1: Riff off of unusual events

Holiday themed grams are fairly common. While the folks at Sprinkles do great holiday themed grams, they also take it a step further by staging their cupcakes to riff off of less common events like the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight and Star Wars Day. This not only keeps them in front of followers between common holidays, it also gives them a chance to speak to different types of audiences.



Tip #2: Accent your images with text

There’s plenty of room to provide information about your images in the description section. But it can also be useful to add some text to your images as well. Sprinkles adds the name of new cupcake flavors to their images. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of text in your Instagram photos. It can add some visual interest, plus you can convey more information in the photo. Apps like Wordswag, PS Express, or BeFunky can help you easily add text to your photos.


Tip #3: Share customer Instagrams

It’s obvious that people love Sprinkles cupcakes because not only do customers share photos of their cupcakes on their Instagram streams, but Sprinkles makes a point to regram those images on their own stream. If your customers are on Instagram, encourage them to share images of your work on their streams. You can use an app like Repost or Regram to repost their images on your stream.





Pen + Paint Artwork & Paper Goods


Tip #1: Stage “in use” photos

One of the things that I really love of about Pen + Paints photos are the wonderful “in use” photos she includes in her stream. A family photo, a strip of stamps, and a beautifully illustrated Mother’s Day card pretty much compels you to want to send that Mother’s Day card. If your customer can imagine themselves in that photo actually using or possessing your work, then it’s that much easier to get them to your website.


Tip #2: Show your process

Lindsay, the artist behind Pen + Paint freely shares images of designs she’s experimenting with, her favorite design tools, or stages finished works with the things that inspired them. This not only gives her followers an idea of what’s coming in her new works, but also shows them the inspiration behind the work. Don’t be afraid to pull back the curtain a bit and show your followers your world. For many, that’s just as fascinating as your work.


Tip #3: Develop a distinctive style

When you’re looking at Pen + Paint’s Instagram stream as whole, you’ll see that all of the photos in the stream contribute to express distinctive style. Clean bold colors, whimsical design, crisp imagery. Even non product photos follow this aesthetic which creates a cohesive look. Remember that all of the images in your Instagram feed contribute to your overall branding. Think very carefully about what you add and don’t be afraid to remove images that don’t fit.





Iblove Organics


Tip #1: Use photo collages

Iblove Organics uses photo collages to show how she manufactures her organic skincare products or to introduce new lines. It’s easy to miss individual images on Instagram. If you have a series of images to document a process or to tell a story or to show off a whole line of work, try combining them into a photo collage. Apps like InstaCollage, BeFunky, and PS Express makes creating a photo collage a cinch.



Tip #2: Use product packaging as a design element

Iblove Organics also makes her product packaging a key element in many of her Instagram images. If you have attractive product packaging, use it in your image to help enhance your work and to help future customers envision what the entire presentation will look like when they purchase their own.



Tip #3: Share customer testimonials

Okay, customer testimonials may not be, strictly speaking, “product photography”. But I think the way Iblove Organics of shares images of customer feedback from their Etsy store is just brilliant. Also, if your customer is on Instagram, you can tag them in your post as a way to thank them for their feedback.




Thread Honey


Tip #1: Simplicity stands out

A lot of the product images on the Thread Honey feed are simple, uncluttered images of the work with very few props. I also love the way she coordinates the solid background to the colors of the work. If your work is bold enough, sometimes simple photography with very few bells and whistles can be the most eye-catching.



Tip #2: Create a composition

In contrast to some of the super simple product imagery, Thread Honey also creates some lovely color compositions using her work as the inspiration. Another benefit is that the size of the items provides scale for the work. When composing your images, try mixing and matching items and props in the photo that are related by color, shape, texture, size or some other characteristic.



Tip #3: Share customer use photos

This was touched on before, but it bears repeating. Sometimes the most interesting images of your work aren’t the ones you take yourself, but rather the ones shared by customers that love your work. The images of how customers displays Thread Honey’s embroidered artwork in their homes gives everyone a chance to see how other people are enjoying her work, plus they can imagine how one of her works would look in their own home. Do what you can to encourage customers to send you photos of them enjoying your art.



Now your turn! Think about your favorite Instagram accounts. What is it about their images that catches your eye? What takeaways can you gather from them?

TLDR: Eye-catching images on Instagram helps you get more attention. For your own product images, try:

1. Doing product groupings

2. Taking closeup shots

3. Using interesting background settings

4. Riffing off of events

5. Using text in your photos

6. Regraming or sharing customer photos

7. Staging “in use” photos

8. Showing your process

9. Developing a distinctive style

10. Using photo collages

11. Using product packaging as a design element

12. Sharing customer testimonials

13. Composing simple photos

14. Creating attractive compositions based on color, shape, size, texture, or some related characteristic.

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One Response to Product photography lessons from Instagram

  1. Joan Chamberlain September 1, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    As always, another great article full of helpful tips for immediate use. Thank you!