Shhh.... secrets to taking good pictures {with a point and shoot camera!}

I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we would do just about anything to get a DSLR camera like this one...

However, at almost $1,000 or more it really isn't all that practical for a lot of us... myself included. I would LOVE to have a nifty camera like this one and take professional photos... but, as a stay at home mommy with a small business it isn't really practical. So, for those of you like me... this post is for YOU! 

Here is the camera I use for ALL of my photos:
It is a NIKON COOLPIX S8000. It has good zoom, a nice big digital screen on the back, a lense that allows for decent zoom. It's no DSLR, BUT it does allow me to control the brightness and vividness {is that  a real word?? I'm going with it anyway} of the photos as I take them. Most new digital point and shoot camera will allow you at least some flexibility in this area - kind of like a mini manual camera. 

My product photos use to look like these:

Not bad, but not great either. My recent product pictures look like these:

The camera hasn't changed, so what's the secret? Well, I am going to share my secrets with you. 
WHY? Photos are soooo important in the information age. If you are a small business owner {ie. Etsy, Big Cartel, etc.} you count on your pictures to sell your products! The picture{s} of your products draw customers in and keep them looking. 

1. Natural Light: Photo boxes are great - if you have the know how and the equipment. I tried that once, but it just didn't work {either operator or mechanical malfunction}. My pictures turned out yellow-y. NOT what I wanted. I have found through much photo taking that natural light is the best light.

Experiment in different locations and different times of the day. I have found that morning light is the best for me. I know professional photographers who will agree. If you want a crisp natural looking photo find the best location and time of day when you get the MOST light but be sure to avoid direct sunlight. It tends to washout your photos and colors are not as accurate. 

2. Background: Sure your dining table is clean and pretty, but is it really the best place to take your pictures? I have tried my dining table, the coffee table, a white sheet, fabric, and just about everything else. So, what works the best for me!!??? White foam poster board. Yep... that's it! It's bright white, firm so that you can place it anywhere you need. PLUS, it's cheap! When it starts to get little nicks in it or becomes a little dingy, just buy a new one and turn the old one into these great mini fabric bolts

I have also found {at least for my products} that a white background for pictures works the best. Once you determine your best light, take a couple of test pictures using different colors. Avoid textured backgrounds. It tends to confuse point and shoot camera's when they try and focus. You'll end up with a clear background and a fuzzy subject.. not good. 

3. Don't Photoshop: Some people do tons of Photoshop editing. I tend to shy away from it. Sometimes a photo needs a touch up, but if you are using natural light you shouldn't need to do much... if any. Instead, I use the mini manual settings on my camera {the brightness and vividness} to adjust my photos as I take them. If you didn't toss your manual when you bought your camera dig it out, dust it off, and learn how to use those functions. You'll be sooo happy that you did! 

4. Cropping: Point and shoot cameras can only zoom so much and stay in focus. That's where cropping becomes a h-u-g-e best friend! I take photos at whatever zoom allows me the best focus of the subject in my photo. Sometimes that means it's a very far off photo. 

If I can't get a picture as close to my subject as I would like {especially when I take pictures for tutorials} I use Photoshop software or sometimes even Microsoft Publisher {ya, I'm pretty sure I heard a huge groan from any of you photographers out there} to crop my photos to the size that I want them to be.  The resolution stays good for blogging or posting on your Etsy shop... though I wouldn't recommend it for enlarged photo printing. 

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I hope that you can find at least some of these tips helpful. If you are an Etsy seller one of the BIG things is pictures. The Etsy gurus say that the best way to improve your shop is to take better photos of your products. They recommend at least one close-up {use your cropping method if you need to}, one that shows your entire product, and others that show your product either in use or from different angles. Hopefully these tips will help you to take better photos not just for your small business, but for scrapbooking and life documenting! 

What other tips or tricks do you use to take better photographs!?! 



  1. Thanks for sharing these. I haven't tried the white foam board.

  2. Great tips, thanks. I've got a Coolpix too and need to "dust off the manual", lol. Also, I use the "science project" folding cardboard for a white background. It's big and easy to set up. I get mine at Wal-Mart.

  3. Katy - I have a nifty rebel canon camera I use to take photos - I am saving up to upgrade hopefully by the end of this year. If you're willing to spend $300 (?? not sure the value right now... I'll do more research when the time comes) on a nice camera I'd be willing to sell it to you when I get closer to reaching my $$ goal for a new one. Let me know if you might be interested and I'll keep you in mind.


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