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7 Steps for Optimizing DIY Furniture Product Photography


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eCommerce depends on product photography: it has been demonstrated time and again that product images drive sales. While there are many guiding photography principles shared across product categories, there are unique steps you can take to optimize different kinds of listings.
Follow these seven steps to create high quality furniture product images and streamline your workflow.

1. Prepare your Furniture

Always prepare your product. Make sure all tags are removed, upholstery is pristine, and material like wood, leather, and metal is polished. If your piece requires assembly, allow enough time and preparation to build it.

If you are selling secondhand furniture, don’t hide imperfections. If you can’t fix them, leave scratches and other damage in the frame to allow your customer to get an accurate view of your product’s condition. Accuracy increases consumer satisfaction and your reputation as a seller.

Use furniture polish to clean your product before photographing

Use furniture polish to clean your product before photographing.

On the other hand, if a sample or demo that you are photographing has a scratch and you are selling several of the same piece, post-production can remove imperfections. It’s ethical and worthwhile in this instance, because the imperfection won’t actually be present on the product your customer receives.

2. Set Up Your Studio.

Choose a large space with room to work as your studio. You don’t want to be crowded while working with equipment and space eating products like furniture.

In some lucky cases, your space will have an ample amount of natural light from windows. In most cases, you will need artificial light to supplement what’s already present.

If you’re unsure where to begin with lighting equipment and techniques, read our guide to DIY product photography lighting equipment.

Use a white backdrop like seamless white paper, a sheet, or a wall

Use a white backdrop like seamless white paper, a sheet, or a wall.

Use a seamless white backdrop, if possible. By “seamless,” I mean a curved backdrop that won’t have any creases creating shadows. You can use paper or white fabric like a sheet as your backdrop; in a pinch, a wall will do.

If you need ideas, here are three easy DIY white backdrop solutions.

Use furniture polish to clean your product before photographing

Use furniture polish to clean your product before photographing.

Learn how to create furniture product images that sell.

3. Select Your Lens

Choosing the right lens for your camera is critical because you don’t want to distort your furniture in any way. You should steer clear of a macro or wide angle in these situations. Typically, a versatile lens would be a range between 50mm-75mm; this will allow for minimal distortion.

A 50mm-75mm lens, or a zoom lens, is effective for product photography

A 50mm-75mm lens, or a zoom lens, is effective for product photography.

There are great prime lenses that will work, but remember that you need space to move with a prime lens. With a zoom lens, like a 24mm-70mm, you will have the ability to zoom in and out of frame in a smaller area. Remember to keep your aperture above f8, and ideally at f16, so your furniture is fully in focus.

Although we recommend you use a professional grade camera and lens, it is possible to shoot with a camera you probably already have in your pocket. Smartphones are packed with high quality cameras and allow for shooting on the go: check out this guide to shooting quick, efficient, and budget friendly furniture photography with your phone.

4. Position Your Tripod and Camera

It’s extremely important to use a tripod while photographing furniture or any still life product. A tripod keeps your camera stationary and ensures consistency from shot to shot, while also eliminating camera shake and allowing you to optimize settings.

Set your tripod straight in front of your product and angle the camera ever so slightly down towards your product.

If you shoot from perfectly straight on, instead of angling it down, you may not see important aspects of the seat or back.

Left: too straight on. Middle: perfect angle. Right: too much of an angle

Left: too straight on. Middle: perfect angle. Right: too much of an angle.

5. Don’t Over Style

It may look pretty and fun when you style your furniture, but it’s usually a mistake. Your customer may not like the way you style your piece, and in most cases it will be distraction or conceal something your customer wants to see.

Props can conceal and be a distraction

Props can conceal and be a distraction.

Take these 7 steps to create budget friendly DIY furniture product images.

6. Shoot Multiple Angles

Show your customer as much of the product as possible. Don’t take one image and call it quits; grab their attention. Photograph from multiple angles, and zoom in on detail. Get in the habit of photographing the front, back, each side, and 45 degree angles.

More product images lead to more sales

More product images lead to more sales.

Add detail images to highlight specific aspects you feel make your furniture unique and will be of interest to your customer, like fabric patterns, wood grain, etchings, and engravings.

The more angles and details you can show of your furniture, the more confident a customer will feel when making a purchase decision.

Highlight details and areas of interest to customers

Highlight details and areas of interest to customers.

7. Optimize in Post-Production

After photographing your furniture, it’s time for post-production. A little polish in a program like Photoshop will go a long way to increasing your image quality and optimally presenting your product.

Left: before retouching. Right: after retouching.

Left: before retouching. Right: after retouching.

Remove dust, fingerprints, and other marks that aren’t part of your product. Soften highlights created by strobe lights when shooting reflective materials like metal. Highlights are inevitable when shooting large pieces, but softening them and opening up shadows will create a cleaner appearance. Don’t get rid of all contrast, highlights, and shadows, because they help your customer visualize the material your furniture is made of.

Perfect your product image in Photoshop

Perfect your product image in Photoshop.

You can add shadows to ground your product. Natural, drop, or reflective shadowing can be a subtle effect to create realistic depth without distracting your customers. To learn how, read this guide to using shadows with furniture.

If you don’t have the time to commit to post production work, think about outsourcing your image editing to save time and money. Using Pixelz is a cost-effective solution that allows you to get professionally edited images returned within 24 hours.

Rinse and Repeat

Document the steps you take during your shoot, so you can repeat them easily the next time you have furniture to photograph. Knowing the lens you used, the distance between your tripod and product, the steps you took in post-production, and other details will help you maintain consistency from product to product and shoot to shoot.

Are there types of furniture you’ve had a hard time photographing, or time saving techniques you’ve developed? Let us know in the comments below!