Pleased with your latest work but struggling to present it professionally online? Product photographer Yeshen Venema and stylist Hilary Lowe of Damson and Slate share their top tips.

Preparation is key to a good photograph

Hilary Lowe, who has worked as the interior stylist for the Sunday Times Style magazine and many other high-profile magazines including Living etc, Delicious, Coast, Easy Living and Elle Decoration, says

 “The first step is always making sure you have everything planned and prepared before you even take your first shot. It saves a lot of time and money in the long run!”

Here are some of Hilary’s styling tips for preparing your space to take the best shot of your artwork or craft product:

  • Think about what look you are trying to achieve with the images. Aim to evoke a mood in your images that people can relate to using your product in a lifestyle setting or colour theme using certain locations and/or props.
  • Think about who or what your images are for. For example, is it for a website banner, Instagram, press or lifestyle shots? Depending on what you are using the image for you will need to think about the pixel size as well as space you have around the product, so it not only fits the format but it allows you to add text around it if need be. Press also like lifestyle shots as well as simple product shots.
  • Keep it relevant. Does your product relate to the location or background in the image? We don’t need to see a sofa in a field or a bed on a beach for instance. Equally, only use fruit if it’s appropriate i.e. either as in colour or as an ingredient.
  • Less is more. Play with setting up and then removing props. Remember: If in doubt, leave it out! Simplicity makes for a clearer product and message.

Featured images (left to right) were taken at a recent Culture+ workshop at Arched House in Lyme Regis for 10 Dorset based makers, led by Yeshen and Hilary.

Candles by Made at Milldown, Air Gardens by Leila Alford and Ceramics by Home Thrown Studio.

Good product photography is more than just the image

Yeshen Venema is a photographer with a passion for the work of designer/makers and small businesses. He is driven by the transformative effect professional photography can have on a business and works directly with his clients in his Islington studio.

“Product photography is not about your product, it’s about how your product looks photographed”

Here are his suggestions to get it right.

  • Think about your audience. Who are your products for? Do you know who your ideal customer is? What magazines do they read? This will help inform what mood or look you take with your photography.
  • What are your products for? Even decorative products have a use – to decorate! Show this in your images by creating scenes with your product in context.
  • How large are your products? Your customer should be able to see at a glance the relative scale of your product.
  • Story. Where do your products come from? What makes your products different? Use unique and relevant props, backgrounds and surfaces to create atmosphere.
  • Where do your products live? Studio shots are essential, however products such as furniture, artwork and textiles need a room setting to sell themselves well.
  • What looks good close-up? Make sure you capture things like the custom handle on a desk or your maker’s mark on the base of a bowl.
  • How’s your visual grammar? This is crucial. It only takes one inconsistent image to ruin a great product page.
  • Get inventive. It’s fine to do straightforward lifestyle and product images but don’t be afraid to do things differently by painting your own backdrops or props for example.
  • Using your images. Once you have taken your images, now the real work begins. You need to get your images out there! Your ‘visual outlets’ should include social media, printed materials, your website and other selling platforms and the press.
  • And don’t forget … Back. It. Up. Digital things are only real if they exist in 3+ places, one of which should be offsite (as in not with the other two). Laptop, two external hard drives (one offsite) and Dropbox is a good mix. I have seen several clients lose their computers without backup.


For more inspiration from Yeshen and Hilary visit their websites and follow them on social media:

Yeshen Venema

Twitter @yeshen

Instagram @yeshen.venema


Hilary Lowe

Instagram @damsonandslate