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Photography and Backgrounds

I'm in the process of reworking the backgrounds for my Etsy shop photos. I have realized two things about the photos of items I love on Etsy:

1. They have neutral or white backgrounds
2. They incorporate natural elements (ie: wood/plants) or tasteful decorative props.

My current works in progress are leaning away from simply cute into a new, more sophisticated (polished?) palette. I'm sort of hitting my stride with design and edging into places that I've wanted to go with my work for a long time. Drawing has helped. Reviewing vintage wildlife guides and children's books has also helped my aesthetic - but more importantly, surrounding my virtual self with other artists is having an immense impact on my work.

The question I have about my backgrounds is this: What best suits the art?

My current work for sale is more playful than sophisticated. How do I accentuate this tastefully? How do I show my playful objects in a way that would make the buyer envision them in their home?

My first Etsy listings incorporated photographic backgrounds - often taken from magazines - as shown below...

...and some paper (scrapbook) backgrounds; which became the standard background for all of my items, as shown below:

After discovering that the majority of my Etsy favorites are photographed on white or neutral backgrounds, I tried this with my recent listings. Here's an example:

This feels boring to me! There's no playful color to make the lion pop - but does the lion feel more like a piece of art than a toy?

Lastly, in between all of these different iterations of backgrounds, I tried using a few props. Some examples are below.

I thought the best way to find out which pictures were most effective and caught the buyer's eye was to ask around in the Etsy forums for some feedback and critique. The following picture, with a plain background and some colorful gumdrop props, got the strongest positive feedback.

And this is a great picture - fun, well-lit, colorful, and shows off the size of the item. But it won't work for the items I'm creating now. So my challenge is to create this type of picture using different, more sophisticated elements. I'm truly, honestly flummoxed.

So, I ask my dear blog friends and readers (I think there are three of you!), which background works best? And, most importantly, why?

I'm going to play around with the backgrounds and try to reinvent my photographic style. My sales are fine, it's not a matter of selling more per se, but having a consistent theme that best showcases my work as my skills and aesthetic develop.


  1. I like the paper/scrapbook designs with or without props. They're bright and cheery and I think they bring out the personality that I imagine each animal has.

  2. I actually very much like the simple playful patterned backgrounds - they are the perfect balance of visual candy without being so busy as to detract from the main subject. My favorite is this one it's fun, simple and freakin' cute!


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