Elle’s Guide on how NOT to take awful photos

“Use natural lighting!”

“Have amazing cover shots!”

“Make sure your pictures are clear!”

Yeah, yeah, we all have read this advice and we know it’s true. A great cover shot is the best way to get your item noticed and ultimately SOLD .

But what does this advice really mean? Well, I can’t tell you how to take amazing flawless photos. Why? Because I am not a photographer. My photos are mediocre at best. BUT, I can tell you how not to take awful ones!

So, here it is… Elle’s Guide on how NOT to take awful photos!

Example 1

 photo 1(2)

This photo, although clear, is taken on a messy bed. This says “I’m kind of a mess.”

Example 2

photo 2

I am not against floor shots, but did you see the huge fuzz ball on the right? I would question the cleanliness of the item.

Example 3

photo 3

The busy background. I am very thrown off by the stuff. I end up being nosy and looking at all of the things.

Example 4

photo 4

On the right track with the lighting, however, the light source should not be behind the subject of the photo. It’s hard to tell color and overall look of the shirt.

Example 5

photo 5


Sooooo…. I’m not saying that if your photos resemble the examples above that your item will never sell. I have purchased items that were photographed in less than ideal ways. But, it’s always good to look at your cover shots through a critical eye to see if there is anything you can improve on. Hey, if your bed has the best lighting… GO FOR IT. Just tidy up OR you can even purchase a piece of poster board at the dollar store to use as a background.

The most important thing is to find your own personal style of photographs that you like. I like the minimalist approach. I try to keep it simple and generic so that you can use your imagination on how to style it. Also, there is little question about what is actually for sale in the listing. I keep it focused on the available item. I hate LOVING a pair of distressed denim only to find that it’s the necklace for sale!

Wondering how to find your style? Go to your news feed and scroll through quickly. What has caught your eye and made you linger on a listing? The way the item is shot or styled is a great gauge to determine what appeals to you. If you don’t know where to start with lighting or are curious as to what app was used- ASK! Most Poshers are very kind and willing to help. Do what you like and what appeals to you, and you will be happy and proud to share your listings!

Here is the biggest piece of advice I could leave with you:

If a listing isn’t selling and isn’t receiving “likes” change your cover shot! If you are using a mannequin- switch to a flat lay, if you have it on a hanger- try modeling it. Do not be afraid to change what is not working.

Here is how I ended up presenting my “New York” shirt:


… and in case you love this top… it’s available Here.

If you are experiencing a slow spell right now in your closet- it’s a great time to start updating your photos. Do your best and have fun!



9 thoughts on “Elle’s Guide on how NOT to take awful photos

  1. Thanks for this post! I know about natural lighting and decluttering. I hadn’t considered changing the layout to “collect” likes. Guess I have some work to do! Lol!

    1. Hi Robin! I got it at a retail supply store. In the back of the store they sell used retail/merchandising fixtures. I would search online in your area. Other places would be Tj Maxx or Marshall’s (I have seen them there maybe once) or a fabric store.

  2. Perfect! That’s kind of where I have been leaning towards. I have seen one on http://www.storesupply.com/ and that is the best price I have found for a quality mannequin. The ones at Marshalls and TJ Maxx have been no lower than $100.

    Thanks for your reply and also for sharing some of my items. 🙂

  3. Hi Elle, thanks for all of your info. It is really great to hear your honesty coming out in your articles. 🙂 so how can I get better results with BLACK items? I have heard all about the photo apps and I have tried but they are just so confusing for me when I try them I am Sullybear if you want to take a look. I would appreciate any feedback.Thanks and have a great day!!

    1. That is a GREAT question. I too, have a issue getting good pics of BLACK items. How do you make those look good? Especially how do you display the detail on those items (ruffles, pleats, black buttons, straps, etc.)

      1. It’s NOT easy! First off- what are you using to take photos? I use my iPhone (I have not tried my “real camera” but that may be an option). I use the natural lighting from my windows and I “tap” the creek on the image so that my phone auto adjusts the balance. You will see the color lighten when you do this. I swear by VSCOcam app. You have to do a manual adjustment of brightening the photo and it will look grayish. The down side is that everyone will think it’s gray so I add a disclaimer or “this is black- photo lightened for detail.” I think maybe I should do a post about this!!!

  4. Great advice. When I first started I would try to make complete outfits with my items for sale. I find it works so much better just keeping it simple and to the point 😀 My sales have been much better. You are so right …clear photos with no wrinkles or dust bunnies around! Have a great day! Thanks for another great and informative post.

  5. This is such a good article and so funny. I love me some Elle!!

    I have trouble with dark colors and it takes practise and some you just have to list, look, wait and try again. However, black is NOT a color you have to let beat you. If all else fails, turn your photo into a simple black and white picture. As long as there’s enough light to see the detail of the item BAM! I’ve done it a LOT and it works. For dark brown, change the photo to a sepia tone, like all pics where when I was a baby, LOL! (That’s right I’m old, but I’m still cute!) You’ve got a can’t miss shot of chocolate HTH this helps someone, because of all the things I hate doing in this world, cooking and photography are my top two! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *