A beginner’s guide to photographing your design pieces

Written by Simone | 3rd April 2020

Design lovers often pick their pieces with great care and the same level of attention needs to go into photographing these items. With the help of our design expert, Christian Plat, we’ve put together an easy guide to taking better pictures.

Design is inherently aesthetic, so good photos can make all the difference. “The buyer has to be drawn to the object and be seduced to buy it. In order to do that, you need to have attractive and clear photos”, Christian tells us. “I’m convinced that with good photos, your revenue will be much higher”. 

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A lot of craftsmanship goes into the making of design furniture. When taking pictures, it’s all about including the elements that convey that level of work. Start with wide shots that show the piece in full. “Ensure that the object is shown in its entirety at the centre of the photograph: with pictures of the front, the back, the sides and the underside. If you’re selling a set of items, for example, a dining table with matching chairs, include photographs of the set together as well as shots of each item separately. Most items look better when photographed a little from below, so try and capture these from a seated position”. 

Left: dark photo because of artificial light and part of the armrest cut off, shot from the top which makes its shape unclear. Right: Item in the middle of the photo without parts being cut off. Good light, neutral background.

Then, close in on the details. “Make sure to capture the manufacturer’s details, any screws, bolts and the upholstery. For lamps, make sure to add close-ups of the fitting, the wire, the plug and the switch. And include photos of the underside of the base or the wall mount”. Although your instinct may tell you to only show its best parts, do also include pictures of any damages or markings: “This influences the value of the piece and if not shown, it can be a reason for the buyer to cancel the sale or leave a negative review”. 

Left: not all chairs are visible, the carpet and background is distracting. Right: despite the home setting, the chairs are clearly depicted and there are no distracting elements.


While for furniture, it may seem tempting to get a little creative and style the piece with additional items, but Christian advises against this: “Avoid having items like pillows on a sofa, papers on a desk or chairs in the picture when only the table is for sale. It’s distracting and may confuse the buyer as to what’s actually for sale”. 

When you’re selling a lamp, make sure to include at least three pictures with the lamp turned off. “Photos with working lamps are often quite dark. Having it turned on will distort the colours and bury any interesting details”. 

Left: with the light turned on, the shape is hard to see and the picture is dark. Right: the shape and colours of the lamp are clearly visible.

Light it up

Pick your setting carefully. “We prefer a neutral and evenly-lit background. And please, please: do not take your pictures in the grass or garden”, Christian urges. Of course, no picture will be of high quality without the right lighting. “Provide more than enough daylight. Especially if you use your phone to take the pictures, you’ll need a lot of light to take sharp and attractive photos”.

Left: a clear, neutral background, visible details, no distractions. Right: the garden setting looks very untidy and it's unclear which item is for sale. 

On that note, Christian tells us it pays off to invest in some proper equipment. “Investing in a good, white background and a few studio lamps can be earned back within a few tries because of the higher revenues. We will always place the best photos at the top of the auction list, and feature them in newsletters and other promotions as well, which can help with sales results”. 


Register as a seller on Catawiki and start testing your new skills right away. 

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