This last month has been a big learning process as I try to handle it all at the same time. And finally, with the last of my products to come from this batch of weaving. I think I got most of the pieces right.
The trick came in noticing the different ways that main product photos will be scaled and cropped for display in different parts of Etsy.
For a while I thought that squares were the way to go. These are cropped correctly in a store listing, but the top and bottom get cut off when they are displayed as large icons like in the featured items bar or in treasuries. Those icons are displayed at 5x4 proportions.
In the image above, notice that the second item gets the top and bottom cut off when it appears in the featured items bar on top. This makes it look crammed.
The right answer seems to be to shoot the photos aware of a 5x4 rectangle around the focal object, making sure that the left and right sides contain nothing important when the image gets cropped to square.
In the picture above, the first and third items were shot that way so the icons look great to me in both locations. I think this will make my items more attractive to treasury hunters. In the next few months I'll go back and reshoot all my photos with this awareness in place.
Better late than never!