One of the most challenging things for me, as an Etsy shop owner, is taking pictures of my product. I have been working at this for two years.
My camera is simple. It is a Nikon that has been dropped off of a cliff (true story) and lived to tell the tale; it cost $125; I bought it on my honeymoon; it is a gorgeous shade of slightly metallic crimson red; it fits in my bag; it works. You can now purchase them for less than I did when they were new. Is that it? Um. No.
To be fair, I took four years of photography in college and have experience. If I hadn’t, I seriously doubt I would’ve continued. It can be frustrating. However, my biggest problem (like most folks) was lighting. It always has been. I read all the blogs, the books, the tips, the forums, ad nauseam.
The pics looked okay but not great. Not ETSY great. I thought for sure it was my camera and that I needed something BIGGER AND BETTER and MORE EXPENSIVE! Oh but no, that wasn’t it at all. Basically it boiled down to practice, persistence, and a lot of trial and error.
Here are a few things I do that can help:
LIGHTING: Good lighting is CRUCIAL to good pictures. Natural light works best, yes but sometimes that isn’t always possible for folks.
AND Unless you’re a pro or have an idea about using a flash correctly, NEVER, I MEAN NEVER! REALLY NEVER USE A FRIGGIN FLASH! I mean it! Knock it off. Cut it out. STOP IT. WHY? Because, it makes pictures look TERRIBLE. That is all you need to know. REALLY. Stop it. RIGHT. NOW. There are a TON of articles and blogs dedicated to photography and flash shooting but I won’t get into that here. Here is my bible for all things craft photography, business and etc. The Savvy Crafters Guide to Success: Turn Your Crafts into a Career by Sandra McCall.I LOVE this BOOK. LOVE it. Get one from your library, read it and then buy one. BUT I DIGRESS! Back to the solution!
WHAT I DID: Affixed FIVE (yes five) clamp lights to the ceiling in my shop. Each light has a natural light bulb. I’ve arranged them in such a way as to minimize the shadows (we don’t like THOSE; they’re harsh and can really take away from your subject). I have them placed above and on the sides of my table.
SCENERY: My table is a simple folding table that I use at shows. I use a white board on top of the table to bounce the light. I stick with SIMPLE and keep my photos on the white background. Some say this is a no-no, I say yes-yes because it keeps the focus on the item being photographed, not the background.
I also use linen ; it is a natural color and shoots VERY well for me. Play with things. If you have a white item, it may be good to use a black background. Again, trial and error.
OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF:
TRIPOD: I ALWAYS USE A TRIPOD. Did you hear me? ALWAYS. Of some sort. Sometimes, to get a cool angle, I will use something solid (a book, a box, whatever) to hold the camera. I drink WAY TOO MUCH coffee to trust my hands not to shake. AND really, if you breathe (which I think we all do) you have a big chance of camera shake; especially when you’re using a macro setting.
EDITING: I also use a photo editing program such as Picnik. Sadly, Picnik is going by the wayside….am so sad bcause it is easy to use; however, there are numerous others. I am currently playing with Picasa. It is pretty easy to use but I am a creature of habit and I really liked Picnik. SIGH. I’m SURE I’ll get over it. You can do a lot with an editing program; adjust light, color, get rid of lint! It really helps enhance your product pictures.
I am by no means a huge expert. I just know that since I’ve made my photos better, my sales have increased greatly. And, keeping my set up simple and easy for me to use saves me a lot of time. Saving time allows me to do what I really love to do; CREATE. Having said that, I must go. I have some coasters to make. Remember though, trial and error. Always do what works for YOU. Not me, not the other guy, not your competition, YOU.
Love and Hugs,
from Deep, Dark, Maine WOODS.
For more of my products head to: www.wsdreams.etsy.com