So, Your Having a B*tch of a Time Taking Pictures, Ey?

Well, allow me to throw in my two cents. I may not be a master photographer but I'd like to think I do have a pretty decent understanding of photographing jewelry/beads/accessories. I figured this out myself and you can too, I promise! I'm not guaranteeing they will be perfect immediately, but if they suck now they'll be significantly better when we are done.

1) It starts with white.

No, white is not boring. It is professional and it makes your product pop. Until you get a good grasp of taking a decent picture, please do me a favor and just stick to nice clean white (or black if it's something incredibly pale). Get a giant piece of matte white paper and follow me on to step 2...

2) Now, go outside!

No, a light box is not the same. No, going next to your window is not the same. They will both suffice in crappy weather (Aka I have an awful time with wind, some people hate the cold winter weather), but they still are not a replacement for the real thing. Now, you're going to want it to be bright out, but here's the catch: you can't be in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause harsh shadowing and make all your pictures look like junk. Now if you go outside while it's bright but overcast, or diffuse your light (say with a big white sheet) then you'll be rocking. Simply: Natural indirect light is superior.

3) Figure out your darn camera!

My camera is a $99 piece of junk. It's not perfect and I want to throw it against a wall a lot, but I still get fairly good pictures out of it. Anyone who tells you that you need a bazillion dollar camera or else your pictures will suck and your whole business will fail miserably needs to be slapped thoroughly. What am I getting at here? You camera probably has a "macro" or "closeup" setting. Use it! It will allow you to zoom in closer and get clearer, crisper shots. Secondly, turn your ISO up a bit. The ISO either elongates or shortens how long your shutter stays open and therefore how much light it absorbs. Higher ISO = more light = brighter picture. This will help combat the gray dull picture plague of your photos. I saw in the Storque an article which had a good way to figure out how high it should be: shoot at a piece of white paper a few times, turn it up each time until it comes out a true white in your viewer and this should be a good setting for it.

Word of warning though from a fellow Etsian (with stunning photographs): don't get crazy with the ISO though, if you turn it up too much it will give you grainy, fuzzy, unsharp pictures! If your feeling froggy, a better option he thinks is to use a longer shutter time and a tripod. This allows more light in becuase the lens is open longer without risk of your camera shaking and making everything fuzzy.

4) Interesting angles set you apart.

Any dumb person with a camera phone can take a picture of something. You need to take an amazing pictures that stands out from all the rest. Part of this is intriguing angles. If I learned nothing before dropping out of art school, I do remember one thing: an interesting picture will drag your eye around. It will make you keep looking at it. Dead center isn't interesting and straight on isn't interesting either. Get on your knees, wiggle around, put your camera flush on the paper, mess around! Crop it so I can only see the front edge of your pendant and a snaking chain out the other end.

The other reason this is important is becuase there are only about 37689.22 bazillion people selling on Etsy too. I know: you're unique and your jewelry is TOTALLY and utterly different then anything else EVER created or known to man. Well, even if it is, most traffic comes directly through Etsy and let me ask you this: When you're cruising through the categories, do you click on the bright, bold, visually interesting pictures; or those gray zoomed out ones where your not entirely sure what it is? Guess what? Your customers click on the big bright shiny ones too!

5) Okay I've got pictures, I'm done now right?

No! You need to edit them! Even professional photographers edit their photos, why do you think you're exempt? If you want your shop to succeed, you can't half ass it, sorry! I want you to download Picasa or GIMP. Go online and use Picnik.com or Aviary. Either way, MS Paint ain't going to fly. Tweak your contrast so that it is true to life. Yes, you can hold your hair clip in your hand and match it to the screen for all I care. Turn up your highlight to the point where your background is white but your item isn't overexposed.

Now, crop it!!!!!! Don't be afraid to get up close and personal. I tend to think you should have at least one super close picture to show detail, a few interestingly cropped ones so you can see different facets of your item, and then one overall shot where you can see the whole thing at once. Take a necklace for instance: get super close in and show me the texture of the filigree on your pendant, the whole pendant, the chain, the clasp, and then the whole thing. Does that make sense?

6) Sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful photography and go ask for a "critique" to show off how awesome you are!


Helpful links:

A bit more thorough explanation of indirect light:
http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/better-photo/direct-indirect-light-quality.html

Product Photography Tips:
http://www.tabletopstudio.com/TTS_Product_Photography_Tips.html
http://etsytreasurechest.blogspot.com/2009/06/product-photography-tutorial-how-i-do.html

Photo Editing Programs:

http://picasa.google.com/
http://www.gimp.org/
http://www.picnik.com/
http://aviary.com/



www.TwoIndustriousFerret.Etsy.com

20 comments:

XO Handworks said...

#2 - Natural Light: This may be an option for you in Arizona, but here in Minnesota in the winter it could be weeks or even months with no outdoor natural light opportunities. Lightboxes CAN work and are sometimes the only option.

TwoIndustriousFerrets said...

Actually I'm having an impossible time getting any overcast here in AZ. I've been doing wax paper over the window. Light-boxes do work (which I think I said?) but it's not the same, in my humble opinion. :-)

Megan said...

I agree light boxes are not the same, but I do prefer next to the window! I have a large front window that gives off great light! I am currently re-doing all of my shop photos, so I guess we will see how they come out! Great blog!

Nichole said...

Good to know! I set my paintings in the sunlight against a light background, edit & crop. Thanks for the info.

Hannah said...

This is great thank you! I saw you in the etsy forums...I'd love to have my shop on your blog! Let me know if you are interested! :)

loveubabe.etsy.com

Heather Anne said...

Wow saw you on the forums totally gonna use these suggestions to make my pictures better. Would love to have the chance to advertise here!

inspiraknit.etsy.com

Heather Anne said...

also check out and follow my blog

www.inspiraknit.com

Stormy said...

Just found yr post in the etsy forums as well.

Glad to have found a 'fresh' new blog to read.

waterwaif said...

This will be so very helpful. Thanks so much for giving me the kick in the ass to fix my photos!

StellarRelics said...

Thank you sooo much for this article!! I as just laying in bed a couple of nights ago wondering what I am doing wrong with my OttLite lamp and thinking maybe I needed a new camera!

Just us girls said...

great blog post... i will definitely be using this as a reference. All the other things i found about this were too technical and not practical enough for me to understand... this is great. Jo (42things)

cabbingrough said...

very nice! Thank you for the tips

Shannon McMullen said...

Ah.. I thought standing near my window would work... mais non, mon ami! I get oodles of sunshine here in SoCal... with plenty of diffuse, indirect light so I have no excuse.

Thanks

Susan said...

But there are bugs and scorpions and snakes and ickies outside! And the creep next door.

vintage said...

Great tips! Especially about that ISO thing. I am going to check it out on my cheapo camera right now! Thanks!!

Melody said...

Great tips, of course in the winter going outside just doesn't work, but if you're going to take photos inside, make sure you've amped up your lighting. Bounce some a bunch of lights off the walls to get as close to outdoor or studio lighting as you can (because professionals DO take those photos indoors).

TwoIndustriousFerrets said...

Hehe I go out even in the winter, what I do seem to have an issue with though is WIND. On those days what I do is find a super bright window and cover it with wax paper to diffuse the light. Since I don't exactly have 3,000 lights with which to light up a room :-)

kittydabc said...

Hmm...I didn't think about the wax paper at the window. Good tip, thanks! :)

http://www.etsy.com/shop/kittyd

-Amber Jordan said...

Great post. I've shared on my page. Light-boxes are a great alternative. I also like the well placed "mood shots" for larger items. Similar to a layout in a magazine. It is always good to think in reverse. How do you want your Etsy shop to "read" what would make it flow? Simple backgrounds with great lighting can work wonders if the crisp white with natural light is not an option. Another tip is to look for the "natural lighting" light bulbs. Hobby lobby has them in the painting section as well as some camera shops.

TwoIndustriousFerrets said...

Thanks for sharing the post Amber!

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