Sunday, March 16, 2014

Photography Tips and Tricks

First, I would like to state that I am not a professional photographer or claim any expertise in the field.  Everything that I am sharing here is what I have learned so far as I stumble through getting the best photos as I could for my online listings, social media and show packets.  I hope you can find a few tips to try!

First, lets think about your own online shopping experience.  When looking at all those little thumbnails of items, what entices you the most to click on it to find out more? The image of course! Its a very well-known fact that the images you use when selling your products are usually the first thing a potential buyer looks at when deciding to click on your item.  It doesnt matter if you have the latest and greatest item known to man if the photo isnt attractive enough for the buyers interest.

One of the hardest things I find about my business is to photograph my finish products.  I have no problems making new jewelry and other creative items, but I always have a hard time trying to find the best way to photograph them.  Here are a few tips and tricks that I have found along the way that I hope can help you!

1.   Hiring a Photographer: One of the first things I tried outside of my own skill set was to trade, barter or pay a photographer.  I know a few student photographers through my day job and quite a few professional photographers.  This is a great idea if you have items that you can recreate more than once.  It really wasn’t ideal for me since about 80% of my jewelry is one of kind pieces that I cannot reproduce.  I found that it was quite expensive, even with trade and a discounted price.  Many of the pieces would sell quite fast and I would have a need for more items to photograph.  The bonus to this:  I have many high quality photographs of items that I use for juried shows and social media as examples of my work. 

Please note, if you are going this route, make sure you give your photographer a credit line each time you use their work.  Click here to see how I credit my outside photographer, Kate Hill Wilson of Thill Designs in my listing on Etsy.

2.   Natural Light May be the Best:  One of the first concepts of photographing my jewelry I tried was to photograph it in natural light.  Natural light usually will give you the closest to real life color than using artificial light.  When shooting in natural light, it’s best to find a sunny spot inside where the light is defused through white curtain or sheers.  Also try shooting around the same time of day when working with natural light.

I found that it can be really hard photographing items in natural light.  First of all, you have to coordinate the timing, the set up and the weather.  I hated that I was ready to photograph, but it would be too sunny or too dark.  For me, this also means photographing on the weekend because I work my full time job during the week.  But in the right settings at the right time, using natural light can really make your items pop in the image.

The above photo show these olive green chalcedony earrings on stone photographed in natural light.  Image courtesy of Stephanie of Grace and Elegance.

3. Using a Lightbox: A light box can help you take photos inside with utilizing the most of your light sources.  You use it by placing your product inside the lightbox and then setting your lights on the outside of the lightbox so the light is diffused to reduce the glare on your products.  Using a tripod, your camera is placed facing into the center of the lightbox on the side that is open. 

Why can a lightbox be an important tool to use when photographing your items? Because it gives you the flexibility and creativity to shoot products at any time of the day no matter your location or lighting conditions.  Not a fan of the white background?  No problem, just switch out the white poster board for color of your choosing.  You can even use different fabrics if you like to add variety.

 I made my own light box under $20 by using just a cardboard box, poster board, white tissue paper, two lamps using daylight light bulbs.  Look at the list of additional resources below to find links on how to build your own light box.

Heres a great example of a lightbox by Anna from The House of Mouse that is found in the article: How-To Make and Use a Light Box to Improve Your Product Photography.

 3.   Using FotoFuze (and other photo correcting software): Ok, dont judge me, but I use FotoFuze to help correct my photos.  This product helps make my white backgrounds really white and sharpen my photos.  According to Timothy Adams of HandmadeologyFotoFuze is a product photography enhancement engineto help your photos stand out from the crowd, putting a professional polish on your photos with just a click.   FotoFuze is a free product (with upgrades that are available) that can integrate with your Etsy shop.

I’ve been using this product for a couple of years now and overall enjoy the end results.  It’s quick and relatively painless to use, but I have found some downsides to using the product.  First of all, the end product is only going to be as good as what you put into it.  Blurry, unfocused photos are still going to come out blurry and unfocused.  I would just recommend playing around with it and see how you like it.

Here’s a before and after photo:

Before using FotoFuze              

After using FotoFuze

Another popular photo corection software is PhotoShop.  For more information on how to use PhotoShop, read How-To Make and Use a Light Box to Improve Your Product Photography.

Want to read more about photographing for beginners?  Check out these articles.
            Etsy Success Photography

1 comment:

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