Taking Photos That Work
by Diana White.
(Upstate New York)
I’m writing to share some examples of why investing some funds and spending the time to take the best photos possible is really key to marketing your work online.
I’m sharing here some pictures that progress from my early work, and the abysmal photos I took, to my more recent work and some much improved (though never perfect) photos.
My first jewelry photos, I simply laid the piece out on a cloth or table and snapped a picture. Later I rigged up my own light box, but had so much difficulty with white balance that the colors of my pieces were never really true to life.
I went through about 4 different home made light box setups, before I opted to spend a little money and get a pop up light tent. I used that from late 2010 until mid-2014 when I finally invested in a professional level set-up.
Over the years I tried various props, and a series of background colors, to include hot pink (what a disaster). I used scrap book papers. The thing that always hung me up is that I could never seem to get my work to be the main focus.
I also fiddled around with tons of Adobe Paint Shop Pro photo editing bells and whistles to highlight my jewelry. Using those bells and whistles worked, but I was spending more time on picture editing than I was making the jewelry.
And while I could see my pictures getting better, I still struggled with making it so my customers could see all the details without being distracted by my props or backgrounds.
I did, over time begin to notice a pretty strong correlation where poor photos equaled zero sales and the better pictures netted me more sales.
Three huge things I learned through trial and error, I’d like to share with you.
1. Hang your work from a piece of fishing line a few inches away from items you are using as backgrounds or props. As an example, draping a wire work piece in copper across a piece of wood looks great on a table display.
But when you take a macro shot of the jewelry you’ll get a lot of the wood grain in focus along with your jewelry. And if the piece of wood is what catches the viewers eye, your jewelry will not get the attention it deserves. If hanging a piece isn’t feasible, try changing your camera angles. Looking straight down from above makes for a flat image without visual interest.
2. Remember (and I’m really terrible at this) that if you plan to sell online, the first thing a buyer will see is a very tiny thumbnail image. If your photo isn’t crisp, or has too much going on, then potential customers’ eyes will move past the thumbnail. No clicks equals no buying.
3. No matter how great your setup, you’ll still have to do some editing to get the most out of your photos. Cropping is one of the most helpful ways to make your picture pop.
Etsy, (like a number of online sales venues) uses a square photo space for all their images. But cameras take rectangular photos, so cropping to a square format helps.
No matter how well you clean the studio or light box before photos, there’s going to be a speck of dust, a stray hair, or a seam you didn’t notice while snapping the pictures.
Post processing to reduce or eliminate those visual distractions is faster and easier than going back and having to redo your pictures.