Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Etsy Thoughts: Photography - Room for Improvement

I'm realizing that some of the very first and very best advice I read about Etsy is not only true, it's a motto to sell by: "Take the best photos you can".

It's completely obvious why this is true AND worth the extra effort and planning - Because it sells your stuff. Plain and simple. So you're not a professional photographer. So what? You can still make the most of your current skills and the equipment available to you. And then worry about getting better at it.

Here's my story... I started on Etsy in Feb 2008. My skills at that point were based completely on taking pictures of my kids... not product photography. My camera was and still is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 6 megapixel (chosen for it's movie mode with sound and image stabilization... can you say "family cam?"). It cost $280-ish when we bought it in May 2006 and then $100 for a gently used identical replacement after we dropped and killed the original on a vacation in July 2007.

My first pictures were taken using some brocade-like fabric from a curtain as the background:

Not great, but you can see the whole item clearly. I kept these photos into the summer since there wasn't a whole lot of reason to take new pictures when hats were not exactly in demand. Meanwhile I was reading up here and there about table-top photography, light tents and the like. I also looked around to find pictures of similar products to see how they were displayed.

Next I tried standing the hats up and adding some little pebbles for visual interest:

A failure, if I do say so myself. I may have used the pictures for a week or two, but I didn't like them from the get go. I took them in the late afternoon, near a normally-bright window, but they did not turn out as I had hoped. Regardless of the actual quality of the photo, I didn't like the set up. I didn't feel like it highlighted the hat to it's best potential.

So, I did some more reading and started working with a solid white background (actually a roll of kid's art paper) and placing the hat to highlight the "ears" after which they are named and to show the fuzziness of the fleece:

This time I was very pleased with the result, and this particular hat made it to the front page shortly after listing the item. Success! I only used the basic default Windows Vista photo editting software to crop and "auto adjust", and then manually brightened them further if they seemed a little dark.

There is a LOT of room for improvement in my photography skills, but I'm so pleased with my improvement over the course of a year. I know more, can do more, and I definitely sell more. Good luck to you!

1 comment:

Lenox Knits said...

Great tips here. I love how you show the progression of your photos. I've been planning a post like this and my own photos, but haven't gotten to it.