Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Etsy Process: Step 5, Pictures

Step 5: Product Photos

When I decided to open my own Etsy shop, I knew that photos would be a really important part of the selling process.  Take me for example, if I go to a website with terrible photos, I'm gone in 2 minutes.  I don't want to buy a product when I'm not even sure what it looks like; hence, product photos are important.  If I want to make any money off this little venture, I need to do it right.  I started with an inspiration photo.

When I see something I like and want to recreate it, I analyze what I see.  Take Oh Joy, for example.  To say I love her photos is an understatement.  They are perfect.

So here's what I see:

-a light colored backdrop
-camera looking straight down on the item
- most (but not all) of the light is coming from the side of the item (so, no flash from the camera)
-soft lighting
-plenty of contrast

When I was getting ready to take my own photos, I sketched out a bunch of ideas and told myself I was going to do each one no matter what.  My first idea was to hang my item from a cord using a clothespin.  This idea has some potential, but the lighting is all wrong.  It's too much from the side and not enough over top.  The shadow behind the paper isn't appealing.  Plus, the clothespin and cord are not interesting enough.


My second idea was to tape my item to some brown wrapping paper and secure it with washi tape.  The scale is all wrong in this one.  The pieces of washi tape are too small next this item.  Second, the light is (once again) too much from the side and not enough over top.  The one thing I like about this is the brown paper.  

For this backdrop, I wrapped brown paper around foam core, taped the item to it, and then taped all of that to a wall where I had some light.  9am is not a good time to be taking photos in this room - it was all too harsh.  Also, I learned that the brown backdrop needed to be much bigger.  

Let's not even talk about this one.  

Though the outcome wasn't great, I think the approach worked well; I planned the shots I wanted, gathered all my materials, and then got to work.  I didn't need to run out gathering this or printing that because I already had what I needed.  Since I knew which items I wanted to shoot in each setting, it all went pretty quickly.

Here's what I've learned so far:
1. Find an inspiration photo, decide what you like about that photo
2. Gather all the materials you need for shooting (in my case: tape, paper products, tripod, camera, clothespin, cord, brown paper, foam core)
3. Find a light source that doesn't just come from one place 

Etsy allows you to post 5 pictures for each listing, so keep that in mind when planning your photos.

I'll definitely be making another attempt at this very soon.  I take product photos a lot for my job and I've learned a lot - now I just have to figure out how to implement what I've learned!

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