Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Photography Tips for the Amateur!

I'm not a professional photographer by any means, but as an Etsy Seller a little photography skills can go a long way....so after spending several minutes on the forums helping someone out with photo tips I've decided to Share!
Please note: This is what I've learned through experience, if you have more helpful tips....please comment and share the wealth!

  • Make Time: If you don't have at least 30 minutes to just take pictures....you're wasting your time. Rushed photos look just like that...rushed. And when it comes to your items, which you have spent hours making...you need to put just as much work and time into the photos. Also remember that it can take dozens if not hundreds of shots to just pick out a worthy few...so make the time to take your time.
  • Camera: Believe it or not, great photos can come from just about any camera...it's just how you work it. Trust me, I have a very expensive camera and a very cheap camera and I have to alternate between each depending on the items I'm shooting. Some of my best photos have come from my $75 Kodak...it's all about learning the ins and outs of your camera.
  • Lighting is Everything!!! Don't under estimate the power of light! If you're like most starting Etsy Shops...you don't have a photo studio or the funds for one...don't cry just yet! You're best friend is Natural Light!!! Turn off the flash already! I find that with both my cameras that darn flash just distorts my items, so I don't even waste a single shot with it on anymore! Find a spot in your house that is well lit with natural light (not direct sunlight), such as a large window, and shoot near it. Believe it or not there are better times of day for photos such as early-mid morning light and early evening light...why? The light is softer and not overbearing. Also Natural light is the best representation of the product...and the way it will look when the buyer receives it.
  • Mind the Settings Please: Think like the buyer in this one...as a buyer you want to see the item as it will look in your house, on you, or on your child...and so on. Sometimes your photos can be deceptive (without you intending them to be). Your jewelry may look larger on the bowl even though it makes a pretty picture be sure to include at least one shot for the buyer to see the item in it's true scale. Put earrings on a model...real or fake its up to you. Have a Child hold your stuffed animal, or blanket...get the idea? As you are in a virtual market you need to help your customer see your items in scale so they're not surprised by the size, color and so on. Keep in mind that descriptions are often overlooked or misunderstood, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Play Around: Sometimes with a little messing around you will surprise yourself. Try close up, then far away. Try every angle, sideways, upside down, put the item on the floor and stand over top of it. Put it up high and shoot below it. Sometimes even try focusing on something other than the item (but make sure it's still in the shot of course). Try different backgrounds your sky's the limit. Keep in mind you'll get to play around in photo shop too. So have fun with it....you'll be surprised.
  • PhotoShop: Believe it or not some items are more photogenic than others. That is why you need to learn to play with photoshop. Call it windows, gimp, photoshop whatever you have...use it! It is your BFF!!! Crop, lighten and brighten things up, play with the contrast, shadows, saturation, color and so on. But be careful to make sure the finished product looks just as it is...you don't want to misrepresent your product in any way....just make it pop!
  • Main Thumbnail Photo: So ask yourself this question the next time you are browsing through Etsy search lists. What makes you click on an item? Of course if it's cute or you like it you're going to click on it....but if it's a bad or dark photo you're going to scroll right past it and never even know it's there. So lesson learned...your Main Thumbnail Simply HAS to Pop!!! It has to grab attention and hold it long enough for people's curiosity to get the best of them...leading to that priceless click! Sometimes a photo looks great as a regular sized image but scale it down to that tiny thumbnail and it's gone, or it gets cropped funny. So before you click finish on your created item...make sure that number one photo is beyond your best.
  • Study your competition: This is one of my favorite ways to learn....but again don't copy...it's just rude. See what photo angles are working for them, high views reflect a grabbing main picture...so learn from them. See the photos of the items they are selling. See the angles that they are taking and get some ideas.
  • When you just can't stand it anymore: I'll be the first to admit that photography and photoshop can and will drive you mad. So you've waited for days or weeks because you just can't get the right photo of your item....now it's time to just let it go. Put your best photos up and leave it be, you can't sell the item until it's posted and you'll be surprised if it sells even with your less than perfect photo . Move on to something else, you can always change your photos later. Also realize that the more you take photos the better you will get at it, and the quicker it will go by.
Hope this Helps you out a little bit. If you have any additional tips....I'm dying to hear them, as I'm more than open to suggestions!

1 comment:

  1. These are some great tips! I am always trying to improve my photos. And yes, photoshop has driven me mad on more than one occasion! Photographing can feel like a chore, and when you treat it as such, it does show in your pictures. I think it helps if you really try to get into the composition of the picture, and think of it as artwork itself.

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