Taking Better Pictures

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I’m getting ready to open my etsy shop. It’s the first phase of my plan to transition into a design career.

This is my second etsy shop. I didn’t put a lot of effort into my first one which explains why it was unsuccessful. But I took away some valuable lessons and have done more research and there are two (obvious) areas that I need to focus on: getting traffic to my shop and inventory.

Of course there are a lot of questions I need to ask myself and a list of to-do’s under each category, but one thing at a time. This post is going to focus on photographing your product. Good photos are important when selling online. Buyers want to reassurance (through your photos since they can’t physically touch it or try it on) that what they are getting is worth it.

I am by no means a professional photographer and I have an inexpensive point and shoot (Olympus FE-340) camera. The challenge is to use my camera and tools/materials readily available to create better pictures. Thank goodness for the internet!

One of my lines is jewelry so I searched “taking pictures of jewelry”. After perusing a couple of sites, here are the tips I came away with:

1. Use a tripod. I bought mine for $20 at Target. It made a huge difference in taking crisp, clear close-ups shots.

2. Use the macro setting on your camera. This feature is specifically for close-up shots. My camera actually has two macro settings so I can get within 1.5″ of my subject. The macro setting is usually indicated by a little flower icon.

3. Manually set your camera’s white balance. This took a little bit of investigative work on my part to find. In my camera’s manual it’s just called WB. For this shoot (which was on my kitchen table in a corner that has large windows facing north and east) I got the truest color from using the cloudy day setting.  But under other conditions I have the choice of using auto, sunny day, Tungsten light and Flourescent lamp1, 2 or 3.

4. Set the mode dial to optimize aperture and shutter speed. I usually used auto for my pictures but according to my manual, the “P” setting will do this and still allow you to manually set other settings such as white balance. 

5. Use a light box. On the etsy site tutorial, they showed a homemade one. Just take a large enough box, cut off the top and put white paper on the inside. It took me about 15 minutes and $3 for the role of white wrapping paper that I bought. You could probably use copy paper but I didn’t want seams to show.

6. Lighting is key. I shot these pictures on my kitchen table under the light with the light box facing the east window. I also had a desk lamp and experimented with different positions to see how it cast shadows and lit up my piece.

7. Set your camera to fine zoom so you can get close up without reducing image quality.

8. Choose your backdrop carefully. I used a piece of light blue faux suede for these shots, which I think makes a nice, neutral background. For white and clear jewelry, I used a piece of black matt board.

Again, I am not a professional but these photos give you a very clear idea of what my pieces looks like and are a huge improvement over what I have done in the past.

Another resource that I picked up is BetterPhoto Basics by Jim Miotke. It’s a great beginner’s guide that does a tutorial per page without all the dry photography terms (f-stops and what have you’s) so that you can instantly improve your photographs, whether shooting the family vacation or trying to improve product pictures.

 

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