Friday, March 2, 2012

Shooting is Good for Sales

I've been selling online for a little while now and when I started out my photos were dreadful! The place I set up shop was on Etsy. I noticed products that were well photographed, I mean really well photographed. The items looked like they could leap off the screen and into my home or made me feel like I was there in the setting or wanting to be there. I felt really geeky next to so many amazing shops. I also knew I wouldn't get much attention without great shots of my product.
All of my learning has been through trial and error, imitation, and finally doing some reading on the subject. I was just getting started and couldn't afford a fancy camera. You know, a DSLR (digital single lens reflex), with the fancy lenses and buttons. Plus those cameras scared the crap out of me. There are two great entry level DSLR cameras that are pretty user friendly and low-cost (comparatively). They are the Canon Rebel and the Nikon D3000. These cameras have on board tutorials that help you select the correct settings for what you are shooting. I have yet to use either one, but I am getting close to choosing one as an upgrade from my current camera.
Ear Blooms by LadeeBee photographed with the macro setting
My current camera is a Fuji Fine PixS1000. Its kinda old and looks like a fancy camera. Its got a lens that can`t be removed but it sticks out tricking people into thinking I paid a lot for it. I paid $200CAD for it about 5 years ago. You`ve gotta put batteries in it, which sucks. I use rechargeables, but on more than one occasion my batteries have been out of juice and not ready for picture day. That`s okay if I plan better or have back-ups I wouldn`t run into that problem. So, my point is with my crappy little camera I can take some pretty decent pictures.
Ear Blooms by LadeeBee
photographed with the micro setting

Here is what you need to take great product shots:
1. A digital camera with a macro and micro button (it looks like a little flower). The macro and micro settings are for taking close ups of your subject. You can have a very detailed, in focus photo using these.
2. Natural light. Outside is best, but next to a window is good too. Slightly overcast works best as it minimizes shadows, which you are trying to control. Full sun is terrible for our purposes.
3. A light box is helpful. You can find out how to make one yourself with a cardboard box and a few sheets of white paper.Click here for a great tutorial.
4. Props. If you sell little items, like jewelry, you can use scrap book paper (like I did in the photo above) or a piece of fabric as the background. Put some effort into it and get creative. For an all white background a simple blank sheet of printer paper will do because it has no wrinkles. I used a white countertop for the photo below.
Japanese Paper on Glass Pendant with 22`` chain by LadeeBee
I could edit this photo further if I knew a little something about Photoshop, but that`s another story. For now I am happy with this. 
5. A simple photo editing program. I like to use Picasa. I click on the wand icon to make automatic adjustments and then play around with the sliding settings for highlights, shadows, fill light, and colour. I try to make sure the colour of the item looks as accurate as possible. Usually I judge by the background first.

Take lots and lots of pictures and practice A LOT. I have taken thousands of photos to figure out what works best. Take 10-20 shots then have a look at them on your computer before continuing. I have made the mistake of thinking I was taking shots that were good enough and I could brighten them with a little editing, but it turned out they were all duds and I had to do the photo shoot all over again.

Got tips? Share them below.

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