Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mission to Improve Photos - Part 2

Way back in January, shared about a mission: Mission to Improve Jewelry Photography - Hopefully not Mission Impossible. After stewing, fighting, tearing hair, and almost giving up on myself in regard to photography skills; have finally turned a wee corner and now think maybe can actually get to good photos some day. Have improved much, though still not enough. So here is more of the story.

The issue is: How does one get simple stone earrings to stand out in the crowd. In just one day on Etsy there were 20+ pages of just stone earrings (searching in categories, jewelry, earrings, stone). And almost 2000 pages total. My husband Frank, creates the stone & kumihimo jewelry in the Tranquil Nook Etsy store, I thought photographing my own fiber work was challenging, but have been really struggling with presenting his semiprecious gemstone earrings and necklaces accurately. Obvious here:

The original listing photos.

Some of the problems were the stones looking flat and lifeless, distortion of the shape of the stone bead, inconsistency in color of the stones, glare from light when window shades up and too dark when shades drawn. The road to turning things around to improve the photos commenced with seller to seller assistance through the Etsy Treasury Team. As noted in the previous article, Karen of EarringbyKaren, offers individual help to team members. We can sign up for a turn with her in having one to two sets of listing photos reviewed plus help in re-shooting them with advice on staging, finessing, cropping and adjusting.

Although following many posted suggestions for photographing jewelry: using a glass shelf with lighting from underneath, white background, show the earrings hanging, show them for size, still the stone earrings were presenting flat and cold. Not as the beautifully colored, softly gleaming, simple, powerful pieces that they are. Natural stone has a warm rich down to earth tone that is a fabulous compliment to casual and eco-friendly clothing fashion.

Karen suggested: try neutral backgrounds, lose the metal rod for showing the earrings hanging, try hanging them from a basket or on a bar of handmade soap. Well! Duh! That was the wake up call. Stage the shots so the earrings are more at home, so there is congruency between the earrings and the background. Yes, they still need to be seen hanging, with something for size perspective - but take them out of the more clinical white and metal setting and show them in more natural ways. Create backgrounds which reflect and compliment the earthy organic natural feel.

After my session with Karen - Very improved, but still lacking. Better angles, props, croping, but still issues with color. I had not yet made friends with my camera. sigh.... And had just scratched the surface of experimentation with props and backgrounds.

Since my session with Karen, have been changing backgrounds to earthy colors or textured fabric/doilies; and props to twigs, wood, baskets. And have come this far.
Photo is not as crisp as I'd like, but improving. At least, I think so, hope you do to. But if not tell me, just do it kindly, please.

Next step was attending several shop critique sessions in Virtual Labs, watching other shops being reviewed, it became clear that seeing what other designers of stone jewelry were doing is important. So headed over to Categories and trailed it down, that is how I came to find so many pages of stone earrings. What an eye opener. Wow! lots of people like using gemstones.

Viewing the many listings thumbnails, it seemed many people were having some of the same challenges in presenting stone earrings. The photos that captured my interest enough to make me want to click on them and look further: were clear, had depth, great color to the stone, and generally showed the stone earrings in a natural style setting. So it seemed that the organic direction might indeed be on a good track. I collected a number of listings with great first photos in a Main Treasury collection.

karmelidesignsLarvikite and Black Onyx marcomagro JUMPING FISH beadstylin
Tidepool junipermoon MESA MaggieMcManeDesigns Red Sponge Coral lyndee495 Carnelian Drops BlueberryCream Amazonite stephaniegibson Dancing Wine Berry SASessories Amethyst Drops JustJulien Green Adventurine moondogtreasures volcanic islands ourfrontyard Copper Turquoise

Then asked each designer if they would be willing to share a photo tip to be published in an article in my blog.

While most of those queried noted it took time, effort and much experimentation to get to where they are with photo levels they have today, they were willing to pass on pointers they have learned through much hard work. Just another instance of the willingness of Etsy sellers to help each other. Makes me so pleased to be among them.

So over the next few days will be introducing you to these amazing Etsy sellers, their work and their photography tips.

1 comment:

krex said...

Great article and can't wait to see the up-coming tips...photography is also the bain of my existence..the followed closely by description, tagging, shipping estimates, and just trying to stay orginized, lol.

I can see lots of improvements in your photoes, so it is obviously working for you . Keep up the good work....will be in touch tomorrow ...last night of work and running late again...ooops...(dang internet !)