Monday, August 25, 2008

First Product Photo Shoot

Selling on is a competitive undertaking because there are so many sellers there now and they have a lot of great products for sale. To really stand out, good presentation is paramount. Nowhere is this more important than in your product photos. This is a big disadvantage for me because I truly suck at taking close-up photography!

Successfully photographing products like jewelry, crafts and collectibles is a real challenge. The photos have to be taken at close range in just the right lighting conditions so that the image is crisp and the item is not washed out or over exposed.

A lot of great photos can be taken outside on overcast days (something we have an abundance of here in Oregon) when the weather is dry. (Oh-Oh!) Okay, so if outdoors doesn't work for you, you can use a lightbox. A light box, or light tent, is like a miniature photography studio that you can fit in a small space.

Here's the frame for a large temporary light box that Dennis built for me out of PVC pipe. He's also ordered me a professional tabletop one that comes with special lights and some backdrops for a birthday present. What a guy!

Notice that Samba, the world's best little sweetie-pie of a cat, is totally uninterested in the PVC frame. But just wait. When I drape a white sheet over it to make a light tent and install a nice white backdrop/floor, don't you know she'll be thinking it's her own private guest quarters.

So I will either have to keep her away or ALWAYS scrupulously clean it before taking photos of anything in it. Guess which scenario it will be.

Here's the photo-shoot setup.

The lamps on the sides flood light on the fabric which acts as a diffuser. These lights are not the best, but in this temporary setup they were serviceable. One had an OTT light bulb and the other a "daylight" bulb. Whichever kind of light you use, don't keep them too close to the fabric for very long or the fire department might be trying to join in the fun. The backdrop is a large piece of white matte board. (If you want to make your own setup like this, you can find instructions for making a PVC lightbox here and here.)

Now you may think that the purse handles on the handbag naturally stand up straight and perky like that. Think again. They were floppy things and had to be tied in that position with invisible nylon filament thread.

Have you ever worked with that stuff? Its the jumpiest, curliest, most pesky fiber you can imagine. Just loves tying itself in knots. Before I got those purse handles picture perfect that filament had wrapped itself around my ankle and made a couple of circles around my big toe and then slipped under the buckle on my sandals just before the spool rolled across the room. This was discovered as I tried to retrieve the spool and nearly pulled over the whole contraption. In some of the photos the thread showed a little, but in most shots it didn't. Out of the thirty pictures I took, I got three good ones.

Yikes, at that rate I'll never make a profit on Etsy! I'll be spending all my time trying to get those 5 perfect photos allowed for each item.

Here's a close up of the bag showing the twin frames. Isn't this about the cutest handbag! I'm in love with it even though I almost always carry shoulder bags.

I didn't get around to trying to get a close-up photograph of the inside of a this bag which has a black grosgrain lining. Guess that's the next challenge.

A great way to end the day yesterday, after the photo shoot and blogging, was watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Talk about your cirque du soleil chinois! What an amazing spectacle! I could have used some of that nylon filament to keep my jaw up off my chest because my mouth was agog out of awe most of the time that I watched. If you missed either the opening or closing ceremony, NBC is selling a DVD. It's destined to be a classic!

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