Taking Great Photos Bites

7 Oct

I am agonizingly being molded into a photographer the hard way – and I’m not enjoying one bit.

I don’t like selling things; I like buying things.  That right there explains more than anything why I was a Contract Negotiator for more than 25 years and only spent 4 months working as a waitress.  I really like being the one holding the purse strings and doling out the pennies, as well as the secrets to successfully getting my pennies.  I don’t like trying to guess what Joe-Public wants, when he wants it and how he wants it.  Joe-Public is far too fickle and cantankerous for my tastes, he complains about everything, and generally ends up pissing me off royally.  And he’s always underage and trying to get you to serve him liquor.

Now I have to figure out how to get Jane-Public and her girl friends to sashay over to my Etsy shop and relieve me of 36.73826 tons of gewgaws and while they’re at it, relieve me of some annoying debt.  Since I don’t have sales experience, and since I hate sales and would rather not have to invent any sales techniques or savvy, I’ve been hitting every Etsy beginner “what you should know” and “10/9/6/18/40 Tips for XYZ” article I can find.  And I did discover some good stuff that actually helped, like some FireFox software hacks that make a whole lot of functions you have to perform a whole lot easier, and some great ideas for tags.  The other great idea was how to present your items that boiled down to – don’t use crappy photos.

My photos are crappy.  They said don’t use flash; I’d tried to use flash and they were right, but when I hadn’t used flash, my photos were dark compared to everyone else.  They said use natural sunlight early in the morning or early evening.  They said just sit near the appropriate window.  I’d taken my photos at night inside.  They said use interesting angles and props; show the item being used.  Well, I did use my hands, neck and shoulders, and I took pictures of myself (neck down and boobs up, wrist to finger tips) wearing all of my items, but that’s as far as my imagination traveled.

I woke up the morning determined to improve my photos and ran into my first snag.  One of the first things a homeowner in Florida does is plant lots of trees on their newly acquired piece of turf to provide SHADE; lots and lots of beautiful shade.  Shade to help keep the A/C bills down in the summer and tree removal crews busy hauling them off your roof or out of your living room after the path of a hurricane.  I am a dutiful Floridian and my trees are huge.  I know there is sunlight in the morning because I can see it pouring down on the tarmac out on the street and I can see softly dappled and shifting patterns on the tile and on my hands.  However, my camera insists the flash is necessary.  I think my camera believes I live in a cave.

So I tried the backyard and I had about 20 minutes before the sun blazed over the house and tried to turn me into a crispy fried crunchy.  I did, however, get a few items photographed, but oy!  What a pain.  When my body temperature would reduce to merely sizzling, I’d hop outside and do one or two more items, then swim back to the house in the river of my own sweat to give the A/C a shot at trying to stop the grilling process again.  Long before noon, I gave up.  By 4 p.m., sunlight was peeking into my bedroom window, so I set up again and resumed the laborious torture until once again my dutiful trees did their job and put me out of my misery for the rest of the day.

Now I need some feedback – have I improved?  Am I on the right track?  Are the new photos better?  Can you tell which are new?  What do you think about my pricing structure?  Seem reasonable?  Too low?  Too high?

Talk to me, people – I suck at this and need professional (or non-professional) help!


8 Responses to “Taking Great Photos Bites”

  1. Saje October 8, 2009 at 2:46 AM #

    If the ones on the bright pink and blue backgrounds are new, than yes you are improving because they are much nicer and clearer photos. Good luck on this endeavor!

    • Faerie♥Kat October 8, 2009 at 8:10 AM #

      Thanks for the encouragement, Saje, and for taking a look. Did you peek at the listing page (which are just thumbnail photos) or did you have time to look at an individual listing (where there are up to 5 full size photos). I’m wondering because I’d like your opinion on my use of props (are they too much? do they look professional?). Hugz!

  2. Marvin October 8, 2009 at 10:35 AM #

    Anna at My Only Photo is a pro photog. She could help.

    Your macro shots look good. You might try putting a whiteboard or white umbrella on the side of the object that’s opposite to the window, to get more reflected natural fill light.

    I never use flash if I can help it. If you can control the aperture, go a half or whole f-stop wider than the camera wants to, to overexpose it a bit. I also use a little table tripod, and lengthen the shutter exposure time. Longer shutter time works better than wider aperture because it doesn’t mess with your depth of field. But you have to have it on a tripod to do that.

    • Faerie♥Kat October 8, 2009 at 6:51 PM #

      Hey ho, Red Knight

      Surprisingly, my digital camera is both automatic and manual. I even have a tripod. I experimented today with the EV and white balance, and some presets for specific lighting conditions. Right now, f-stops and shutter exposure time are a bit too complicated for me (but not too complicated for the camera, which is a Canon PowerShot SX110 IS if you’re interested).

      I also discovered more “secrets” about the relationship between the actual photo and the thumbnail, which is that the photo needs to be square and 430X430 in order for none of the pic to be cut out of the thumbnail.

      Is “My Only Photo” a blog? I’ll have to Google it.



  3. Saje October 8, 2009 at 3:55 PM #

    Okay, Kat, I took a closer look! If you want my honest opinion I would say the props are not entirely working. Sorry, but I think that because they are a bit busy it makes what you are selling a tad unclear. You have these beautiful natural pieces and I would emphasize that by using more natural props. Maybe leaves, seashells, or even simple rocks? That’s just my opinion… I really do think the jewelry pieces are quite lovely!

    • Faerie♥Kat October 8, 2009 at 6:38 PM #

      Hi Saje

      I thought about your observation and then thought — if I feel I have to say the prop isn’t part of the deal in the “description,” why then is it in the photo? So you’re absolutely right on!

      This, of course, is going to make life a whole lot harder, and I didn’t change the Mermaid’s Wedding or the Faerie Hollow pics because then I’d only have one photo — plus the props were very much part of the overall theme — but life is hard and making money is even harder, so I’ll just have to suck it up. My back is killing me because all of these shots have to be done using the micro/close up feature and trying to do it sitting down on a chair is useless because I’m like a jack-in-the-box, constantly up and down anyway. I just can’t tell you how much fun this is NOT.

      I’m so done with this batch of photos — finiteto. I’m doing some new items tomorrow — if I can moveth mine body!

      Hugz and thank you sooo much!


  4. hidingplainsight October 13, 2009 at 6:54 PM #

    Are these things that you have made yourself? Pretty!

    • Faerie♥Kat October 14, 2009 at 5:54 PM #

      Yep! When I was completely house-bound, this was one of the “hobbies” I took up to fill my time. I made a house full of beautiful jewelry (by my tastes, anyway) with the idea of selling, then never did (big squawk! chicken). I still have the materials for more pieces of jewelry! Gak!

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