Jun 1, 2011

Revisiting Photography 101

As I've mentioned before, I've been working hard to revamp my photography setup and redo all of the photographs of items still in the shop. Now that I'm retaking those photos, those items that have languished around for 1-2 relists are selling!

Props can be useful. Great photo by bitofbutter

In my January post, I discussed several of these points, but they are worth going over again. Photography is the single biggest controllable factor that can make or break your sale. It's even more important than price. I spend a lot of time looking at other shops all across the web and I've gotta tell you, we need to kick it up a notch in our shops. Consistently strong photos will set our shops apart, our team apart & give our sales a boost.

Ideal lighting and clean background shot by CheekyChicVintage

Your photos are your main marketing tool. And the number one free form of marketing is Etsy treasuries. If your photos aren't good enough, your item won't be featured in top ranked treasuries. Don't poo poo treasuries-it's phenomenal how many eyeballs view them and how many actions are a direct result of being featured.

Excellent sharp details. Great close up by HamiltonBay

1. Back up. While it's great to provide detail shots, that should NOT be your first shot. (There are exceptions to this rule, but generally it holds true) Your first shot needs to be one of the object with space around it. Items that are zoomed close don't look good when viewed next to lots of other items. Think of it this way: put space around your item so it will play well with the other vintage photos. Your items photograph should compliment the other photos: be they on the search page, browse page or a treasury. When they do, buyers can see your item clearly, and their eye will come to rest on your photograph.

Great how the item is coming in from the side for visual interest by nickhaus

2. Use a neutral background. I used to think it was clever to have a differently colored background so that I'd stand out from other sellers. That worked well, when I was selling on eBay. It doesn't seem to mesh well on Etsy, for many of the reasons listed above. They don't work as well in Treasuries and strongly colored backgrounds tend to distort how the eye perceives the color of the item being sold.

Neutral color, great textural contrast photo by Niftic

3. Try OttLites or natural lighting. Since I've switched to Ottlites, my lighting woes are over. Pure spectrum light. Now I can get the pure colors from those items that drove me crazy before, and more importantly, I can take photos any time day or night!! No more set times in the morning.

This is a perfect thumbnail example by Vanityfare

4. Almost never use a flash. If you have good lighting, a flash almost isn't necessary. Flash glare does a great job of distorting the true color of items and can give the photos an unprofessional look.

Textural, contrast, lighting & staging all spot on by birdie1

5. Use a fantastic photo editor. I use Google's Picasa. For me it's hands down the best editor I've ever used. I love the sharpen option, the neutral color button & the brighten.

Shows off a great angle of the item & great lighting shot by TheVintageHatShop

6. Crop for thumbnails. It's so important your item look great in Etsy thumbnails.  Leave space around your item and crop it to a perfect square. It took me around 3 tries before I got it. Picasa makes this easy, so you'll have to play around if you use a different editor.

Fantastic detail & well cropped for thumbnail by calloohcallay

7. Don't use blurry photos. I run into this daily while browsing. Your camera should have a macro mode for closeups. A tripod will help with regular shots. That combined with strong clear lighting should eliminate that problem. I don't like tripods so I stand with my legs far apart while photographing; I become a human tripod. Works like a charm.

Great lighting, detail & shadow drama by mascarajones

Well, I'm sure there are more tips to cover, but these are the ones that have made the biggest difference for me. I am still working on rephotographing my old items, but hope to be caught up in the next month. As the weather improves it'll be hard to convince me to stay indoors, so I need to focus and get snapping now!


Bit of Butter said...

thanks for including me in this post! I agree -- photography is EVERYTHING!

ImSoVintage said...

I know I work constantly on my photos and when renewing try to step them up a notch to get the item sold. A good reminder.

Mascara Jones said...

Another great post! Im constantly re-doing my photos as well...I try to pack older or poorly shot items in to re-shoot when I have the "right" light...Thanks so much for including me!

Callooh Callay said...

Love these suggestions! This is really an area where you can constantly change and improve--one of the fun parts of selling online.


Niftic Vintage said...

Fabulous post, wonderful suggestions! I too am a huge fan of Picasa it is an amazing time saver for me. Must get some Otts myself. Thanks for sharing such great ifo.

cindy-the vintage hat shop said...

You brought up some really good points. Yes, I've noticed which photos I find attractive from viewing many treasuries. Now to apply those techniques.

Thank you for the inclusion! An honor.

Bird.in.Hand Laurie said...

Some really good photo advice! I have an Ott light too but never use it so I've got to get that out again. I also use Picassa editing (free from google) and love it. Thank you for including my photo here :)

Cheeky Chic Vintage said...

Couldn't agree more...descent product shots and mastering my camera has been my biggest learning curve, by far! Terrific suggestions here! Thanks for featuring me in such good company!