Professionals have no fear of me ever taking over their industry. My skills just don’t stack up. There’s just too many settings and features for me to fully understand. I do OK but I’ll never be known for my work.
Many who sell their wares on the Internet have the same problem that I do, their photography skills stink. After all, they are not selling their photographs; they are selling their handmade items.
But, what really surprised me was when a site the was submitted to Crafty Tips Arts & Crafts Directory had photographs that looked even worse than my worst efforts. I couldn’t accept the site because it was not selling handmade items but I thought I would talk about their photos and leave their name out of the conversation to protect the guilty.
Draped fabrics, couch cushions, pillows and even clothes can make a great backdrop for pictures of a handcrafted item. As long as the fabric does not distract from the finished item, this usually works fairly well. It also allows those of us with limited photography skills the ability to take at least half-way decent photographs of our finished works.
I have learned in my limited experience that using white fabrics can actually make the finished item look washed out. Before I started taking pictures with my new digital camera, I would not have expected that to be the case. I did assume that patterned fabrics can cause a smaller item to get completely lost in the pattern – guess I’d just chalk that one up to a bit of common sense.
The people who submitted to Crafty Tips sell a variety of wood and antique items. The wood items were apparently laid flat on the floor when they took the pictures. Many of these items were shelves and other things that would normally be hung on a wall. The downward facing photos showed the items from an angle that they would not be really seen from when hung on the wall. It was like viewing a knick-knack shelf on your wall from the floor.
The angle of the photos was only a small part of their mistake. They used white sheets as a backdrop. The items just laid there in a sea of stark whiteness. They simply laid the sheets flat on the floor, placed the item on top and took the picture. The item was not stood up, the sheets were not draped or otherwise positioned to enhance the item, and then there were the wrinkles!
Some wrinkles might have made the pictures interesting but we are talking about wrinkles like the sheets had been balled up in a ball at the bottom of the clothes hamper for a month kind of wrinkles.
So, they had their items poorly positioned on stark white sheets that, while nice and clean looking, were so wrinkled that they distracted the eye away from the item they were selling. If they had taken the pictures with the item laying directly on the floor or carpet, even that would have looked better than the horribly wrinkled sheets they used. And again, the stark whiteness of the sheets did nothing to improve the saleability of the items.
There are tons of great websites out there that provide tutorials on how to take better photographs. There are even a number of crafters and art photographers who share their insights on how to take better project pictures on their sites.
Please do yourself a favor and check those sites out before you too ruin the saleability of your items.
And for goodness sake, don’t use wrinkled white sheets as a backdrop!
03/12/10 – Found a great resource that might be helpful for anyone needing help with their photography – please visit my blog entry entitled – Free Photography Textbook.