On Wrinkled Sheets

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.

A few suggestions for further reading...

6 Responses to On Wrinkled Sheets

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 photography work.

That said, I do know what appeals to me and what looks horrid. While not a how to per-se, this blog entry talks about one unfortunate website owner’s huge mistakes when it came to photographing their products.

Comment by bloggingzoom.com on

Boy, do I completely agree with you! My mom is a photographer, so I may have “above” average skills, I still fall far short when it comes to photographing my work. While I have not (yet) started selling my items, I definitely have ideas when it comes to how I would do it if that time ever presented itself. What many people / businesses don’t understand is that your site is a reflection of YOU and your business. It’s too bad that most don’t realize this until the negative image of them is already planted in the minds of their consumers… and is not easily washed away, even with a dramatic site makeover.

Comment by Angela Moore on

Hi Angela,

Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts on this topic.

I have seen so very many crafting websites where the crafter is selling their handmade items. Many could do with a good course on photography skills. (ME TOO! lol) but this went so far beyond proper lighting and composition mistakes.

Since many of the things they sell are breakable, I would also think prospective customers would question how much care would be taken when packing the items for shipping.

I hope this entry and your comment will help at least one crafter from making the same mistake on their site.



Comment by Crafty on

Me too! So often other crafting friends of mine have similar mistakes. They are in such a hurry to get their stuff online that they don’t take the time to do some basic research and find out how to do it right. Some of them have gone back and corrected their mistakes and their products tend to sell better after that!

Comment by Angela Moore on

Not a crafter, but I have noticed this same problem in websites in my niche. A picture says a thousand words.

Take lots of pictures. I took 173 photos one day and got one really good one I have on our homepage.

I’ve also noticed pictures taken indoors just don’t compare to pictures taken outside on a nice sunny day.

Comment by Doug on

173 pictures to get one usable one? Aren’t digital cameras the best thing ever? Don’t know what we all did before we had them.

A professional photographer I once spoke with said that days with a bit of haze or just after a rainstorm provide some of the best lighting – natural and limited shadows.

Thanks for stopping by and so glad to see someone outside of the crafting world finding one of my posts useful.

Comment by Michele on

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