Before I start this post, can I just say I am a photography idiot. I’ve never taken a class, and by my brother’s standards (a true professional) the lenses I have are crap. Those are his exact words. (My lenses cost $150, his cost $2,000.) He does plenty of photo shoots for me and family as well. Click here or here.
I own a Nikon D40. They don’t even make that camera anymore, but I’m sure there is a low-end equivalent SLR that kenrockwell would recommend. Ken is the one who recommended the Nikon D40 and is the reason I bought mine. I’ve loved mine for 3 years now. Here I am loving my camera a few months ago on Ala Moana beach on Oahu, Hawaii. I didn’t go too deep in the water to take photos of my kids because I was afraid I’d fall and ruin it. Or that my youngest who is always hanging on me, would splash me. (See next photo)
Here I am snapping away at Pearl Harbor. My D40 goes everywhere with me. (Notice my 7-yr old pokin and proddin me!)
Now having said that I am a photography idiot, I do make a nice chunk o’change each month selling items on etsy and my own website that I photograph myself. (More on my etsy sales in a minute.) All that I have learned I’ve learned from my dad (a photography hobbyist), my pro bro, and websites that feature tutorials like iheartfaces and pioneer woman and kenrockwell. There is a lot of great info on those websites—spend some time on them and you’ll learn lots.
Also, you gotta learn to use Photoshop to touch up your photos. I only have the dummied down version of Photoshop, called Photoshop Elements, which is about $79 buck-a-roos at Costco. I learned lots about Photoshop just by going to YouTube and searching “Photoshop Elements tutorials”.
Here are some examples from a pillow I just made this week: I used my newest design called Wedding Diamonds applique for the embroidery portion. This pillow will be for a happy couple that I’ve never met. More specificially, it is for my husband’s co-worker’s daughter. I hope they love it!
Anyway, the following photo was taken with the same lens the camera came with (18-55mm) with a bounce flash, it is straight out of the camera, no editing. (The benefits of bounce flash vs. regular pop-up flashes can be found here.)
It’s not too bad, but It still needed more light. So in Photoshop I brightened it and added a little bit more contrast. That’s it—maybe 30 seconds of work. Ready for the web. (Oh and I always add a watermark because I’ve run across my photos splattered on others’ blogs, facebook pages, and websites. (Which is ok if they ask my permission, but I just want others to know that this ain’t their work—it’s mine.)
My favorite way to photograph when I want my light natural-looking is to use my 35mm fixed lens without any flash. I love how I can get great macro (close-ups) shots with it, like this photo below. You can see every tiny details—including the threads I still need to clip!
The editing on the above photo is pretty simple—brighten a bit and saturate colors. I love the soft shadows on the left hand side of the bean bags. You can tell the light source (a giant window) is coming from the right. Photo details: aperture f/2.5 (that’s what is makes all nice and blurry everywhere but where I am focusing), ISO 200, shutter speed 1/60.
I really think if you are going to sell items on a website you MUST take great close ups because your customer wants to (and needs to) see the quality of your work.
In this photo I want my customer to see how awesome my invisible zippers are installed:
In this photo I want my embroidery customer to see the detail of my embroidered designs. I want her to see the nice thick backstitching I used to design my Spirograph Daisy applique. It’s all in the details.
When I first started selling on etsy, the first 8 months or so, I took photos like this:
I am nearly embarrassed to post the above photo. It’s foggy and dull. Who would buy that purse? It’s a terrible photo. But miracle of miracles, I was grossing around $800 a month on etsy. I bought my Nikon D40 in April of 2008 and my sales doubled to $1600 the very next month. IN JUST ONE MONTH! Because of my photos! No other changes!
So does your camera and skill level make a difference? You bet. Just look at the this photo:
It doesn’t matter how well you sew or how gorgeous your embroidery work is. If you have crap photos, you’ll have crap sales. Invest some money and photography know how in your business, and you’ll be a success. I am proof of that. I am really proud of the success I’ve had in my business. First and foremost, I work my fingers to the bone. I’ll get up at 4am to sew. And for my embroidery designs I spend hours designing on the computer, then more time stitching out samples, and finally, a good amount of time photographing my work. Running your own business is not a an easy thing. But hard work always pays off.