A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Courtesy of Revel Delve

Wanna know the one thing I dread the most about being an Etsy shop owner?

Taking pictures of my items!

Really.

Words I can deal with.  Coming up with good tags, writing descriptions…I can do that.  Taking a good picture…that’s a skill I still struggle with.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come a long way.  At the risk of embarrassing myself, here’s one of my first item photos:

Bad…just bad, in so many ways!

 And here’s one of my more recent and favorite ones:

Sooo much better!

I’ve tried so many techniques…you’d laugh if you could see me trying to get set up for a shoot!  Like the times when I really want to take advantage of the natural light outside…I will never forget the time that I set up the frame for my picnic canopy in my driveway (no shade to block the light there), pinned my backdrop cloth to the upper supports, duct taped the fabric to the corner support poles (because the wind was making my background flap), weighted down the cardboard I was using as a surface on my little camp table (so that wouldn’t fly away, either), snapped a million pictures, and STILL had to do major editing when all was said and done, only to decided I really wasn’t thrilled with the outcome.  Uggh!

Anyway, the truth is, good pictures really DO make a difference in sales.  That mustache wallet has been my #1 best-selling item.

I’m still trying to find what works best for me, but everything I learn or try out comes from tips I’ve found on-line.

Handmadeology has a number of articles on photography tips.  Do a little searching around, and you’re sure to find some great ones, like how to make and use a light box, tips of photographing clothing, or how to take studio-quality photos right in your own home!  (Disclaimer…I’ve tried all of these tips with varying degrees of success.  Never quite as nice as the article suggests, but I’m thinking that’s mostly due to the fact that I am a lazy photographer and try to do things as quickly and easily as possible…guess I need to work on that!).

Good photo editing software is important, too.  Most photographers will tell you the BEST product out there is Photoshop, but, if you’re like me (and most of the people I know), that particular piece of software is well outside of my current photography budget!  Here are some free programs that I’ve worked with:

Picnik:  This on-line service is my all time favorites for ease of use and available tools, BUT, I’m so sad….they are closing down their site in a month!  😦

PicMonkey:  Brand-spankin’-new site, developed by some former Picnik designers.  While it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles (yet?), what it does offer is nearly identical to Picnik’s basic features, so it was an immediate favorite in my book.

FotoFuze:  Another on-line site that offers the convenience of pulling existing photos directly from your Etsy shop to work with.  It’s great if you’re trying to achieve that white or pale background look.

Gimp:  This is a free downloadable program that is supposed to be a decent (and did I mention FREE) substitute for Photoshop.  If you know your way around Photoshop, this program should be a breeze for you to master.  For the rest of us, the site offers tutorials and users guides.

Picasa:  This is another free downloadable program offered by Google.  It’s got all the basic editing features and connects with your Google account to easily upload your photos to the web.

First of all, let me just say, I’m not getting paid to promote any of these products.  Second of all, I can’t really recommend one over another because each one has different features about it that make it great.  My advice…play with all of them and choose the one you’re happiest with.

Oh, and if you already have a photo editing product that you absolutely love, will you share it?  I’m still looking for the perfect fit!  (Is there even such a thing?)

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

  1. I’m so sad about Picnik closing! I use Gimp, but it isn’t the most user friendly software, and I have a lot to learn. One day I’ll sit down and go through a tutorial. There are just so many features that are available, and its free.

    By the way, love how far you’ve come with you pictures. I don’t think enough sellers realize how absolutely important they are!

    Tiffany from Mom’s Daily Zen

    • Thanks Tiffany! I wish I could say that all of my recent photos are like the mustache wallet photo…can’t quite recapture that set up and lighting 😦

      I hear you about Gimp. I feel like I would probably love it if I could figure it out. Guess I’ll have to keep plugging away. Getting great photos really is a work in progress.

      Thanks for visiting!

  2. another great post malaika. thanks for the list of photo editing sites! i’ve been getting really nervous about how i was going to resize my photos after picnik closes. do you know if one out of the bunch can do that kind of easily? thanks again for all this info. oh and your mustache wallet is adorable!

    • Thanks Lisa!

      I know that PicMonkey has a resizing tools. I’ve also noticed that it automatically condenses my photo file when save it (5 MB might become 930 KB). It also has that same sliding scale feature that Picnik does when on the save page. I didn’t see that option in Picasa, (although I could be missing it), but I don’t know about the other ones.

      I really am sad to be losing Picnik….hope they expand PicMonkey to include some of the advanced tools like cloning, dodging, and burning…those are great for fixing booboos (like stray threads I didn’t notice needed trimming) without having to retake the entire shot.

  3. I can relate my photo skills are not that great when it comes to taking pictures of my items. Plus, I need a better camera. I am going to try those websites.

    • I feel like I’m always working on my photography…maybe it’s just one of those things! Keep trying. Even though I might not be totally satisfied yet, I am getting better, you will too!

  4. […] talked about PicMonkey before, but I bring it up again because this nifty little site is jumping right in and taking over that […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s