25 May 2009

Why won't you feature my goods?

That is the question I got asked this weekend by someone that makes the most beautiful items that I would love to feature if only the photographs of them weren't so awful. Don't worry the person in question won't be reading this and saying "Well bloody cheek why didn't she tell me that instead of making up excuses?" because I did tell them that. You see, I don't see the point in making excuses if the persons items really are feature worthy and it is just the photos letting them down. Yes, telling them may hurt their feelings for a little while, but isn't it better to know the truth? I think so. Then they can do something about it and increase their potential for free publicity and also increase the chances of people buying their goods.

The main things I see wrong with photographs that stop me using them on the blog are:-

1. Bad lighting - This ranges from over lit to under lit, from items washed out by flashes to items you can barely see because the photo is so dark.

Use natural light if possible, but if not, try using "day Light" bulbs directed at the item through a diffuser from both sides and above to try and cut out any ugly large shadows. Avoid using a flash at all times as unless you are a very skilled photographer this will normally flatten the image and wash out colours or cause deep ugly shadows. Make sure your lighting doesn't affect the colours of your piece. If it totally washes out one of the colours it won't give a true representation of what you are selling.

2. Badly staged - If you are going to stand your item on some fabric as a background, make sure it is crease free, lint free, stain free and not a colour/pattern that fights for the viewers attention more than the item for sale. If you are using paper of card the same thing goes. Think about how it will look in the photo. That pretty scrap booking paper may look lovely as an A4 sheet, but if you close up on a small amount of it, as background to earrings, does it just look like toilet tissue with stains on? If your item is very large and you stage it in a room or outside, be aware of the items in the background. Do you really want people to see your rubbish bin in the shot, or your knickers on the washing line.

Just take time to set up an interesting shot that shows off your item to it's best. Don't be afraid to try taking the picture at lots of different angles to see which is best for making the item pop from the background of the photograph. Find a lay out that suits your goods and your over all brand look and perfect the staging until the item you are selling jumps out of the photo at you, looking all stunningly amazing.

3. Fuzzy focus - Sharp focus is a must when trying to sell goods on-line. People want to be able to see clearly what they are getting if the purchase from you.

Most digital camera's have a macro or super macro setting. This is usually represented on the camera as a flower in a box. Using this will allow you to get much sharper close up photographs. Try it out and see the effect. Set up the same close up shot and take one with the setting on and one with it off. You'll be amazed at the difference in clarity.

4. Cut out photos - These are the photos where someone has taken a picture of an item, found that the back ground looks too dark or has something in it they dislike, so they try to cut the item out and place it on a clean white background. The reason I dislike this kind of photo is because unless you are a photoshop master with wild wizardry skills in photographic manipulation you will just end up with an item that doesn't sit within the photograph at all and looks very wierd as the light and shade of the item do not follow through into the background and they look utterly unworldly.

I would advise against doingcut outs as it takes much longer to do them, usually, than just setting up the shot again and retake the photograph with a better backdrop.

5. Badly framed/cropped - When taking the main photograph of the whole item you are selling make sure you get the whole item into shot. Don't accidentally cut off the edge of a the item. If you need the item's photo to be square for the site you sell on, make sure you leave enough space around the item in the shot, so when you crop the photograph to be square you can do so without losing part of the item.

It is fine to have close up shots of parts of your item but in at least one shot we want to see the whole item and it just doesn't do it for me if that shot has a bit clipped of. That to me just looks as if the person hasn't taken care when shooting the photographs.

I know it is hard to get it right and in all honesty I'm still working towards that perfect picture of my own goods, but some of the photos people submit to me asking to be featured are so awful I just have to turn them down, even if I know the goods they sell are stunning. That's the way it is with promoting people on-line. Even if I like their goods I won't put them on the blog unless I thinks the photos are good enough. Beautiful pictures is one of the things that keeps people coming back to the blog.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops


  1. Unfortunately you're totally right! I'd much rather be spending my spare time making furoshikis and accessories but appreciate that even tho fabric wrapping is a brilliant idea and the wraps and bags look great in real life (in my opinion :)) most people will only be able to judge on what they see in the photos. So I'm slaving away in the sunny garden trying to put all your tips into practice - it's a hard life!

  2. It's all so true! I spend more time trying to get photographs right then making stuff some days too! I think with digital cammera & software we all expect it to 'happen' 'instantly,'

    If it's any help.... I met a very prestigious wildlife photographer some years ago, he expected to get one good picture a week! At least we can pose our stuff & take that time to get it right and manage a better rate than that!

  3. Good natural daylight (and a couple of tweaks with exposure in Photoshop) help me! Great article.

  4. Great article!
    It was recommended to me to have my first photo be a cropped close up of part of the item. The ones I have done that with have either sold rather quickly or been hotlisted, or tweeted with nice comments.

  5. Great suggestion...unfortunately I knew then all before but for some reason I'm sorely lacking in the photography department...hard as I try...I'm lucky if I get any decent shots!!!!!!



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