Successful Etsy Sellers Share Their Beadwork Photography Tips

Oct 30, 2011

It took me a very long time to figure out how to take great photos of my beadwork and beaded jewelry, and I still find that sometimes I have days when my photos just don't come out right. My mother and her brother were both gifted photographers, so you might think that I inherited some of that talent, right? Wrong.

The fact is that if you want to sell your beadwork and finished beaded jewelry online, you have to be able to take great photos. When you are selling beaded jewelry online, customers customers can't pick it up and touch it - they have to rely on your photos to accurately depict the product that they are going to purchase. If your listing on Etsy has a great description but a fuzzy, dark photograph, So no pressure when it comes to taking pictures of your beaded jewelry, right?

But even if you are not a great photographer, there are still ways for you to take great pictures of your beadwork and beaded jewelry if you want to make money selling your jewelry online. Being able to take great photographs of your beadwork and beaded jewelry can also translate into success at having your work accepted into galleries and high-end juried craft shows as well, so understanding at least the basics of photography are a must.

My photographs were always dark and underlit before I did two things to improve them. The first was that I bought a digital camera with a macro function so that I could get better closeup pictures of my beadwork. Then I spent about fifty dollars and bought a tabletop photography studio which included a light box and two lights. After just a few sessions of playing around with my camera and my new light box, my photos showed a dramatic improvement!

If you're looking for helpful tips and advice for taking great photographs of your beadwork and beaded jewelry, I asked four successful Etsy sellers for their tips and advice about taking great photos for their online shops:


Carol Dean Sharpe of SandFibers recommends that you let your beadwork star in the shot. Don't use props that will distract from your work - you are taking a sales photograph, not an art photograph. She also recommends using a camera that has a macro function and get in close on your work.  At a show, a customer can pick up that bracelet, try it on, get a close look at it.  Your photographs have to approximate that experience as much as possible.






Lorelei Eurto, author of the upcoming Interweave book Bohemian Style Jewelry recommends using natural daylight as much as possible. She never photographs her jewelry in blaring sun to avoid shadows. She also uses the iPhoto program that came on her Mac to alter all of her photos, adjusting the light balance and resizing them.




Linda Roberts of Beads Forever on Etsy also recommends using natural indirect sunlight (never using a camera's flash) when taking pictures. Before you take the shot, look for those pesky shadows and reflections and move to avoid them. Learning about the variable light settings on her camera helped her tremendously, and to prevent shaking and blurry photos, she uses a tripod.

She also uses an artist's eye when looking through the camera to set up her shots. Linda says that your most important piece of equipment when taking good photos of beadwork is your camera - macro settings are a must! She also uses Photoshop to crop her pictures, to fine tune contrast and brightness, and to adjust the image size.





MaryLou Holvenstot of Time2Cre8 on Etsy also believes it's important to use an artist's eye when taking photographs.Try to show the piece from a few different angles and whenever possible, use models so the viewer can get an idea of how the piece would look when worn. With peyote bracelets and cuffs, she finds it much more appealing to photograph them as if they're being worn than just lying flat or folded.

MaryLou also recommends that you take more pictures than you think you need.  Sometimes moving the piece or the camera just a fraction of an inch will make a difference in the way the photograph looks, so try to take pictures in different light, with a variety of poses, and even in different vignettes.  It's much easier to delete pictures you don't like than to have to retake them because something just wasn't right.

For MaryLou, photo editing software is a must!  It allows you to correct color, remove spots or specks that might not have been visible to the naked eye, and to crop your photos so the jewelry's best features are highlighted.

Are you ready to take great photographs of your beaded jewelry and beadwork? Now you can pre-order your copy of The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos. Written by Australian crafter and professional photographer Heidi Adnum, this must-have reference will give you the basics of great photography while providing practical and specific photography advice for crafters who want to sell their finished work online. You'll find instructions for making your own low-cost light box, the proper way to use natural lighting, and how to take great closeup shots of your beaded jewelry that really capture all the detail of your beautiful beadwork. Pre-order your copy of The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos and get professional advice and helpful instruction to help you get the most out of your photos!

Do you have a tip for someone who struggles with taking great photos of their beaded jewelry and beadwork? Or maybe you have a problem taking photos that accurately represent your beautiful beadwork and beaded jewelry. Leave a comment with your advice and questions on the blog!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

 

 

 


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Comments

kghornsten wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 4:15 AM

When taking photos of my work the digital camera is loaded with many, many photos of each item. I try outdoors on dark and light surface, taking many photos there. Then I move my item inside and take as many photos under different situations there. With at least 10 choices and comparing I usually find five good ones. The digital camera is one of the greatest helpers in a craft business. Shoot many shots, and then some. Natural light changes quickly, even at your indoor window.

Junig wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 4:23 AM

Make a "Psych Wall" by propping up a piece of inexpensive poster paper used for kid's school projects.  It's heavier than card stock.  I paper clip it to a large size pizza box and then lean it against whatever's available on my shaded porch.  Lay your pieces in the middle so there is no distraction of background,  Take pictures in late afternoon away from direct sun but still in bright light.  After using macro and downloading pics to the computer, go to http://www.Picnik.com  to upload you best picture.  It will make magic especially as you get to know the site and its capabilities.  I am so pleased with their website that I bought a year's subscription.  Worth every penny.           June Lamson, Juni G Jewelry

MargaretOB wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 4:29 AM

I have been trying to figure out what camera and features I need to get photos of the artquilts I make, which need to include closeups of the details.  I also want to use the camera to incorporate photos in my art, whether of people or landscapes.  In the past, I scheduled a photographer for my quilts and jewelry, but it never fails that I finish a commission at midnight for delivery the next day, so I need the ability to do it myself.

There are so many cameras out there that it is confusing, but I have learned that you have to go and try them at the store.  Macro mode is essential, unless you have a camera with interchangeable lenses.  But all brands are not alike, so make sure you experiment in the store and see if it is too fuzzy in closeup.  I am still not decided on whether to get a high-end point and shoot type with macro mode, or go for the interchangeable lense type, which costs quite a bit more.  I'm not a photographer and would have a learning curve either way.

Any tips or advice?

NoraG@4 wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 4:56 AM

My pictures almost always turn out blurry...can't see the details of the piece I am trying to show. How do I deal with that?

Tracey@36 wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 4:59 AM

How do you fit the whole piece in when using the macro setting on your camera? I find I can't get a whole bracelet or watch for example in the photo when I use the macro setting, one or other end of the clasp is not in the photo.

njlevine wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 7:36 AM

Thank you for addressing the problem of photographing your project. I've been trying to learn how to use my point and shoot Nikon CoolPix digital camera for the past few months. My photography got better in a dramatic way after I took a photography class at Bead Fest run by Jim Lawson, a professional jewelry photographer. He has a website that's worth checking out. I also endorse finding and activating the macro function on your camera, using natural light and turning off your flash, and getting as close to the jewelry as possible (use your zoom device). If your camera lets you, go to the EV setting (it allows you to adjust light for individual shots). There's a great website I found that shows you how to do that, and much more:

www.tabletopstudio.com/TTS_Product_Photography_Tips.html

And finally if you use a tripod (and you should get the best that you can afford), use the self timer, set to five or ten seconds, so that you can focus and then step away from the camera and tripod. Hope this helps. All my first pictures were blurry, alas. But I've saved them in my iPhoto site that came with my Mac, so that I can compare them to my present photos. It's a boost to the ego, when I'm feeling that I'm making no progress.

Lody wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 11:18 AM

Great article! These are much needed tips for me as I always struggle to take great jewelry pictures.

WIlaker wrote
on Oct 31, 2011 6:07 PM

Hi All! I am trying to find what is used for the beautiful gray/black backgrounds in many books :/ I saw a kit online once called Black Ice (see link), but it's kind of pricey and there must be a no-brainer solution.store.tabletopstudio-store.com/enlarge.html. Thanks!!!

JonniVA wrote
on Nov 6, 2011 12:10 PM

These are great comments. I would add that it is important to pay attention to the lens f-stop if you are buying a camera. The smaller the number, the more light comes through the lens. Telephoto lenses typically have a larger number, making it more difficult to get a fully lit image. But it depends on the diameter of the lens. So, if you have a telephoto lens, the physics may work against you. And of course, telephoto is how you get magnification for closeup shots. Macro is a function that lets you actually get close to the subject - and still be able to focus. It doesn't rely on magnification.

While bigger lenses are harder to carry around, remember the objective - good closeup pics using a tripod. Portable isn't an important feature.

Here are two great articles (and overall great resources for finding a camera that meets your needs)

Digital camera review Macro: www.digitalcamerareview.com/default.asp

DP review Macro: www.dpreview.com/learn

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