Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Artistic" Photos?

I've been reading a fun blog lately by FlyingButtons Here she talks a few times about the importance of lighting and staging listing photos in order to convey the feeling that you want your listing to portray.

I'm still having a hard time just wrapping my head around the whole "artist" title, since I've never really made anything "artistic" until my recent (1.5 years) period of jewelry making. I have yet to call myself an "artist". But, I do spend an awful lot of time dreaming up ideas for my jewelry and even more time creating it. Admittedly, I am consumed and passionate about my "artistic" hobby. And it is not a cheap venture, so I need to sell my "art" in order to afford to make more. That's the practical, business major, former Realtor side of me. But then again, I do get warm fuzzies knowing that there are people out there wearing my jewelry and enjoying the way it makes them feel. Oh, I'm so conflicted!

Anyway, back to the photos... artistic photos... I went on a mission today to find props for my photos. I was going to take pictures of a bird nest pendant to be highlighted in my breast cancer awareness fundraiser collection. I wanted something pink for breast cancer identity, something earthy to coordinate with the bird nest, something soft looking for love and caring feelings. I found items in a scrapbooking dept at a craft store. Green leaves, pink rose petals, shimmery pink petals, pink paper, sheer hearts. All that for a tiny little photo! The props get so muted that they don't really show as anything defined, but I think they do add a certain fresh "feeling" to the photo. This took my afternoon, mind you. Time is valuable, too, isn't it?

I have to wonder how much effect a "great" photo vs. a "good" photo has on a person's buying decision. The other night, I listed a pair of earrings with what I thought were quite good photos. Once they were in etsy however, they looked darker than they had on my computer while I was editing them. So, a few hours after I listed it, I lightened all of my pictures and re-entered them. In the middle of that process I got a convo from a buyer, saying she was trying to purchase the earrings but she got an error message saying that the listing was no longer available (it was because I was editing the listing). She assumed they had already sold and she wanted me to make another pair. But - she was buying them while looking at the too dark, original photos! Flyingbuttons' blog posts regarding photos are geared towards getting into a treasury, but ultimately, that boils down to being seen by buyers and being enticing enough to keep looking at the item in the photo and hopefully moving deeper to look at your entire shop; then to actually purchase an item!

So my question is, with 40,000+ jewelry listings on, does a great photo make enough of a difference versus a just a good photo?


  1. Hey Sandy,

    Well, I definitely think the background you selected for birds nest pendant is perfect! Why? Because it is subtle enough to not distract from the pendant, yet the colors compliment the pendant and add interest.

    Yes, I do think photos make a difference. I've been told that and I struggle with getting the right shots, clarity, focus. I know that if I visit someones Etsy shop and the photos aren't consistent or are out of focus, well, I'll just pass them up.

    I think you help your chances of making a sale with great photos.

    Thanks for sharing the information.


  2. Hi Kathleen,
    I agree that a good photo will help sell an item.

    Hope you can clarify what you meant by "consistent" photos. Do you mean having the same feel throughout the website or throughout each listing? Do you think it's important for the backround to be the same in each shot within a particular listing? I'm struggling with this because I have a hard time leaning my items/laying flat/hanging and can't always use the best backround for everything.

    I do feel as though I should go back through my early listings and retake a bunch of pictures - some are pretty bad. TIme is the real problem with doing that - and I absolutely hate to re-do anything!

  3. Hi Sandy,

    On the consistent photo comment, I'm repeating feedback I have received from the jurying process. I was told that it makes a better impression if all of my photos have the same background. As a result, my husband purchased one of those gray gradient backgrounds and we use that for photos of my work on our website.

    For my Esty store, I felt I could take the liberty of being a little more 'artistic' and I chose combinations of rocks with a light linen foreground.

    I can appreciate your dilemma, because I do think that different styles of backgrounds actually do a nicer job of showing off your various works. Guess I've gone full circle. :\

    My only recommendation would be if you are approaching a gallery or entering juried shows, then use the same background for all of your photos. I've read too much about that being important.

    For Etsy, I think it is worthwhile to experiment with your backgrounds and see what works the best. In the Etsy forums, there are people willing to do critiques on your shop...that may be another avenue for feedback about your Etsy store/photos.

  4. Oh, as you probably have seen, I do mix backgrounds in the shots of any given item in my Etsy store. I try to keep the main photo the one with rocks, but if a solid black or gray background helps, then I add that to the 5 photos of one piece. I like the different views against the rocks, but will usually thrown in one with the solid black or gray.

    I agree with you, I don't like re-doing things either and time is always a factor.

  5. Thank you for your input, Kathleen! I do appriciate your thoughts and advice. I'm not at the stage of juried shows or galleries yet. Still just getting my feet wet. Maybe someday :).