Sunday, September 12, 2010

Photographing the Angles

There's no way I'm going to try to give tips about taking good, professional photos for listing on Etsy or anywhere else. I can't tell a white balance from a light meter. But lately I've been noticing some rosary listings where it looks like someone took one photo and then cropped it differently to fill the five photo slots, or where multiple slots have been left empty. I think this is really wasting valuable opportunities, and I do have some ideas on how to change that.

It's easy to see how this is true with leaving slots empty. The problem with using only one basic photo and then cropping is that you're not showing customers anything new in the following pictures. They can see the details in the initial photo simply by zooming in on it; and, often enough, zooming in on the cropped photos just makes them pixellated. Jewelry sellers are often told to think of how a customer would look at a piece in person - picking it up, turning it over and around - and take photos that will show those customers the same thing by taking pictures from many different angles. This might not seem like a consideration for rosaries, but I think the same idea holds true there. If a customer were picking up your rosary in a store, what would they look at? Online you have the added advantage of being able to direct their views to what you want them to notice. Not that you won't show them everything, but you can emphasize what makes that rosary special.

So, for a quick trip through the angles I photograph most often:

First is an overall, horizontally-oriented view of the rosary. This may not end up in the first photo slot, but I try to photograph it as if it will: that is, so it will look good in both "gallery" and "list" views on Etsy. The reason for taking a horizontally-oriented shot, of course, is because gallery view is oriented that way. Following advice from the forum, I try to leave blank space at either end so that when the photo's cropped to a square for list view it'll still show the entire rosary. Sometimes I'm better at this than I am other times. Here are a couple of examples that came out pretty well, although I should have left a little more horizontal space on the ends:

The next thing I do, unless the center and cross are completely blank on their reverse sides, is flip the rosary over and take another shot of the full rosary. This one probably won't end up as the first photo, so you don't have to worry too much about what the thumbnail will look like. If you want to show a vertical view of the entire rosary, this is the place to do it.(In the first example shown, the backs of both cross and center are blank.):

After that, I turn on my macro (the only piece of technical advice I'll give) and start taking close-ups:.two of the stem, showing both sides of the center and cross (often even if the backs are completely blank) and one of part of the body of the rosary showing examples of the "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" beads. In the actual listing, these can be zoomed in on to show more detail than you see here:

That adds up to five views. Depending on your photography skills, you may want to take multiple photos for each view. I generally do 6 or 7 of each, meaning I take around 35 photos of each rosary. Out of those, usually at least one of each view will be good enough to use, although there are times I use only four pictures or even go back and reshoot because some are too blurry. 

I don't always follow this exactly. For example, if I'm using stones for the "Our Father" beads that look very different from each other - such as some kinds of jasper - I might take two close-ups of the body and only one of the stem, so I can show close-ups of all of those stones. Or, as in the example shown below of a set of lampwork beads that are all distinctly different from each other, it might be possible to show all of them in one shot. If a rosary has a special feature, you may want to show it from more than one angle, and drop out one of the other views.

The first photo taken doesn't have to be the first one shown. Quite often a shot of the entire rosary looks too generic, and one of the close-ups is a better choice. You can try different options and see which one best represents the look and feel of that particular rosary. Pay special attention to what a photo looks like as a thumbnail, since that's what needs to draw a customer to take a closer look.

And, yes, you'll find lots of examples in my shop where I haven't followed my own advice, either intentionally or unintentionally. As I said, I'm certainly no expert in photography. But I hope this has given some ideas on how to add more views to your listings, to better "show off" your rosaries to Etsy shoppers.

1 comment:

  1. Trudy thank you for sharing this with the team