Friday, July 10, 2009

Taking Etsy Photographs is Mentally and Physically Exhausting!

I spent about 9 or 10 hours yesterday taking photographs for my Etsy site. I have a bunch of new handknits that I want to list in time for fall, for example, this fair isle capelet:

I also wanted to redo some of the slightly out-of-focus photographs that I currently have on Etsy. This big photograph-taking day was planned for about a week and in preparation I had bought a tripod, white foam core, and a craft light. I had researched as much as possible about taking crisp, clear photos. I had also stripped, sanded, re-stained and varnished the wooden thing at the top of my dress form as that was pretty dented and scuffed from all the times I dropped it.

After dropping the kids off at camp I was ready. The light was perfect; bright but not sunny, and I had a full day to myself to indulge and experiment! I ran around; inside and out, upstairs and downstairs, setting up my backdrop, dress form, white foam core, tripod, and craft light in my yard, and brought up several big boxes of handknits from the basement. By the time everything was set up my heart was pumping and I was literally soaked with sweat.

I took about 150 + photos over the next hour or two, experimenting with locations, positions, EV shift and white balance. The phone rang about 6 times during my photo session, so that meant running indoors a lot, and I had one work call to deal with which took up about 10 minutes of my precious time. However, I was pleased and happy - the photos looked pretty good on the teeny digital camera screen and I felt sure they would look fantastic with some editing. So when the (darn) sun came out from behind a cloud, ruining the perfect light, I ran inside and downloaded my photos, expecting to see nothing but crisp, clear perfection.

But boy, was I disappointed. The majority of the photographs were worse than the ones I had taken without all these props. Some were actually hideous; all dark and fuzzy. I edited perhaps 10 photos worthy of listing out of that whole bunch, and those 10 were definitely no better than any of my older photographs.

By now Mr. Sun was fully out so I decided to take photos of my corsages indoors in my bright, yet not sunny dining room and spent the next half hour setting up in there, then another hour taking photos. Again though, the majority of my photographs were disappointing, although I did get a few that I liked after editing, for example, this one:

By now I had to leave to pick my kids up from camp. Back home after snacks. the kids were happily playing outside in the bright sunlight with super soakers, which keeps them busy for hours, so I decided to take photos of some of my new gloves indoors.... But first I had to scrub my nails, file the ragged edges, apply clear polish, shave my arms, and apply lotion and a little foundation to make them anywhere near decent.

I experimented until dinnertime with many different hand positions, some of which required a great deal of flexibility and dexterity. I used different backgrounds, and experimented with my tripod and camera self-timer, taking photos of both hands from above. I sat on the floor with my hands in the air. I stood with my hands twisted to the side in front of white foam core trying desperately not to knock it over for the 20th time. I tried different props, such as big earthy mugs, and cookies. I almost heated up some tomato soup to use as another 'winter is cozy when you have nice fingerless gloves' prop but was so exhausted at that point I just couldn't muster up the energy to hunt for the tin. I took about 400 photographs and was semi-pleased with only about 24 after editing. Here are a couple of photos that I ended up with:

So, after all that mental and physical exhaustion I still have only about 25% of the photographs I need to be ready for the fall (when people start to think about woolly things). Considering the fact that I'll be in Scotland for almost the entire month of August and have lots of day and weekend activities planned for the rest of July, I'm starting to panic slightly. Phew...... that's all I can say.


  1. First I should say in looking at your gallery that your images actually look really good to me!

    I SOOOOO feel your pain though! I seen this post on the Etsy forum and it was an instant click.

    I recently ordered one of those studio in a box things - my experience with that thing was just what you mentioned - better images without it.

    I am new to Etsy but I have to say the photo situation is giving me a run for my money!


  2. I totally sympathyse! It's really tough, especially when you're trying to catch that perfect lighting!!!

  3. I really love that green caplet!