Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evolution of a Light Box, Part One

Every Etsyian's secret desire (despite claims of caring less) is to make it to the front page.  To pull up Etsy and see something created by you, displayed for all must be an incredible feeling.  But the odds of that happening are slim and quite the topic of conversation in crafter circles.  Some claim only “Etsy Pets” get chosen, some claim that you have to know an Admin to have a chance, some think that it’s a select few that get chosen over and over leaving no chance for the rest of us.
I like to think it’s a bit simpler and less of a "mean girl" explanation.  Etsy has a style.  Etsy has a brand.  So anything going on the front page needs to fit and make sense with the already strong aesthetic.  You wouldn’t see an outfit from Forever XXI in the window of J. why should Etsy be any less particular about what they choose to be a visitor’s first impression of the site?  After all, it is that impression that brings back countless visitors who may end up patronizing your shop.  
My mom used to own a small kitchen store and deli.  She had two requirements for anything she would sell:  It had to be a quality product and it had to be packaged nicely.  The same goes for selling crafts online but instead of ribbons, cellophane and pretty boxes,  your photos are the only packaging you've got.   Taking original, beautiful photos of your items is not easy.  I have, by no means mastered it.  But I continue to evolve and thought I could chronicle my personal experience of endless attempts at front page worthy photos. 
First, there are two things that are necessary:  a camera with a macro setting and a light box.  I have learned that photos with the flash on never come out well.  I personally don’t have the luxury of taking photos in daylight because I have a job and I prefer not to stress myself out beyond belief on the weekends.  A light box was my solution.  I did a post on it a while back...there’s a You Tube link for the tutorial I used.  It's an extremely inexpensive solution as regular light boxes are pricey. 
I started out in the garage with some wrapping paper as a back drop.  I chose the orange and white polka dot because I thought the colors of the dolls would pop against it.  It worked for a while and I still smile when I see it...there was something amazing about getting my shop up and running.  I couldn’t help but feel productive and accomplished even though I didn’t sell anything for months!

I wasn’t smart enough to attach the paper to the wall.  So there were major wrinkles and creases that plagued every photo.  It was a pain as every time I moved an item, I had to smooth and re adjust the paper.

It also got very cold in the garage so the light box migrated into the craft room onto a small ikea desk.    The paper was pinned up which helped greatly with the wrinkles and instead of laying it onto the bottom surface, I covered the desk with scrapbook paper.  There was something about the combination that wasn’t right and I quickly realized a picture with a bright orange backdrop would never make it to the front page treasury.

One sunny spring day, I convinced Chad it was time to paint the craft room from it’s boring eggshell to something a little bit more modern.  I chose Polished Silver by Valspar and realized half way through the project my wrapping paper backdrop days were over.  And finally, my pictures started looking more in line with what one might see on Etsy’s front page.

After Merry Market, I had a boat load of new dolls to list on Etsy.  The lightbox had been disassembled at that point and moved to living room so I could work on market merch in front of the boob tube (QVC is the BEST background crafting distraction ever).  Our living room is an olive green (Witch Hazel from Behr) and that would not do for a backdrop.  So I reverted to wrapping paper....and have not been happy with the product since.  Although, Taco loved it.

I have been reading about photos on Etsy.  Please check below for links to some really good articles.  I think I want to accessorize the shoot a little bit more.  And as I’m planning to start selling my accessories on Etsy, I will need some props.  So the light box is back in the garage as the craft room is being converted to both a craft room and an extra bedroom (that’s a whole other post).  I have purchased a doll chair and love seat set.  It shipped today and with my new camera!! I’m looking forward to my shop looking a bit more front page worthy.

For more information on taking good Etsy worthy photos, check out the sources below:

Beginners Guide for Photos from the Etsy Blog:
Trouble Shooting Tips from an Etsy Admin:

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