Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How Things Look From Here

I've been working on re-doing some of my photos for JumpUp and Scatterbox Originals, because I know how important it is for online sellers to have good photography and for Etsy especially since a huge part of getting your work seen is having your items featured in treasuries that make the front page of Etsy and also getting chosen for the hallowed Etsy Finds emails. (I was once! I made a sale from it and got lots of views, it was lovely - I wish I'd had more listed at the time...that's something I'm still working on)

I love photography, and I considered it as a career when I was growing up although I didn't have a 'proper' camera but a basic old thing from my mum. I don't think my photos are to a professional standard, but I think my new digital camera is helping and I'm slowly learning new techniques. A lot of it seems to be in the 'staging' of photos - good use of props and backdrops.

For JumpUp, I had been using this blackboard as a backdrop:

(taken with my old camera, before it lost the ability to focus)

I really like the effect and the versatility. But then one day recently, I foolishly stood on my blackboard, which was lying on the floor after a photo shoot, me absent mindedly stepping across the room to get a pair of scissors. I put too much weight on it, and felt it buckle beneath my body. So it now has a dent the size of my foot (that would be a UK ladies size 7 to 8, USA size 10, European 41 - so a pretty big ungainly foot-sized dent!) at the side. It's still usable, but I decided to unscrew the two sides (it's an A-frame style / easel blackboard) and try to make use of the other side. The other side has a whiteboard for writing on with wipable pen, but the underside of *that* has this unusual mottled metal. I was going to try and get some blackboard paint and paint this non-dented half of the easel. But then I thought better of it...

I got the blackboard/whiteboard from my charity shop. Whoever owned it before me did a little doodle on the underside - I quite like it, so I've kept it in shot here. I think the mottled grey background works well for the photos - it gives a more natural colour and feels lighter. I still like the blackboard though, so I want to keep a mixture of the two backdrops.

It's very versatile to have the easel blackboard because I can doodle on it with chalk, use the mottled grey side for darker items that need a lighter background to show them off, and because of the height being right for setting up my little foldaway table in front, I can create little 'scenes' with various props, like the vintage skipping rope.
EDIT: it has been pointed out to me that the blackboard backdrop is a little dark and effects the exposure on my camera, causing pictures to be overexposed. I'm sad to say goodbye to the blackboard but I think I will try changing all my photos to the new approach now...what do you think? 

I think it's great that I can create these little scenes for my items even in my very unglamorous flat. Would you know the pictures above were taken in my bathroom? I suppose it helps living in an attic with a skylight in every room - I can chase the daylight!

I used the same board for a couple of new photos for Scatterbox Originals too, this time blu-tacking a sheet of graph paper to the board:

As you can see, I used that same spool of thread to show scale in the photo, and this time also my Pentel mechanical pencil which I use for some of my drawings.

I'm working hard on some new products for both shops. The new designs I mentioned for Scatterbox may have to partially go on hold for a while as I'm collaborating with a good friend who has kindly offered to do some screenprinting of my designs onto fabric for me, but she is swamped with work (quite understandably, she's a fab illustrator and crafty lady) so some of that new stuff is going on hold.

Anyway, I'm enjoying my new camera which was an early Christmas gift. Here's a few photos I took with it the evening after it had arrived, out of two of my skylight windows (closed and open)

There is still time for posting sales out in time for Christmas (just about time even to get things to the USA) so I am still hoping for sales to pick up. I have some new ideas for JumpUp which I hope to share with you soon, involving cotton versions of my wool purses and some variations on the theme of chunky embroidered stitched designs...

I'd love to hear your comments on my new photo set-up!

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