Saturday, 16 February 2013

Business Tips - Part Four - Photographs

Welcome to Part Four in a series of business tips.

These weeks are flying by.  I cannot believe that we are at week four already with these business tips.

This week is going to focus on photographs.

This was one of the products I made as part of The Design Team Challenge run by The Sewing Boutique

 How do you take photographs of your work?

If you can get a professional photographer to take some snaps for you then that’s great as it is obviously the best way of showing off your work but if you don’t know who to use or if you are like me and cannot afford to employ one right now then you can take perfectly acceptable photographs at home using a basic camera.

All too very often, as often as on a daily basis I come across really bad photographs, in particular on Facebook pages.  A Facebook business page, website, other selling platforms etc is for advertising and selling your things.  It makes me wonder whether people deliberately take bad photographs to hide the fact they have made something quite naff but think if they take an equally naff photograph potential customers won’t notice!  On the other hand you may have the perfect product where lots of love, care and effort has gone into making something but I’m not going to realise that or buy it or look at anything else on your page because the only photograph I have seen is particularly awful.  It comes back to last weeks business tips regarding branding.  You need to set a style and make people want to look further.

You need to approach how you show your potential customers your items in a different way than you would in a shop.  You will know yourself that when you go into a shop and you spot something you like the look of you can usually go right up to it, touch it, get to feel the textures, turn it over to see all sides, smell it and just generally enjoy the experience of picking up something rather lovely.  It could make you fall in love with an item and make you want to buy it which may not have been your initial intention when you first picked it up.  A potential customer cannot do any of these things looking online, especially when seeing many photographs which look a little bit like this: -

Blurry, out of focus photographs taken in a rush.  The lighting is not great.  The background is not right and you can glimpse something else in the photograph which shouldn't be there.  

I see them taken in bad lighting, perhaps because someone is too eager to take a photograph because they have finished an exciting project at ten o’clock at night and just HAVE to take the photo then.  I see photographs that have been taken in the middle of carpets which I particularly dislike, especially if someone hasn’t even bothered to vacuum first!!!  I see photographs of items on laps, feet, arms and other body parts getting into the photo.  Why would your potential customer want to look at your page/website if your photographs do not do your work justice?

Be proud of your product.  Believe in your product and show it off to its best potential by taking a decent photograph.  As well as taking full product photographs, take close ups so potential customers can see the texture of the fabrics you use and so they can see the quality of the buttons etc. 

 Why the rush to take photographs?  If you are eager to try and get a sale then I’m sorry but you’re going to be more likely to grab that sale if you wait until the morning in natural light and set a scene for your product.  Trust me – it makes all the difference.

And guess what?  You don’t have to know much about photography at all.  You can use a basic camera – in fact, a lot of my photographs are taken on my phone!  It’s not about having to make them look too professional, it’s about producing in focus photographs taken in good light and having a little think about props.  Your carpet is NOT your only prop!

Yesterday I took this photograph.

Look ok?  It's a clear photograph, its nice and bright, you can see everything you should be seeing and there are no body parts or carpet getting in on the action. 

Want to know how I did it?

Have a look at this…

It’s nothing special and certainly not professional but it makes a photograph look acceptable.  It has been taken in my living room.  There is a large window to the right which is out of sight in the photo but that’s what gives me the natural light.  Late morning/early afternoon is usually best for this.  I have used a dark coloured storage box for the background to ensure that when I take the photograph I don’t have any of my living room wall or DVD collection in the background!  Customers are not interested in seeing what’s in my DVD collection; they want to know what I am selling! 

I have used a wicker hamper to display my products in.  If I only used the hamper and the box and took the photograph, there is a good chance I would have had a shot with my carpet in.  Remember what I said about carpets?  So, what I did was frame the hamper with a few more props just to hide any carpet – I used a couple of lovely tins I have kept from a recent purchase of cake and biscuits and some jars of buttons.  You don’t see too much of these in the finished photograph but a little bit of something pretty is a damn sight nicer than carpet!  You could use spools of ribbon, jugs of flowers, candles or simply place your product on a nice piece of ironed fabric.

I don’t use any fancy functions on the camera.  I usually turn the flash off as the natural light will do the work for you and I use the zoom function to get the focus just right. 

TIP – DO NOT take just one photograph.  You will be amazed how different a photo can look after taking it several times.  I usually take at least 5 photographs of each product.  I pick the best and delete the rest, but I only do this after viewing them on the PC.  Choosing the best one on the camera screen is not the thing to do, you cannot see everything as clearly and you will spot far more imperfections on the PC.

Once I have loaded them on the PC, if there is anything I think isn’t quite right, I will open up the photograph in Microsoft Office Picture Manager.  This will allow me to adjust the light and more importantly crop out any corners that don’t look right.  Have a play on an old photograph and see what you can do.

You may then think you want to have a bit more fun playing with photos and want to have a go at something like this: -

You get to place all of your lovely photographs together so a potential customer can see the different angles and close ups at once.  

All I have done to create this photograph is opened up a new document in Microsoft Powerpoint.  I have dragged the photographs into the document, resized them and placed them where I think they look best.  The best thing about doing this with your photographs is that you can also watermark them by inserting a text box.  Remember to save the document as a picture file (jpeg).


Have fun playing and remember, you don’t need to rush your photographs.  Your potential customers are going to have a much more enjoyable experience looking at well thought out photographs of gorgeous items that may otherwise have looked dull and of nothing exciting.

I will look forward to hearing how you get on.

Coming Up Next Week

Part Five

Craft fairs
What you need, how to set up, do’s and don’ts


  1. Brilliant! I make bears and am definitely going to experiment with some props in pics! Looking forward to next week!

  2. Another great blog! I use to create the picture collages and that is also very easy to use :) x

  3. Another fab tutorial Emma.... Thank you.
    I always strive to get the best photos & luckily have a half decent digital camera. Funnily enough - I have the very same storage box which always works well as a background...
    Musy on facebook is also great for getting pre-made backgrounds, fonts & colours to add your photos too. I choose my template, upload my pics then copy the screen buy pressing the 'PrtScSysRq' button on the top row of my keyboard. This takes a copy of the page which can them be pasted into 'paint'. It can be edited, saved & used to display/advertise your goods.......
    Jo. xx

  4. Thanks for the tutorial, I am going to experiment more tomorrow. I use Be Funky to 'doctor' the shots a little and then go onto Pic Monkey to create any collages. However my SD card has just been totally wiped out by my PC so the photos for my blog today have 'ceased to be'. Thanks again and have a great weekend. Chel

    1. Tip- If you've not used your sd card too much since being wiped, you should be able to recover the data. Simply Google free sd card recovery or free data recovery software. Download, install, run it, scan your sd or data drive of choice.



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