Sunday 22 April 2012

Etsy Seller Tips: Photographs (artwork)

   So you've sorted out your titles and your tags. Well done. Now you want to look at your photos. While titles and tags are straight forward for all art and product types, pictures are not. For small things you want to get up close with minimal distractions, which is easier in a smaller space, but for large items you want the same thing, which is harder when there's more room for something distracting to pop up. It's quite difficult to get it right, especially if you're selling larger things, since Etsy's full of little things and there's not as much space to find inspiration.
   Hopefully, this will help. Again, I thank all of my volunteers.

Covered in this post:
•Cropping thumbnails
•White backgrounds
•Photographing artwork - prints and 3D

   First we'll take a look at art. Now, there are different types, so I'm going to focus on art art for now - prints, paintings and photographs. 3D art will be visted later on.

   I'm going to use MixxCreations as my first example for Art. Art is a difficult one to photograph, especially if you're selling prints, because you likely have the digital version of the picture on your PC already, and it's mighty inviting to use that instead. The problem there is that you're not showing how the item actually prints; whether the colours are weaker in print than they are on the screen, or any texture the paper may have, or how it looks framed. It might seem silly to do to some people, but I'm far more drawn to prints if the picture shows the item itself, rather than the image.
   MixxCreations' work is hard to work with here, but I'll give it my best shot. Due to the artwork's unique nature, it's difficult to see by the thumbnail if it's been cropped in an awkward place or not, and thumbnails are extremely important. It's the first thing people will see of your listing. I was included in an Etsy Labs video one night, and they mentioned that my fabric spoons were cropped, as was my anniversary vial. They then went on to explain the difference between intentional and accidental cropping. The vial had been cropped while I was photographing it, so I was able to keep all the details I wanted without having to zoom out. This also meant that my thumbnail didn't suffer. My spoons, however, were photographed whole and cropped to a square, which meant the ends of the spoons disappeared in the thumbnail.
   Going back to MixxCreations, because the artwork is so unique and difficult to decipher at first glance, the cropping in this case doesn't cause too much damage. If anyone is interested in these specific pieces, they will click the item based on what they've already seen. But it is still a relevant point. In the case of the below image, it is set at about 570 x 888 pixels. This is quite long and narrow. Thumbnails are always slightly rectangular and landscape-orientated. Which means this:

   My paint skills are awesome. Basically what I'm trying to show you is that the image on the right is the image of the item you're buying (but in digital form) and the image on the left is all you see in the thumbnail. It may not be quite as damaging in this piece, but this is very relevant for jewellery and ornaments, and, well, everything else. The thumbnail is the first thing you see, and if too much is cropped off, it can be damaging and you can lose a lot of views that way, and people need to see the item if they're going to buy it. A way around this is to either decrease the length, or increase the width - again, in this case it's not so simple, but if it were a picture of the actual piece, there would be more room to crop and expand. I do it to several of my own pictures if they end up too narrow one way or the other.

   I can obviously see the appeal for using the picture itself in place of the picture of the product - it's clear, and all the detail of the picture is right ther, but it does pose several problems. In this case, someone could easily come along and steal the image and print it themselves in whatever size or style they want, which is why I added a "watermark" (read: scribble) to the larger image. But it also means that no one knows exactly what it is they'd be buying, and sometimes it can be an expensive guess.
   MixxCreations has one item in her shop that features the print framed, which is also something to look at.

   The problem here is what obviously makes using digital pictures more appealing. There is a slight reflection on the glass - though certainly nothing I immediately noticed - but the item is suffering from barrel distortion, probably because the photograph was taken too close for its size. The light isn't quite crisp enough and the wooden panel the picture is stood on takes away from the frame a little - and in this case, the frame comes with the print.
   Other than that, it's clear to see what it is that you're buying, and isn't a bad photograph. However, in the interest of comparison, I'll also show some images from another volunteer, WhitSpeaks. These pictures are, in my opinion, almost perfect. The pictures of canvasses are perhaps a little close, and the white's aren't quite crisp enough, but each image is clear and artistically and minimally displayed.

   Now onto 3D art. Things that don't go on walls. The products from PioneerArtisanworks are wonderful, but the photographs really let the items down. Wonderful metal flowers, they're certainly unique, but the photographs don't show the items that well for several reasons. I've chosen the Classic Red Rose as my example here.

   As you can see, all you're shown is the flower. I believe it does have a stem, and while all the available picture slots have been used to show tools and packaging, there are no secondary pictures of the product. On one hand, the flower is the most important part, but it's also nice to know if the stem has thorns, if it's perfectly straight or more naturally crooked, if it's thick or thin, and also nice to know how the bottom of the flower is shaped and if there's any sort of welding or wrapping marks.
   Secondly, the picture has a lot to be distracted by. I want to know what is in the background, whether or not it is a chair, but whether it is or not is not what I should be paying attention to. The black also compromises any romantic effect that the rose could have insinuated beyond the "red rose" factor, and just takes away from the product in general. I personally would photograph the rose stood in a vase or laying across a pale coloured piano, as suggested, but as it is, the picture could damage any sales.
   I used to photograph my pieces in my room on my bed cover. It never did me any favours, so I tried the white background. I know what you're thinking, but there is a good reason to use white backgrounds! They remove distractions, they keep the colours looking fresh and crisp, and when the thumbnail is viewed it's easier and quicker to distinguish what you're looking at.

To recap:
• White backgrounds remove anything that can distract the viewer and can make colours more crisp. It also makes it easier and quicker to distinguish the item in thumbnails.
• Thumbnails are cropped according to the dimensions of the cover image. The longer the image, the more likely the thumbnail is to be cropped and remove important features - you'd be surprised how important edges can be.
• Using all the available picture slots can help to show angles of items not visible in the cover image, as well as the work process and packaging.
• Don't take pictures too close to prints or canvasses or barrel distortion can occur. Try and take a step or two back and adjust the zoom as you'd like.

Disclaimer: All photos belong to the individuals mentioned and may not be used without their permission. I also cannot guarantee that you'll get a dramatic increase in views and sales by following these posts, they are merely advice and suggestions. If it doesn't work for you, it isn't my fault. Try other ways of making things work.

1 comment:

  1. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of post. I am glad that you simply shared with us. Thanks!


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