Taking photos of your handmade goods | part three

I promised recently that my next post would be about taking photos of dangling items. Weird? Ok, maybe it’s a big weird. But there are good reasons to take photos of things as they dangle in the air. Good reasons, such as:

  • you can show how they hang – this is awesome for necklaces and earrings
  • it makes it quite easy to remove background distractions
  • the depth of these photos tends to make them more attractive than photos of items laying on a surface.

Actually, I don’t recommend these types of photos as your primary photos in your Etsy store, but Etsy lets you post LOTS of photos, and they’re good supplementary photos. Choose a light or dark background for your primary photo, then add some dangling ones for variety.

Bokeh. What is bokeh? Essentially it’s a fancy-dancy term that means that the subject of the photo is in focus and the background is out of focus. The reason this is so visually appealing is because this is how our eyes see things – we cannot focus on everything at once. Dangling photos are a great way to incorporate bokeh into your image – you cannot do this with an object that is laying flat against something.

How to do this?

First, find something to dangle from. I have an old childs’ chair that I use for this quite often, because it’s the right shape to hold up necklaces, and because it looks nice if it’s in the photo, for the most part. Will your photo include this object, or only the item you are photographing?

Choose your background. There’s not much point in doing this with a plain background. Christmas lights work GREAT – they like like dancing balls of light in the background, when done correctly. Other options: wallpaper, your livingroom, the outdoors, etc. Bad ideas: messy kitchen.

Place your subject and your camera. The background should be twice as far from the subject being photographed as you are.

Shooting on black - where to position subject, camera and backdrop

If you have a zoom lens, I suggest using it for this. Zoom in as much as possible, then back yourself up from there (you might have to reposition your subject). This should create nice bokeh!

Bokeh - how to take photos of handmade items

Some tips:

  • Be aware of what’s in the background of your photo. Is it too bright? Is there an item with a distracting colour back there? There’s nothing like a bright orange pylon to ruin an otherwise great photo.
  • Be careful about what you’re focusing on! You don’t want to accidentally focus on the background, and end up with a big, out of focus lump in the foreground.
  • It’s not a bad idea to put some extra light on your subject, but don’t use the flash on your camera – it will make the subject look really flat. Place a lamp just outside of frame, but be wary of the colour of the light – if you’re shooting with natural light, lamp light can make things look too orange!

– Jen McLeod, Concrete Oyster

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One Response to Taking photos of your handmade goods | part three

  1. Holliday Miller says:

    Some great tips here, thank you! I find myself struggling with all kinds of awkward light and background set-ups when trying to take photos.

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