A few snapshots...

I was at a networking meeting recently, and while everyone oohed and aahed at my photographs displayed on my portable digital frame, my closest seated networking mate (we'll name her 'B') looked at the photos in question and started with:

B: "What kind of lighting do you use for your photographs?"
Me: "I actually invested in a lightbox and a few lamps, so that I could photograph my pieces at their best. Why do you ask?"
B: "Well, I'm noticing here that the photographs are quite dark, and you've got quite a lot of unsightly sharp shadows" (points to this photo)

Now, granted, I am NOT a professional photographer, but after being told by a lot people that my photos were indeed good and 'professional looking', I immediately felt self-conscious and thought to myself "well, she's been in X business for X amount of years, perhaps she knows what she's talking about..."

So, the conversation ensues:
B: "You should really consider getting a really good photographer to do your photos. Someone who has the proper tools to really show your pieces at their best value. These sort of just look like snapshots."
Me: (as I run through my head all the time and effort I actually put in photographing my pieces) "Well, it's known that beads are one of the toughest subjects to photograph. Can you recommend anyone in the Niagara region?"
B: "Oh no, you'd have to go see a good photographer in Toronto."
Me: "I see."

I didn't know what else to say, so I just sat there quietly, until I could find another conversation around the table to jump into. I wasn't trying to be rude, I just honestly didn't know how to reply to her. Meanwhile, my brain is jumping all over the place... "Are my photos that bad?", "Do my photos make me look unprofessional?", "And aren't there any *good* photographers in Niagara?"... And then my ears perked up, as I heard the person who currently had my frame in hand say "oh, this is absolutely gorgeous. Jewels! How much is THIS piece?"

Me: "It's $200"
Her: "Ooh, I can afford that! I'm going to get it for myself!"
Me: "Awesome! I'll make sure to set it aside for you!" *beaming smile*

So, there I was, sitting on the fence. On the one hand, thinking that, ok, maybe my photography needs improving. On the other, thinking that, clearly, it couldn't be that bad if someone was ready to purchase a $200 piece just from seeing it on a 3.5" portable digital screen. Right?

*** Side note: I LOVE my little digital screen. Especially as a jewelery designer. I've always encountered people asking if they could see a sample of my work. Now I can just whip out my little frame and show them a few pieces at the touch of a finger. The frame itself will hold 48 photos in its internal memory, but countless photos if you put them on a memory card.***

Therefore, the goal of this post is to garner your opinions, dear readers. I can be quite thin skinned and sensitive when it comes to my creativity and creations. Photography included. I do put a lot of effort into photographing my jewelry, coming up with the right setting and composition; sometimes taking over 12 shots of one item in order to get just the right one. I then spend hours in Photoshop editing, cropping, brightening, sharpening, resizing and so on. Yes, there's a LOT involved in creating the right shot.

Berry Pearl Cubes, dangle earrings

This was indeed a 'snapshot'. A self-portrait of sorts, just aim and shoot.
An effort to try and show how the earrings look worn.

Embelished Peacock pearl blossom

Quadra Bead pendant.
(this one seems a bit dark, but I'm not certain it isn't just because of the beads' colors or my computer screen. I am certainly pleased at the detailing...)

Red Dagger Totem earrings.

Latest Hoop-Là bangle and earring sets.

I recognize that not all computer screens are not created equal. I myself am currently making due with an old 'tube' screen, as our beautiful LCD flat screen has gone and died on us. I usually try to look at my photos from multiple screens to see if I've done a good job at relaying the true colors of the pieces (usually turns out good). So, what I'd like to ask you now is to give me an honest and true critique. Anything and everything you think I need to do to improve, whether displaying, cropping, staging, I want it it all! It will be greatly appreciated, and hopefully, this exercise will help me grow in the right direction.

Now go on and give it to me. I just finished zipping my thick skin suit on. I'm ready!




When we're in business, we have to be very careful about taking criticism (in this case it wasn't critique!) and NOT take it personally. In my opinion, you have nothing to worry about! Best to you!
Jewels said…
Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and for your comment CHC. Although it did feel like it came across that way, it still stung, and burrowed under the skin a bit. Thank you for the vote of confidence. :)
Jodi said…
Okay, I think the photos of the pieces themselves are good, detail is there, color is there. So, that said, this is not a criticism, it is an observation. I think the gray background on some items, takes away from the item itself, kind of dulls it. maybe something a little brighter a creme or white background in some instances. (my photos are not the greatest either, but I do what I can) I have a tendency to use the same background consistently, only because it seems to have worked out the best for me. But that doesnt mean I shouldn't change it up once in a while, lol Overall, photos are good, the whole point is to be able to clearly see what the piece looks like, and you have done that. I know photography is a big part of selling your wares, but I feel as long as the customer can clearly see the item, it should still work to sell it.

Just my opinion, hope it helps.—Tubby
Tubby Tabby's Jewelbox
Jewels said…
Jodi, you're right. I do tend to keep the same background, thinking that it keeps the shop looking consistent, but I really should try different backgrounds with some pieces. Probably would make them 'pop' out a bit more, right? That's why I've been playing around with props and composition too, to see if I can make it a tad more visually interesting for the viewer.

It is indeed a constant work in progress. Hopefully, we'll all get the formula that works for us, eh?

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post.
Michele said…
Hello there! I follow you on Twitter.
I like the photos. I really like the one of the earrings hanging - a prop I think you should run with!
And it is hard to hear criticism of something you have worked so hard on and put so much into, but seriously, really don't think you need to worry!
~Michele from By Your Side
ps signed up to "follow" your blog!
Jewels said…
Hello Michelle!
Thank you, I always like to show the earrings in different 'modes', hanging for wear, laying flat for detail. It's all trial and error, right?

Stopping with the worry now. ;) But really, it wasn't so much worry as much as temporary self-doubt. It happens... I guess.
Jax said…
As I was reading this, I really thought she was going to say well I am (or someone close to her) a professional photographer, here's my (their) card. But anyway, I think your photos look good. They are clear and the colors look true. I think that is the most important part when it comes to photographing beadwork.
Jewels said…
You know what Jax? I thought the exact same thing, that's why I gave her that open "Do you know anybody?" After reading all these, I'm wondering if she just wasn't the type of person who likes to cut down for the sake of cutting down... Either way, I think I handled myself accordingly, and kept smiling in the face of adversity. But I still wanted to get some critiques, and I'm happy I did, because I'll now be working that much harder at improving my shots, and the harder I work at it, the better they'll be. Right? ;)

Thanks for commenting!
jin said…
I too expected her to say she knew a jewelry photog. When she didn't, I decided (jinmediately! ;-) that she was jealous of your beading talent. Maybe the photos aren't as perfect as if you spent a bundle on a pro photog, but from your photos, one can tell that your pieces are[perfect].

Sorry I didn't reply to your DM... it never came through my cell. Damn & I could have used a chat as well! You & I... as always exact same rollercoaster... funny you should post this when you did, I've a lil similar story that won't be going on my blog. The other night I finish up a GR8 cake, done to the customers specs to a t. I knew she'd be THRILLED! I was quite pleased as well, even though it was faaaaar from my personal taste (rather- I'd never order a cake like that myjinself). My beau comes to take a look & has a horrified look upon his face & the single critique he vocalized was merely a suggestion to start all over again. Like you... I took it waaaay too much to heart & looked at my creation in a whole new light (while not sleeping ALL night). Morning came & half a dozen peeps later OOH-ing & AHH-ing over my "how did you do that" creation brought me back to reality thinking, "If you feel it is well done, never let one naysayer bring you down or cause you to doubt yourself."
BeadKnitter said…
Your photos look great. However, I have to agree that using the dark gray background takes away from the pieces, or dulls them.

I like to use scrapbooking paper for backgrounds. I've got quite a collection of papers with small prints, or textures, in muted colors like beige, tan, cream, greys, browns, and whatnot. I have colored ones too that I use on occasion to make a piece really pop out. You can see examples in my Picasa album:

I've used fabric too. Sometimes one of the t-shirts in my closet make the perfect background.
Anonymous said…
That did sound like a back-handed marketing pitch to me...

So much of it comes down to personal taste -- I like the diffuse, rainy-day quality of the light in your pictures. I can see detail in all areas of the piece, and let my eye wander over the elements without being transfixed by one spot in the image.

Caveat, though, I'm just horrid at my own photographs!
Jewels said…
Ah Jin... I was wondering why you'd never replied to my DM ;)

Yeah, us artistic types eh? We're so thin skinned when it comes to our creations. It seems to easy to let someone rattle your cage, when in fact, we should just have the self-confidence to let it roll off our backs...

"If you feel it is well done, never let one naysayer bring you down or cause you to doubt yourself."
By Jintrinsique....
This shall now be my new mantra. :)

LOL! My WV was 'jawlies', coincidence? I think NOT! ;)
Jewels said…
BK, I've tried using patterned backdrops for my work, and found it too distracting. Perhaps the fabric/paper I'd used was simply more eye catching than the piece it was supposed to showcase, but for some reason, I didn't like it, I found it took away from the details in the beadwork. However, I'm quite ready to start staging and 'propping', and am even considering the use of models from now on. Problem is, I'll have to find some who'll work for, well, jewelry. ;)

Lovely photos of your beadwork BTW. I liked your beaded button! Thanks for reading my post.
Jewels said…
Kristen, thank you for the compliment. Well, as I mentioned before, it seems this will be a constant work in improvement. I've been perusing other Etsy shops to compare what I like and don't like. I'm committed to studying the ones I consider successful [in sales and hearts], and try to formulate just the right composition for myself. Hopefully, I'll find what I'm looking for.
I would have loved to see your work, but your link was empty (as far as blogs go...?), but that beaded eye looks pretty wicked! :)

Thanks for stopping by Kristen!
venus said…
Hi! What a nice blog indeed. I love so much these pictures ...
There is so much peace that comes out of it.
I will for sure come back to visit your blog :)

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