If you are building an online business, what is your biggest challenge? Those of us who “make stuff” and have an online shop need to be diligent about producing high-quality photographs – because no matter how wonderful your product might be, if you aren’t displaying it to full advantage, you will miss lots of opportunities for customers to discover you. That has been one of my biggest challenges!
I’ve tried lots of different ways to take photos of my refashioned clothing, and I’ll admit that I even look at other online shops to see who other people display their products – and sometimes I wonder about the photos that I see, because often the pictures are not exactly in-focus, or straight, or they frequently don’t have good lighting. I might be the only one who notices that stuff (but I don’t think so!), and I might worry about it too much, but it is important to me to present my designs as accurately as possible. I want them to look as good in the pictures as they do in “real life.”
A good background is important to display the best features of your products or designs. I’ve noticed that shops with uncluttered backgrounds in their photos have a tidy and professional look, while others prefer to present a more “artsy” or casual feel to their product and shop. Either way, it is important that the background of your photos compliment your featured product and not detract from it. I’ve often used a solid-color curtain behind my displays, or sometimes I have taken photos outside with a tree or simple nature setting in the background.
My other studio had a lovely brick patio just outside the door of the little building where I worked, and the rough-hewn siding made a nice background for my upcycled and refashioned designs. My studio now does not have such a charming facade to use in my photos, but I have been able on occasion set up an area just outside our sun room with a few vintage odds and ends to give it a little bit of an artsy feel.
The biggest challenge of the biggest challenge . . . . the hardest part of getting good photos for my online shops (which in itself is more difficult than actually making the stuff!) is getting good lighting. Since I am not a professional photographer, but I am determined to get good pictures to post online, I have found the best lighting is outside on a partly cloudy day so that you have good natural light, but not harsh direct sunlight.
My professional photographer friends might have better advice than I can give, because all I have to go on is my experience – but natural light looks so much better than when I have to take photos inside my studio. But – it is not always possible to take pictures outside. Sometimes it is raining, or snowing, or even just too windy to take pictures outdoors. Even if you have a perfect day as far as lighting and temperature, if it is windy, it will be a real headache to try to take pictures with stuff flapping around in the breeze!
That’s what happened to me the other day. It was finally warm enough, with just the right amount of sunlight through the clouds – so I went outside thinking I would get all set up to take a few pictures. But just as I got everything set up and ready to go, the wind kicked up and there was just no way I was going to get a good picture. So I went back inside and set up the background that my husband made for me from a clothing rack on wheels. We hung a solid-color ivory curtain across the bar at the top so I could have a simple background and be able to move it wherever I need it. Except outside on a windy day!
I took a few pictures inside with natural light from a nearby window, and that helped. But I need a different color background when I’m taking pictures of things that are the same color as the curtain. For now I just draped a darker color curtain over the ivory one, but I need to make some other adjustments to make this work. It’s a start, and right now, I’m happy to get started getting more listings in my Etsy shop after a rather miserable winter. Maybe by next week I can take a few pictures outside – if the breeze doesn’t spoil my photo shoot again!
What is your biggest challenge to running a successful online shop? I think the next thing I need to tackle is marketing and SEO, but for now if I can just get a few good photos . . . . In the meantime, I hope you can join us for the Favorite Things Blog Hop this week. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers, so please join the fun!
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