...follow the breadcrumbs ...
If you've ever spent time in the etsy forum, you've probably noticed many threads asking some variation of the question "how can I increase sales" or "how can I increase traffic to my shop?". I've taken part in some of these discussions and found that the advice is the same. To be an etsy success, one should a) offer a great product (one that stands apart, is of superior quality, and fills a niche), b) take excellent and interesting photos showcasing the piece, and c) spend time promoting the shop on etsy (forum, treasuries) and beyond (friends, family, neighbors, other websites, and local shops).
Of course, I'm interested in making my shop a success, so I've tried to improve in all three areas. But the photography issue was the one in most obvious need of repair. (I'll admit that I still have room for improvement, but oh, if you had witnessed the early days! I shudder at the site of those first photos!) So, I studied a bit and practiced even more. I've already mentioned my light box construction and the beautiful lighting in my backyard. But a photograph must have more than good lighting to be interesting. As I've learned by reading The Pioneer Woman's blog, a good photo must combine three elements: focus, exposure, and composition. I continue to work on focus and exposure, composition is the most interesting to me.
In my high school photography class, I learned a few things about composition, like the 1/3-2/3 rule and something about objects in the foreground (I don't remember a lot of details), but nothing that really helps me much with photographing jewelry pieces. So basically, I've been playing around with how I position pieces, the angles I shoot, and what I use as props. In most cases, the props are a simple piece of paper in a subtle shade, but sometimes I'll find something around the house that just seems to make for a more interesting shot. Example for today: my grandma's beautiful teacup! When my grandma moved into her smaller digs, she needed to pare down a bit, so my sister and I (and the cousins) found ourselves on the receiving end of a terrific bounty of family heirlooms. My eye was drawn to this teacup immediately. Though I'm not a tea drinker, I couldn't resist the gorgeous warm yellow exterior and the delicate floral design lining the inside of the cup. Isn't it fantastic?
Since the cup is bold and colorful, I've used it to showcase something simple and small: the teeny, tiny penny earrings you see here, hanging from the rim. I think the bright yellow of the cup and the green background (out of focus) draws the eye in to the earrings, which somehow manage to be perfectly in focus--with no photoshopping! I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, so expect to see more interesting props in the b-line soon!