beating a dead horse: photographing work

Renegade in Los Angeles; in a word. . . HOT!  99 degrees hot.  Gnarly.  Thank god for the Popsicles.  We were not prepared for it.  I suspect it had some collective effect on the crowd.

Sharon and I both did about the same - slow and steady throughout the weekend.

Anyway - there was a conversational theme that wafted throughout the weekend; photographing work.
Rarely do I get feedback from a new customer, but I did.  One who bought a lot of my work and obviously likes it.  "You're photos on your Etsy sight don't do your work any justice, they aren't good enough".    I agreed.  I agree.

The other discussion was the "It's time to have your work photographed".  
No more of your DIY photos.

I tend to balk at photographic commitment.

If I'm going to spend a fair amount of money and the shots are just going to be on a backdrop?

I dunno.  Flavor of the week: bright white background.

I welcome comments/ideas/personal experience


  1. Hi Linda. The photo thing is tough. I can certainly see having a pro take "Ceramics Monthly worthy" photos for important gallery, magazine, and show submissions or those special keepers you want long term documentation of. Etsy is different. A more casual catalog type feel. Experimenting with backgrounds and styling is welcomed and encouraged. Plus if many of your pieces are ooak, it might not be cost effective to hire a pro for Etsy shots that will be used for only one listing.

    I think I'm voting bright white for look of the week here also. Incidently, treasuries making it to the front page seem to be heavy on bright white these days.

  2. I'm not lucky enough (yet) to see your gorgeous work "real time", so the fact that it's even more wonderful in person has me sitting here drooling! :) I like your DIY photos...a LOT. I love how you use chipped and peeling painted backdrops and weathered old boards. I suppose it's not the way it should be photographed according to a professional photographer, and I do agree too, that a white backdrop really does makes pieces stand out. I agree with Barbara. Maybe have a professional portfolio of several of your pieces and then go crazy with the other stuff!

  3. I notice photos on etsy with white backdrops seem to show up on their front page treasuries the most, not sure if that means anything, but they must catch someone's eye. I just found a tabletop fan that runs on batteries for 60 hours after I saw a potter with one at a show, might be worth the investment for similar hot weather shows.

  4. Thanks Gals - I'm with you Barbara. It's not a real dilemma, just a thoughtful step in the process of streamlining and marketing. Etsy has been a great place to learn to be very aware of details re; presentation. . . and whatever the venue, it's been a significant exercise. Brenda - that cracked and peeling paint is my deck/house Ha ha ha. I live very near the ocean - and "weathered" is our middle name. I like that look too, but think it's more catalog-y as Barbara mentioned.

    I'm liking the white too. for now !

  5. Greetings! I Love the scoops on the white and think you've done a fine job of photographing them. They are so sweet! With that said I also like the last pitcher with the dark wood grain background,probably because blue and brown look so good together. Everything on etsy that gets attention is the minimal look, whites, grays, I think it is because our eyes are so stressed by the computer screens that is a relief to see light space, with a calm look. Makes it hard for those of us who use a lot of color!

  6. i'm in love with your driftwood pieces, and love the way you photograph them. (very natural backgrounds with lots of texture). white backgrounds are always good. perhaps again, something with texture. i think the issue may be over-exposure in the editing process?

  7. Hi Cathy - just went on a little trip to see your work - absolutely lovely! Love the cloud forms. FB liked you as well.
    thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

    Anca - thanks. The driftwood pieces are my favourite. I am working on more pieces to compliment that work. Serving utensils, etc. I can't say much, but these pieces will be more widely available in the spring. As far as the editing process; I don't do much. I lighten where necessary. The "old fashioned" looking photos ( I should be embarrassed to admit) hipstamatic shots with my iphone. . . it's an app. Remember I said DIY !!! hahah.

    Everyone, I do appreciate your input. thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

  8. Hi......I found you via Mud Colony. You are doing some wonderful stuff.....what I call "Tell Me A Story" pots. Some of the whale and sea pieces remind me of scrimshaw. I'm in southern Rhode Island.....whaling in southern New England was an important part of life here.

    I like your spoons and knives. I made a few spoons that I had planned for honey pots......then I realized I would have to double the price of the pot! I still want to do spoons but am rethinking how. BTW I work in majolica, probably the opposite end of your firing range.

  9. I fell in love with your work only from your photos - one day I will see one/get one!
    The DIY ones you take with the backgrounds have never struck me as catalogue-y, more about context and I find them very complimentary.
    I would take some (or have taken) high quality photographs of your best/favourite pieces with a neutral background, useful for promotions, shows and really, you never quite know when you wish you had some really decent professional quality images. Who took the white backdrop ones above? If it was you they look great.

  10. Hey there Smartcat and Hi Helen !!

    I took all of the photos above. I'm not at all a photographer by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes, I get a good photo. I have an eye and no skills behind the camera. I did have some photos I took of Michelle Gregors work published in the german/european Ceramics mag. I have to get a copy, but have not. Susannah Israel wrote an article on Michelle's work. That was cool, but yet another genre. I've taken shots of a few of my friends shows/events.

    I like all the above images for different reasons. I'll likely keep fooling around and not being at all rigid about it. I do think the advice to get some professional photos of some pieces is sound advice. So, maybe early next year, I'll get some done. I suspect good lighting, a clean and unmarred backdrop and someone who's a profession will make a huge difference.