Lightscoop Camera Attachment
Norma Prickett of Stillwater Designs
Norma Prickett Stillwater Designs
Lightscoop Light diffusing attachment
|Side view of Lightscoop mounted on Canon|
|polymer clay cuff|
It brings out too much detail in this piece. The next is taken with the lightscoop attachment. I can see more of the faux clay marbling effect that Diane Calderwood did to achieve the faux marbled look, instead of the tiny flaws in the piece.
Polymer Clay cuff by Diane Calderwood
|Polymer clay dragonfly pill box|
|polymer clay dragonfly pill box|
|Tiffany Glass Style Pendant|
|Tiffany Glass Style Polymer Clay Pendant.|
- Works great for photographing small items with a polished surface.
- The manufacturer offers really good instructions, tutorials, and more on their website.
- The price is reasonable.
- Light weight and easy to use.
- They company offers two types, as well letting you know which one will fit your DSLR.
- Does not work as well outdoors.
- Does not work in all situations like rooms with Cathedral ceilings, dark paneled wood ceilings, or churches. However, the manufacturer does tell you what types of situations this attachment will not work on both the website and the enclosed instructions. I love that they are so honest and straightforward.
- You have to remember to remove the plastic from the mirror or it will not work as well as intended. If you are as forgetful as I am, do it right away so you will not be disappointed with your pictures.
What types of photo challenges do you face when photographing your creations? Do you have any tips to share with your fellow readers? Leave us a comment and let us know!
We hope you have enjoyed all the great articles this week about craft businesses. In case you missed anything, here’s a helpful list of the articles for the week:
Do you like these types of articles? Did you find them helpful? Would you like to see more articles like this? Please let us know, we love to hear what our readers think!
Reported by Simone Collins
Today I’m sharing an interview with Steff from Steffbomb.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Steff last year at Renegade and pretty much fell in love with her plushies immediately. Steff is an Etsy seller, as well as having her products in stores for retail purchase, so she is full of experience as an owner of a crafty business.
Crafty Business Name: Steff Bomb
When did your business begin and why did you started?
Owning a business was completely unintentional. An important part of the story is that art and drawing were always my life, but since I’m self taught and never went to college having an actual career in art never seemed plausible.
I started sewing when I was around 21, not clothes or anything useful, just a bunch of shapes with eyes, limbs, and pointy teeth… it was all totally for my own personal fulfillment. I made some and gave them to friends and my roommates at the time, then started trading with a few artists friends. A little later the owner of my favorite store in Philly (Jinxed Philadelphia) asked if I would sell them in his store. Word-of-mouth spread, and more stores began to contact me. It all progressed so smoothly, before I knew it I had a small business and I didn’t even realize it. I still consider myself to be extremely lucky in every way.
Sometime in 2007 I realized that this was my chance! I was given a small window of “art career” opportunity, so I grabbed it like my life depended on it and worked like crazy to make my unrealistic childhood dream a reality. That year I saved up all of my money and mass produced an asparagus plush, called Mr. Lertchman, which was sold by a distributor to stores around the world. That opened even more doors for me and I was asked to be in an art shows for the first time ever. That in itself was mind-blowing. In July of 2008, I moved from Philadelphia to Chicago. September 2009, I gave the 9-to-5 world the heave-ho, quit my day job, and took on sewing full time. Everything keeps growing. It’s very easy to get caught up in the frenzy of my day to day but not a moment goes by where I don’t say to myself, “damn, this rules”.
Tell us about your business.
It’s plush things. Inanimate objects with faces, mostly foods (let’s be real here, eating rules). It’s hard to describe because even though it is art you don’t want to say “art” because that can come off as kinda snooty, so I usually just say “toys” because that sounds more fun, and hopefully people will acknowledge the amount of hard work that goes into it on their own.
Describe your typical day.
Pretty much everyday I wake up at 8:30/9am, hug my cat, eat breakfast, then sew forever until my hands fall off. Once in a while I’ll throw in a shower, a workout, or a trip to the post office, but that’s the basic outline of my life.
What keeps you motivated?
My unbridled passion for eating and paying rent. Just kidding. Half kidding. This is going to sound extra super barfy but I love this, every bit of it. I used to daydream about being in art shows with people I admire, making my own stuff and having exactly the life I have now. It’s literally the only thing I’ve ever wanted, and that is motivation enough for me to give this everything I have.
What keeps you on track with your business? Tools? Tricks?
The only trick I have is to keep my business as simple and as organized as possible. I have a file system for invoices, emails, and tracking numbers but I am still figuring things out as I go along so the less complicated I can make everything for myself, the better.
Any websites or programs you use to help with your business?
I’m sorry, did you just say there are programs that help with my business? Seriously? Here I am doing everything myself like a sucker, when I could have been getting help this whole time? I need to look into this because I definitely need all of the help I can get.
What is the biggest challenge in your business?
Being only one person is hands down my biggest challenge. Between orders, commissions, wholesale, art shows, craft fairs, and more, I can’t keep up with the demand. This past year I worked so much that I ended up with tendinitis. I don’t have health insurance and I had to keep working through it, but I felt like everything became a disaster. I’m finally almost caught up from that, but I’m still two months behind on emails. It’s a tad heartbreaking when I think about. When things go awry, it can really get me down, but I all I can do is not dwell on it and get as much work done as humanly possible until I am back on track. On a similar note, I AM looking for an intern, hint hint. If anyone is interested, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org…wink!
Any advice you would give to someone just starting a crafty business?
One thing that seems super obvious but I still somehow managed to overlook is how important it is to have some kind of savings. When I quit my job I had $20 in my bank account. Holy crap that was dumb.
What do you love most about owning your own crafty business?
I get to make severed limbs and hamburgers and somehow still make a living. What’s awesomer than that?!? I also get to run errands while everyone else is at work. No lines! Two weeks ago I rode to the beach, sat by the water, and worked there all day… best day ever! It’s the tradeoff for working non-stop for very little pay and no benefits.
Besides crafting, what do you love doing?
I love eating breakfast, I love riding my bike, and I love getting to hang out with my friends. I’m a pretty simple gal.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I definitely know 1000% that the better the weather is, the better my work ends up being. I have a bit of a crush on sunny 75 degree weather. Sunshine, swoooooon. As far as ideas themselves, they always happen randomly, pretty out of the blue. Most of the time it’s when I’m in the shower, while I’m riding my bike, or when I’m about to go to bed.
Who are your favorite crafters?
Amy Sedaris is totally my hero. If anyone out there knows Amy Sedaris please tell her that I totally want to craft with her and then maybe one day we can and then I can die a happy girl. Shawnimals rules and Heidi Kenney is phenomenal… if you make plush and don’t admire everything they’ve done, you’re bonkers.
Tell us about your crafting space.
It’s kind of awful at the moment. I sit on my bed and work on a not-very-sturdy card table. I recently moved my sewing machine to my kitchen table, which is a treat because it’s not in my room (already a plus) and it’s much more stable than the card table. Once I get some extra money I will rent a car, head to IKEA, and get that $50 table and $30 chair that I’ve been longing for…but for now, I’m working with what I’ve got.
If you lose your crafty mojo, how do you find it again?
I’m very stubborn and will do my best to suck it up and keep working… but I can only ruin so much work before I realize that I need to take a breather.
|Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup|
Where do you see your business in 10 years?
It will be a little difficult to run my business in 10 years. I’ll be too busy throwing stray cats at intruders outside of my hobo shanty… probably at a rail yard.
Many thanks to my fellow Chicagoan, Steff, for all her insight and candidness. I love to hear how professional crafters got started and her tale is inspiring. Now head on over to her shop and grab yourself a little plushie of your own, what are you waiting for? Aren’t they adorable?
Once your crafty business is up and running, there are things you can do to promote it so that you drive more traffic to your store, designs, or blog. Besides using social media to spread the word, you can also design or purchase products that will also help.
Here is a list of products you can purchase that will help you promote your business to get you started:
Reported by Simone Collins
In order to make your craft business successful, no matter what kind of business you are running, you need customers or an audience. To attract people, you need to get the word out. This part of networking is easy and should cost you little to nothing. I am sure that most crafters who own a business partake in most of these strategies already, but it is a good start for newer business owners and a checklist for everyone else.
Here’s a few simple ideas to get you started:
1. Add Your Website or Blog to Your Signature
If you participate in online communities or groups, your signature should contain your website, Etsy store, and blog if the website permits it. Also, add your website to your email signature. Make sure it’s a hyperlink so that all they have to do to visit your site is click.
2. Get a Twitter Account
If you are already posting in Facebook, you can reach an even wider audience by using a free Twitter account. You can also set up your Twitter account to automatically post to Facebook or vice versa, so it can streamline your work. Win-win.
3. Create a Facebook Fan Page or Group
There was a great article about this earlier this week about Making the Most of Your Facebook Page. Setting up a Fan Page not only helps you but also separates your work from personal life. Your group or page will allow you to link your Etsy shop and also help you target people who are genuinely interested in your work. You can use your page to send out discount codes, news, and product information. It keeps everything in one handy spot for you and your fans.
4. Be a Guest Blogger
Spread your crafty knowledge to a fellow blogger or crafter and target a new group of people. There are plenty of blogs out there that happily welcome guest bloggers who can write about crafts. If you read a blog that features crafts similar to what you create, why not send an email to the owner with an article idea? Depending on the blog or website’s guidelines, they may be more than happy to publish your article. Make sure it features a link to your website or online store.
5. Join or Organize an Event
Want to meet other crafters who could potentially be future customers? Then go to where the crafters are! There are plenty of Meetup groups, clubs, and classes that might already exist in your area, so why not join the fun and meet new people. If you can’t find something in your area, why not organize an event? Maybe just a simple crafty chat at the local coffee house, or perhaps a craft outing to the local yarn shop. Either way, you are sure to meet a new group of people who could also be potential customers or readers.
7. Participate in a Link Exchange or Party
Lots of websites and blogs feature linky parties or blog carnivals that allow you to post a project that links directly to your website or blog. Again, this is just putting your name out there on another platform, increasing your exposure. You can also get listed on blogs or websites that offer that feature like our list of Crafty Bloggers. This is a simple and quick way to promote yourself.
8. Teach a Class
You have a great crafty product, why not teach a class on how to make it! This will not only allow you the opportunity to meet more people but could also be an additional source of income. Dabble is a great spot to find and offer classes. You can also teach classes online if local classes is not an option.
I hope this is useful information for promoting and marketing your crafty business. What ways are you promoting your business? We would love to hear about it!
Reported by Jessica Ripley
Before writing this article I read many others online that give tips for taking the best photos possible when it comes to capturing our creations. We crafters sure are a bunch that really like to share our work! There is a ton of great information out there on everything from creating your own photo studio, to camera settings, what equipment (like lenses and flashes) will take better photos, and what Photoshop tweaks will improve them. I also spent time browsing some of my favorite blogs studying their photos to find out which appeal to me and why. I mean let’s face it, good writing is great, but when it comes to crafts it is the eye candy that keeps readers interested and brings them back again and again.
Keeping the amount of information out there in mind, I would never presume to know better or more than those that have already written about the subject matter, (the only thing I’ll ever claim to be an expert in is eating chocolate). However, after all that reading, browsing, and the experience I myself have as a craft blogger, I’ve compiled that information into five steps toward success when it comes to taking really great photos of crafts for posting on the Web.
It is important to note that you do not need fancy equipment or an expensive photo editing program to get high quality photos of your projects. You will hear about DSLR cameras, light boxes, and editing with Photoshop that seem to be the key factor to beautiful photos. While it is true that these items definitely can help you get great photographs, they are not the secret. You can do just as much with a point and shoot, good technique, and a bit of free editing help. Keep these five points in mind, and you’ll be one of those that we get to enjoy some wonderful eye candy from too.
1. Go outside and turn off the flash.
Natural light is always better when it comes to photos, whether they are of a craft project or a person. It is just more flattering than a harsh flash. If going outside is not possible, identify a spot in your home that gets great natural light from a window.
Here’s an example of a project near a window in my home that gets the most light vs. the exact same location at night with a flash:
If you have to take a photo indoors at night, bring as much light to your subject as possible with lamps, but that is where it gets tricky and you must do a bit more to get the best photo, such as adjusting white balance on your camera if possible to get rid of that incandescent lamp yellow hue, or setting up a light box, have a fancy flash, etc. I prefer to just follow this number one rule and not worry about all that extra tweaking to a photo, that takes up time when I could be crafting!
2. Setting the stage is important.
How this is done can vary from individual to individual, but it is important to think about. Personally, I find photos that show a project in its intended use (such as an apron around a waist with a few utensils in the pocket, a framed piece on the wall in a home over a dresser, or a pillow on a love seat with a coordinating blanket draped nearby) much more interesting to look at than an object on a monochrome background. For example, this garden stake looks prettier in a garden rather than lying on my craft table.
However, I have done both so know this can depend on a project too. Here’s an example where I preferred to show an iPod Cozy for what it was rather than in a photo where it could have been lost on a person.
When choosing a background or other items to enhance the project itself, it is also important to be sure that the colors are complimentary, and that they do not distract from the main focus of the photo. Great examples of the use of props can be found by perusing the craft ideas section at Martha Stewart’s website. They are truly staging experts. While we all can’t have her prop room, it sure does give way to some inspiring ideas for taking photos!
3. Shoot and shoot and shoot some more.
Once the location is determined and the stage is set, take lots of photos. In the digital age where we are blessed with huge memory cards I can sometimes take 30-40 photos of a project before I consider this step complete.
Be sure to include close ups, further away shots (especially if you are showing the project in use like mentioned above), and shots at angles to keep it interesting to the eye. Here’s an example on a recent project for our review of the Epiphany Button Studio which shows detail as well as the full project:
4. Editing is necessary.
Editing is a bit like the icing on the cake. The slightest tweaks can improve an image just enough to make it great rather than just OK. I use Photoshop Elements, however it is not necessary to have expensive software. Reviewed on Craft Critique, Picnik is an online site that provides wonderful free editing tools which I highly recommend.
When editing photos of crafts, consider these 4 basic steps:
- Adjust the lighting. Even small tweaks to levels, or brightness and contrast, can dramatically improve the appeal of a photo. Just be careful not to take this step too far or your photo will have too much “noise” and not look as natural.
- Consider bumping up the color saturation 5-10%. Especially after adjusting lighting, this can give your project some pop. But again, don’t take this too far, especially if you are selling the item. It should remain true to what it is in real life (but there isn’t anything wrong with adding a little pop to catch the eye).
- Crop. If you didn’t frame the shot exactly as you liked, crop it. Also consider cropping the shot into a square, which often looks better in an online format.
- Re-size before uploading. This step is extremely important when sharing photos online. The larger your photo, the longer it will take it to load on someone else’s computer, and for some readers this can be a frustrating deal breaker. A good rule of thumb is no bigger than 600 pixels wide or tall.
5. There is more to posting than “publish”.
Once you have completed all the above and are left with the best possible photo to show off your creation, there is more you can do in order to enhance your photo behind the scenes.
First, give the photo a more descriptive file name when saving it. For example, rather than naming a photo “detail shot 1”, name it “blue pillow made with Amy Butler fabric detail shot 1”. Also, after uploading a photo to the web it is given a code which includes “ALT” tags. Whatever appears in these ALT tags (which look like alt=”description here”) is what readers see while a photo is loading, and what search engines see while looking for images as well. Change the wording between the two quotation marks to a better description of your project. When doing so, keep in mind what you would search for in Google if you were looking for a similar project.
Taking both of these steps exponentially increases the chance of a search engine finding your post, and as a result drives more traffic to your site.
As mentioned above these are tips and tricks you are sure to have heard before, but that are certainly the basic keys to success and deserve reiterating when you wish to share your work online.
We would love to hear from you any other tips you may have learned, or if you wish to further elaborate on any of those above. Share with us in the comments how you get the best photo possible of your crafts!
Reported by Simone Collins
We hope you have been enjoying all the articles today about selling crafts online. There are so many more great articles available online with helpful tips on starting a store, marketing, and the different sites available for hosting your store.
Here is a list of more articles on selling crafts online.
Are you currently selling your crafts online? Please share a link to your store in the Comments section of this article, we would love to see what you are selling. If you are a buyer, we would love to hear about your favorite online shop.