Thanks to everyone who chimed in on my "Photo-phobia" issues. I have a feeling that taking good pictures, similar to doing laundry, will be a constant bugaboo for me.
Here is the set up I've been using lately:
Chris made the collapsible staging area for me - it's great. I set it up in the dining room on a card table where we get the most light. I've been using banner paper for a background. Banner paper pros: it is white, inexpensive, readily available and easy to store. Cons: it's translucent and very grainy in cloudy light. And as you can see, we get a lot of cloudy light here in Seattle...
...which led to more research about camera and PhotoShop adjustments. Here are some more useful tutorials I found on Etsy's "Storque":
Bright Light, Big Color: Using EV and White Balance to Make Your Photos True to Life
On the Level: Making your Photos Pop with Histograms and Levels
Knowing how to make these adjustments is very useful, but I've come to the conclusion that I need to reduce those adjustments in the first place with better lighting.
My new plan: use professional photography lights.
My inspiration: Jenn Maruska and her husband, Josh.
Jenn has some of the most distinctive and pretty product photos.
Go and check out her Etsy shop if you've never seen it- it's ok, I'll wait until you're back.
Isn't her shop just lovely? Her husband, Josh, takes the photos and Jenn noted on her blog that Josh posted this excellent description of his set up and techniques at his blog. Here is Josh's set-up:
OK, now please go and check out Josh's post. It's very informative and the story of how he got his lights is excellent.
Wasn't that a good read? He's added some more information since I first read his post and now I have to go back to take some more notes.
Here's the crazy thing: after all my grousing about my photos, it all comes down to sheer laziness on my part because we OWN PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY LIGHTS! I used them at the beginning of my Etsy adventure but got too lazy about setting them up and taking them down all the time (keeping the lights up isn't a practical option with kids in the house). Also, they are very hot and I got really sweaty. But I am now committed to using them and hoping that my results are half as professional as Josh and Jenn's.
Whew, such a long post about photography! Having high quality product photos is so vital to an on-line business, though, that I'm sure I'll revisit the subject in the near future.
Thanks to Josh and Jenn for sharing their behind-the-scenes look!
P.S. Jenn recently got one my Brown Bohemian Handbags and said some very kind things about it on her blog. Thank you, Jenn!