It’s not you, it’s me, I don’t like your photos.
April 8th, 2015
A number of months ago (probably 6) ETSY offered up a wholesale offering. Meaning they were moving away from the mom and pop shops and cottage industries and allowing manufacturers to sell wholesale on a separate ‘elite’ wholesale community for store owners and distributers. This, of course, was and is, a major shift in philosophy, excellent for profitability, not so much for the mom and pops.
Anyway, I thought this would also be a great opportunity for Window Flakes to expand into a wholesale market that has been previously based on face to face relationships. I quickly, and pretty excitedly, applied for said wholesale status. Then it happened, I was crushed like an ant by a giant, emotionally devastated like a child with a disapproving parent – “I’m sorry”, ETSY said, “Your application has been denied. Your products, while appropriate for this program, do not have professional enough photography. We recommend you reapply once you have had all of your products professionally photographed.”
My reaction was poor. I shed a tear or two (why doesn't ETSY like me), moved to rage (I hate you too ETSY) and then finally the higher ground (I will never do business with ETSY again). Hurt doesn't describe the feeling – it was like being in back in school again, when I was 14 and my girlfriend said, “It’s not you it’s me – I don’t like you”.
So after a couple of weeks of stewing I resigned myself to the notion that I needed to update all my photos – not only of the packaging, but of the flakes themselves – I decided I would wait until the end of the season, get the new packaging in and then start the process.
Fast forward 4 months, I have spoken to many professional product photographers, and that, let me tell you, has been an education. Photography to the not-so-photo-educated is an art form and is not holding your cell phone in front of your face with celebrity / monument / pet / flower / plate of food / drunk friend / drunk friend sleeping on couch / etc, in background or squished next to you.
I came to the conclusion that what I wanted was probably not “art”, I was seeking for a specific mood, a style, a look I wanted to capture, so I dusted off the tripod, charged up the camera, set up a ladder (so I could see what was happening, the tripod is tall) and set up the lighting – I did learn that natural light, for my purposes, was all part of the “style” I wanted, so I turned off the fake ones.
My cottage style (which fits in with my home grown business, which used to fit with ETSY until they started being “not so home made any more”, am I still bitter from their rejection, yes, yes I am), anyway, my cottage style does the trick for me – and I like where I am headed with this.
I have only photographed the packaging – I am still working on the flakes in action, this is much harder than you may think, white snowflake on glass – I need an overcast day, not too overcast otherwise the window becomes a mirror, too sunny and the white flakes is almost invisible on the window – so that is still in the works, but here are some examples of the packaging photos, probably not professional enough for ETSY (still bitter), but I like them.
Please let me know your thoughts, but let me down gently if you have a comment – I do hold on to rejection if you hadn't noticed.