Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Getting Photo Savvy for Etsy: Can I Figure Out How to Use Lightroom and a Light Box?

This week, I am feeling overwhelmed by how technically unsavvy I am. My goal for this week was to get a light box and learn to use Adobe Lightroom software, so that I can optimize my photos for my Etsy shop. At the moment, my photos do not do justice to my creations. Those of you who have Etsy shops are likely very familiar with this problem. For whatever reason, when I upload photos to Etsy, no matter how good they look on my computer, they become dull, drab and lifeless. It’s aggravating to say the least.

Peacock Tree on my  beige wall
Anyway, I did such a crappy job of taking photos of my paintings, that I hired my very talented photographer friend, Charles Sichel-Outcalt, to take professional photographs for me. (He was already working on creating incredible giclee prints of my paintings) OMG! When I saw his photos, I realized just how much room for improvement I have in all of my photography. His photos of my paintings are vibrant and true to the originals, and the colors magically do NOT change when I upload his photos to Etsy. Wow! Mine, on the other hand, look like I spilled coffee on them.

My painting, Peacock Tree; photograph by Charles Sichel-Outcalt
Here’s the thing – while I have lots of natural light in my house (well, probably too much), I don’t have a single white wall. There’s just no place in my house to photograph my art without building my own photography studio. So I knew I needed professional help to photograph my art. I thought I was doing an acceptable job with my felted jewelry and accessories on my own, but now I realize that better lighting and the right software can make a world of difference.

Composition:  Six and Two

Charles has encouraged me to use Lightroom editing software to optimize my photos. I downloaded a free trial version and tried it for the first time today, but I’m already frustrated. I’ll keep trying, and I’m excited to get my light box kit tomorrow. But if I can’t get up to speed pretty quickly, I may end up paying Charles to photograph all of my creations.  Oy!  I'd just rather be felting or painting, frankly.

My original painting, Composition: Six and Two; photograph by Charles Sichel-Outcalt

At least then I know I’ll be sure to get professional, beautiful pictures that will really capture the true colors and textures of my work. Charles is brilliant with a camera as well as with photo editing software.  He blogs about his photography at Honeysicle Studios and sells his work on Etsy with his business partner, Honie Howarth. Here are a couple of his incredible images –- true works of art. Enjoy these and be sure to click over to his blog and shop to see more.
Photograph of the U.S. Capitol
© Charles Sichel-Outcalt
Photograph of the Louvre © Charles Sichel-Outcalt


  1. Jill, you are so kind! All I did was set up some lighting against a white backdrop. The camera did the rest :)

    Think of Lightroom as a marathon, not a sprint. I've been using it since version 1.0, and I still find new features. But if you ever want to talk about color spaces and such, I am your geek.

    1. Thanks, Charles! You're way too modest!
      I tried again today and had much better luck figuring things out with LIghtroom. What a relief -- there is hope for me after all. :-)