• From the Secret Labs :: Photography Lighting

     I’ve had this post on the docket for some time, but January had other plans.

    It’s been a rough month.

    Between managing our daily lives with one car (Rob’s car was out of commission for the good part of a month), switching daycares, The Boy and I getting the flu, then nasty cough/colds right after, and my grandmother passing away, posting anything just wasn’t going to happen.


    Before all of that life stuff happened, my business has had a bit of a change.

    Last year, I took a product photography and photo styling class with the PDX Etsy Team. Both the photographer and photo stylist were very talented and experienced, and one of the huge takeaways from the class had to do with lighting.

    As in, natural light ALWAYS.

    No artificial lighting EVAR.

    So I held onto that mantra for the year, racing to shoot items as soon as I got The Boy down for a nap on the weekends, and shooting as much as I could in the summer evenings before I lost my light.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 9.27.59 PM

    The Boy is napping in his room to the left, and Roxie the cat is my photo stylist.

    Only sometimes my light wasn’t enough.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 9.28.10 PM

    Or my light changed and I neglected to adjust my white balance.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 9.28.25 PM

    BAD photographer!

    I became very frustrated, as there were times I had piles of new items to shoot and the light (and life) got in the way.

    You can’t sell an item online unless you’ve got a photo of it. And I wasn’t just going to post some piece of crap image from my iPhone (that’s why Instagram was invented).

    Rob encouraged me to use a little artificial light, and remembering the intensity of the photographer’s eyes from the class, I refused.

    After what seemed the umpteenth hour of editing my white balance on hundreds of product photos, I had a realization.

    That photographer doesn’t have a child that makes setting up a shoot cumbersome in a 900-square-foot house.

    That photographer plans her shoots around optimal daylight. You know, when I’m working at the day job.

    That photographer has a little more time to shoot, as that’s her job. Product photography is only a small percentage of my job as a business owner.

    While there were still many tips I used from the class, I decided to let go of the natural lighting rule.

    Especially once I opened my Christmas present from Rob:

    A lighting kit, complete with lights, stands, umbrellas, and backdrops.

    I decided to put the ‘ol Etsy shop on vacation from Christmas to New Years, and got busy shooting each night. The setup took a little tweaking, and with the help of Rob, I think we got it right.

    The verdict?

    I love it. I can set up and shoot during naptime on the weekends, or, better yet: AT NIGHT. I don’t have to worry about my light and white balance changing, and I don’t have to squish shooting all my items in some unattainable two-hour window (and that’s on a good weekend day where The Boy actually takes a two-hour nap). I can plan ahead and schedule shoots and know I’m going to get the same results from my previous shoots.

    While I’ll miss the look of natural light, this is what I had to do to get consistent shots every time.

    I also started using Lightroom and let go of using Aperture. It was really intimidating to make that decision, but after watching a few tutorials and taking time to play around in the program, I prefer Lightroom over Aperture any day.

    Now if I could stay on top of my item posting and blog posting schedule, I’d be sitting pretty!

    Holly Marsh
    Holly Marsh

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