I used to want everyone to like me. I used to want, at bare minimum, to be inoffensive. I wanted to fit in with “normal” people. But you can’t actually please everybody, and in trying, you’ll end up pleasing nobody, including yourself. This becomes especially pertinent in my case regarding my shop.
I sell through Etsy, in large part because they’ve solved a lot of the annoying programming and logistical issues that I just don’t have the knowledge and wherewithal to deal with. Etsy has this particular aesthetic to it. It’s not unanimous, but it’s certainly prevalent, especially for jewelry. White backgrounds, short depth-of-field, extreme closeups… sometimes you’ll see a table or a window being used as a background, but those are uncommon. The photos are very clean, very sanitary. They remind me of those annoyingly faux “Zen” modern houses where none of the cupboards have knobs and all the towels are white. They’re very pretty in their uncluttered, streamlined way, but they get old pretty fast. But, when in Rome… and so I started taking a lot of pictures on a white background in a light box.
There’s a couple of things about this particular photography style that actually make it terrible for shop photos, instead of just kind of dull. For one thing, a pure white featureless background doesn’t give you a sense of scale. At all. And for much of my work, scale is really really important. It also makes it difficult to engage your customer. No matter how brilliantly you photograph that bracelet, row upon row of white backgrounds make it easy to overlook your bracelet in search results. Finally, much like trying to be an innocuous person, if there’s nothing that stands out about your (white background) photo, then there’s nothing for people to latch on to and actually like.
Yes, my personal aesthetic won’t suit everyone. Yes, I’ll probably have people who hate it. I’m sure I’m going to hear about a few elements of this latest shoot; I used a fake cigarette, and a flask, and booze. I’m a terrible person! Unless you like that sort of thing. In which case, you’re among friends.
I hope you enjoy the photos. Look for more of them in the Curiosity Shop; I’ll be updating existing listings and adding new ones soon.