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Staging a Photo Shoot for My Art Prints

Regency Cat Art in a Frame

"Gossip Gurrls" 8x10 framed print on display

I finished Kitty and Lydia’s portrait for The “Pride and Prejudice” cat adaptation, and was setting up my makeshift photo stage for the umpteenth time, when it dawned on me… I’ve never shared my shooting process with anyone. 

Now granted, I don’t have those Wow-and-Dazzle skills that you’d find inside a glossy magazine… and there are some fabulous product photographers on Etsy as well. But since I took you on a virtual tour of my messy home, and I’ve given you a glimpse into my studio, I figured this part of the business might interest someone.

Props for my product photo shoot

Setting the stage for my artwork...

Because many of my pieces represent historical or literary characters in feline fersona, I want my listing images to reflect a cozy bookshelf or reading nook, so I use worn novels, curtain fabric, and greenery (real or artificial) in my staging.

Staging props for the photo shoot

Playing around with the props...

One day, I hope to rearrange the studio to utilize my only window more efficiently. I want a permanent photography corner that can be left in place, ready to shoot new products, which takes advantage of the natural lighting that is also shared by my drawing table.

Filing cabinet dressed as stage for photo shoot

My filing cabinet gets a make-over...

But right now, I’m using my filing cabinet as a stage. Once I clear off the office junk from its surface, a large cardboard box serves as the backdrop. I think it was actually the bottom of my unassembled art table’s packaging.

Cardboard box backdrop with curtains

Behind the scenes - cardboard and curtains

It gets draped with one or two of the many extra curtain panels we keep tucked in closets.

(A couple of years ago, we lived in a corner-unit apartment with an overabundance of windows – I miss them! lol)

I don’t use a tripod for these shoots, because I enjoy the challenge of finding the best angle. I rearrange my props all the time, then crouch on the floor or hover over my prints, snapping as many pictures as I need (50+ is average).

TaraFly taking pictures of her artwork

This 20+ year old Nikon camera is just another prop now...

I often find myself perched under the art table to get an eye-level shot… which does allow me to brace my arm against the wall, hehe, but it’s one reason why I want to rearrange my space.

View more from this session on Flickr….

Photographing my prints and paintings for listings is a huge part of selling online. Because potential customers can’t actually see my work in person, the pictures are key to convincing someone to purchase my work.

5x7 archival print of regency cats gossiping

A 5x7 archival reproduction of "Gossip Gurrls"

I cringe when scrolling through some of my earliest attempts, where I just laid the piece on a throw blanket, or even worse – a clean, white trash bag (hey, at least it was clean!).

Either the sun was glaring across my glossy reproductions, or the shadows and flash lighting completely obliterated the colors. Sometimes, even Dominic wanted to get a piece of the action:

Yawning Cat sitting on chair with greeting card

How is THIS for a greeting card listing?? (one of my originals)

I do realize that my current photos are nowhere near the level of professionalism that they should be. I have a long road ahead, but fortunately, it’s always a fun experiment. :)

2 Comments

  •    Reply

    Very intimate look at your staging process. I like it! I especially liked the shot with Dominic in the act. He is such a clever, photogenic and dapper man-about-town. I love the dancing cat you are working on. Just lovely! You are such a creative soul. Thanks for sharing!

    •    Reply

      HAHAHA! Well, apparently some people liked the humor of Dominic bragging about his greeting cards… because I sold them. Even though it went against every “Etsy law” regarding photo merchandising. Bright images. Solid backgrounds. No pets lying on your products. LOL

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