Photography has to be the biggest stumbling block for many an artisan.  We did not bargain on having to learn this skill when we starting selling online. But learn we must. Just like many of you, I  have struggled with photography.  I have shared my photography adventures - and misadventures - over the years with you. For long time blog readers, I'll bet you've seen an improvement in my photography.

Giveaway Modahaus Bundle
My better pictures are entirely due to 3 things - a good camera, understanding basic camera functions and a light studio.  I tried making my own light tent and later bought a pop up cloth one.  Neither worked for me.  The home made version could not be packed away or transported easily.  The cloth one wrinkled and got dirty.  It was also irresistible to my cats who considered yet another cosy sleeping spot.

Case used as light diffuser
When I stumbled upon the original Modahaus tablestop studio, I thought buying was worth the risk and never looked back! There are now a whole line of them.  They all fold flat and can be easily stored behind furniture or transported.

The special polymer is very durable and a simple wipe clean keeps it pristine. The sheets also do an amazing job of giving subtle background color gradations - try putting the black under the white as shown above. The case also doubles as a light diffuser - you want soft, not harsh light.  One of the white polymer sheets with a shinier surface can be used as a light tunnel - this bounces off the light inside and help make the background lighter.

SS300 Steady Stand
The Steady Stands are great for overhead photography. Like the tabletop studios, the case of the new versions also doubles as a  light diffuser.   Any camera can be placed on them.  You do have to cut out a larger hole to fit the lens of a regular camera.  Align with the small hole if you are using a smartphone or tablet. See this past post for jewelry photography examples.

You can hang necklaces and earrings on the tabletop studio.  Necklaces can be anchored and suspended through the hole at the top of a steady stand.

My photography skills were next to zero when I first started writing this blog back in 2007.  I now laugh at this picture below!  No macro, no white balance, flash used and the background - a scratched desk - resulted in a terrible photo.  We all have to start somewhere! 

I took pictures of student work while teaching beginner jewelry making with my friend Debbie back in Nova Scotia, so they needed to look good.  Therefore in 2008, I got a compact camera with a macro so things looked up a bit.  The images were sharper but the white balance was still off and the scrapbook paper backgrounds could have been better chosen.

My photographs improved in 2009 -2010 when I used warmer background paper and made sure I had good natural light from the window of our workshop.

I upgraded my compact camera to one with some dSLR settings in spring of 2011.  With a better macro lens, my closeups were now sharper. This photograph had a shallow depth of field so the back earrings look artistically blurry! Now I know professional jewelry photographers prefer to keep the whole design in focus (although this is not a hard and fast rule).

About a month after that, while surfing to find out more about product photography, I stumbled upon Modahaus's post about their first photo studio, the TS216.  I took a chance and bought my own unit. This is the very first picture I ever took with it seconds after I set it up! A cleaner and uncluttered background brings the attention back to the design.

Then it was onwards to natural light photography with white backgrounds.  This was my far from perfect first effort :

Over the course of the last few years, Lex McColl, the pro photographer and inventor of the Modahaus units taught me through guest tutorials on this blog and through some of  his easy to follow photo guides a great deal about how to use his units and my camera settings to improve the quality of photographs.  And improve I did.  Big difference, huh?

The most significant change in the past year or so has been my complete switch to my iPhone 5  (I'm hoping to upgrade to the 6+ soon) for all my jewelry photography.  I now take final product pictures in natural light by a window and tutorial photos in artificial light in my windowless basement workshop.

Again the credit goes to Lex who showed me how smartphones and the right app can be used to make jewelry photography very fast and effective.  Watch his newest video which shows you how easy it is.  There is no need to spend a vast amount of time fiddling with settings. The idea is to take the best shot possible quickly and without having to do much in photo editing except for cropping and maybe a touch of lightening.  That's it!

Also check out this excellent video by Snap Snap Snap on How to Shoot Close-up and Macro Photography with Your iPhone.  The presenter covers the macro setting on the camera+ app.  Note he calls it the camera+6 app - he means the  latest version of the camera+ app!

As you can see, you don't have to spend $$$ on a dSLR camera. DSLR cameras do indeed take better pictures but mobile device cameras are so good now, the pictures you can take with them are excellent for the kind of sharing and selling we do.  Unless you are a pro or experienced photographer who knows how to use the myriad settings well, stick with smartphones and save yourself a whole lot of grief.

Why the emphasis on iPhones?  Firstly they are very good camera phones with considerable improvements with each generation.  Android phones are made by many different manufacturers who use Google's Android software.  Quality varies so you'll have to research which Android phone model has a decent camera.

One lucky winner of this giveaway will win  the Modahaus Steady Stand SS300/Tabletop Studio TS400 Bundle worth $116.  

Also note Modahaus gives discounts for multiple units - so band up with a few friends and save some money. Or buy a bundle to get the price down for both. Modahaus is also offering a further 5% discount for readers of this blog on any product including the bundles.  Use discount code : pearl (lower case p).  They are also running a promo for a "Free Upgrade to Express Delivery" on the same bundle featured here.

If you'd like to be that winner, please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info if you do not have an online shop or blog. Please also share which other kits or patterns might be your favorite in the comments.

Subscribers need to click on the post title to come to my actual blog. Scroll down and enter your comment. Pick Name/URL. If you don't have a store or blog, leave the URL blank.

This giveaway is international.

Extra entries if you become or are a blog subscriber or follower etc. If you also do shout outs about this giveaway, those will count as additional entries too! Please say so in the comments.

It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, May 25, 2015. I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!

Disclosure : I do NOT make any commission from the sale of any of these Modahaus units but I do receive new units for review.  Modahaus now also hires me to write their photo blog and manage their social media campaigns.

Before You Go
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips