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Thank You, E

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For my birthday a few weeks back, my husband surprised me with a camera. A nice camera. When I opened the box I cried.

Since I started selling jewelry online, I have been very dependant on my camera to take decent pictures, because I don’t care how pretty your jewelry is, if the photo sucks, no one’s gonna buy it. This is a frustrating element in the whole process. I never claimed to be a photographer! (And I’m not a photographer.) I make jewelry and that’s all I’m claiming to do here. But what can I do? I figure I have two choices: either I can make excuses for my poor photographs (and make no sales) or I can do my best.

So, for the three years I’ve been selling on etsy, I’ve been doing my best. At the beginning it was ugly. Up until etsy, my last photography experience was a photography class in junior high where we developed our black and white film in a dark room. No lie. When I decided I wanted to peddle my wares on etsy I first pouted about the necessity of photography skills for three long months and then I borrowed my son’s digital Kodak and got started. Click. Click. Click.

Those first pictures were awful. Lots of garish daylight and black mascara smears of shadow. And those awful pictures looked way better than the ones I tried under my kitchen’s incandescent light. Yikes. I knew what I wanted my photos to look like: all the beautiful dreamy-white stills of jewelry that were all over etsy. I just didn’t know how to make it happen.

Slowly, my photographs improved. I figured out what light worked best for the look I was after (filtered afternoon daylight). I learned I could fake a light box effect by using a semi-metallic surface. And I learned that a table-height angle makes everything better.

And as my photography improved, I soon realized that I was limited by my camera.* (Now all you photographers out there: Hush. I know you people can take a crappy Polaroid and get a good shot. Blah blah blah, so what.) What I should say, rather, is that I realized I needed a decent camera to compensate for my inferior photography skills. This is another frustrating element in the whole process. When we set out to try a new venture, it’s sometimes just to risky to pay for decent materials. (I had an artist friend who was too poor in art school to afford marble for her sculpture class. Instead she had to buy a chalky non-marble slate. Guess what? It wasn’t a very forgiving medium, she hated it, and she never wanted to sculpt again. I wonder if she’d be a sculptor had she had a good start on a decent block of marble? We’ll never know.) In hindsight, I should have plunked down the big bucks for a great camera back in 2009 and enjoyed three years now of great photographs and stellar sales. (Oh, Ignorance, you are a bitch!)

So when my husband surprised me with that nice camera, it was one of those cool marriage moments when your spouse takes care of you. He bought me the nice camera that I wouldn’t have bought myself. Awww. Good man.

So, Baby bought me a Canon Rebel EOS, and I don’t think I’m getting another birthday gift for as long as I live. This new camera is so sweet and even though I’m still figuring my way around all of its features, my photographs have already improved a ton. I can manually focus on this new camera, not just point-and-hope it focuses. And my photos now have a sharp clarity. And riotous colors.

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And at long last, I have the ability to take dreamier stills like the ones I covet on etsy. In the photo at the top of the page, I clearly captured a pair of enamel flower earring that I make, and the background slips away out of focus. (I mentioned my new camera to a friend while we were all on a double date and we spent the whole meal talking about camera features. It was one of those conversations where hipster must shout at hipster to be heard over the uber-cool techno-salsa music. The conversations where “I think we should order the steak” is heard as “I think he should skateboard or skate.” Wait . . who? Anyway, having one such conversation about digital camera features, I think my friend must have shouted the word “aperture” at me 160 times. “Wait, are you saying ‘saboteur’?”) So I fiddled with the camera’s aperture. By raising the aperture, I was able to achieve highly focused subjects and quickly blurred backgrounds. It makes my buyer think, “Wait, are these earrings for real or did I just dream them?” Perfect.

Thank you, E, my dear husband, for this most-wonderful camera. I had reached the end of the line with my sucky last camera and this camera was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

You’re awesome.

* I will take this opportunity to bash the Olympus lemon that I bought for $69 plus $25 in rechargeable batteries with charger. Talking to the customer service people at Olympus reminded me of those bad adolescent relationships where the possibly mental but definitely dysfunctional boyfriend blames you for all that’s wrong in the relationship. No thank you. [Ghetto finger wave.] I think I’ll leave that in one in high school, “Olympus.“