Monthly Archives: July 2011

Creating Artistic Product Photographs for online selling


I’ve had a lovely creative day, first wire wrapping and beading some pretty, vintage inspired earrings, and then creating the photographs  for use in my online shops.

I don’t pretend to be the expert photographer (I have absolutely no training whatsoever) but I can honestly say that my photographs have improved in my time selling on etsy (and now also on madeit).  There are two ways to improve your product photographs… the technical way (mastering use of white balance, exposure values, lighting, and macro features of your camera) and the artistic way. If you need help with the technical side of things I would advise you to read any of the online advice articles or forum threads on etsy, videos on youtube, and photography blogs.

Artistically, I would advise you to study the photographs of products that you love, what kind of mood do they create? What kind of props are they using to construct their arrangement? What do you have on hand that you can use? When I decided to get serious about my photographs, I went through my house, room by room, drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf, closet by closet and made a complete list of potential props and backdrops.


You would be surprised at how small a piece of paper, or fabric is needed for some photographs, I use everything from sheets, to small remnants of fabric, to small (10cm by 10cm) scraps of used wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper off-cuts.

Don’t forget you can use a larger piece of fabric or paper, and lay a small strip of lace or ribbon across it to make a very effective photograph. I would not rule out any pretty or appealing item you can find from being a star in your next photo shoot, no matter what size it is. I have even used a confetti of coloured paper from my hole punch on a piece of light coloured fabric and then rested my jewelry on top. Nothing goes to waste here.

The more you think creatively in this way, the easier it gets to come up with great images.

While some people will advise you to stick with one style of presenting your products, I can make a case for making a split. I create images like those above for my pretty, vintage inspired jewelry, and a more natural, primitive arrangement for my symbolic and traditional creations.

The two different feelings and looks created by the two styles is important because they suit the products represented, and appeal to the two different types of shoppers I’m trying to attract. I can say though, that some of my regular buyers have purchased creations from both styles and I can understand this, my buyers and supporters are quite like myself, and if the two different tastes are part of my soul, why not a part of others?

If you need help deciding the style of your photo arrangement, I would again, look at photographs of the top sellers in your creative field, and spend time developing your understanding of who your target shopper is (and there is a wealth of information about this in the etsy seller’s handbook, and in last year’s popular, Etsy Holiday Boot Camp series).

Practice makes perfect. I am still, not perfect. I can do a wonderful photo shoot, and then another day, I can struggle, I find it most challenging to photograph the domed glass in my altered art necklaces, and for some reason I struggle with light pink. I enjoy the challenges of creating successful photo shoots, and this is the reason that my once most hated job (photographing my products) has become just as joyful as creating the jewelry!

The jewelry featured in this post is fresh made today, therefore not ready in my shop yet, except for the witch necklace which is in my etsy store and ready to go to a new home.

To view moe of my jewelry or product photographs, you can visit my etsy store or madeit store and you will see for yourself both the highs and lows of product images!




Have You Made Peace Today?


relax, make peace, and you will be at peace

We don’t have to look the same, think the same, or do the same, the important thing is to accept our differences peacefully.

Peace doesn’t just descend on you magically, without you first doing the mental and emotional preparation. When you make peace, you will have peace in your life.

We should create peace daily.


Today is the last day to enter my giveaway to win store credit for my etsy store, and the final day of my Christmas in July Sale.

I will close the giveaway at 6pm Perth (Western Australia) time and will draw the winner and make the winning announcement in my post tomorrow morning.

Good luck, and may you go in peace, Starry.

Please Meet: Zenobia Southcombe, artist and illustrator, from New Zealand (and etsy)


Zenobia's cat Kairi, with a sample of Zee's work


Hi guys! My name is Zenobia Southcombe, and I make fine art & illustrations which I sell through my self-titled shop on Etsy. I’m a New Zealander at heart, but have a rich cultural background of British, Indian & Portuguese running through my veins. People describe me as a friendly, down-to-earth person who’s a good listener (since I started blogging, I’m going to add “good reader” to that as well). I love learning more about the creative processes and interests of the artists and designers I admire. Although I’m only 22, I’m a nana at heart – preferring a cuppa tea and a book over a night out any day!

Zenobia's Creative Space

Where did your creative journey begin?

Wow. Hard question. I think my creative journey really began the day I was born. For me, creativity is about exploration and experimentation, and that’s what I’ve done, and try to do, every day.

Pirate Ship in Moonnlight

What kinds of things excite and inspire you?

A beautiful New Zealand sunset or sunrise; a new pen; a challenge; children’s art & ideas; other artwork; my friends and family; Mission Bay (this is my thinking spot – I drive their when I need space); people I relate to and admire.

Portrait of Pirate Captain David Nau

What is the most difficult creative challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it? Or are you currently tackling it?

Finding ‘my style’. As most people suggest when giving advice for finding a style of work that suits you, and building a body of work, the only way to do this is to make lots of work! This was harder for me as a part-time artist, and it happened in baby steps & falls. I am still on the way, but am very comfortable with Pen & Ink illustration now, and am well on the path towards a body of work that reflects my art & ideas. One thing I found particularly helpful was writing an artist’s statement, which you can find on my blog.

What dreams do you have for the future of your creative business?

After I teach for some time, I would like to head into Art Therapy. In the near future, I would like to build my body of work, and be involved in more local community projects (I like being useful). In terms of my art ‘business, I would like it to grow moderately, and intend to try selling at an art & craft fair when summer comes around.

Pen & Ink Small Pleasures of New Zealand

Links, please share where you would like people to view your work or interact with you…

If you’re in New Zealand, find me on The Big Idea. I am also a member of NZ Art Guild so you can find me on there once my profile is up, the big idea


Available Work

Follow me receive discounts and updates: facebook and twitter

Most Beautiful Monday: turning photographs into jewelry


Inspiration struck me immediately when I viewed my best friend’s photographs on facebook last week… but first, a little bit about my friend… Her name is Diane, and we met through a very special mutual friend about three years ago. Both Diane and our mutual friend have experienced the loss of a son, an unimaginable pain that both women are bravely learning to survive. Sometimes the journey is more about enduring by the slimmest of margins, but to her credit, Diane gets up and lives each day and gives thanks for her beautiful and amazing family of two surviving children and seven grandies (all boys!).

My friend Diane is also, like many who mourn, completely enamoured with the butterfly, a symbolic creature that reminds us, through her transformation, that our trials serve to beautify us and that life is just the childhood of our immortality. Diane receives the most miraculous encounters with butterflies, not just in her garden on a regular basis but uncannily, without fail on special occasions and on the painful anniversaries connected to her son, Matt, who has passed.  These butterflies come and alight on her, play around flirtatiously, allowing physical contact, and have been known to turn up in the most unlikely of places (airports, the beach!).

The photographs Diane took on the 6th July this year struck me immediately for their potential to be turned into jewelry, and I asked my friend, amateur photographer Diane Rodgers, if I could try to resize the images to create necklaces… she said yes! So our first collaboration has been born. I have even named Diane’s favourite of the two necklaces His Golden Wings in honour of Matt. Diane is awaiting delivery of her necklace, while I have one each of the two designs to add to my etsy store sometime soon.


It’s A Matter of Perspective


One day, not that very long ago, I was in the car with my family, driving on a shared outing.

My mother said, “There’s a rainbow!”

I (sitting in the back seat, craning my neck to see) said, “I can’t see it”

My father said, “it’s really faint, it’s not worth seeing”

As we can see, one person saw something that filled them with happiness to the point they instinctively remarked on it, and desired to share the experience.

One person, was truly interested in sharing this experience, and did everything in their power to enjoy it.

And one person, who had no impediment to experiencing it (besides their personality) dismissed it as not worth the effort.

Make of this what you will.

My Creative Day…


All is Calm, All is Bright

I woke up with a hankering to create some crystal healing jewelry, and then I had a vision, how I wanted to shoot the end products…. I ran outside, I grabbed three small pieces of kindling, a strip of bark, a dried leaf, and a daisy…. I took, oh, let’s say ten photos…. and then… (gasp)… the camera whirred to a close with the ill timed message that I needed to recharge the battery.

My little handmade pyramid/wall/arrangement was resting on a piece of scrapbooking paper, and couldn’t be left in the garden (ants! wind! pets! weather!) so I had to try and transfer it onto the table under the patio…. I was not best pleased.

I went inside, ate some chocolate, cooked a curry (to keep for tonight’s dinner) and basically willed my camera charger to speed through its chore. I am very lucky though, it turns itself off when its done, and it is always done a good hour or two sooner than the manual claims. When I see the little green light has turned off, I get so happy!

I worked on titles and descriptions for my new pieces while I waited, and when my camera was ready and seeing the light was still good, I ran out to finish shooting.


(Above: Autumn Jasper and Amber Earrings, yet unnamed or listed, but surely soon!)

All is Calm, All is Bright earrings, featured at top of post, are made with jade, amber, and fire agate and these combine to create an amazing sense of security, inner calm, and contentment. Jade protects from misfortune, Amber protects from bad spirits and aids happiness reach you through life’s obstacles and emotional walls. The colour combination gives healing, inspiration, aids the appetite and gives a gentle, steady energy (not a headlong rush like heavy reds and oranges unchecked by other colours). These earrings are already in my etsy store

These little sweeties are called Contentment Autumn Jasper Earrings and are in my madeit store I love this stone for creating gratitude and greater sensory awareness so that life’s little precious details don’t slip by unnoticed.

Now, I’m off to bake a potato and eat my curry.

10 Strange Confessions, About Myself


  1. The little red bead on my quick unpick makes me feel ill.
  2. My favourite old-timey word is ‘poodlefaker’
  3. I can’t kill snails, but I give them what I call ‘a sporting chance’, which means I lob them into the neighbour’s yard and the rest (if they survive the landing) is up to them.
  4. I love the sound of car tyres on wet roads, ‘swish’, I find it pretty and soothing.
  5. I once accidentally slept in beach dunes that had live mines/munitions in them. I then woke up, took my bed roll down onto the beach and watched the sunrise, went back to sleep, and woke up to find myself on the nudist beach, I was very overdressed!
  6. I can’t stand having my belly button touched I get a queasy, uncomfortable feeling just towelling it dry after my shower.
  7. I was once accused of ‘cruelty to grapes’. As a child, I used to eat my grapes in a very elaborate way… I’d imagine one grape hopped off the bunch and went for a walk, then at some point, boom, poor little thing gets eaten by me. When the first grape doesn’t come home, the next grape goes out looking for it. Then there are two missing grapes and the third goes looking for them, and so on and so on. Anyway I explained this to my friend once and she said I was really mean!
  8. I once wrote an ode to a bottle of vodka
  9. As a person who sings constantly around the house, it’s no surprise I sing in the shower, however, even I was shocked when yesterday a large blob of after colouring conditioner fell into my mouth when it washed off my hand as I tried to put it on my hair. It tasted like poison, which I assume it probably was.
  10. I’m just a little bit obsessive compulsive… I have a tin of bookmarks (because I collect them) and I pick a different bookmark for each new book that I read, it has to match the book by subject matter, location, time period, cover art, or cover colour, and I never use the same bookmark for two books in a row. I also have a very ocd wardrobe, no clashy colours are allowed to hang next to each other, or touch each other in their drawers. The same garments get hung in the same order and on the same coathangers (which have names) each time. Until a garment is retired, then the hanger is reassigned.

Nuts? Why, yes, I am. Like most nutty people I enjoy my nuttiness. I am sure something I have said here has in some way sparked some similar memory or experience in yourself, if so, why don’t you tell me all about it?