Sewing to sell: How to take better photos of your handbags


In the past few months, we’ve started a new, popular column here on the blog and that’s Sewing to sell. Many of my blog readers already know this, but the purchase of any Sewing patterns by Mrs H give you a license to sell your handmade bags and purses.

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Today we’re going to talk about 3 things any Etsy seller should know and that’s aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

You might have noticed that taking photos late at night, in your living room, often leaves you with photos that don’t do justice to your work. A lot of photography advice out there for crafts and handmade goods (and more!) suggest you try to take your photos in natural light and if you’ve taken photos during a bright day, you might have noticed a big difference in the colours and overall quality of your photos. And that has a lot to do with how much light you’re camera is sensing when it’s capturing your photos, which is called exposure.

Exposure can be manipulated using aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Let's look at these one by one.


One thing you should take in consideration, if you want to go beyond the automatic settings of your camera is aperture. When you’re shooting in low light, your aperture needs to be very wide; the opposite when you’re shooting in bright light.

Photographers who shoot outdoors will use a low aperture and a lot of natural light to catch a very wide field, but most of the times sewers will only need to focus on a small area, either as large as their object is or just a detail of that beautiful, handmade object. So they would need a very shallow field.

Shutter speed 

The shutter speed controls movement in your photography (either freezing a moving object in place or creating a blur) and sets the time at which you want your photo to be snapped. The shutter speed is measured in seconds and fractions of a second.

Most DSLR cameras can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second. The more your object moves and the more you want to “freeze” it in your photo, the higher your shutter speed has to be. Start with ¼ of a second and go up, deciding what works best for you.

In traditional film photography, ISO indicated how sensitive your film was to light. You would buy a 200 film for summery, outdoor family photos and a 800 for, let’s say, indoors dinners. In digital photography, ISO indicates the sensitivity of your camera’s light sensor.

So, for shooting handmade items in bright light (such as outdoors) you’ll need a low ISO, while if you’re shooting inside on a rainy day (we get our share of those around here:) you will need to increase your ISO. Keep in mind that the higher ISO you have to select on your camera, the grainier your final photo will be. When in doubt, always try to get more light! Take a few photos and play with the ISO setting on you camera and choose the one that works best for your setting.

Are you already taking account of aperture, shutter speed and ISO in your photography? Did you give it a try after reading this and captured an amazing photo? Share it with us!

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  1. Thanks! Honestly, photography is so overwhelming to me; but this helps break it down a bit.


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