Save your Phone for Family

I recently had a mentor session with something who has had her own business for 3 years and never knew how to use her camera for product photography. She was using her phone and getting by that way but really wanted to up her quality.

I understand in a pinch, using your phone. It is always there, it is immediately post-able. But you owe it yourself to have high-quality photos of your products or even your kids.

If you have had a camera for a while and your love to set it on auto, you are missing out. There are a couple awesome principles that once you learn, you will never need auto setting again and you will have more control of your photos!

After struggling and reaching out to me,

this is what she said:

“Well, today I enlisted the expert services of Shirley. She came to my home (thankfully she is local to me) and actually showed me how to work my camera the proper way. How to read the settings and how to NOT use the auto mode. She took the time to take demo photos of my glass (which is a challenge itself) and make sure I understood what each setting meant, and how it affected the photo.

I can proudly say that tonight, for the first time ever, I had consistent results with my pictures. I did not have to take 50 pictures of one item just to get one good on. I took a handful of each and they all looked great. I have never been so happy with my camera, and for the first time, I am not dreading taking pictures of everything again. If you are shooting on auto with your camera, or you just struggle and don’t understand your camera, I highly highly highly recommend taking a mentor session with Shirley. Money well spent!!!!”

I am so excited that she is well on her way to take her own great photos. So this is a great option if shipping your items to me to is just out of the question, I get it!

If we video chat and I can see your space and your camera, then I can as hands on as possible set you up for success!

 

Photos Matter

I cannot tell you how sad it makes me when I see handmade work photographed poorly. Or anything you are trying to sell photographed poorly.

Listen, photographs are what keep people looking, stop them in their tracks, contemplate the item. Can they see it in their home? Is it photographed for an online store or Craigslist?

I am not knocking Craiglist either, it has its purpose. But if you are going to open up a shop, your photographs should be better than Craigslist.

Do you need to buy fancy lights and a $5,000 camera? No. I 100% do not think that is necessary. But you DO need to know what looks good and what doesn’t look good.

These are photographs straight from Anthropologies website. Yes, that is a major company. But just look. Consistent backgrounds, consistent lighting, the feeling you get is these are already in your kitchen and you cannot wait to use them OR maybe that is just me.

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And these are from a random Etsy shop. So already we see the difference. Yellow tints, dark shadows, plants in the background. I gather that this shop owner is a reseller of vintage items which is awesome but the photographs look like what you might see on craigslist.

And if you do not believe me, these are from Craigslist.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 2.07.05 PM.png

See what I mean? The difference is one is just for getting rid of and the other is a place of E-commerce. Maybe you are trying to make a living that way. So there should be differences between Etsy photos are Craigslist photos.

I offer product photography services to help you get images like these.

A white background is classic. It makes the photograph all about your item. If you made it or not, if you are trying to sell it, photograph it the best way possible. If you or someone you know could use some help in the department. I offer product photography services here Product Photography Service, also, if you have a set up and a camera but are having trouble make it all work together, I also offer Photography Mentor Video Chat sessions.

Who is Mamabird?

Mamabird is a nickname about 7 years in the making.

I used to work at an F.Y.E., do you remember those? Some cities still have one or two. We sold movies and music. I worked with my now best friend at the time. One day, she called me an early bird. That launched into a hysterical conversation about how cute Bambi is when he says bird the first time.

That launched into a hysterical conversation about how cute Bambi is when he says bird the first time.

I am sorry to customers who had to listen to Bird-DAH a million times that day.

From that day, Bird just stuck. Shirley bird is my personal Instagram and when it came time to pick a name for my new freelance photo company, Mama Bird just seemed like the next step.

Now with an Etsy shop selling mugs, surprise surprise,

Mamabird Mugs was born.

What started as a work name, nickname, and now a new work name. So I am Mamabird.

A music and movies loving mom of an almost 3-year-old, loves to drive and sing loudly (badly) in the car, married for 3 years, has lived in like 5 states Shirley.

I am both mug and font obsessed and with my handy dandy Cricut, I am able to produce fun fonts to upcycle thrift mugs. If you would like to check them out, go here Mamabird Mugs Etsy Shop

Now you know me! Who are you? Got any fun facts?

 

 

Hello!

hellosunshineHappy Weekend People!

I hope you are surrounded by people you love doing things you love! I am currently surrounded by a napping toddler and husband. And playing around with some graphics.

This one is inspired by my love for watercolor calligraphy. I have finally started practicing, which is impressive. I have this thing where I fall in love with something, but then never actually doing said the thing. Anyways, I am working on it. While I am not happy enough with anything to share, I can digitally recreate what I am aiming for, and voila!

I am also gearing up for this week which includes an Intro to Buddhism meeting hosted by my district! Then a business meeting with other mompreneurs. Don’t you give me a squiggly red line, that is totally a word!

Then! The following weekend, I am giving a talk at Maker’s Rally about product photography. I hope to help at least one person learn one thing, or you know? Get a few laughs.

I know on the surface, it sounds like a shops photography is better off done by the shop maker. But it seems that their photographs they do not receive the same tender love and care as what they are making and selling.

If that is the case, online shoppers will never know how beautiful what you make really is. At first glance, they will see the yellow tint, dark shadows, and a gray unprofessional muddy background.

I know I can help. You love to make stuff, I love to photograph your stuff!

 

 

 

Cards, Cards Everywhere there’s Cards

cards

In January, I started this company. It feels so weird to use that word. Business? Not sure yet. I don’t know what it is.

The photo above is maybe 25 of a 500 card project. I was nervous to take it on, I was nervous to send a quote. But I did. And the universe brought me the most wonderful client. Flexible time frame, open communication. When we decided to change some things around, it was no problem and the end result was beautiful.

I have communicated every step of the way and as it nears an end, I am thinking, ok what is next?

But before I let myself go down the rabbit hole, I really just want to show appreciation for what the past few months have been. I have worked with 5 clients. 5! I’d say that is pretty gosh darn good.

Also, in August, I am speaking at Maker’s Rally in Georgia. Learn more about that here Maker’s Rally. I am hoping to help local makers by showing them that product photography doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You have money to spend in other places. You do not need a fancy camera, lights. What you do need is time. Time time time. Did I say time?

One photograph of this card project went through at least 5 steps to get to the end result.

If having me shoot and edit your photos mean you get more time to make stuff and fulfill orders, let’s do it!

Do Something for You First!

I am writing this as my son starts to wake up from a nap. I see him on the monitor rolling around either trying to get comfortable again or deciding he isn’t tired anymore.

My days revolve around that little guy. I have managed to get yoga in 2 days in a row and read some.

I just started the Fire Starter Sessions from Danielle Laporte. I read the Desire Map last summer and it made a lot of sense to me but I have not quite applied it to my life.

The Fire Starter Sessions is aimed for people who have a business. I technically started a business in January this year. It is called Mamabird Studio. So far it has been a way for me to photograph products and share them with the world. I have done some work for 2 friends of mine who have their own Etsy shops and that has been spiritually rewarding. They are happy! It makes me happy to see them light up at images of their items they have put so much into.

Even better, they have gotten more sales and more views! So that is awesome. And that is what I hope to do for many other people as well. I love product photography. I am completely inspired by people who think, design, create and make wonderful things AND have the courage to share them with the world.

I am excited to use the Fire Starter Sessions as a tool to hone in on how to brand, how to share, how to network. I look forward to a summer full of festivals and shows and hopefully connecting with people.

This business is close to my heart because I think that imagery is very important when selling stuff. I know what they are selling is close to their hearts as well. I genuinely want to give them the best images of their items. I love to photograph the stuff they have made with love.

Also, I have really enjoyed having something for me. When my son goes down for a nap, I have something to do that makes me feel good. Of course there is other stuff to do, dishes (like right now) laundry, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming (not that I can do that while he is sleeping, that would be rude).

Here’s the interesting thing, I feel better doing the stuff I need to do after I have done what I want to do. After what I want to do is done, the stuff I need to do is happily done! I am not rushing through it to get to my personal stuff.

That makes me happy, stuff gets done happily, I am happy, my husband is happy, my son is happy! Everything is connected!

I am about to say I was unhappy but when I say I was unhappy, I mean I was unhappy when my son wasn’t awake or my husband wasn’t here or he is here, but he was working in the shed. Please do not get me wrong, life is so good, I think I will wake up and it might all be a dream.

But, not having something that wasn’t connected to being a mom or being a wife left feeling aloof and frustrated. Sometimes, I would get angry and take it out on my husband. That is not fair. And my husband, Mr. Honesty, told me, “look I need to do something for me. I feel accomplished working in the shed. It isn’t my fault you do not have something.”

And he sure was right. I didn’t. I had books to read, sure. I had laundry to do, yeah, but nothing I really felt good about. So now here I am, doing something for me! It feels amazing.

Do what you want to do first. I am not saying ignore the stuff that has to get done, but once you do what makes you happy, the other stuff isn’t so doom and gloom!

Happy Wednesday!

away we go

So that title may be very typical but it does capture how I am feeling about this blog thing. And I do happen to love the movie as well, so really, it is a win win. So ok, why a blog?

I am pretty comfortable writing pen to paper. I love paper. I love watching ink strokes and pencils make their mark but I am in dire need of practice on a keyboard. Just these few sentences have resulted in an embarrassing number of typos and misspelled words. However, no grammatical errors (yet). < That might be one.

Ok hello, my name is Shirley. I am a stay at home mom to an almost 2 year old who in increasingly independent. I am a wife to my wonderful husband who works his butt off so that I can stay home with our son. We met 5 year ago this year.

I am also a Buddhist. Guess how long? 5 years! Yes! I met my husband right after I started practicing Buddhism. Coincidence? Some might say yes, I say no! The universe knew what I needed and walked him right into my store of my miserable job. And even in all my misery, he still thought I was pretty, funny, adorable and asked for my number! In all honesty, what was assumed to be a fling, as I was moving to DC from Philadelphia for a new job, and I did. So it was a fling, then long distance, then only a few months later I was packing everything I owned into the trunk of my car and driving to move in with him!

Here we are, 5 years later with a wonderful toddler and a lovely house in GA. If you had told me my future 5 years ago, I would have yelled and screamed and cried at you because I did not deserve to be this happy, so I thought.

I had made so many mistakes, as I once saw them, but now I see that I needed to do those, to end up here. And here, I am happy. Goofy, stupid happy.

I owe it to my husband and my practice. So now! Ok I am a stay at home mom living the dream! But it is lonely! OMG, so lonely! And finding moms you click with and finding kids your kid clicks with is a circus. I am not sure if there is a perfect balance out there.

Born and raised in Maryland, photography school brought me to Philadelphia, where I met my husband. Photography gave me a few different jobs that I now appreciate everything I learned from each one. My most recent job was a product photographer at a high end consignment eBay store. That is a mouthful.

It was fun, mostly because of my coworkers but all in all, I was not a right fit for the company. I was not as fast as they would have preferred. They were nice enough to move me to a different department when I got pregnant, but alas, pregnant me was most certainly not fast enough at that job either.

But, the highlight of those couple years there was I fell in love with product photography. I fell in love with angles, the challenge that everything was different, the manipulation of the lighting, the fact that a vase didn’t have double chin to be concerned about!

It was fantastic. I got giddy when they brought in plates, paintings, fun vintage toys, oh the list goes on!

My heart was just not in the indulging of consumerism. Discounting a $40,0000 handbag to an affordable $500 was not my idea of helping people.

I am a nurturer. I am not a salesperson. If you don’t need it, I don’t need it and I am not going to make you think you need something you and I both know you do not. That is not where my heart is. Never was. Never will be. So how do I combine both worlds? My love for product photography and helping people?

Etsy. Etsy and even Amazon now have spaces for people who are putting their hearts and souls into creating, designing and making amazing things by hand and bravely putting them out into the world! I want to help them. I want to use my photography knowledge and my love of product photography to showcase their items in the best way possible. So this is my mission. Photographing the well loved and made things that make the world go round with all the love and space I have in my at home studio!

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I really appreciate it.