I have a new character to introduce to you today, Spunky, the Easter Kangaroo

Clearly, she’s just as crazy about candy as I am. For her big photoshoot, I had fun picking out just the right easter-themed candy at the grocery store. I bought jelly beans, chocolate easter eggs wrapped in bright colored foil, and miniature chocolate bars called “Balisto,” a brand I myself greatly enjoy.

I spent all morning yesterday working on our photo shoot. And since then, the entire pack of Balistos has been eaten. I can’t quite control myself Spunky can’t quite control herself around chocolate.

I’ve talked before about my process for designing toys, especially here, and this kangaroo certainly gave me enough design challenges to fill a half-dozen blog posts, but I thought I might talk a little instead about my photography process with my toys. 
I’m still a total newbie, developing my style with each new product, but the photography has become one of my favorite parts of the job.  

I don’t have much special equipment. I have a great digital camera that I bought a few months ago. I also have a tiny plastic tripod that is infinitely useful.

My guiding vision when I put together my photographs is to be playful with my product, be it stuffed animal, or handwarmers or headbands. As I experimented with putting my kangaroo in different set-ups, she kind of came alive for me. As I worked, she developed her candy-loving, kind of messy, but just-so-cute-you-can’t-scold-her personality, and I used that to take better and better photos.

Last week, I traded peer critiques with a fellow etsy seller, and she said she loved how I used props in many of my photos, because the props gave the products context, scale, and a kind of fantasy environment. It was only when she said that that I realized how vitally important these props are to me and to the brand I’m building. I don’t photograph my toys in a real life environment, in real bedrooms or kitchens or gardens, I construct my space from the ground up. While I first chose to do this because I felt like I wasn’t a skilled enough photographer to take photos of complicated, real-life spaces, now it has developed into an artistic style that I value for its own sake.

I still need to develop a lot as a photographer. Lighting is still frustratingly tough for me. I can’t decide if I like bright, direct sunlight (through south-facing windows), or the more defuse light of my north facing window. In this blog post, the first and fourth photo were taken by the south-facing window, the second and third by the north-facing window. You can tell by the intensity of the highlights and shadows.

Also, when I save up a bit of money, I someday hope to be a proud owner of adobe photoshop editing software. For now, I use the limited power of iPhoto and picmonkey.com to crop, fix white balance issues and up the contrast in my photos.

Visit Spunky the Easter Kangaroo on Etsy here.