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Is it OK to Suck at Photography in Your Fiber Business?

A graphic with the title of the blog post (Is it OK to Suck at Photography in Your Fiber Business) written in orange and blue letters, with a photo of an orange cat in a basket of yarn "paper-clipped" to the graphic.

I mean, yes. But also maybe not?

Coach Jen and I got into it a little bit one morning over what really is important when it comes to fiber business photography. 

We didn't agree on everything but I think it's worth sharing the condensed takeaways from our conversation.


Your photos don't have to be perfect…


It's true, they don't. 


Especially if you are one human being who is the photographer, the editor, and the model, then it's okay for your images to not be the highest of quality and caliber. 


…but they do have to be compelling.


While most people don't shop on Instagram, they will shop on Ravelry (especially for patterns). And the pool of choices they have is wide and deep.

Last night, I spent about 30 minutes doing a very deep scroll of Ravelry, looking for something to do with 1,200 yards of single-ply fingering weight yarn. 

I did this all on my phone, which is important to note because those little thumbnails of images were the only things that were there to convince me to click and learn further. 

I will admit that there were not many that I found compelling enough to click on. Not just because of my personal style and tastes, but because the photos were… not great. 


Each one of us has barriers to overcome…


This was a big thing that Coach Jen pointed out to me. I wanted warmth (in color), more dynamic posing, and better editing from pattern photography. She noted that I'm asking a lot from designers, who already struggle with the lowest profit margins in this industry. 


However, in a saturated industry, consumers are going to ask for a lot. They don't really care about our profit margins (harsh but true).

In a similar vein, yarn dyers will struggle with getting color accuracy while trying to have creative styling. The editing possibilities can feel limiting in similar circumstances.

And don't even get me started on what a pain in the ass white balance can be when it comes to photographing yarn. THE. WORST. 

Shepherds will have a rough time finding shots that will look “beautiful”, especially in seasons where everything is mud, there's shit everywhere (figuratively and literally), and maybe their backdrop isn't breathtakingly scenic. 


We all have to work within our own constraints, so know that you are not the only one out there struggling in this way. 


…but it's important to know what your customer needs to see.


The benefit to knowing your audience is knowing what they want to see, and in what context. Just like everything else in business, your assets (photography and graphics) need to have goals. 

Your eCommerce visuals (your online shop) will need different parameters than promotional photos you use in your emails or on social media. 


You might also be able to use unconventional methods of photo editing/styling if that works alongside your brand.

The best way to start figuring out what your audience likes and does not like in photography is to test everything. AND track the data (think in terms of clicks, likes, etc). 

Try different styles of photography. Have someone else model a sample. Hire a photographer just to see if it really makes a difference in sales or engagement. 


If you're not getting enough traffic overall to even track, then take your photos to a trusted peer group (a SMALL group - too many opinions will make you lose your mind) and ask for honest critiques. 

PS. The FBC has small groups that focus on improving their photography, so it might be worth trying us out for free

Your business photography is an investment


And I don't just mean money.


You don't need me to remind you that we are in a very tactile industry. We need to keep in mind that we often won't have the advantage of people being able to touch our products in person before they buy them. 


You have to be able to use your visuals to communicate the experience of your products to your customers. 


Sometimes, that means we will need to put time and energy into learning more about photographing knitwear (we've got a workshop on that in the FBC). 

It may mean that we need to learn how to pose in more varied and candid ways (we also have a workshop on that in the FBC). 


It may mean we need to invest our time in learning to edit our photos better. 

It may mean we need to bring on a model. 

It may mean we need a professional photographer for the most important shots. 

It may mean we need to try out video, too. (A completely different topic for another time.)

Questions to consider for your fiber business photography


  • How can you start to track the performance of your photography? 

  • What little changes can you implement to try something different? 

  • What parts of the process, if any, are worth the (monetary) investment of outsourcing?

  • What parts of the process, if any, are worth the (time) investment of learning to do yourself? 

I often tell you here that you should join the FBC. But know that we have experienced members in our group who genuinely take beautiful photos and help others do the same.

We also have those small groups that offer members a more safe way to ask for feedback without fear of judgement when it comes to photos (and more!)


You seriously can try the FBC. Right now. With that button below.


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