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Giving Shoppers A Sense Of Scale


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Over the weekend, I made the rounds of the Tennessee Craft fair in Nashville, Tennessee.  There were a LOT of clay artist & potters exhibiting there and all-in-all the quality is up from some less-than-stellar previous years. I did get at chance to chat with Helene Fielder at her booth.  I watched her on Facebook as she tackled a Summer of 50 Teapots project.  At the fair, several of those amazing teapots were featured (and for sale).  What shocked me, however, was the scale of these creations.  Take a look at this image, and guess how tall this piece is?
 

Fielder Teapot

 

Here is my question:  What are best practices to give buyers a sense of size (scale) of work displayed in pictures...(not just in the description)?

 

OK (spoiler alert). The piece displayed in the picture (above) is approximately 20" tall.  Are there clues in the image that would help a shopper understand that?

 

Paul:)

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I hear you Paul!

For years I saw the work of a famous potter in magazines and was blown away by the work thinking it was massive ... In real life they were about 6" wide and 2" high. Everything then clicked into place.

I have seen people put coins near a piece or a ruler at the bottom if size was deceiving.

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I've done sets of photos for display together, where I'll use an object like an artificial flower if I don't want to spoil the picture composition with a coin or ruler and establish the relative size vs a coffee cup in one of the pictures. And then use the same flower in every shot I take with each piece of pottery.

 

It's not as clear and obvious as the coin or ruler, but looks nice and gives a standard for scale that's not to hard to figure out.

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Thanks all.  Coins certainly help and I think that is what I have seen most often to provide a scale clue.  I think @Marcia Selsor serving as a model with her work does the trick...perhaps just a hand model style might suffice. This morning when I was doing a little catch-up photography I added a K-cup to a couple of my mug pictures, but I'm not sure how prevalent k-cups are that everyone would get it.

Handbuilt (Mostly) Mugs

 

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I am tussling with items to place in photos to indicate scale. I use men's and/or women's rings along with catch-all dishes & I love the K-cup idea. Don't care for coins-sometimes I will see a coin next to a piece and for the life of me can't tell if it's a dime or a quarter!  I like to use common household items, if they are not too jarring next to whatever the piece is. 

 

I have a problem sometimes in that the photo looks "better" than the piece, due to lighting or color or whatever, especially with my very small pieces. I have to stop myself from making a photo of a 2" x 4" object look like a museum sculpture! So the items for scale are really important...I would hate to think someone bought a piece and was basically disappointed because it looked so big but turned out to be rather tiny!

 

My former husband is an advertising photographer and has taught me all about lighting, which is hard not to do the best way, to deliberately enhance a piece/colors of body and glaze etc. I get tempted to put a lot into a photo, for the sake of the photo, and that would not serve me well to have the image trump the reality!!

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I drink a ton of coffee and the K-cup draws a blank for me-must be that disposable cup thing that I hope they will outlaw soon?

I live in an enlightened community or reusable cups

We are potters who make cups not to promote plastic cups

Anyway those cups come in about 5 sizes so which one it that one??? 12 oz 16 oz 24 0z or a really super size 32 oz one?

Now the 25 cent piece we all know  its size like a 12 inch ruler or a standard adult stegosaur's

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I like the egg idea.  It's a perfect shape and size (hen's egg) has a non-jarring color, and photographs well  I know they vary in size, but maybe not enough to give someone an egregiously wrong idea of the scale.  Probably would work best with culinary pottery.

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Wow. I figured everyone would know what K Cup is. It is a little thing that goes into an instant coffee maker. Every single office I have ever been to in the last 2-3 years has a K cup machine there. 

 

Just goes to show that assuming is always a terrible idea. Back to the PENNY?

Office?

Never worked in one (office)or seen a machine that used plastic cups

Usually it's a glass carafe

I do have a few coffee makers and an expresso machine or three

I now use the clever dripper for the best coffee.

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Rulers are an annoying way to show scale because you first have to figure out if it's a 12 or 18 incher, or a yard stick, and even then knowing how many inches tall it is doesn't give you the same sense of scale as comparing it to something common like a coin. Plus a coin is small and relatively inconspicuous in the photo. An egg, while an easily recognizable size, would be too intrusive and very odd looking next to a teapot.

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I agree with Neil that an egg would look odd next to a teapot. How about a teabag next to a teapot or a mug, a common flower next to a vase, an apple next to a serving bowl, an egg next to a batter bowl.... something in context and easily recognizable. 

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Sometimes no matter what you do to show scale people still don't get it. I photographed a sponge holder with a standard sponge in it and still had one person review it as being smaller than she thought. I read that and thought what more can I do??? Very frustrating.

 

Currently I am testing out holding everything in my hands for one shot so people can see how the piece fits in a hand. That isn't easy to do since I am photographer and model and it takes some interesting twists to either hold steady in front of the lens while I click or to hide the shutter remote in my hands so it can't be seen but I can still click it while holding a breakable object attractively and steadily.

 

BUT my mother did question, is it a mans hand or a woman's as that would affect scale. Groan oh well I'll give holding it in my hand for one shot a try and see if that helps. I hate the coin thing seems so tacky to me personally when I see it. A ruler isn't much better but keep thinking if I could find a really lovely antique ruler that would enhance the image I might give it a go... Just have to find one, if there is such a thing.

 

I'd like to hear what other o line sellers as doing to show scale attractively.

 

T

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