Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tips and Tricks Thursdays: What's in a Photograph

I feel that the way our bear sales are headed, to online sales, there is little that is more imperative to master than a good photograph! With two parents that were very much into photography I grew up around a camera. However that did not make me an expert! My photography was published a few times but of scenic shots. When I moved into the studio to shoot my bears I found out it was a whole different can of worms.

It has taken me years of learning to finally get the photos I love of my bears. It took time and money as I have taken several courses at college and even then I still felt the image was not what I wanted. The photo was great, clear and lit wonderfully for a portrait but it did not give the bear the detail and personality that I felt it had in person! For me a photo needs to tell a story and yet it must be focused on the bear at all costs. With more lessons and reading I have now mastered Photoshop to an extent that allows me to create a final image that is cohesive with my branded style. Much like the time we spend on creating a bear with a personal style I feel that the same is required in a photograph. Just the photo itself can show who the artist is before you even see the bear. There are several artist who have accomplished this and it works marvellously. The photo itself matches the branding that we are working so hard to create for our business of bear making.

I will not mention any names but I can say that I have a couple bears in my personal collection from a certain artist that I love and yet I see her trying desperately to sell her bears online and is failing. I know her bears personally and adore them because I was able to purchase them in person, but reaching an international audience is not always financially feasible for many of us. We work, have families and cannot afford to travel. That leaves us to try to reach our markets online. And if, like in this case, your photos are poor, you are loosing a sale not because the bear is not wonderfully made and fabulous quality filled with expression and personality but you are loosing out because of a poor image. If your photographs cannot engage the viewer you will find that the collector is not willing to take the chance in making that online purchase.

I keep a journal, and have since I began my career in bear making, of all the bears I have created each year. I can look back at the first journal compared to the journal from last year and see a significant difference in the images and how they reflect the bears personality. Its taken a long time to get to this point but I honestly think this is one of the most significant tools an artist can have in their arsenal. A good photo can make or break a sale! It takes some time to get it right but you can get a good photo with a point and shoot as well as a SLR so don't despair. There are a lot of websites now that can help you to master your photos and that is all FREE information. Mostly it is lighting... you need lots of light!

This is Eva... she is the very first bear I ever photographed and sold online. The lighting is not bad but the backdrop was taped up to a wall and is distracting from the bear itself. Also if you use black as your backdrop... here is a tip: black absorbs light so you will need almost double the amount of light than if you use a lighter backdrop!

This is one of my latest photos. The lighting is perfectly executed with the help of a photo editing program. I am also able to shoot my work on a patterned backdrop as I can fade and blur that background in that program. I also achieve a blurred background by using a portrait lens which helps me to keep my subject in focus but gives me a low depth of field, blurring out the background.

I'll be back next Thursday with a tip or trick for you ~ I'll see you then!

Bear Hugs 4 U Online Show

A new show has been added to the 2013 lineup and it is fast approaching! I will be exhibiting at the online show for Bear Hugs 4 U March 8th to the 10th. Please join me there! And until then as this was a bit of last minute notice to be asked to join the show... I will be working diligently to get some beautiful bears created for you all!

Big Hugs and see you soon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Developement and Availability

After last year with my health issues - heart problem diagnosis, and all the polls I took on the blog I spent a lot of time redesigning my bears. I am thrilled with them and I know you will be too! They are the new line of Seraphim Bears - the Over-Hugged bears. All are stuffed with cotton, wool, wood wool, and granules. All are nicely aged and beautifully weighted! Created using only the very finest materials in mohair, alpaca and viscose... when have you ever seen an aged alpaca bear? Well, you will see them here.

Each bear has a "Heart Pocket" which is a pocket built right into the bear, right over the heart area and in that pocket you will receive a Lucky Canadian Penny. It is my way of sharing with you the joy of life and living. It was lucky for me to have finally been diagnosed with my heart issue and because of that doctor, finally taking the time to look at all that he could, he found the issue and was able to prescribe medications that have given me my life back. So in this little heart pocket I hope you will remember how precious life is, how much you are cared for and loved and appreciated by me and the Seraphim Bears. You may even get another little "something" that will fit into that heart pocket. But for sure there will be a Canadian Lucky penny.

And for those of you who do not know... here in Canada if you pound a penny it was considered lucky indeed... you were to make a wish on it immediately and even share the luck by then giving it away! And... now the Canadian penny is not being minted. As of last Monday the penny will no longer be a part of Canada's currency, so it is truly lucky and considered a collectors item.

Here are the first transition bears: These bears are truly one of a kind as these bears were an essential part of the transition from my traditional bear pattern to the new Over-Hugged pattern. Declan has already found his forever home and will now be living in the UK but Lavinia is in search of her new home. Please contact me if you are interested in the adoption of Lavina. I will be happy to work with you on a  layaway plan for any of my bears.

 I have been spending a lot of time on my graphic skills with my very talented husband who is teaching me his art. I hope you enjoy the new polished look of the images. It takes many hours to get things prepared behind the scenes as I take all my photos myself, which I also took several courses at college night classes for, and now I am also able to use photo editing programs to create these beautiful photos that I feel truly capture the life of each bear. It takes more than just pointing and shooting to get the personality of the bear across and knowing that you have put your trust in Seraphim Bears pushes me to always advance in my skills.

I know that purchasing a bear over the internet can be a scary thing and I want to make it as comfortable as possible. My images must be clear and the bear must come to life for you. If ever you need to see more photos or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. I will continue to develop as an artist and do my very best to be as accurate for you as possible. I want you to be able to feel the bear through your computer screen and be even more impressed when that bear arrives and you meet her/ him in person and never disappointed! I also try to be as descriptive as possible so you can visualize what my words are saying as well as looking at your monitor. I know each monitor is different and colours can appear changed from what they actually are so please read my descriptions carefully as I will always try my very best to describe what the colour is in person!

I am also beginning to design my own clothing for the bears. This has been a challenge but in a good way. My bears are created to represent the old and yet encompassing something new in my design and so the clothing must reflect that image. I have always loved the eras of the 20's, 30's and 40's and I think you will find many influences in the design of my clothing from those times and before then too, 1800's for example. I have a bear right now that I have almost completed that will be up for adoption at the Teddy Bears Worldwide show in March who is wearing a beautiful outfit that I designed, reminiscent of the 1800's. The theme for this years show is EXTRAVAGANZA so I wanted the bear to be very elaborate.

In saying that, my clothes must still envelope the style of aged appearance! I do created them in a well constructed way and not a primitive style but I still try to capture that worn appearance. I also want them to last though so I am trying to make the clothes with great attention to detail and construction. Lavinia's outfit for instance is well developed and sewn but I have purposely added a few pulls to the fabric or it would have stood out like a sore thumb on this beautifully aged bear. I also added a finishing touch on her outfit of a vintage clip on crystal earring.

There are many new developments happening here at Seraphim Bears and not just with the bears themselves. Seraphim Bears is now being developed as a business. So there has been much studying done in that aspect as well... many late nights reading books on marketing, business essentials etc. and there are possible plans in the future of taking a business developmental course. Three weeks away from home to learn all the boring government stuff... but essential to give you a professional sound place for you to adopt your bears. All this costs money and time but you are worth it to me. My bears are worth it to me too. I want you to know and trust that when you put your trust in Seraphim Bears there is far more going on here than just cutting and sewing some fabric. I want you to know that I am taking care of you in every possible way I can. That you will be looked after and treated as you should be, as a valued customer and friend.

So in that... I am off to continue in the development of Seraphim Bears. Today I will work on completing a new Tatted neck piece for Mrs. Patmore bear who will be at the Teddies Worldwide show. Learning to tat is a challenge with all that tiny thread but one day at a time and the pieces are getting more and more beautiful! Yet another handmade item that I have taken a course to learn so I can make the bears look like what I see in my minds eye and you can enjoy them in your hearts and homes.

Be back soon with more... Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know what's happening here at Seraphim Bears! The sign up box is on the right side bar!

Big Hugs from me and the Seraphim Bears