TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List | Photo Tips for Wearable Art by Ariane Mariane

Photo Tips for Wearable Art by Ariane Mariane

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October 15, 2014
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by Ariane Mariane

In today’s world photos are one of the most important elements if you are an artist or a designer. Photos decide whether your work will be featured on a blog or a magazine and even if your work is chosen for an exhibit. And photos are especially important if you want to sell online.

The most beautiful work won’t get any attention if the photo is bad.  And, also for your own records it’s hard to remember the beauty of an art work if you only have something like this:

Ariane Mariane art vest Mohn

One of my first art vests back in 2006. Very sad not to have a better quality documentation…


Taking good photos was one the biggest challenges in my work and became really important to me when I decided to sell online in 2008. (Ariane Mariane on Etsy) At that time, I already had quite a good bridge camera (those in between a simple one and a reflex). As a former graphic designer, I knew how to use Photoshop but retouching photos was new and I had to improve my photos through trial and error. Here some examples of photos taken in 2008:

Background too busy!

Background too busy!

Impossible to imagine what this is good for...

Impossible to imagine what this is good for…


It would be a lot better if I had worn some makeup!

It would be a lot better if I had worn some makeup!

 The two first photos were taken inside in natural light, while the third (already a bit better one), outside.  Not only are the photos bad quality, but so were the backgrounds I chose. To make them better I tried to retouch them with Photoshop but at that time my camera resolution was bad and I took photos in jpeg. Retouching low resolution jpegs reduces the quality even more.


No editing.

No editing.

After editing.

After editing.


Last, but not least, I didn’t make myself up for photos. I would often just run out of my atelier to hastily take some photos or if a friend came by for a chat, I would seize the opportunity to quickly take some photos in my back yard…

A quick photo shot in the back yard.

A quick photo shot in the back yard.


I even involved my (not always enthusiastic) family :

Yes....  My father took the photo!

Yes…. My father took the photo!


Frustrated by these photos, I read a lot about photo shooting, took a weekend course and decided to invest in better equipment. It started with a digital single-lens reflex camera and a really good lens (more expensive than the camera itself) allowing an opening at 1.4 on its smallest aperture.  The higher camera resolution and the possibility to take photos in RAW were the major advantages.  RAW is a kind of neutral format – the picture is taken without any modifications and it’s perfect for retouches without losing any quality. This finally allowed me to take close-ups, too!


Close-up of an art vase.

Close-up of an art vase.


One day my hubby (probably to be less involved 😉 ) offered me a tripod, very cool to take photo of myself with a remote controller!


Ariane Mariane gets Tripod = being artiste, photographer and model at the same time.

Tripod = being artiste, photographer and model at the same time.


I also started to invite friends for real photo shooting sessions and worked on photos for hours in order to get something appealing.


Indoor photo near window without flash.

Indoor photo near window without flash.

Ariane Mariane felt dress.

Cropped and pasted on to floral back ground with flowers added to the front.


The best light for a photo shooting is definitely outside. But, asking your friends to come over for a photo shoot is one thing – asking them to do it outside with all neighbors staring, is another… To take photos inside I had to pray for a bright day. To become independent from natural light, I finally invested into flashes. Today I work with two professional flash lights and a huge white background fabric (6 m x 3 m). I take my time organizing a photo shoot on a special day and my living room gets transformed into a nearly professional studio.

No editing on this photo.

No editing on this photo.


Now retouching is easy going – just a bit of  balancing brightness and contrast:


Easy edit just by raising the brightness and contrast.

Easy edit just by raising the brightness and contrast.


I pay more attention to makeup, too. It seems to me there is a “ more is more rule” for photos. One should add much more makeup than one would  in normal life or even for a very special event.

Ariane Mariane felt scarf and mini hat.

No longer jumping from the studio in front of the camera – I prepare myself for this part of my job with care.


Ariane Mariane Felt vest and mini hat

My golden rule for photos: more is more!


Ariane Mariane scarf.

Making a photo is like creating a work of art. It’s all about storytelling!


Finally, taking good photos is like making good art work, you have to tell a story and it takes time to improve your skills.  I still have to learn a lot, but today I accept taking photos as a part of my job and even as a creative process. It helps me to see my work with new eyes. And I also love that these photos allow me to show my work to the world. I really appreciate the feedback-  it’s been great input for improving my art.

Ariane Mariane model with vest.

Great models are more than helpful!


Ariane Mariane's daughter

Next generation’s model: my daughter <3


One of the most important thing is that I’m surrounded by some very talented young ladies! Without them my photos wouldn’t be the same.

Many thanks to Zoé, Eva, Mirka, Lola and Nathalie!!!



Note from Rachel:

Ariane and I talked about other photography changes that she has made over the years, like having a consistent size (all of her images are now square) and water marking. We will do another post with more tips. Feel free to ask her questions in the comments.

We cannot stress enough how important photography is for those of us who have a web presence! Most people will not go that extra mile to learn how to develop these skills, but as technology continues to evolve, it has become easier to take better photos with minimal skills. You still need to learn basics like cropping and how to lighten, darken or give a photo more contrast, but even the basic point and shoot cameras these days give decent results. I have heard good things about the Sony cameras in the $100 range.

There are many tutorials and resources online, millions of videos on YouTube. Just search for beginning digital photography tutorials or use key words like “how to crop an image” to find out how to do these things. If tech skills are not your strength, reach out to people in your community who can help you and pay them to photograph for you. A couple of fun sites that have photo editing tools and where you can also make collages: PicMonkey and Fotor.

Make sure to sign up to receive our future posts by email! The sign-up box is in the sidebar and in the footer.

Now, visit Ariane Mariane on Etsy and enjoy more of her wonderful work. Click on any of the thumbnails below to see that item in her shop and then when you are there, be sure to explore the rest of it. Who knows? Maybe you will see something that is a Must Have! And, you will be supporting Ariane in the process. 🙂


on Photo Tips for Wearable Art by Ariane Mariane.
  1. […] to our sister site, TAFA, and check out this post on how Ariane Mariane evolved in her photography: Photo Tips for Wearable Art by Ariane Mariane.  It’s wonderful because it really shows how her photos also became art for her and a […]

  2. […] Ariane Mariane shared a wonderful post on TAFA’s blog about her journey in photography. She works very hard at showing off her felted garments and art works in the best possible way. Her images are fun and beautiful, but it took her time, trial and error to find the right voice for her brand. Check it out:  Photo Tips for Wearable Art by Ariane Mariane […]

  3. |

    Hi Ariane
    Thank you for sharing all your inspiring shots and knowledge. I always bang on about photoraphy being so imporant and like you have seen a vast inprovement in what I have done over the years. However you have made me realise that i need to do even more and there are certain areas I just brush over whereas I need to be paying them more attention, e.g. squaring off photos, obtaining more contrast , getting a white background as opposed to a blue tinge, etc.

    I sell on both Etsy and on my own site. I am constantly appalled by some of the photos on Etsy especially when someone has beautiful work poorly displayed – I have even taken the liberty sometimes of writing to people and pointing this out as diplomatically as possible.
    I am a total amateur in photography – you have inspired me to go on a course to learn more.

    LOVE your shots.

    • |

      Hi, Lorna! I hope you don’t mind if I give one suggestion on your photos… I would ditch the circular fade-out that you use. I know it’s almost a trade mark with you, but it’s a dated look and I think that would make a huge difference in your presentation to have squared images. I find the fading distracting and even though you have a product that has that romantic, Victorian feel, squared images would make it look more modern and you would still have the same impact.

    • |

      Hi Lorna,

      Thank you for your message.
      I know exactly how you feel – our job is to create cool stuff not photos and as you saw in this post it took me a long time to achieve this. Once you take photos as part of the job it becomes as creative as the textile work itself – we just have to accept to “waste” some of our precious time.
      Your photos are great in detail – I don’t think you have a hard job to do. It’s just as Rachel pointed out – you faded surrounding looks strange. Somehow I ask my self – what is the photographer hiding… 😉 . So for me is just a bit of editing.

      Happy sales to you,

  4. |

    Thank you ArianeMariane for your wonderful article. I’ve been challenged with this issue and am constantly in search of information on photographing garments. Thank you for sharing your experience. Also, I’m a huge fan of your beautiful and delightful work!

    • |

      I should be very pleased if some of what I have learned could help you, Brenda! Thanks a lot for your kind words – love your work, too!

  5. |

    Thanks Ariane

    I have been admiring your work and am most impressed that you are taking your own photos. I am blessed to have a professional photographer in the studio below me and I am very grateful for his services. I do take my own shots for ETSY using natural light in my studio, but that leaves me shooting the mannequin whom I call beige lady. Your shots are much more dynamic.

    PS thanks Rachel for this interesting article.

    • |

      Thank you for your feedback Dianne.
      The photos on your website are awesome, very professional and eye-catching. It’s for sure they valorize your awesome accessories. It would be great to have photos like these in your shop, too. But I know it’s impossible to pay a photgrapher for every item you make…

      Even though the ones of you shop are clean and “readable” they are less appealing than those on your website. When looking on you website I want every single item.

      In you shop it’s less the beige lady which borrows me (I’m taking advantage of her disponiblty sometimes as well) – it’s the background which often needs a little make over and the draping of you beautiful scarfs could be done more artistically. You have a wonderful product and should sell like crazy 😉
      Last remark (sorry if I borrow you but it’s just because you are dong beautiful work) size your shop photos always the same to avoid the gray surrounding. On Etsy square size works best…

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