Taryn Zhang featured on Handbag Designer 101

 Screen shot taken from “All Designers” page at HBD101 (September 29, 2010)

On or about (anyone out there other than lawyers use the phrase “on or about”?) August 2009, when I first started researching stuff on designing and how to start a line of handbags, I came across Handbag Designer 101. Previously featured Designers of the Day include Rebecca Minkoff, Tylie Malibu, Tulah Ray, Jenny Yuen, and Follis, just to name a few of the folks I admire.

I still recall showing the site to Hubby. “Look how insignificant I am,” I had said. In other words, look how saturated the market is for independent designer handbags.

“And yet how long do you think it’ll take you to get on that site?” he asked.

“I dunno. Give me a few years,” I replied. That was late 2009.

Since that time, I would visit the site on occasion (by “on occasion” I mean frequently, and by “frequently” I mean all the freaking time in fact I had the site bookmarked) and would click longingly through the links, wondering about the day Taryn Zhang would get featured on HBD101.

Now, good news and bad news.

Good news: I got featured on Handbag Designer 101! And it took about a year for it to happen, if you’re counting from the day I first resolved to launch my own line, and about a month — that’s right, a month! — from the day I had a batch of satisfactory samples.

Screen shot taken from handbagdesigner101.com (September 29, 2010)

Click here to see the page.

The bad news? Holy snickerdoodle those are some really, really awful product photos! Yes, I submitted them. Yes, I took them. Yes, at the time of submission, I thought they were pretty swell.

What possessed me to submit those photos?

I wanted to crawl into a deep dark hole and rot.

What was I thinking? Oh, I remember what I was thinking. I was thinking yay, I am so happy I got these samples I am going to hurriedly without review take amateur photos of them in my living room with my old digicam and scatter the images across the four wide corners of the world wide web. And that is exactly what I did.

Lesson learned. The hard way. Don’t send stuff out until you’re ready. I can’t believe how awful those photos are. It looks so amateur, because I mean they are amateur. May I have a redo? No, of course I can’t. What’s done is done. I’m pretty sure HBD101 won’t let me switch out the photos for new ones. And I don’t have the chutzpah to ask.

Workaholic Shoulder Tote Black Taryn Zhang

That’s something I’ll be working on now… how to take my own product photos (and the kind that won’t make me cringe when I see it later posted online). I’m thinking for my bags in particular the “lifestyle” photos make more sense than propping them up against a white background. For example, the Workaholic shoulder tote in traditional black, pictured above.

To do: I’m going to try for these kinds of lifestyle product photos instead of the white background ones, which I was failing miserably at anyway.

(Footnote: The two smaller journals at the bottom of that pic are two of my law review publications and the two big books at the top left edge are two of Hubby’s CFA review books. Corporate Finance and Equity, I believe the two books were titled.)

About tarynzhang

Visit us at www.tarynzhang.com.
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  • http://barestudy.blogspot.com Janelle from Barestudy blog

    congratulations!! i just went to check out your site and instantly bookmarked it :) will put you on my links. will save up a bit more so i can buy one. i cannot decide yet which one’s my favorite! haha. they’re all great!


  • Emma

    Congrats ! You have worked hard for this !

  • http://www.therothreport.blogspot.com Tami

    Wow, I think your bags are absolutely lovely, even if they aren’t the best pictures in the world. For the record though, I think the pictures are fine…but I do like the idea of the “lifestyle” photos you mentioned:)

  • refresh_daemon

    A tip for your photos: buy or rent some lights or repurpose lamps in your house, whether incandescent, tungsten or another hot light source (and use some translucent paper or bright white bounce boards to disperse the light) to help light your photographs more evenly and cleanly. Also, try fiddling around with the white balance features of your camera so you can “color” your pictures as you take them and correct for abnormalities in your light source’s color–you could do this in Photoshop too, but it’s nice to see it in your camera’s LCD VF so you know what you’re getting in advance.

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Thank you for the tip. I’ve jotted down notes based on your comment into my sketchbook and will keep it in mind when I redo the photoshoot. The husband took our good camera with him to China. =( When he returns with said camera, I’ll try what you said and let you know how it goes.

    By the way, I DID gather all the free-standing lights we had at home and shined them on the products for those photos. Didn’t seem to work. We just don’t own enough free-standing light sources I guess. =/


  • refresh_daemon

    The big trick is not to shine the lights directly on the products, but diffuse the light with translucent material or “bounce” the light off of bright white objects. If you notice, on your earlier pictures that the direct light creates a warm glow on parts of your products (like the right side of the red tote in the Handbags 101 picture), which can make the color uneven and the product seem a touch harsh. Diffusing the light will help even that out. Also, you might want to play with your multiple light sources to change the way your products cast shadows or use them to “fill” the darker parts of the product. Try moving around your lights and diffusion media until your product is evenly lit.

    Of course, I hope some day you have the budget to just pay a professional photographer (perhaps with a studio and lighting setup) to help capture the beauty of your product on film (or RAW, I suppose in this day and age). Until then, keep it up! Looks like you’ve been learning a lot from your experiences already.