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5 Steps to Building a Small Studio to Take Engaging Product Photos

 

If you run a small eCommerce business, taking product photos can be tricky. You understand the importance of quality product photos in growing your business, but you don’t have it in the budget to hire a professional photographer to get the quality that you want. We can help you up to your game with product photos by helping you create a space to take excellent photos using a lightbox.

 

Get a Box

You don’t need a big box, something that’s large enough to hold your products will be plenty. If you sell shoes or boots, an average moving box should be the right size to accommodate large sizes or tall boots. If you’re selling trading cards or showcasing office supplies, a shoebox might be sufficient. Although, you can use a large box to take photos of small items. There’s nothing wrong with using a box large enough to accommodate a pair of tall boots to do a photoshoot of a baseball cap. You can still get the lighting right and make the item look great.

 

Cut Windows in the Box

Before you get started cutting your box, it’s important to properly orient the way the box is going to be positioned. You’re going to want to use the main opening of the box as the front while fully closing the other side for the opposite side. The goal of your lightbox is to help properly distribute light across the item in which you’re photographing. This means that you’re going to want to filter light into the box from each side and above.

 

Your next step is to cut out windows on the sides of the box as well as the top. Make these windows nearly as big as the entire side of the box itself by leaving a one- to two-inch border around the outside.

 

Cover the Windows

Once you’ve cut the windows in the box, cover them with a translucent material. White vinyl table cloths, muslin blankets, nylon, or even old t-shirts are all great choices. If you’re planning on using t-shirts, use the same shirt for all sides as the brightness of the white shirt might not match. Each will disperse the light into the box to create even lighting throughout. You want the material to be sturdy if you’re planning on moving the box around. White tissue paper isn’t recommended as it could tear easily if you move the box and it also creates a fire hazard.

 

Get Lights

When it comes to buying the right lights for your box, it’s important to get “daylight” fluorescent bulbs as most traditional bulbs will give off a soft, yellow hue. LED lights are a great choice because they take a long time to heat up and there’s a much lower risk of scorching your window covers.

 

If you don’t already have light fixtures to use, buy lights that can be moved and shifted to light your box at the perfect angle. These could be lamps that swivel and bend or something as simple as two reading lamps and an overhead lamp.

 

Create Backdrops

A backdrop for your photos should serve multiple purposes. The first is that you’re able to create depth from the product itself. If you’ve used a large box, you have the option to put a backdrop far behind your product to create depth of field as well as forced perspective. You can take photos of products against a wood backdrop and create the blurry background that’s so popular.

 

A white backdrop is most common with product photos because you don’t have to worry about your depth of field. This creates a clean image with the illusion of a blank backdrop.

 

You can also use your backdrop to create a specific mood. As previously mentioned, wood will provide a rustic feel to your products that white will not. Should you want an industrial feel to your images, cold-rolled steel or corrugated metal sheets would do well.

 

Bonus Tips

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have many of the items readily available to build a lightbox, you can also use white paper or sheets next to a window. Place your product on a table and let the natural light come through the window. The white sheet should be pulled slightly back away from the product so as to avoid casting a shadow. Finally, place a mirror opposite the window to reflect lighting to the side of the product that’s away from the natural lighting.

 

One final tip, don’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new camera. Use your smartphone to take these pictures. The cameras that come on smartphones nowadays take high-quality photos and will autofocus so you don’t have to mess with any complex settings.

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