Soon after setting up my shop on Etsy.com it became apparent that one of the biggest challenges would be taking good pictures of the products I hoped to sell. I've mentioned before in my blog that I've been a photographer for quite a while, but small-product or table-top photography was never my specialty.
The key to any good photograph is the lighting, though, and I've had a lot of practice being aware of what the light is doing before I ever push that shutter button. So I thought I'd show you what I've been doing to get pictures like these:
I've seen where others have posted instructions for making your own light box or tent for small product photography and I've tried doing that, but my set up is simpler. I live in a very small house and I'm operating on a very small budget, so I needed something cheap that I could set up and take down quickly and store in a very small space. Here's what I came up with:
I use the light coming in through the sliding glass doors to my deck (which means I have certain times of the day that work best for this). I bought a couple of pieces of foamboard and scored one down the middle with an exacto knife, then folded it in half. One serves as the surface I place my object on as well as bouncing some light from the top of the frame. Another piece of foamboard, trimmed and scored and standing on end serves as a reflector when place opposite the light source, filling in shadows on the left side of the object. I can easily reposition the reflector as needed depending on the light coming from outside and the size of my subject. When I'm done, I can fold these pieces of foamboard flat and store them easily, even in my small house.
Here's another reflector I use that bounces a little more light. I recycled an old cannister of Instant Breakfast that has a silvered interior, cut the rims off , then cut it in half. When I set that opposite the light source I get more light wrapping around a small object like this:
Here's another view of the same thing:
I cropped this photo to take out the reflector on the left of the frame and used it for this listing in my Etsy shop:
(Edited to add: Since the link to this blog is still being shared from time to time, I'll try to keep this link updated to always show something currently listed in my shop.)
It's all about being aware of the light. It might help to set your camera to use the spot meter, if it has that capability (if you don't know what that means, leave me a comment and I'll explain further). You can also cover your foamboard reflector with aluminum foil if you need more light. If you try these tips, leave me a comment and let me know how it worked for you.