Between Etsy, Ebay, and Craigslist, lots of people are selling their own handmade goods (or old junk) online. If you’re one of these e-sellers, you’ll quickly find out that the product shot is everything. In online retail, a picture is worth way more than 1,000 words since the buyer won’t be able to physically interact with the item and probably won’t read much of whatever you’re telling them. Just compare the two photos below of the Fuji X-Pro 2, one taken on a random table with an iPhone and one taken with proper lighting, a seamless, a tripod, a nice camera and lens, and some light retouching.
The best and easiest way to make your goods look great is to use professional lighting and equipment. Here, we’ll go over everything you need to make your DIY product images look professional, even if you’re a complete beginner.
1. Light Shed
The very first thing you should purchase is a light shed. These simple boxes of translucent felt and flexible wire make everything look better and come with seamless backdrop inserts, usually in both black and white. By placing your product in a light shed and your lighting source outside, the light gets softened and evened out, eliminating shadows and odd color effects. They also can be had for around $25, so if your budget is really tight this is the only place to start.
2. Camera and Lens
You may be able to get away with using your phone’s camera or a simple point and shoot for some decent photos in your new light shed, but if you want results you can be proud of you probably need a nicer camera and lens combo that gives you complete control over your image. You don’t have to go buy a $3,600 5DSR and $1,900 85mm f/1.2 L lens (though that would certainly do the trick), instead we recommend you opt for a quality entry level camera and lens like a $548 Sony a6000 and $169 Sigma 30mm f/2.8 lens.
While many different lighting setups could get you acceptable results, and even a regular lamp can work in a pinch, a brighter light will let you lower the ISO in your camera, giving you a cleaner image. Like everything else in photography, you can easily spend a small fortune on your lighting setup, but if you want a surprisingly inexpensive option that will still get you great results, go for the Impact VSD Digital Moonlight. This one comes with everything you need to get started including an 8′ stand, but for far less than most similar lights on the market.
Some people don’t think a tripod is necessary if you’re shooting faster than 1/30 second, but it’s still helpful to ensure all of your images come out looking sharp and that you have a consistent angle from one image to the next. If you’re looking for an easy to use, compact tripod that will still hold up to years of use, the Manfrotto Compact Action series is a great option.
With these four purchase, anyone can go from taking dull, unappealing snaps to getting the vibrant and clear images that really sell a product. There are lots of great combos of equipment to try out, but it’s important to make sure the items you choose are compatible with each other, particularly that your camera can trigger your flash. If you aren’t interested in sorting out all the details yourself, take a look at this E-Commerce Studio Kit, which has everything you need to take great photos of almost anything you might be selling. With the right gear, it’s easy to make your one-man operation look professional and boost your sales in no time.