Do you sell physical products online? No matter what you sell or which platform you use, having high quality photos is essential. Since prospective customers can’t always see your product in person, photos are what bring it to life. They can also present a clear and descriptive view of what customers can expect, helping set expectations and avoid disappointment.
When it comes to my Etsy shop, I’ve tried a few photo setups over the years. I’ve tried natural light, stand lights, and using a lightbox. And after shooting over 800 products, I have to say that my preference is to use a lightbox for product photography.
Here’s how I use mine to take great product photos.
Why use a lightbox for product photography
The greatest advantage to using a lightbox is that it filters the light and eliminates both reflections and shadows. It lets you shoot great photos day or night, with greater control over getting a consistent image.
Buy your optimal lightbox
When shopping for a lightbox, look for something that’s large enough to fit your product with any props and staging.
You likely also want a lightbox that’s either all white, or comes with a white background. This is the most versatile colour for shooting products and prevents you from getting a colour cast in your images.
Lastly, consider whether you plan on shooting into the lightbox from the side and/or the top, and find one that works with that.
The lightbox I use is from Amazon.ca: the Neewer 20×20 inch Photo Studio Shooting Tent. It doesn’t look like they carry it on the American version of Amazon, but they seem to have a newer version of the exact same lightbox.
…and a set of lights
Next you’ll want to buy a lighting kit if you don’t already have one. By positioning lights on the sides of the lightbox, you create brightness without shadows.
I have the CowboyStudio Umbrella Continuous Triple Lighting Kit, also from Amazon. I use two of the stands, without the umbrellas, and set them up on either side of the light box.
Set Everything Up
Then I position two lightstands at a low height facing inwards on either side of the lightbox. The bulbs should be no higher than the halfway mark height-wise within the lightbox.
Lastly, I set up a step ladder (like this one) so that I can easily shoot into the top of the lightbox. I do this because I like to photograph my products with a bird’s eye view, though you could certainly have the opening facing towards you if you’d rather shoot products from the side or slightly above.
Grab Your Finishing Touches
There are a few other details I make sure I have in order before taking photos.
Choose backgrounds that bring your product to life. I print out patters on thick cardstock and use them as backdrops for my products.
Use props that tell the story of your product, help show scale, and even suggest how to use it. For my planner stickers, I often shoot them lying on top of a planner to clearly indicate what they are for and give perspective on the size of the sheet.
Make sure your camera is charged and has a memory card with space! My pick is the Canon Rebel t3i which is no longer available, but this Canon Rebel T6 kit looks to be fantastic value.
After turning on my lights, I set up my shot with the background paper, planner, and sticker sheet, and prepare the other sheets to be photographed in a neat stack. Then I hop onto the step ladder and shoot a few pictures of each product, looking down into the lightbox.
Here’s a sample of what a picture looks like before editing.
Edit Your Photos
Once you’re done, use a software like iPhoto to edit your photos. I typically brighten mine and crop out anything I I don’t want to show.
Here’s the edited version of the previous photo.
Do You Run an Etsy Shop?
I have tons of posts for Etsy sellers!
If you haven’t already, check out these foundational posts:
How to Sell Things on Etsy: What You Need to Know: An introduction to the platform, including what Etsy is, what you can sell, the benefits of selling on Etsy, Etsy fees, and a high level overview of what running a shop entails.
How to Start Selling on Etsy Successfully: Guidance on choosing what to sell, naming your shop, finding suppliers, determining your shipping strategy, pricing your products, photographing your products, and listing them.
Making Money on Etsy: How I Doubled My Income on the Cheap: The specific steps I took to double my revenue on Etsy without spending much on advertising or materials.
The Quick and Easy Guide to Setting up an Etsy Store: A screen-by-screen walkthrough of the process of setting up your Etsy shop.
Have you ever used a lightbox for product photography? Do you have any tips for taking great photos? Leave a comment and let me know!