Awesome Product Photos—Light Boxes

Rainbow Jewel

Many people have asked how I take awesome photos. Some think I have amazing photo equipment and a high-end camera. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Let you tell me my dirty secret: PhotoShop, a Cannon PowerShot 410, and a $15 mini-tripod (or sometimes a stack of books). Oh, and a 5 year-old iBook.

So yes, the quality of my photos rely that much on PhotoShop, as well as my tripod. To get the background so bright and white, I need to start out with decent pictures and a lot of time and patience. My method is time-consuming and definitely not fool-proof—something that I really found out this week when one of the lights in my kitchen went out.

With the loss of that one tiny light bulb, I went from bright and crisp photos to dull and over-exposed looking atrocities by using my same PhotoShop methods. My biggest problem is I live in Seattle. And it's October—the beginning of our "second season." My apartment doesn't have this thing called "natural light" that most other parts of the country experience. I open the blinds in the morning, and my living room looks exactly like it did before I opened them. The only difference is that I can suddenly see the over-cast skies and rain-soaked porch.

Having crap photos and trying to sell what I create online just doesn't work. So my response? It's time to make a cheap light box for taking product photos.

The following three links are tutorials on making a light box. Read them, learn from them, use them. And then invest in cheap consumer-end photo-editing software, or download the open-source and free The GIMP. Save your extra craft pennies and don't bother buying PhotoShop. With a light box in hand, you won't need it.

Light Box Tutorials:

Selling Your Wares On Flickr

A lot of people—on Etsy and elsewhere—use Flickr to promote their handcrafted wares or other services. When you think about it, it's a great idea: Using a community-based photo sharing site to show pictures of your items and entice buyers to purchase them. Flickr's "photo pools" make this even easier in that you can create groups of people and share photos based on themes; "for sale", crafts, knitting, "I made it myself", and so on. However, Flickr clearly states the following in their community guidlines:

Flickr is for personal use only. If you sell products, services or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account.

True to their word, they've been deleting personal accounts right and left. You can read about it in the Etsy forums, among many other craft venues. The ensuing witch hunts have also been noted over at Whipup, who sent an email requesting more clarification from the Flickr team. Flickr's response was posted in this blog post.

So far, photographers selling their services have been neglected in the witch hunts. While I can see why a photo sharing website would be reluctant to go after professional photographers, I've noticed many unscathed photographers on the site who are directly violating the user guidelines as much as any craftisan who advertises their wares via photos on Flickr. At this point in time, I feel like Flickr is unfairly playing favorites. If I hear otherwise in the future, I will certainly make a note of it on this blog.


Further Reading: