Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Tabletop Photography Set-Up

Today I’m giving you a peek behind the scenes of my Etsy store to show you how I photograph my items. One of the most asked questions on Etsy is “How can I take better photos of my items?” First, you need to have a decent understanding of photography and know how to use your camera. I’ll leave that up to you for now. Second, you need to control your light to achieve consistent color balance and exposure. That’s where an inexpensive tabletop studio can help. I only spent about $70 on mine, including the CFL light bulbs.

Light Tent

My equipment consists of:
36” light tent : The purpose of the tent is to diffuse the light. They come in all sizes and mine is fairly large. I purchased the tent alone, not as part of a kit, because I wanted to use my own lights. I got mine on Ebay.
Lights: I use two clamp lights with 100 watt daylight balanced CFL bulbs. Do not use regular fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. Supplemental light comes from the chandelier above the table and the window behind my set-up. I just clamp the lights on the backs of my dining room chairs and move them as needed.
Backdrops: The tent came with various colored backdrops and I always keep the white one attacNecklace Sethed. But I often place my own backdrop behind the subject to achieve a more appealing image. Try to find a backdrop that will give your shop a consistent look and won’t compete with the piece you’re photographing. Try cloth, scrapbook paper or stone tile. Add simple props for a professional look.
Digital Camera: Mine is a DSLR (Canon 50D) paired with a 100mm macro lens. Buy the best quality camera you can afford but don’t worry if it’s a point and shoot. You should always have your camera on a tripod and use macro mode (flower symbol) for small objects. If you can manually focus and set a custom white balance, that’s even better. Use the highest quality setting available in your camera and do not use flash. I can’t give a photography lesson here, but read your manual and get to know all the settings on your camera. Click here for an excellent website with digital photography tips and articles for beginners.
Tripod: Necessary for the sharpest image possible.

That’s my whole equipment list! With this set-up I can photograph many items in a short period of time. Then it’s on to… POST PROCESSING! Yes, you must do some photo editing on every single photo you plan to use. Tomorrow I’ll post some tips on how process and size your photos for use in your Etsy store.


Anonymous said...

Great set-up...thanks for sharing.

judė said...

As a photographer I have to say you have it down pat! Excellent set up and it gives you excellent photos. For anyone on Etsy to STILL think it's not a matter of having great photographs of their wares is just turning a blind eye. You've done very well... congrats!

chris said...

I work for a UK company that sells funiture and soft furnishings, so this guide was very informative.

You clearly take you work very seriously (rightly so) and use professional techiques to achieve professional results.

If only other companies could follow suite, the internet would be a better way.