Friday, October 24, 2014

Cheap background for your Etsy, Ebay, Artfire, Zibbet photos

If you sell online but aren't quite ready to invest in an elaborate photography backdrop and light box for your product shots, here's a solution that costs about $10.  You know those white fold-up displays that kids use for science fair projects?  They sell them at Target and similar stores near the school and office supplies.  Here's what the package looks like.

Be careful opening it, because although it is sturdy, the edges chip easily.  It's not a huge deal, since you will crop that part out of your photos.

Once out of the cellophane, the board opens up into a three-panel piece of foam board, about 1/4" thick that you can set up near a window in your home or apartment.  Choose the best window you can, because the light you get will make an enormous difference in your photos.  Natural light gives your product the most natural, accurate color and often alleviates the need for a flash, which can make your product look creepy strange if you don't use it right.  You'll have to experiment regarding the time of day and strength of light available, but soon you'll find the ideal window.  Often a slightly overcast day with a cloudy white sky works best.  Sometimes bright sunlight works if it's indirect, not streaming in directly onto the display board.  If you live in an urban apartment very close to another building or on an immense estate surrounded by trees (I hate you, by the way), you may not be able to find good natural light.  You might try taking the display board outdoors to use in light, overcast conditions.

So here is my closed, folded up display board on my dining table.  Doesn't look very bright in that room, does it?  But it will work fine.  I am laying the board horizontally and I will use the large middle panel for arranging the merchandise I want to photograph.  I will use one of the short panels to hide whatever garbage may be on my dining table.

Today I arranged to have an exceptional amount of junk on my table, just for you.  The curtain rod in my dining room fell and I haven't put it back up.  I can't open the other curtain until I do, because if I attempt it, the other rod could fall.  Meanwhile, my husband has a stack of bills he has to pay.  And there's a library book he is reading.  Plus I have a stack of photos in frames that I am going to do something creative with.

So now I open up one of the flaps of the board to hide the aforementioned junk.

I will place my product on the widest section of the board.  If I don't need the other short panel--which is now closest to me--I may simply tilt it up and let it reflect light onto the merchandise.  If the whole reflective thing is too confusing or doesn't work for you, don't worry about it. 

This is my product, a cowl neck scarf, photographed against the main part of the same board, on the same day, using only the light from a window to my right.  I cropped out all the debris and hoopla on the dining table and all we see is my hand knit cowl surrounded by lots of white.

If you sell on Etsy, you know having a white background is uber important. is loaded with white, so having crisp photos with white backgrounds enhances the Etsy look.  Some people don't like the Etsy look, but I think those who embrace it tend to have better sales. There are exceptions.  But I digress.  Also, if you sell on other online sites, it is still a giant plus to use a stark white background, because it puts focus on your product and makes for a sophisticated photograph.  I truly believe that a photo can make or break a sale.  I have seen what is probably perfectly viable merchandise online that I nevertheless didn't purchase merely because the photo was so dark or blurry that I wasn't confident it was what I wanted.

When I am finished taking the photos I need--and I will take a lot, because another mistake that sellers sometimes make is showing only one photo when they could have shown 5 or 10.  Wait, where was I?  Oh, yes, when I'm through taking photos, I will fold up the board and put it to the side of a shelf in my dining room, where it is unobtrusive and less likely to get kicked or scratched.

Now I need to figure out how to get that pesky curtain rod back up.

Visit Life's an Expedition on Etsy.

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