Photographing my jewelry is one of my greatest ongoing challenges. Like many Etsy sellers, photography is just not my thing, but it’s a critical part of my selling process.
My house is dark inside and surrounded by a jungle of tropical plants so ‘shoot near a window’ doesn’t work for me. I struggle to get crisp colours and a clean background.
But after months of trial and error, and hundreds of grey, gloomy photos, I came up with a solution that’s working pretty well for me—and it’s really simple.
Here’s a bracelet I photographed using my new system:
Not too shabby is it? There are loads of websites that show you how to make lightboxes from cardboard boxes and tracing paper. And then there are those wrinkly-looking photography ’cubes’ - but none of them float my boat, so I created my own one.
Drumroll….here it is:
1. A shiny new plastic storage container from Target – it’s about 14 inches deep.
2. A piece a very white, firm paper. I bought a whole pad-full of this paper from Michael’s, so if I dirty the surface I can just tear out a fresh one.
3. A piece of white foam board.
The plastic box works like tracing paper—it lets a lot of light in, but softens it and reduces harsh reflections.
The paper is firm enough to make a great mini infinity curve, so I get a smooth background. I stick the paper to the box with a few pieces of tape. That’s another great thing about using a plastic box…you can stick stuff all over it and rip it off again without damaging the box.
I place the foam board under the plastic box to reflect much-needed light up onto the sides of the box. I have to take my photos outside, so I choose a shady spot with no direct sunlight. I shoot before 11am when the light is not directly above.
I have the whole set-up perched on a fold-up luggage rack from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I like that I can easily collapse the rack and store it behind my closet door—light isn’t the only thing that’s at a premium in my house.
Sometimes I use a slightly different set-up. I shoot on the patio, which is covered, and I position an OTT-Lite on each side of the box for extra light. The plastic diffuses the light so it softens.
Here’s another image I took in my handmade lightbox, and then lightened a little using picmonkey.com. I stuck the thread to the sides of the box using packaging tape. You can’t easily do that in a cardboard lighbox or a crinkly cube!
Finally, here’s another finished shot that I took in the lightbox. I lightened it and brightened it in PhotoShop, but you can see by the original below it that it didn’t need much work.
For people who have asked about the little ‘columns’ in the third photo, that thing is a ‘Chain Sta’. It’s designed to hold thread or chain in place while you’re working with it, but I use it for many other crafty things too. It has two little posts to hook chain on, and little jaws for holding thread or wire.
You can see it and buy it here: www.artbeads.com/chnstay.html?icid=reccat
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