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Shooting to sell? Better photos may lead to higher bids.
Do you sell stuff via Internet auction web sites such as eBay? Studies show that products get more bids and sell for higher closing prices when they’re photographed well. Here are some techniques you can use to improve your eBay product photography.
An easy studio setup for smaller items
With a very small investment, you can improve the quality of your photos of smaller items—up to the size of a toaster—by simplifying your background. Ideally, you should use a white seamless backdrop. These are very inexpensive, from a 2x3-foot oak-tag sheet that you can buy at any local arts supply shop for a dollar or two, to wider, longer seamless white backdrops for less than $20.
Before: Product on a table and off-white wall and far away. We can do better!
Here’s how to assemble a quick, cheap and simple product photography studio in your backyard.
Set a table against a wall outside your house (or facing a window indoors). Place the white background so it’s against the wall and falling onto the table. Use tape to keep it fixed to the wall. Choose location and time of day so your shooting area is not in direct sunlight. A cloudy day is ideal.
Put your camera on a tripod if you can. Use a second sheet of white paper as a bounce card (or use disc reflector) to reflect light into your subject. This will illuminate details, and is especially important when shooting darker subjects. Do not use flash!
Set your camera’s exposure compensation to +1 stop, to compensate for the field of white. If your camera has scene mode, choose cloudy day or shade mode.
Use a moderate telephoto setting, fill the frame with your subject, and make sure only the white backdrop is visible in the background. Done with care, your auction photos will look like they were shot in a studio!
OUTDOOR STUDIO PLUSSES AND MINUSES
• Quick to set up
• Weather has to cooperate
• Not much control over light
Zoom in: Looks like a studio shot, but this was taken in my living room!
Shooting to sell? Get closer!
The three biggest mistakes sellers make when photographing eBay products are using the on-camera flash, having a cluttered background, and not getting close enough the product.
Yesterday we talked about simplifying the background by using a seamless, white backdrop. Today, we’ll talk about getting closer.
Fill the frame: No unnecessary space here—even though it’s a vertical subject in a horizontal frame, I filled the vertical space completely.
When taking an overview of your product, fill the frame with it. The bottom should almost touch the bottom border of the image, the top should almost touch the top border. If you see a lot of space surrounding your product, move in closer. If your camera won’t focus close enough, you need to invest in a closer-focusing camera. Many compact digital cameras focus close enough to capture even small subjects in macro mode. Some even focus to an inch or two from the front of the lens—so if you’re selling rings, for instance, you need a camera that focuses that close.
Show details: They may reveal important information about the product’s condition that will affect price—for better or worse.
You aren’t limited to one shot, so make sure to get in close and photograph relevant details. You can use this to show controls and smaller features of interest, or even to record the condition (wear and tear) of the item you’re selling. Again, use macro mode. Make sure there’s plenty of diffused light (shoot outside, as suggested yesterday). Use a tripod so your pictures are sharp.