Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Low Cost Photo Studio for Selling Online on eBay, Bonanza, etc.

It is easy to make a low cost photo studio to take pictures for your online listings on Bonanza, eBay, or any other site you sell on.

If you do not have a mannequin to display your clothing items on, you will need to find a place in your home to display them.  Laying them out on the floor or a bed is not attractive and fails to give you a good perspective of the true shape of the garment.  Hanging the garments on hangers is good, but then you need a place to hang the hanger to get good photos.  Doors are not very practical, and if your house is like mine, there isn't another location that is any better.  That was the trouble I had, so I came up with a solution.  Even if you use a mannequin, you still need a nice background and this will solve that problem for you too.

First, I bought some PVC pipe and made a frame.  Actually, I had my husband make it for me.  I determined what size I wanted and then had him make 3 sections for me.  He spray painted them for me so they would look nice.  I used electrical ties to hold the three sections together and have them hinged in order to stand.  These first two photos show the frame from two different angles, in the location where I use it.

Next, you will need to have a solid color fabric to hang over the top of the frame.  Mine is in two pieces.  You can have a few colors on hand so that you can change them out as needed, depending on the color of the items you are photographing. 

As you can see, I have the fabric on the floor and have sufficient hanging over the top to hold it in place without using anything to attach it to the frame.

When taking photos without any extra lighting, it is very difficult to get them to come out with the correct coloring and there are dark shadows and it's hard to see details without using flash.  I have wasted many hours taking photos of the same item over and over and over in an attempt to get the perfect picture. 

There are studio lights that you can purchase to solve that problem and get the most professional results.  However, I live on a tight budget and cannot afford those lights at this time.

If you use the wrong lighting, you will have yellow-colored photos, like this one on the right.

As you can see, the 2 lights that I clamped to the top are not sufficient to light my items that I need to photograph.

Next, I added more lights and changed the light bulbs to the GE Reveal light bulbs.   You can also use the GE CFL Daylight bulbs, which might be even better than the Reveal bulbs. 

As you can see, there are still dark shadows and more lighting is needed to fill in the space with light.

Next I used a couple of TV tray tables to raise the height of the lights and added a couple of shorter lamps in an attempt to fill in the dark shadows.  These two photos show a garment hanging on the background with the lights illuminating it.

Now just setting up the lights and taking pictures isn't all there is to it.  I am not a professional photographer, so I try just about every setting on my camera there is in order to come up with something that works well. 

After trying many settings, and searching for information online, I came up with these settings, using a Sony CyberShot, for my pictures taken in my low cost photo studio.
  • Metering - Center
  • Focus - Center AF
  • WB - WB Auto
  • ISO - 100
  • EV - -1.0EV
  • RecMode - Normal
  • Image Size - 12m
  • Color Mode - Normal
  • D-R - D-R Off DRO Standard
  • No flash, or Flash Level -

When taking actual photos to use in a listing, I do not stand back to get the lights in the pictures.  I get up close enough to keep the lights out of the picture and then I crop the photos.  This is an actual photo used in one of my listings.

It isn't perfect, but with more practice, and experimenting with lighting and camera settings, my photos will get better.

You may view the listing here: Dream On Negligee Nightgown Nightie size Large