Thursday , 16 September 2021
Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up

Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up



Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up

Anderson Soap Company is one of the most successful Etsy sellers with LOADS of sales!  This photography demo uses his liquid soap as the photography example.  Look at his Etsy shop to observe the consistency in picture styles that creates a cohesive photo theme of all his products.  Learn from the best – browse his shop – and you might even find some soap you’ve gotta have!

Product Photography Tips

I took this picture in my kitchen. It looks like a photograph I could have done in the studio, using complicated lighting equipment. I did not. Here is a step by step guide showing you how you can to do it.

Product Photography Tips

Here’s what you’ll need for this product photography set up.

1. A cardboard box you can use to cut a piece from.

2. A roll of aluminum foil, it’s easier with a wider one.

3. A piece of tracing paper of at least 20” of width and 3 feet in length. You can also use any white, no color, translucent material that you have around your home.

4. One 6” spring clamp.

Product Photography Tips

This is one of those times when bigger is indeed better.

Cut a flat panel from the box that is much bigger than the thing you want to photograph. Make it as big as you can but not so much that it becomes unhandy to move around.

Product Photography Tips

1. Cut a piece of foil a bit larger than the cardboard. You can use several pieces of foil to cover the board if you need to.

2. The duller side of the aluminum foil will give a softer light than the shinny side – the shiny side will reflect much more light . I used the dull side for this picture.

3. Fold around the cardboard and tape it.

4. Congratulations! You just made a reflective card.

Product Photography Tips

Now you will need to redecorate your home a bit, move a table as close to a window as you can.

Product Photography Tips

Is your furniture high enough? Make sure that the top of the table is higher than the window sill.

Don’t let the neighbors watch. Tape the piece of tracing paper to the window. Use a single piece to avoid seeing seams and put the paper so it goes down the window well below the top of the table.

Product Photography Tips

Put a long piece of aluminum foil on the table, I used the dull side up for this picture. Place your product close to the window.

Fold down the foil to have a clean edge.

Product Photography Tips

Use the card so the light coming in from the window bounces back to reach the bottle.

Product Photography Tips

Play with the angle of the card to find the position that puts the most light on your product.

Product Photography Tips

Once you find an angle you like move the card as close as you can to the product – without showing it in the picture.

Product Photography Tips

Now you are ready to take a picture!

Take many. Try taking a few too light pictures and some too dark too. Try different camera angles as well. You can choose later the one you like best.

Product Photography Tips



Looking for more photography help?

How-To Make and Use a Light Box to Improve Your Product Photography
Simple Photography Setup

The 5 Cs of Product Photography

5 iphone photography apps worth downloading

More product photography tips

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  1. Brilliant! Thank you so much for this helpful article.

  2. Fantastic outcome, and love the affordable way you did it. This is worth a try! I thought indoors under a down light was good for my photos. Then I took some outside on an overcast day. That was soooo much better (which I didn’t expect). I couldn’t even see the item on my camera screen. I didn’t think it was going to work. That has made me want to try a few other things. This is a good one to put into action. Thanks!

  3. this is terrific. Easy to understand – and your illustrative photos make it look as easy as you say!
    I’m definitely trying this one.


  4. Thank you so much for a brief instruction. Your instruction seems to be very simple and easy to understand. I will definitely try it.. Thanks again for sharing.

  5. Wow. Ill have to give that a try!

  6. thanks for this tutorial, I’ll be trying it next photo shoot!

  7. I asked in the forums, but I forgot I can ask here…*lol*

    I’d like to know if this technique would work with a darker background.

    I use charcoal-colored, slightly textured paper for my backdrop but my apt is badly lit and so I always end up with noisy, dark photographs here. That makes me stuck shooting at work and I only get one hour to do it and only during the week.

    I’ve tried diffused lamps but I don’t like the lighting as much as I like natural light. If this could help me get more light to my items, it would save me so much in terms of production time and I could actually post my items more often!

    Thanks for you time!

  8. Thank you for the tutorial. I’ve been struggling to get good images using an inexpensive light box setup to natural light and haven’t been very successful so far. This gives me new hope.

  9. Thanks so so much. This is just what I needed!!! Can’t wait to try it for my next headband!

  10. wow thanks a lot, i’m gonna have some new jewellery to shoot and i was just wondering how.
    great tip, looking forward to read the next.

  11. I never thought of using foil for a base! I like the effect. I sometimes use shimmery paper and on occasion my old camera would “freak out”. I will try this with my new camera!

  12. Love this idea…thank you so much! You guys ROCK!!!!

  13. Thanks for the great info. What if you are photographing jewelry or sculptural items that are usually photographed flat ? How does one eliminate unwanted reflections on highly reflective silver jewelry?
    Thanks again!

  14. Excellent idea! Way simpler than putzing with the cheapo light box I made. Thanks again

  15. Ohhh this is so fantastic. Definitely going to have to try this out! ♥

  16. Wow! I can’t wait to try this :)

  17. This is so awesome, thank you for the excellent idea! I will definitely use this to better my photographs!

  18. Great! Any tips for photographing clothing when you don’t have a model please?

  19. Amazing…thanks for the marvelous information!

  20. This is super ! I’ll definately give it a try

  21. Thanks for these ‘easy to follow’ tips on improving product photography. I can’t wait to try it out on the weekend when I am at home during the daylight hours.

  22. Really great and very helpful idea. Thank you so much !

  23. Wow! This is amazing. I’ve tried similar set ups, but my photos are no where as nice as these.

    Is it important to shoot at a particular time of day? Like morning light or late afternoon?

    Thank you!

  24. Brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing!

  25. I’m quite the “visual” learner, and your step-by-step photos were just what I needed to completely understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you–I’m going to try this right away!

  26. Awesome post!! Thank you so much!

  27. I love this one great step by step but can we see one that is for something bigger like clothing♥

  28. Excellent. Great instructions! Will give it a try next time. Birgitte

  29. You really did a great job explaining how you shot this. Very nice work!!

  30. Wonderful. I am giving this a try tomorrow. It cant get much easier and inexpensive too. Thanks.

  31. Wow! This is better and so different than most “easy” set-ups I’ve seen. Can’t wait ’till next week!! (and I can’t wait to try this out!) :D


  32. Awesome article! Thanks so much for posting!

  33. Wow!!! Just what I’ve been looking for, I take horrible photos. Now, I have a “lighting” chance. You’re my HERO!!!

  34. Thank you for the great tutorial!

  35. Whoa! This is so great. Thanks so much!

  36. I never thought about the foil but what a fantastic idea!!! Thank you for sharing with us. I’ll definetely try it.

  37. Thanks I’m going to add foil to my cheap photo setup.

    Thanks again for the fantastic tips!

  38. I luv it when people know what they’re talking about!

  39. Wow. This is great! I can’t wait to use this!

  40. this is great. I’ll have to try. My only problem is that I live in Seattle, it’s winter, and it’s grey grey grey…. But I’m willing to try! I also take a lot of my blog pictures at night… any suggestions for that?

  41. Wow! This is amazing!!! I can’t wait to use this!!! Incredible!!! Gracias, gracias, gracias!!!

  42. Amazing. Thanks for writing this easy to follow piece. We often hear from clients who want us to build them an e-commerce website but can’t afford professionally taken shots of their products. I’ll send them the link to this article and tell them to DIY! Thanks

  43. You made it so easy to understand by showing the step by step directions in your photos. Thank you for the great tips!

  44. Wow! This is great! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Do you have any suggestions on how to photograph fabric to make it look as good as it can be? I design and sell original fabrics, and I have a vision in my head of how I want it to look, but struggle to actually execute my creative ideas.
    I feel like something is missing:
    Please tell me what you think that missing ingredient is:

  45. Thanks for this great tutorial. Can’t wait to try it out.

  46. This is a wonderful tip. I was struggling all the time to take the perfect pictures….
    it would be great if you gave us some tips on how to take pictures to jewelry as well…:-) many would appreciate it, right?

  47. What a great, easy set up! And the results look so good!

  48. Great idea. Perhaps some suggestions on photographing framed pictures or mounted clothing.
    Thanks for your post.

  49. Like someone asked above, do you have any suggestions for photographing fabric?
    I make bras and I’d love a way to photograph them (not on a body) that looks professional.
    Here’s something I’ve tried but still doesn’t look as good as what you did for the bottle.

    • Hi Ann,

      The lighting in your photos is quite good, it’s great to see you are using a lot of natural light!

      Maybe if you stuffed your bras somehow (pinning something inside that fills them?) for the first photo, that would make it look much better. Use a plain coloured background without the texture that the blanket in your photo has and that should improve the picture as well. Also, try using Macro mode on your camera to get great detail.

      Hope this helps!

  50. what a great idea! thanks!

  51. I’m tweeting and sharing and BUILDING ONE RIGHT NOW will share on my blog later this week!

  52. Are you kidding me??? Thisnis then best photo info ever, I cannot wait to try it tomorrow!!

  53. Wonderful idea!!!! THank you rom my husband – photographer!!!!

  54. Excellent, i love this set up !

  55. thank you so much for sharing!
    great ideas!

  56. That is such a clever way to use found objects and natural light to get awesome results. I may have to try something like that for my Stone Trees, It’s about time to get new photos of them.

  57. Love the way you lay the steps out so clearly, thank you. I was wondering about the foil reflector though. Would it be easier to use a mirror to reflect back the light from the window? Just wondering…

  58. Hi! Great article! But no one ever addresses photographing large items like mine….and floral items. I’ve compiled tips from lots of different sources. I have to always shoot outside, right after the sun goes down. I work full time so I’m always racing with the sun and the sun usually wins. These were taken around 4:00 this past Sunday, very cloudy day, a little sun, not much. I’m sure you’ll find lots wrong, but I never stop trying. Thanks. laurie

    • Hi Laurie,

      Personally, I think your photos are fantastic. I especially like the wreaths agains the grey wood background because it doesn’t distract. If you wanted to add a little more something to the pictures you already have, just use a photo editing program on your computer to lighten the photo & add a little contrast.


  59. Thanks for that, very helpful. Will this work for jewelry though?

  60. I am anxious to give this a try. Thanks for your help! MJ

  61. Thank you very much for this. Just gave it a go in my room. Having great fun with it. <- My attempt.

    Thanks again

  62. FANTASTIC article & great photos of the process to create this set-up — making it very easy to understand & replicate.
    Thanks so much!

  63. Very good demo! I was an art director for 25 years and back-lighting like this is very pretty and effective. Just a note, if you don’t like the foil under your piece you can substitute with a very large piece of bright white paper and if you put a piece of clear glass over that you will get a beautiful reflection

  64. Fantastic. Cant’ wait for the sun to shine tomorow so I can try this technique. Thank you!

  65. This is great information. I’m going to try it out this weekend because I really need some new product photos. Thanks for sharing.

  66. wonderful tip! Do you have any advice how to photograph my pottery on the quick and easy?

    Check out my photos in my shop.

    I use a homemade lightbox, using whites sheets to filter out light (direct sun in summer, 3 lamps in winter) and using white foam core to bounce light back to the piece.

    thanks, Karen

  67. I am going to try this, I have been using a light box I bought off Ebay, $30. But want more freedom. I am anxious to try this tomorrow, when it is daylight. Thank you for the wonderful description and pics.

  68. StumbleUpon brought this page to me at just the perfect time. I’m starting up a shop on Etsy and this is even better than what I thought I needed. Thank you so much for putting this together!

  69. Thanks! Simplicity is beautiful!

  70. Do you have any tips for photographing paper products. I have been photographing outside but that can be really inconsistant. just yesterday purchase a studio light. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

  71. I normally take my pottery photos outside later in the afternoon for a nice shot. But I struggle in the winter here in Wisconsin-very few days I can get outside. It also id quite grey for days at a time. I really look forward to trying this ne w technique.

  72. Thank you! I just posted a blog about this showing my before and after photos. I can’t thank you enough!!

  73. Definitely an extremely easy poor mans product studio. This will definitely come in handy, thanks for sharing!

  74. This is great, I would love to know how I can photograp my items. I can only photograp on the weekends as I work full time. If the weather is bad, which often happens, then its indoors. I have use two spot lights. But I would love to hear how others manage with larger items.

  75. Great idea! I love the idea of the aluminum foil but I too have a dark apartment, with very little natural light. Can you do this with a very bright light if you don’t have access to the natural light.

  76. Absolutely brilliant. This looks like some of the rigging I do for product photography. I’ve used a simple speedlite flash, white poster board and a kitchen counter to do the trick.

  77. Great minds think a-like. I’m always on a budget so I thought about doing something like this a long time ago. The opportunity never came up to use it.

    But I’m glad that’s a viable option! Thank you!

  78. Most Excellent… Thank You.. ingenious! I will definitely benefit from this trick!!!!

  79. Great tips… now I need to do them!!!

  80. I AM GOBSMACKED ! Sorry for lowering the tone, but this was such an eye-opener
    to me ! I’ve been struggling with so many aspects and additional skills I need for marketing and selling, but this must be the most practical and instant bit of advice – THANK YOU ! x

  81. wow..this is a great idea!!
    .. thanks for sharing! :))

  82. I love this! Tried it on a sunny day and got great results – thanks!

    What do you recommend for rainy days? I live on the west coast and sunny days are too reliable around here. I’m also using two work lamps from Home Depot that emit a 6500K light for additional lighting. They are compact fluorescent at 300w equivalent. Any ideas?

  83. Awesome! Thank you so much!

  84. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful idea! I try to make my photos as dynamic as possible for my Etsy shop and this will definitely be a technique I will try!
    Micki from A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography

  85. Love this! Now I need to move the cat’s bed off my window seat and attempt this. Riiight…that’s going to work out great. lol

  86. Thanks so much for this. It’s really helpful.

  87. can you do this for food too???

  88. I will definitly try this! I have lupus and am not to be outside much. That includes for photography! This may be my answer.

  89. Thanks for the detailed information on shooting in front of a window. I will try the foil too. I am wondering though, how to get silver jewelry photographed against a black background. I have been told by other etsy sellers that silver jewelry looks best against black but they are always out of focus. I understand that black background needs longer exposure but don’t know how to do that. I have used a tripod and self timer but it hasn’t helped at all.

    • What about doing this for the silver jewelry with the white/foil setup? Does it get too washed out?
      I keep getting comments that my website or catalog might look more professional with the white background, but I feel like they always end up too washed out. Any tips? Thanks!

  90. I am SO trying this tomorrow! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial!

  91. You are so kind to us. Thanks for sharing inexpensive ways to create beautiful photographs of our art. I appreciate it.

  92. Great article. Fun and informative. I obviously missed it the first time around so thanks for running it again.

  93. Awesome idea! Thank you for posting!

  94. This is really a good one I can’t wait to try it and the good thing is that I think I already have everything that I’ll need.

  95. WOW! Thanks for sharing, will it work with Jewelry too? Thx ;))

  96. Wow, I am going to try this for sure! Thanks for the great tips.

  97. As a professional photographer I have to admit that that is brilliant.

  98. Really great and helpful article. I’d like to figure out how this might translate to photographing t-shirts.

  99. WoW! WTF! I have been struggling w/ photos too, and this looks so simple and awesome! I can’t wait to try it too. Thank you so much, looking forward to reading more

  100. Thanks for the demo, I really found that useful information which I will be putting into practice.

  101. Love this thank you so much!!!! I pinned it and am using this setup now!

  102. Thank you so much for such an easy and effective strategy! I was trying to figure out how to get good photos for my etsy store and this was super helpful!

  103. Excellent. Thanks so much.

  104. Love this post! It’s wonderfully simple and absolutely essential for selling and posting images online. Everyone should try it. It really works.

  105. I need a quote for over 50 products shots please

  106. Wow, amazing. However, does this method work well with glass covered artwork? I have awful experience with reflection but couldn’t use the light box because of the size of my artwork. It would be wonderful if this method can help.

  107. I’m going to try this! I have spent so much time doing battle with the light issue -

  108. We also have a post on our blog about product photography for entrepreneurs who sell online but don’t have the means for hiring a professional to do their product photoshoots or have the technical know-how of photography. They are basic tips and tricks which anyone can use to click better photos. Here’s the link. Please do read. :)

  109. WOW, thanks so much for this article! I have been wondering how everyone on Etsy has such professional like studios in all their houses. I’m going to try this right away.
    One question, the window in my kitchen faces west…do you recommend a time of day to try this for optimal lighting through the paper?? Thanks again!!

  110. Thank you so much, I will be trying this out today. It’s been a challenge to get good photographs especially with the reflection off the glass….will see if this resolves it.

  111. Excellent tutorial, much affordable than other lighting setup.

  112. Thank you so much for this article.

    I bought a light box and used it with some desk lamps and that greatly improved my pictures but they still needed more light.

    I couldn’t figure out what to do. I thought I would have to go buy professional quality lamps, etc.

    The tin foil (dull side up) was just the think I needed to bounce a bit more light on my jewelry.

  113. Wat a grate tutorial!!! Thank you :-)

  114. What a grate tutorial!!! Thank you :-)

  115. This is a great article and very easy to use instructions. Thanks so much. Look forward to the next one.

  116. Wow! So simple! Had been trying to figure out how to diffuse the light for photographs. Too easy. Thank you for sharing!

  117. Thank you so much!!! I’ll be improving my photos soon :))

  118. So helpful! Thank you:)

  119. This really helps me alot on small product shooting!

  120. What if you do not have natural light?

  121. Thank you for your info. You take away my worries on how to photograph my crafts. Thanks a millions.

  122. Thank you for sharing your tips, I’ ve just try it and post my results on my blog with a diy inspired on yours.
    Next time I would take photos of my handmade dolls.
    Love your web.

  123. The pictures are not coming up with the instructions. What should I do to see them?

  124. Does the amount of light I have in my window compared to yours will change something? I have less light but with the reflector it should be ok? Also is the foil a good idea for metal jewelry? Thank you!

  125. great tutorial which I have to try at low cost

    thank you for sharing

  126. Hey there — going to try this today, thanks!! I can’t find the follow-up article mentioned, though (about how to edit the photos) — can someone please post the link?

  127. Very helpful. Thank you!

  128. Can you show a good way to photograph artwork? Would this work for art?

  129. Wow! I will have to try this! As you see here: my shop photos are kind of bad. This will help very much!

  130. This works amazingly well. I have tried a light box and lighting, but could never get the results I wanted until I tried this! Thanks!

  131. Something easier! PIXELIO will help you to create professional product photography, pack shot, 360 degree movie & much more! What you need is: PIXELIO + your smartphone + free app.
    Check the results:

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