Ebay Product Photography: Small Indoor Items :: Digital Photo Secrets

Ebay Product Photography: Small Indoor Items

by David Peterson 4 comments

We all have stuff lying around. It’s the little things we keep in our houses, the knicknacks, the paddywhacks, and the digital appliances we don’t use anymore. Why not sell them on Ebay, make a little money, and clear up some space? You can get a better return on small indoor items when you take crisp and clean pictures using a photo studio. In this article, I’ll show you how.

Most people don’t even bother to setup a home studio when taking pictures for Ebay. They more or less assume it doesn’t matter that much, so they lay the product on the table, pop out the flash, and let it rip. This is usually results in an unevenly lit photo that doesn’t do your product any justice. People assume that because you don’t care enough to take a good photo, you’re just trying to get rid of your merchandise. With that kind of thinking, they end up bidding much lower.

Here's my first attempt at an ebay product photograph, placing the object on the floor using the standard settings of my camera.

To get more for your goods, you need to take care of two things. You first need to stop using your camera’s pop up flash, and you also need to give your item a less distracting backdrop. Just doing those two things alone will practically guarantee a much higher selling price.

The cheapest photo studio you’ll ever buy

For most small product photos, a white backdrop of any kind can do wonders. You don’t need to go out and buy a softbox or anything like that. You can head over to your local craft store and pick up a big piece of white poster board instead. Just make sure it’s flexible enough to bend around the bottom corner where your wall meets the floor.

You’re going to create a very simple photo studio on the ground just by bending a piece of poster board next to the wall. The white backdrop will reflect any extra light, helping to evenly expose the image of your product. If you want, you can also hold a white piece of paper over the top of your mini-photo studio as your camera takes the picture. This will help direct more light to the top of your product.

If the room you are shooting in doesn’t have enough light, consider getting a small studio lamp of some kind. Angle this at about 45 degrees from your product, and make sure you get a bright white bulb. You will end up adjusting your white balance anyway, but having a white light source will help to remove a few variables in this whole process.

Here's the makeshift studio I created for my small item.

When you take your Ebay photos...

Make sure there are no pieces of the wall in the photo. The background should be a solid white. You can do this by zooming in further or adjusting your camera angle. If you still can’t manage to keep the wall out of the shot, you can always crop it out with Photo editing software later on. I’m just telling you this so you don’t have to go through an extra step when you think you’re all done.

Never use the flash that’s mounted on your camera. The light from it is too harsh for Ebay photos. It produces big white spots that make it practically impossible for your buyers to figure out what they’re getting. Tripods are the way to go. When you set your camera on a tripod, you can get away with using slower shutter speeds and no flash. You’ll end up with a much more detailed image that will help you sell your product.

Don’t forget the white balance

White balance can play a critical role when you’re taking pictures indoors. What kind of light are you using to illuminate your little home setup? Is it fluorescent? Is it incandescent? Your camera has many different white balance modes for all kinds of shooting situations. Pick the one that best matches your light source, and your Ebay product photos won’t have any weird color tinges.

Here's the same item, but this time not using the camera's flash, adding the makeshift white background, and setting the white balance.

It also pays to get a few up close and personal shots of whatever you’re selling. Ebay buyers are especially concerned about tiny flaws and imperfections. Don’t try to hide them! Be honest and straightforward by taking many more photos than is necessary. Show the imperfections from multiple angles so your buyers know exactly what they’re getting. Believe me, they’ll reward you with a higher sale price.

So there you go. For less than a few dollars, you can setup a home photo studio to take professional grade Ebay product pictures. Just remember to avoid using your camera’s built-in flash, use a tripod, and take as many closeup shots as you can.

Now go buy yourself a new digital gadget with all the money you’re making from the extra sales!

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  1. matt says:

    Hiya David,

    I particularly appreciate this post as you have used a "before and after" shot to highlight the points you are making. This is especially useful for teaching photographic techniques!

    Thanks for your tireless contributions to photography education/enjoyment

    Cape Town, S. Africa

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