Growing and running a business can be expensive, so finding free or cheap ways to enhance your DIY product photos can be a HUGE savings.
We all need to invest in our business if we want to succeed, it’s inevitable. But it’s also important to invest wisely and save where you can. Product photography can get really expensive, really fast, even if you’re DIYing it. Equipment can come with huge price tags, and often can be complicated to learn.
I’ve put together a shortlist of my favourite free or cheap tools for DIY product photos for handmade sellers. Check ‘em out!
Despite having quite a bit of lighting equipment myself, I always prefer to use natural light whenever possible. Because, if you can get it right, it looks the best.
Natural light tends to render colours quite accurately, and is soft and even (if your setup is right). Set up your shooting space next to a bright window without any direct sunbeams filtering through for that dreamy natural light.
To make the most of that bright window + natural light setup, use white foam boards to contain the light to your shooting area. You can add one or two white foam boards to surround your product (behind it and on the side opposite the window) to majorly brighten up the space and avoid those strong shadows that can occur on the side of your product opposite the window.
You can also use white foam board to block off surroundings to reduce reflections on shiny products, as a background for a flat lay, and to hold a piece of poster board for a seamless background. Hot tip: tape some L brackets (for shelving) to the back of your foam boards so they stand upright and can easily be moved around.
Yes, that stuff that goes inside of drawers.
Contact paper comes in loads of different colours and patterns, with marble being my favourite. You can affix the contact to a piece of foam board for an attractive background for your products. Make sure you select a pattern that’s neutral and not too busy. It should show off your product, not steal the show. Also be sure to get a matte finish and not glossy. Glossy finishes will create an unsightly glare in your photos.
Great news! You don’t have to buy a whole bunch of cute props for your product photos. First of all, you should only be using one or two props for your product listing photos. Any more and you start to draw attention away from your product. Second, I bet your house and/or yard is packed FULL of props you could use for your photos.
Some of my very favourite props are simply plants. I love to grab plant life from outside and bring it inside to add a little colour and life to my photos. A well placed sprig of lavender can go a long way! You may even have some house plants that would be a good fit. Succulents are perfect for product photos!
If plants aren’t your thing or aren’t a good fit for your brand, I’m will to bet there are any number of other things around your home that would be perfect, depending on your products. A cute coffee mug or pen, a piece of ribbon, a nice jewelry dish, and so on can all make great props for your product photos. For more info on where to find props for your product photos, click here.
Quite possibly my favourite free tool - a lux meter app for your smartphone. You can download them for free on your iPhone or Android device and, using the camera sensor, they detect the amount of light in an area (aka lux). For product photography, a reading of 1000 lux or higher is ideal.
My picks for free lux meters are Galactica Lux Meter for iPhone and Lux Meter (Light Meter) for Android. Simply download the free app, open it up, and place the camera of your phone near where your product would be when you’re photographing it. The reading should indicate 1000 lux or higher. If not, add some white foam boards to strengthen the light, take readings in other areas of your home at different times of day, or try moving your lights closer if you’re using studio lighting. Keep experimenting until you get a decent reading.
And that’s it, friends! My top 5 free or cheap tools for DIY product photography. Do you have any to add to the list? If so, drop them in the comments!
Go-to product photography instructor for creatives since 2017
I'm a photographer and I teach makers, artists, and creatives how to take beautiful, compelling, and effective brand and product photos for their business.
With my signature straightforward teaching style and affinity for blending the technical with the creative, I'll teach you how to not just take a nice photo, but how to LOVE crafting stunning, stand-out images that significantly elevate your creative business.
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