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How to create a small DIY photo studio on a budget.

05 March 2019

If you have small or medium sized products you need to photograph to put online, whether its for Amazon on your own website, then there is no need to hire an expensive studio. Creating a small DIY studio allows you to shoot at any time and will save you tons of money.  You will be surprised how far a DIY studio will get you. So let’s start!

Who is it a DIY studio for?

Setting up a DIY studio is an excellent option for anybody who has the desire to add their small or medium sized products to their online store but doesn’t have the means to hire a professional studio. A DIY studio is easy to set up and requires a minimum investment. If you’re going to shoot product images with a model, I recommend going with a professional studio. A professional studio will have all the correct lights, props and experience to help put your products into context. If you have small or medium sized products and willing put in the effort to understand lighting and angles , a DIY photo studio would be a great option.

“Post-production is essential to make your images look consistent and professional.”

What about a camera?

These days most smartphones have more than capable cameras. That being said, a good  DSLR or dedicated compact camera will go a long way and is worth the investment. All DSLR cameras also allow you to change the lenses, set manual exposure and adjust the aperture which will help improve the overall quality of the images by giving you more creative flexibility. Whether you are making use of a dedicated camera or your smartphone, a tripod is necessary to help you achieve steady, consistent shots at the same angles. 

Where should I create my photo space?

Good lighting is essential for good product photography, so try and get a spot with lots of natural soft light, not direct sunlight. We would recommend a soft side light if the natural light isn’t sufficient. Umbrella kits are cheap and will help create the perfect lighting situation. A reflector also does wonders to fill up dark spaces and can be bought or made inexpensively. Another part of your set up is the backdrop which can either be a white sheet, or a roll of white paper which you can also buy relatively cheaply. To sum up, your space should have a neutral backdrop with lots of soft light.  

What would you need?

A camera and tripod

Reflector to fill dark spaces (Fill light)

Table or platform preferably close to a window (Key light)

White paper or white sheet for a backdrop

Clamps or tape to tape to keep the backdrop in place

Umbrella light if the natural light isn’t enough (Key light)

Step 1

Setup your table close to a window (key light) and remember the aim is soft even light. If you don’t have a window with lots of natural light then set up umbrella light next to your photo space. 

Step 2

Set your backdrop up against a wall or somewhere where the backdrop can stay in place. Make sure the background curves up the wall to give it an impression of the background going on forever. Try and have it seamless but don’t worry about creases if you are using a sheet or paper because this can be taken care of in post-production. But the less it has the less work in post. Use your clamps or tape to hold the paper or sheet as steady as possible so nothing can be accidentally moved.

Step 3

Place the reflector (fill light) on the opposite side as the window or umbrella light (key light) and place the product in the middle. A reflector or fill light is used to remove unwanted harsh shadows and will also help show some product details. When making use of a reflector make sure the reflector is big enough to lighten the complete object.  

Step 4

Make a mark on the sheet or paper to indicate where the products should stand to keep consistency. Set up the camera and tripod at the desired angle and take a few test shots and play around with different angles. Keep in mind that the angles should stay consistent throughout this shoot (and your next) to help create consistency throughout your site. This will give an overall more professional appearance, so it’s important to invest a good amount of time to get this correct.  

Tipp:

You can also use a photo light box which is an excellent alternative. The biggest downside to a photo light box is that limits your creative potential to play around with the lighting and is restricted to what size you get. Also depending on the product, you might need to light it up from different angles to get the desired look or ambience. The upside is that the results are very consistent and would eliminate the need for a reflector, backdrop or window.

What about post-production?

Post-production is essential to make your images look consistent and professional. In post-production, you can colour match your products to have the colour be as close to the original desired colour as possible or colourise existing products without the need to take multiple product images. The possibilities are endless. It’s however essential to understand what can be achieved in post-production to know what should be done during the shoot.  

Post-production can also be outsourced if you don’t have the skill or maybe you have a vast amount of images to edit. We work with over 4000 online stores and process more than 15 000 images per day. You choose your editing options and can have your images edited within 8-48 hours.  Read our blog about free editing solutions or for more information about outsourcing this service visit us at doopic.com

So there you have it — a basic DIY studio. For more information regarding product photography please read our long post here.

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