How to Create Your Own Product Photography Studio for Less Than $100

By Maria Peagler

Mar 08

[Editor's Note: Sam Peagler is a sophomore at Austin Community College, studying Advertising & Fashion photography. He's an expert in taking product photos on a budget. He's also my son.  You can see his photo galleries at his website and his Etsy store.]

The web is a visual place — outstanding images are more important than ever in your visual storytelling.

How can you get professional product photos without having your own studio?​

Taking great-looking photos is surprisingly easy; you simply need three things:

  • a light source
  • a background
  • something to diffuse the light (called a light tent or light box)

You can do this for less than $100, using either of two methods: build it yourself with supplies you can get from the hardware store, or purchase a ready-made kit from Amazon.

I'm going to show you how to do both, so you can get started right away  . . . ​

Setup 1: The DIY Product Photography Studio

Supplies you'll need:

  • Large cardboard box (at least 24 inches wide). This will be the structure of your light box. The size of your box will vary depending on the size of your product. The bigger your product, the bigger your box
  • Light source: you'll need two. Use what you have available: a desk lamp like the one pictured below works perfectly, as you can control the angle of the light. Here's where you can get them on Amazon.
  • desk-lamp-12
  • White fabric: this will cover the sides of your box to diffuse the light. You can use an old sheet, cut up old t-shirts (that's what I did), or simply buy a couple of yards. The amount you need will depend on the size of your box.
  • White poster board: this will serve as your background inside of your light box
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Stapler (optional)

Total Cost: Around $45.

How to Build Your Lightbox
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Preparing Your Photography Studio Box

  • Remove the top flaps with your scissors. This will become the front opening through which you take your photos.
  • Cut out the walls from the right and left sides of the box, leaving about two inches on all sides. You will cover these with your fabric and aim your lights through them.
  • Decide which remaining side will be the top of your box. Cut out the wall the same way you did to the other two sides, but this time, on the side that is opposite your main opening (the one you'll be photographing through), cut all the way to the edge. This is so you can slide your poster board in.

Creating Your Photography Background with White Poster Board

  • Slide your poster board into the top of the box, all the way until it curves at the front opening. You may need to trim the sides down, depending on the size of your box. This will serve as your white background on which you'll place your products.

Creating a Light Diffuser with Your White Fabric

  • Measure the holes you cut in the walls on the sides of your box. You'll add two inches to each side of that measurement when cutting out your fabric.
  • Cut out pieces of your white fabric two inches larger on each side. Attach them to the outside walls, either taping or stapling them to the box.
  • Repeat these steps for the opening on the top of the box.

Setting Up Your Lighting

  • Place your LED or incandescent lights on either side of the box, pointing toward the center. Direct the light to the same spot in the box, so your light is even on both sides.

You're done! Now you can place your product in the box, and use your smartphone or digital camera to take your photos. Here is a photo I took of a Polaroid camera in my light box:

151119_SPEAGLER_6633

Setup 2: Buy an All-in-One Kit from Amazon

Setup 1 is cheap, but it takes a bit of time and effort.

If you want to skip that part and get straight to taking fantastic photos, you can buy a kit that has everything you need. This kit on Amazon includes everything you need, including 4 backgrounds, for $50. With a kit, all you have to do is plug in the lights and start shooting!

Summary

No matter which method you use, you can set up a portable photography studio to take great shots of your products. It's fast, simple, and easy: when your newest products are ready, you can immediately take your own photos and upload them to your store right away. Your Etsy store/e-commerce website will thank you for it!

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About the Author

Founder of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, Benjamin Franklin award-winner for independent publishing, award winning author of eight books, wife, mom, quilter and watercolor artist.

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