Shooting for Online Auctions

The most obvious improvement is the background of the photo. I used a simple table-top backdrop that I made myself, and which I use for the product shots in my camera reviews. It is made out of sections of foamcore mounting board, which can be found at most good art supply shops, but any stiff cardboard would work just as well. In fact cut two sides out of a large cardboard box and you're half-way there.

The sides are lined with aluminium foil (UPDATE: I have since removed the aluminium foil because it was causing odd reflections and uneven lighting, leaving just the plain white card), dull side outermost, to provide an even and diffused reflected light from both sides. Brilliant white paint or sheets of white expanded polystyrene would work just as well.

The background is simply a sheet of white cartridge paper from the same art supply shop, and is held onto the foamboard with Blu-tac, so that it can be easily removed and replaced if it gets too dirty. It isn't folded right into the corner, instead it is draped in a shallow curve like so:

This provides an even gradient from background to foreground with no distracting edges, and gives the illusion of an infinite white background.

To photograph your products you'll obviously have to use whatever camera you have available, but if you take a little care your shot will turn out a lot better. For the best results you should avoid using the camera's built-in flashgun. A better alternative is to face your table-top studio towards a window and use natural light.

For this you should also use a tripod. You can buy a simple pocket-sized tabletop tripod from any good camera shop for about £5. This one is from accessory specialist Hama, but there are several other brands on the market. Personally I usually carry one of these in my coat pocket. It's a lot more secure and controllable than trying to balance your camera on pile of books.

The shot below was taken using exactly the set-up illustrated above, lit by natural light from a window and taken on a simple pocket snapshot camera mounted on the Hama pocket tripod. To avoid camera shake and unwanted shadows, use the camera's self-timer to take the shot.

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