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In Product Photography for E-Commerce, designer Dane Howard shows how to take professional-looking photographs that showcase products and build buyers' trust. Using a practical approach, Dane covers objects from collectible coins to real estate, and the lessons can be applied to just about anything that can be sold online. When it comes time to capture images in the studio, Dane discusses how to select a camera and other equipment on any budget. He shares his favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of camera angles, backgrounds, and scene lighting. He reviews image editing basics, such as cropping and retouching photographs, and explains how to take a presentation beyond a 360-degree view with the integration of rich media.
The Do-It-Yourself photo tent, made out of a cardboard box, is a force to be reckoned with. I mean, look at the quality of the light in this thing, and don't let this fool you. You can get some great shots in it. $6 cost to goods, and 15 minutes, just to make something like this, should be great. Now, over the next couple of minutes we are going to make one of these, so let's check it out and look at just the materials it requires to set this up. Come on. The supply list is pretty easy for one of these things. First, grab yourself a cardboard box. The size is going to correspond to the size of your photo tent, so just be mindful of that.
You are going to need enough supplies and the papers in the backdrop should correspond to it. Now, the papers themselves should be white or black. You might grab a couple. Now third, straightedge, measuring tape, whatever works. You're going to have to cut some holes in these things. So, think about that. Covering the holes is going to need some muslin. You just want to cover it with muslin, easy to do, straightforward. Get yourself some tape and utility knife or scissors. Utility knife, these are very sharp, be super careful. Now the next thing we are going to do is we are going to set up the back of the box.
I am going to grab some of these velcro. Let's do that right now. Now, one of the first things you want to think about when opening this up is you are going to reassemble the box itself, many, many times. You're going to open it and close it. Now, what's great about this box is that it gets to go from the open position to the close position, so I am going to start getting started right now, and fold this up. Okay, when you're done with this step , you should have something looking just about like this and if you choose to use the velcro, it's really nice that everything aligns.
A good little tip is that you take the velcro itself, don't take the sticky part off yet and align it with the piece you just cut. Then peel off the stickiness and then when you push the two pieces together, you are guaranteed that they will line up. Now, choose which part is going to be your top and your sides. Now, the next step we are going to do, step two, is cut the holes in the sides themselves. I am going to have this top right now be one of the sides. And on the other side, it would be the other side of the photo tent. So, get out your utility knife and your straightedge. Now, this is not an exact science.
You can basically cut into a little window around the perimeter, but always leave two to three inches around the side. Why? Because that will keep the structural integrity of the box itself. Because you don't want it to wear out too fast. So, measure it up, mark little indications if you'd like and just start your cuts. Okay. Now when you are done with second hole, you should have a hole on either side. But don't throw away these pieces yet. The reason is because they're a great template to lay on the muslin as you cut it out.
You'll want to label those for sure. So, now that we have our box, we will want to choose what are top is going to be. Now, the box is pretty much equal now. What we want to do is create a hinged door out the top, one of these. Now the flexibility of a hinge door is really great. Step one would be that you can actually take your camera and shoot a product from the top. Another helpful hint is that you can reach in and replace products without having to mess with your set up, and there's always the third choice, which is laying muslin over the top and shooting a light through it.
So, you have light sources from all three sides. So, what we are going to do is we are going to make a little smaller hole this time. This time, grab your straightedge and your knife and pull in, instead of two-and-a-half inches, pull in just about around three inches or so and mark that off all the way around. Okay. Now, when you're done with this, you should have a nice cut hole all the way. Don't be afraid to cut the entire hole out, because you're going to put it right back in its place and then lay a piece of tape, right over the top. This gives you a really nice hinge.
Now, it's just finishing the pulltab. To do that, get yourself a piece of tape, put it on the inside. It's going to be white or black tape, fold it around and attach it just a little bit, but give yourself just enough to double back over itself. This will give yourself a nice little pulltab. Place it back in there and you are ready to go. Now the next step is to actually put this aside and cut the muslin. Now, this is why we kept the templates. This is going to be my first one right here. Pull our your muslin. Now, this can be any cloth or anything that will diffuse light really beautifully.
So, lay this on top of your cloth just like this. Leave about one-and-a-half to two inches, because we are going to tape this from the inside. Once you have done that you can start cutting. Okay, now I have just done the first muslin. Now, I have done it from the inside for two reasons. Now, if you've got a white tape, this is a great place to use it because most of the light is going to bounce off the inside, and this is where you are going to be shooting. Now, on the outside, it could and should look like this, mainly because you've got a nice tight surface and the light is going to pass through here.
Also it's helpful when you flatten the box and store it, there is less chance that you are going to get a lot of debris and the curtain dirty there. So, let's do the second one. Now, the second one, I have just laid on the table here, and what we are going to do is just lay down a piece of tape on either side and that will put a halfway mark between there, and give some stickiness when we go and tape it on the inside. Now, let's do the second one. Okay, now put both muslins in and your box should look something like this, right here.
Now the last step is pretty darn easy. You measure and precut your piece of paper. Now this transition paper can be white, black, just about any kind that you want, make sure it's dust free and pretty clear. I have attached a piece of tape at the top. Slide that in gently and attach it to the very top. You can adjust the height later. Put this right in there, give it a little bit of a tug and you will start to see the transition take place. Now, the next step is to start shooting. I am going to get my camera equipment and my little tripod and a product, and we'll be right back. Wow! That's looking great.
You would never even know you are inside of a box. Now, for under 30 minutes and $10, can you beat that? I mean, it doesn't matter what it looks on the outside. It's what it looks like on the inside. Now let's get inside the camera, and let's take some shots.
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