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Thank you for your support over the years! Best of luck with your Etsy shop.

Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up: Guest Post from Via U Photography Blog

photography lighting tutorial

I took this picture of a bottle of Anderson Liquid Soap bottle in my kitchen. It looks like the photograph was taken in a photography studio, using complicated lighting equipment. I was not. Here is a step by step guide showing how you can to do it too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

photography tutorial needs

1. A cardboard box you can use to cut a piece from.
2. A roll of aluminum foil, it’s easier with a wider one.
3. A piece of tracing paper of at least 20” of width and 3 feet in length. You can also use any white, no color, translucent material that you have around your home.
4. One 6” spring clamp.

photography tutorial

This is one of those times when bigger is indeed better. Cut a flat panel from the box that is much bigger than the thing you want to photograph. Make it as big as you can but not so much that it becomes unhandy to move around.

photography tutorial

1. Cut a piece of foil a bit larger than the cardboard. You can use several pieces of foil to cover the board if you need to.
2. The duller side of the aluminum foil will give a softer light than the shinny side – the shiny side will reflect much more light . I used the dull side for this picture.
3. Fold around the cardboard and tape it.
4. Congratulations! You just made a reflective card.

photography tutorial

Now you will need to redecorate your home a bit, move a table as close to a window as you can.

photography tutorial

Is your furniture high enough? Make sure that the top of the table is higher than the window sill.

photography tutorial

Don’t let the neighbors watch. Tape the piece of tracing paper to the window. Use a single piece to avoid seeing seams and put the paper so it goes down the window well below the top of the table.

photography tutorial

Put a long piece of aluminum foil on the table, I used the dull side up for this picture. Place your product close to the window.

photography tutorial

Fold down the foil to have a clean edge.

photography tutorial

Use the card so the light coming in from the window bounces back to reach the bottle.

photography tutorial

Play with the angle of the card to find the position that puts the most light on your product.

photography tutorial

Once you find an angle you like move the card as close as you can to the product – without showing it in the picture.

photography tutorial

Now you are ready to take a picture! Take many. Try taking a few too light pictures and some too dark too. Try different camera angles as well. You can choose later the one you like best.

Via U! Photography Blog is  an online studio dedicated to creating photography that helps people selling in Etsy increase their sales too.

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  • http://eightymillion.etsy.com Jennifer Schulting

    Oh my Goodness! I love this tutorial. I’ve seen a lot of them, but I think this is my favorite one.

    Just what I like, simple and inexpensive.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • http://twitter.com/meatbagz kate and mackenzie

    This is FABULOUS! Thanks so much for sharing this-quick, easy, inexpensive…and with absolutely awesome results!

  • Mlefirst

    Mastermind – whiz-kid – brilliant – brainy. Just a few words to highlight your genius. Love it! Mary from http://www.etsy.com/shop/scotlanduk

  • https://www.shopmissmalaprop.com/ Mallory

    Ohh, great tip! We built a DIY lightbox out of a printer box, but it takes so long to light it that most of the time I’d rather not use it. My boyfriend does film (and I’m forever borrowing his SLR camera to take product photos), and I think he actually has some of the professional foil light bounce things. (I’m sure those have an official name…) I will have to experiment with this method!

  • Marialunastudio

    Wow…thanks Tim! This looks really good!!

  • Kghornsten

    Unbelievably simple. Sounds like the grand experiment the next time i post a new item. Now tell me, how do you photograph a hanging mobile well?

  • gourdphile

    short, sweet, to the point, effective. PERFECT. Thank you.

  • WeirdandWoollyDesigns

    Wow. This looks great! I’m going to give it a try right now. I’ll let you know how it works for me.

  • TaniaMarie

    I guess I am what blog-savvy peeps call a lurker in that I don’t usually comment on posts despite enjoying them. But I had to take the time to thank you – this is mad clever, cheap as chips but the result is so posh! I’m excited to try this out when I shoot my crafts. Now if I could just get the baby to sit still on the foil and the toddler to put the clamp down I might actually get a well lit shot of the kidlets too…

  • http://www.audreyfretz.blogspot.com Audrey Fretz

    So good! That’s brilliant! And here I was trying to do the whole light box with multiple table lamps and windows on each cardboard face… thanks for saving my sanity.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the nifty tutorial. I have been needing to figure out how to take better pics.

  • creativeapples

    Wonderful tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy

    LOVED IT & TRIED IT! My photos are now amazing. Go look:

  • http://www.jobanba.wordpress.com The Hungry Crafter

    This is amazing — thank you so much!

  • http://www.handmadespark.com/blog/search-traffic-to-handmade-spark-increasing/ Search Traffic to Handmade Spark Increasing | Handmade Spark

    [...] Update your pictures. [...]

  • http://twitter.com/mizzledrizzle Heather

    Stunning and so clever, definitley going to do this!

  • Anonymous

    I need to show this to Brent pretty cheap way , he had to spend thousands of dollars to do this with his studio light.. Awesome Judy :)

  • http://twitter.com/japhethcrawford Japheth Crawford

    DIY Studio Quality Photography with a $12 set up

  • http://www.viauphotography.com mariano


    I am really glad to learn that the article helped you.


  • http://floydcreativecollective.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/studio-quality-photos-with-a-12-set-up/ Studio Quality Photos with a $12 Set Up « floydcreativecollective

    [...] Click Here for details. I’m going to try this, this weekend and post my results here. [...]

  • rachelle.ranae

     LOVE! Thank you, thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberley-Ladd/61201047 Kimberley Ladd

     As if it’s that easy! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheila.phillipsreeder Sheila Phillips-Reeder

    Amazing….simply amazing!  I have been spinning my ‘creative wheels’ for the last three months trying to find an inexpensive method to properly light my products for my photos, and have quite frankly thought I was going to go crazy!   SIMPLICITY…SIMPLICITY…SIMPLICITY!!!  Keep it simple!  and many other such notables!   Thank you for explaining it in terms even I could understand!  (LOL  :>) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheila.phillipsreeder Sheila Phillips-Reeder

    ME TOO!   Sometimes it works well to check out more than one source! 

  • http://twitter.com/ColourfulPalate Charissa

    Thanks so much for this article! I’m anxious to try these techniques!

  • Michelle Brinson

    wonderful tip, thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/handmadespark Handmade Spark

    glad we can help :) 

  • http://profiles.google.com/annhayes2008 ann hayes

    Thank you very much – I’m definitely going to try this today!

  • Mindy

    this is great, thank you!

  • Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen

    I’ve got everything but the clamp, and I will be investing in one of those soon! Thanks!

  • Maria

    Awesome!!! I´m sooo going to try this =D Thank you so much for sharing!!! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/brassydel BrassyDel

    Thanks! I came across this via Pinterest, and I LOVE how you explained and showed all of the steps. I’m someone who doesn’t learn very well strictly from text, so this was wonderful. Also, I’m subscribing to your RSS feed! Can’t wait to find some time to cruise around the rest of your site – from flipping to your front page it looks like there is going to be a lot of stuff for me to enjoy. Thanks again!

  • Duane_G_Hein

    thank you. thank you. thank you… t. xoxoxo

  • http://www.erbanstudio.com/?p=485 new look

    [...] also found this awesome tutorial on taking great product photography. the foil causes such an awesome [...]

  • http://www.facebook.com/emmee.tureaud Emmee Tureaud

    really cool!!! Love it 

  • Mónica

    Gracias!!! yo hago moños y siempre salen mal mis fotos, es un gran tip!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Saad/100000173746497 George Saad

    Great  thanks

  • Jennie

    How amazing it is to have found this. I was wondering how I was going to photograph my pieces to put in my Etsy store! What timing! Thank you!

  • Craftdesigns

    Wanted you to know I posted a link to this tutorial today.

    Nancy Ward

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663118956 Michelle Hernandez

    This is FANTASTIC!!! I pinned it to give others a chance to try it out and I am referencing it over at my blog myanaloglife.blogspot.com (as a link so you get full credit) thank you!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/st1vision stephanie taylor

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. I’m a web designer so this will come very handy im sure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=728636423 Deborah Rusterholz Vivona

    Great, great tips…thanks a million! :)

  • Alanna Carteir

    Brilliant! I will definitely be using this when I get my camera back!

  • Foundation Vin’tique

    Insanely easy and cheap – thank you. 

    Any ideas on shooting larger items such as clothing on a mannequin? I’ve tried different options but just can’t get the “pro” look. Photoshop is becoming my best friend…………


  • Lyann

    I wonder if this works with food shots? I will have to try. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/SongsKateSang Kate Eschbach

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!  

  • Johnwenman

    Great post. You can lock the camera off and take a few different shots for slightly different setups and photoshop them together.

  • http://fozbaca.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/studio-quality-product-photography-with-a-12-set-up-guest-post-from-via-u-photography-blog-handmade-spark/ Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up: Guest Post from Via U Photography Blog | Handmade Spark | fozbaca’s WordPress

    [...] diyhttp://www.handmadespark.com/blog/studio-quality-product-photography-with-a-12-set-up-guest-post-fro… Share this:DiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in [...]

  • Adfadf

    Not really a fan of the reflection off the table but I love the mirror and tracing paper idea! I’m going to try it with a white paper base.

  • Ben

    At first I was all, “Hey…that’s how I do my pics.”  Then I was all, “Hey! GATOR CLIPS TO HOLD UP REFLECTORS? INGENIOUS!!!!”  Seriously…I would use stacked books to prop my reflectors up.  And on those days I needed a secondary reflector, I would hold it up with my hand.  Going to Home Depot ASAP!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/ashprettylady a girl with a smile

    This is great!

  • http://twitter.com/kpayzant Karen Payzant

    So happy to have found this on Facebook this morning.  It was a wonderful lesson and we thank you a bunch!  :)

  • http://www.cateyefotos.com/blog/2011/11/studio-quality-product-photography-with-a-12-set-up-handmade-spark/ Table top photography setup for under $12 bucks | Brooklyn NYC portrait photographer

    [...] Check out how you can take a similar looking image with a simple setup Via [...]

  • http://twitter.com/EverDesigns Ever Designs

    Thanks for the great tips! I really needed this.

  • http://twitter.com/awdylanis Annie Wood

    Fantastic write up with great detail. Thanks for the information!

  • L Baldwin Rn


  • Question

    did you use the dull side to put the coffee on? what side did you use to make the reflector out of the card board? dull or shiny?

  • Freshly Simple

    I’m so doing this!

  • http://kaszazzwithtanya.blogspot.com/ Tanya Johnson

    This is fabulous! Thank you!

  • Janetstl

    Can’t wait to try this!

  • Paige1020

    Awesome! I love it! I am always looking for easy and inexpencive ways to do things and this is right on target! THANK YOU !

  • http://www.monessonphotography.com/ cheap photographers

    effective points for the beginner as well as for the expert 

  • http://twitter.com/SuperSavingSara Sara Blake

    This is great, thank you. I featured your post in my most recent post.

  • http://twitter.com/0402sgrl Tina Marie

    This is going to help my shop tremendously! Thanks!

  • guest

    is there a way you could use this to take pictures of people like a photoshoot or something??

  • Anonymous

    Very cool! I’ll have to try this!

  • http://sharealikecooking.blogspot.com/ Sharon Anne

    You are either gifted or genius. Thank YOU!

  • http://www.marianfortunati.com/ Marian Fortunati

    Pretty nifty!!!   Thanks!!!

  • Donnascarlet123

    found you on pinterest.  thank you for the beautiful, detailed tutorial. i will def use it and i am thrilled to finally know how people get such great photos!!

  • http://twitter.com/Bvaccarini Bianca Vaccarini

    This is great! now all i have to do is make one big enough so people can be photographed

  • frances robson

    Thank you for sharing and I plan to use these ideas for my blog. 

  • Pj

    Thank you,  thank you.  Knew I needed to refleck some light,  just didn’t know how to… cheap!!!   Yea! 

  • http://theroadtoetsy.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/diy-photography-studio/ DIY Photography Studio | theRoadtoEtsy and BEYOND

    [...] Handmade Spark had a super fabulous tutorial on how to take studio quality photographs (click on the link to read the details!). I have been quite unhappy with the photos of my flower hair clips so when I read this I was excited to test it out. Unfortunately the weather in Vancouver has been very grey and dreary for the last week or so…but finally the sun has fought its way through! [...]

  • Susan

    I’m soooo glad I came across your post! I have been trying to take better photos from my website. I know this will help me! Thank you!!

  • Tona2310

    I have to try this out tomorow. The pics on my blog are very unprofesional. I have just the right place in my new sewing room to put a permanent shouting place. Thanks so mutch!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelly.rollins Shelly Rollins

    Great help! Can’t wait to try it, Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelly.rollins Shelly Rollins

    Great idea, Thank you for Sharing!

  • http://spusht.blogspot.com/ Nisha

    useful, cheap, brilliant.  loved it, will try next time i click photos.  for sure.

  • Photographer

    Love it!!You are so smart<3!

  • ShutterBug

     Should work the same way – but use a really long string to hang it (from the ceiling, or create a large A- Frame), instead of placing it on the table.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.sha.14 Susan Sha

    Love !

  • http://profiles.google.com/gigialvesmelo Regina Melo

    Awesome tips & the photos make it much easier to understand this process. Thanks!

  • http://es.wix.com/blog/2012/10/9-trucos-de-fotografia/ 9 Trucos de Fotografía “Hazlo tu mismo” | Blog Oficial de Wix

    [...] Fotografía Profesional de Productos con gastos mínimos Fotografía Profesional de Productos con gastos mínimos [...]

  • Dani

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this! Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Converse-96

    This is cool… You could also use vellum paper for a smoother filter of light instead of trace paper. It’s a bit more expensive but not too much!

  • http://www.wix.com/blog/2012/10/10-amazing-photography-diys/ 10 Amazing Photography DIY’s to Help you Cut Costs | The Official Wix Blog

    [...] Professional Product Photography for Minimum Costs Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up [...]

  • Gerda LaGrasse

    Wow.  Can’t wait to try this.  I’ve been frustrated with various looks and backgrounds that I’ve tried.  This makes it all about the product!  Thanks

  • Bebzorg

    genius! can’t wait to try it.

  • Shannon

    Thank You this was really helpful!

  • Nancy Carr

    I am going to try this.  I also posted it on FB.  Thank you.

  • Tricia

    Tried it! I used parchment paper for the window and the back of a picture frame for the board since I don’t have a clamp. Then edited in lightroom. Cool! 

  • Chelsea

    I cannot stress how EASY and CONVENIENT this set up is.  I had my doubts but I am extremely impressed with this.  My images turned out great! Thank-you so much for sharing :)

  • Andreagonzalez14

    can you do this to take pictures of people?

  • Kaz’ Bunch


  • Shannon_CC

    Awesome info for product shots. Thank you!

  • Lazy-Bugs.com

    I just set mine up and I found out you cannot use parchment paper (can’t find a tape to hold it).  This has helped me a great deal, now I don’t dread taking photos.

  • Greatcooking27

    Def need this thanks for the great idea.

  • http://www.wrinkledmommy.com/2011/08/photography-club-house-use-your-window-for-studio-lights/ Photography Club House – use your window for studio lights — Wrinkled Mommy

    [...] Window Light Tutorial [...]

  • Jamie Bunney

    Awesome idea!!

  • http://allbutteredupblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/getting-started/ Getting Started | All Buttered Up

    [...] Brainstorm photo props.  Bad product photographs will not catch customers’ eyes.  Even the best products will not sell without good photographs.  Not a professional photographer?  Natural lighting is the easiest way to get good pictures.  If you want to stay indoors, there’s lots of tutorials on the web.  I’m looking forward to trying this out. [...]

  • Keybanshee

    Thank you! This was the missing piece if the puzzle!

  • gina argyrou

    wonderful and so helpful! thank you. Now I can start to take new photos of all my 200 items in my shop! lol  this is a great idea and much appreciated

  • Jemma

    Thanks for posting

  • Jorge Alberto Arroyave Manco

    Yeap! that are great advicess!!! thx a lot.
    But i consider that with photosimile or photocapture (http://photosimpl.com) we can save some time and money.
    See ya later… great post!

  • http://juliekesti.com/ Julie Kesti

    this is great! i’m totally going to give this a try!  thank you for such a clever and simple set-up with great diagrams. :)

  • Barb Bronstein

    I am going to try this  Do you think it will work with cards?

  • Hvpeck

    wow! ditto what TaniaMarie said

  • Sjskukana

    Thank you! I’m going to try later today – I have everything I need.

  • Julia A.


  • http://121clicks.com/tutorials/product-photography-tips-tutorials-and-videos Product Photography Tips, Tutorials And Videos – 121Clicks.com

    [...] Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up by Handmade Spark [...]

  • http://www.photoinstinct.info/product-photography-tips-tutorials-and-videos/ Product Photography Tips, Tutorials And Videos | My Site/Blog

    [...] Studio Quality Product Photography With a $12 Set Up by Handmade Spark [...]

  • mindyb

    the photos aren’t showing up!!!

  • http://ginabegin.com/ @ginabegin

    The photos are all missing :(

  • http://kirstenoliphant.com/2013/10/15/6-food-photography-tips-non-photographers/ Simple Food Photography Tips for Non Photographers – Kirsten Oliphant

    [...] few links to check out: -Faking a professional-looking background with aluminum foil -Cheap accessories to have in your toolkit -A few more sophisticated tips, plus tons of [...]

  • http://www.budgetsplurgebeauty.blogspot.com/ Ember Darling

    I know I’m realy late and I’m not sure you’ll even get this…but I found this post via pinterest and all the pictures are now gone! Is there any way you could re up load them? Thanks!

  • Jorge Aaolus

    Pictures are lost…!

  • LBD

    Thanks! You helped Up my game!

  • http://www.morewithlessmom.com/ Melissa French

    I linked to this in my Use What You Have Lightbox for Blog Photography article

  • http://nazotasarim.com/2012/10/09/kaliteli-resim/ Kaliteli Resim | Nazo tasarım & Emek pınarı

    [...] Resim çekerken gündüz çekin, tercihen cam kenarı ya da balkonda. 40x40cm ebatında kumlu cam kestirip altına beyaz karton koyarak fon oluşturabilirsiniz. Kumlu cam fona derinlik verdiği için takınız ön plana çıkacaktır. Ayrıca flaş kapalı olmalı. Fotoğraf makinası ile takı çekimi yapanlarda makinada lale resmi olmalı. Takıları camın üzerine düzgün yerleştirin, eğri olmasın, ya da bir tarafı yamulmuş olmasın. Güzel ve kaliteli işler çıkaralım. Herkese kolay gelsin. Hale TOKATLI Daha önce yapılan yorumlar     Bir kaç fotoğraf ip ucu http://www.papercraftsmag.com/articles/DIY_Light_Tenthttp://www.handmadespark.com/blog/studio-quality-product-photography-with-a-12-set-up-guest-post-fro… [...]

  • http://www.amynewnostalgia.com/anti-procrastination-tuesday-88/ New Nostalgia – Anti-Procrastination Tuesday #88

    [...] Week’s Pin Accomplished: (Goal was 3, only did 1) How To Make Product Pictures Look Like They Were Taken With Expensive Lighting Equipment I used this to take pictures of my daughters soon-to-be Etsy Shop product!  I already had a [...]

  • http://mordinbraintalker.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/att-fotografera-produkter-eller-annat/ Att fotografera produkter eller annat |
  • Dolores Platt

    Hi… I just found this on pinterest and LOOOVED IT … BUT the pictures for the step by step post are unavailable, is there any way to upload them again?? please please ;)

  • Dolores Platt
  • Guest
  • http://www.clippingpathexperts.com/ Mahmuda Hamid

    Excellent blog. I have learned something special about Product Photography.
    Clipping Path Experts

  • John B

    Me, too. Seeing the pics would be great!

  • Jackie

    all the photos are broken :(

  • http://www.clippingpathspecialist.com/photoshop-retouching/ Suman Rahman

    No pictures have been visible here except the first one. What is wrong in this tutorial? Please fix this error.

  • Tamie

    Your photos are missing.

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