How to take better photos for eBay

I’ve learned a thing or two since I started selling my unwanted stuff on eBay. I thought I’d document some of the things I’ve learned, starting with how to take better photos for eBay.

I take photos with my iPhone 6s Plus. The pics I get from my iPhone are better than the pics I was getting from my Canon digital SLR. It’s one of the reasons I eventually sold it.

For clothing, I take photos in my garage against a fake backdrop I bought on Amazon. It makes it look like I have a brick wall from a 90’s comedy club. It’s made from vinyl, so it doesn’t easily rip. The first background I bought was paper and it easily tore.

The backdrop is hanging even with the garage overhead fluorescent lighting. I replaced the normal fluorescent bulbs with daylight bulbs. The advantage of daylight bulbs is that they produce light closer to what you’d get from natural sunlight. This is the only lighting I need.

Here’s a photo taken in my garage:

I took this photo with my iPhone 6s Plus against a fake backdrop I bought on Amazon. Its on a wire hanger hanging from a nail.

How to make a photo light box

An 18″ by 18″ by 16″ moving box from Home Depot, the foundation of my photo light box.

For small items, I built a photo light box similar to one I saw on YouTube. Instead of making a box out of foam board as the video suggested, I bought a medium-sized moving box from Home Depot. I closed and hot glued the flaps on one end and cut the flaps off on the opposite end. I cut squares out of the top and the sides and glued really thin picnic table cover material over the three sides with the openings. These allow light to enter the box, from the top and both sides, but the picnic table material helps defuse it.

The video I watched suggested to use tissue paper for the defusing material, the kind you put in a gift box. I tried that, but I couldn’t get it to work. It was far too delicate to work with. It ripped when I tried gluing it in place.

I reinforced the top and the sides with extra cardboard to make my light box more sturdy. I cut a piece of white poster board to the same width of the inside of the box and glued it inside, creating a slope between the back and the bottom, removing the horizon.

Not all light bulbs are the same

Two-Socket Adapter

The lights are cheap utility lights I bought at Walmart using daylight bulbs. The top light has an adapter I bought at Home Depot that allows me to use two light bulbs instead of a single bulb. The lights on the side help remove shadows.

This is the photo of the item I took in the photo at the top of this post, a collectible plastic figure from the old video game EverQuest:

Taken with my iPhone 6s Plus and a light box I made from a cardboard moving box.

It’s not bad. The lighting could be brighter. When taking photos for eBay, the goal is to show what people are buying, not to win any photography awards. That said, I think this looks pretty good.

If I wanted to improve the photos taken with my light box, I think I would try using it outside. Augment the daylight bulbs with the real thing. Also, use brighter bulbs.

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