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Ready for Your Closeup: Improving Your Etsy or Ebay Product Photos

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For the last segment of “Living Backstory” (Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on our satellite channel, SiriusXM 110), I shared tips and tricks from MSLO staff members on info you can use to build your own craft, design, garden or food business. I adore the sentiment and 11 honorees behind our American Made Awards, which will culminate this year with workshops, seminars and other events at Grand Central Terminal here in New York City, Oct 17 and 18. (Some of the classes have sold out, I believe, but there are still some available.)

But the big motivation was one of our callers last week, who asked about the best cameras to use while photographing crafts to sell online.

I told you that I would do my best to answer anything that wouldn’t get me fired. If I can’t answer on the show, I’ll get back to you here on the blog and, time permitting, on the following show. So, caller, here’s what I found out:

Our Digital Assets Manager, Stacey Tyrell, said just about any Canon PowerShot camera is a good bet. She’s been working in magazines and fashion photography for years, and a lot of people want the Canon PowerShot G12 as their “vacation camera” — with great pixel quality, ability to shoot “raw,” and manual controls.

If you want to keep it under $300, Stacy said you can try the cameras all the way down the Canon PowerShot line and into its Elph series.

In addition to the camera, it’s important to have a tripod to keep the camera still and your hands free to reposition what you’re shooting. Stacy recommends Joby Gorillapods, which are durable, light, easy to transport, and also incredibly flexible — you can angle them in ways you can’t angle a regular tripod.

Something else that can quickly elevate the quality of your shots is a light box, which allows you to shoot a product on a continuous white background with adequate (slightly diffused) lighting from different angles. YouTube has a ton of tutorials on how to make your own, using materials you already have around the house or can obtain easily and inexpensively:

How to Create a Light Box Using a Cardboard Box, Paper, Clip Lamps, and T-Shirts

How to Create a Lightbox Using a Cardboard Box, Posterboard, Clip Lamps, and Tissue Paper

If the item you’re shooting won’t fit inside a homemade light box, you can make an ad hoc studio by hanging creaseless white paper to create your own infinity area, and using diffused lighting on either side.

Thank you for the positive response so far — I can’t tell you how much I appreciate hearing from you as the show gets off the ground. If there’s something you’d like to know, or if you just want to introduce yourselves, give me a call on Tuesdays between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. at 866-675-6675.

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