Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photographing Art Indoors

I sell my bead work on Etsy and therefore need to be able to photograph my brooches and necklaces for posting. In the summer, I take my pictures on the back deck, under a clear fiberglass roof that diffuses the natural sunlight perfectly.  But now it is dead winter, which in Oregon means very little natural sunlight. I have a bright studio with 3 windows, but it still isn't enough on it's own for good photos, so I turn to my trusty light box.
Above is a picture that I took this morning on a dismal grey day with the light box. Below is a picture of the same brooch I took outside on a nice sunny day last summer. Both look presentable.
My light box is nothing fancy. It's just a cardboard box with windows cut out of 3 sides and white tissue paper glued over the 2 side windows. 

Here's my lightbox set up on my craft table (my grandmother's yellow Formica table bought in 1950). I use 2 cheap ($10) lamps with very white florescent bulbs in them. The bulbs I use are made by Satco and are 5000K, which is one of the whitest lights you can get easily. I bought these at my nearest hardware store for about $4 each.. The K represents the whiteness of the light. A 5000K light is similar to sunlight. A 2700K light is more yellow and warm, which might be great for a bedroom, but not good for photographs. It's still classed as "soft white" but it does have a yellow cast. A 4100K light bulb is classed as "bright white", but still not the best for photography.  A 5000K bulb is classed as "Natural Light" and that's what I find is best.
 I position my lights very close to the ends of the box shining through the tissue paper (which diffuses the light). I use a piece of white poster board to lay in the bottom and curve up along the back of the box. I like to add a sprig of silk Ivy since I like to have a little something green in my photos (just my personal preference). Having lights at both ends helps to eliminate shadows.

I usually position my piece to one side so the light is better.  Sometimes I need to use the flash, and sometimes I don't, depending on how much light is coming in through the windows.
I use a DSLR now, but have taken photos for years with my little point and shoot digital camera and can't tell the difference between the two. You don't need fancy equipment to take indoor photos of your art work.


  1. Thanks for this - I really struggle with getting enough light for photographs and this set up looks fairly straightforward, even for me!

  2. Hey Cenya
    This is awesome, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I looked at light boxes at the photostore and was shocked at the price. I'm definitely going to recreate your setup. Thank you.
    Judy Lovell

  3. Thank you so much for your photography help. I purchased a light box and lamps, but don't know how to use them properly. This helped alot. Marcy

  4. Thanks for the tips Cenya!!

  5. The green brooch is lovely and antique-ish.
    Your work continues to evolve...I love witnessing.
    Sending love~

  6. And I've avoided getting a light box because they are too expensive!! So simple and so economical - you are a gem for sharing :)


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