Better pictures = higher prices. Use this lighting setup to up your eBay photography game

Take better eBay photos image

Are your eBay competitors are getting higher prices than you on the same type of items? Often the difference between getting an OK price and a great one for your items is in how well your items look in the photos.

How to take great eBay photos is a pretty big topic and we can't cover it all here, but the most important aspect to taking great pictures, regardless of what kind of camera you have or almost anything else, is good lighting. What is good lighting? Well, the simplest answer is bright yet soft/diffuse. And, the key is soft because just using bright lights will cast harsh shadows and make your photos look terrible.

To get soft lighting you need a way to diffuse it. There are two methods we'll talk about here: light boxes and umbrellas.

Light boxes surround your item with light-diffusing fabric. They also provide a built-in backdrop and all together form a rather easy way to get evenly, nicely lit photos with a blank background.

This light box is one I use. It's 24x24, so the right size for small to medium sized items.

While light boxes seem like an ideal solution, and I own three different sized ones, I find them a bit limiting and not always easy to work with. The main problem with them, and the reason I have three, is it's hard to get small items lit correctly if the box is too big, and larger items won't fit in smaller boxes.

So, when asked what kind of lighting do I recommend for taking eBay photos, I typically will suggest shoot-through lighting umbrellas. They provide nice even light and you can move them around, closer or farther away depending on the size of the item you're shooting at the moment.

I have this umbrella lighting kit and find that it works very well. It certainly isn't pro photographer quality, but the price is right and it does the job for taking eBay photos. I took the "after" photo of the video game shown at the top of the page with this kit.

Here are some more samples of photos I took with these umbrella lights on a foamboard background:
Tandy Joystick Photo
Sansui Photo
For a backdrop, I use a white tri-fold foam board backer with another piece of foam board for the floor. Foam board seems to work a lot nicer than the cheap cloth backdrops that come with most entry-level light boxes that tend to wrinkle easily and the wrinkles end up showing in the photos. You can get foam board at any store like Walmart or Target for $5-15 depending on the size and your local prices.