I know a lot of people prefer to shoot their product photos in natural light. I however don't have much luck with this for a couple reasons A) I live in Maine where 6 months of the year days are very short and dark and B) I'm a night owl so even in the summer I'm more likely to be shooting my pictures at night. So I have a light tent setup that I use for taking my photos. This short video shows how I have my photo studio set up.
This is my photo equipment:
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ35 Camera - This is the only expensive part of my photo setup, it's a higher end point and shoot camera. It has full manual controls plus a ton of preset controls for lighting, shutter speed, aperture, etc. but isn't quite as nice (and expensive) as a Digital SLR. You really should get the best camera you can afford, it makes a big difference.
  • 16 inch Light Tent - Bought on Ebay for about $20, I also have a large 36 inch one but I use it rarely. The tent came with the blue backdrop I use (and also white and black which are better for most items).
  • 2 Desk Lamps - Your basic variety that can be found at any Walmart, Staples, etc. each with a daylight compact florescent bulb. The lamps is less important than the light bulbs used, you want daylight bulbs because the color temperature is a more pure while than most indoor bulbs (which are yellower).
  • Reflectors - Made of cardboard covered with aluminum foil.
  • Various props - Jewelry display bust, piece of coral, etc.

Set of 4 Retro Napkin Rings..., originally uploaded by Arzu Musa.

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It's been a while since there's been a studio inspiration so here's a really lovely one.

Submit your photos for consideration as a Weekly Inspiration by adding them to the Flickr Group.

Etsy recently broadcast the Etsy Success Symposium Writing Workshop. This is good stuff regardless of where you sell so give it a view.

Watch live streaming video from etsy at livestream.com

If you have a good network of twitter followers, facebook fans, or email list subcribers you can use them to research ideas. I did this recently using SurveyMonkey to create a simple survey asking people to rate some photos of my jewelry. SurveyMonkey's basic service is free and it's very simple to use. I created my survey then posted the link to it on twitter, my facebook fan page, and my blog.
I was considering switching from the blue backdrop I've been using for over a year to white because it's often recommended to use a neutral color for the background of product photos, either white, black, or gray. Now I don't have a gray backdrop and I make some jewelry which is black so that wouldn't have enough contrast for those items so I tried white. I originally chose blue because I make sea creatures so the blue invokes water and the sea.

So I put the 4 images above in a survey and asked people in my network to take it and rate each photo on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being strongly dislike and 5 being strongly like). The results surprised me. I personally like the blue better and was hoping it would come out on top but I was surprised by how much more other people preferred it. When the two blue photos were averaged together they had a score of 4.17 while the white photos got a score of 3.87. Even more telling was that the necklace with the coral prop on blue scored 4.22 and on the display bust it only scored 4.11. Even for the white background the coral prop scored 4.0 over 3.74 for the display bust.

I'm going into detail on my results here for a reason, even though I created the survey to tell me which background color people liked best it also told me that I should be using the photos with the coral prop for my main image and not the display bust which I had been using. Sometimes you get results that tell you more than you had expected and that is the value of using these sorts of surveys. So give it a shot. Do you have 3 different banners for your shop and don't know which to use? Do you want to know if people are more interested in t-shirts for toddlers with kittens or puppies on them? If you want to entice more people to take your survey offer a coupon code for those who complete it (simply add a last page to the survey with no questions and just text that includes the coupon and a link to your shop).