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Product Photography

by Sara Aulds 6 months ago in how to · updated 6 months ago

Without the Fancy Studio

Product Photography
Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

You’ve probably seen those images of bottled products or food or jewelry that look so perfect and you think that your photos will never turn as as good as those. You will never have to think that way again! Surprisingly you don’t need a whole studio set up to get those shots. I have created an at-home DIY studio for products and will share my tips and tricks for recreating some fun product photography!

Psst... make sure you keep reading for some fun food photography hacks that make food look really good!

DIY Photo Box

Have you ever seen those photos of a singular item on a seamless, all white background? A cup of coffee, perhaps? Can of soda? Or add in more elements to add depth and composition, cup of coffee with whole coffee beans surrounding it?

I’ll tell you how I created those bubbles soon..

Real or Fake condensation?

Amazon sells photo boxes of many sizes, shapes, and color choses for background, but have you considered making your own? If you're like me you order just about anything and everything from Amazon. How many amazon boxes do you have lying around? Probably a few... or if you're not like me and you throw them away right after you get them, then go order something and get yourself a good medium to large size box! No small boxes here.

DIY Photo box - Ignore my messy kitchen

You literally only need four things to make this!

  1. Box
  2. White tissue paper
  3. Tape
  4. Poster board

Although it looks kind of sketchy, I promise you, it will do the trick! Since it’s cheap, if it falls apart it’s easy to make a new one. If you want one that a little more sturdy, you could go to the thrift store and find a plastic bin and cut holes in the side to tape the tissue paper on top. Here's how to make it:

By Gia Oris on Unsplash

Step 1:

Find your box!

My box in the photo was at least 18 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. I honestly wouldn't go much smaller than that. You'll not only need room for the items you're photographing, but also for yourself in a way. You need to make sure you have enough room to the right, left, above, and behind the item to get the proper lighting and camera angle to get the most flattering shot.

Step 2:

Chop Chop

Grab some scissors or a box cutter and off the flaps, then cut out a hole on three of the four sides of your box leaving a 1 to 2 inch boarder from the edge. You could even go three inches if your box is big enough. Leave the bottom of the box intact, this will be where you attach your background.

*if you want to be able to take photos from above your objects, you can cut all four sides.

Step 3:


Take your white tissue paper, one sheet at a time and trim it so it is about an inch to two inches bigger than the three holes you just cut. You only need the one sheet per side, depending on how big your box is you might be able to get two sides per sheet. This is the delicate part of the project. Don't be too rough on your tissue paper otherwise it will tear. It is imperative that it stays in one piece.

Once your tissue paper is cut to size, you'll need to tape it over the holes. Make sure to pull it taught but not so tight that it tears. This allows the light to be diffused without there being to many wrinkles. Once your tissue paper is taped down, flip your box over on it's side so the side you did not cut is facing down. Now it's time to move onto the background.

Step 4:

Choose a color

If you're able to find different color poster board; great! Most stores only sell black and white, and more often than not only white; but you can use any color you want!

There's a couple different ways you can do this.

  1. you can trim your poster board to the height and width of the bottom and back of your box. This fills in the background and the base the object is sitting on to be the same color, but there will be a line where they meet in the back. This may require (more) editing.
  2. you can trim the poster board to the width of the box so it stays one long piece, fasten it to the inside of the box at the top of the back and the bottom of the front so it swoops down without having to cut it into two pieces. It gives it the seamless look without having to edit the intersecting line out of the photograph, but there is still a chance you'll want to pop it in Photoshop or Lightroom and tweak your image. That is up to you.

Congratulation! You now have a photo box!

All that is left is finding the best place to put it and grab some lamps or some studio lights, place them on each side (and or above) or box to allow it to be diffused through the tissue paper and you've just created soft lighting! Look at you!

If you want some more tips of lighting, check out some of my other posts about lighting:

Yes, I know, it's lighting for video, but the elements are very similar to photography.

Okay okay... you've been waiting for it. Let me tell you a photography tip that will help you "fake" the real look in your food photography.

Remember this photo?

You might think that this is just well stirred coffee to get those fresh brewed looking bubbles, right?


This is actually dish soap. You heard me. Dish soap. It's not recommended to drink this after photographing it. Looks only.

Grab yourself a cup and fill it up with some water. Doesn't have to be a lot, but enough so you can swirl it around after adding your dish soap. Give it a few swirls until bubbles start forming in your cup. use your fingers to scoop them out and place them on your coffee. They should make their way to the edge of your mug, but you can also guide them as you're placing them in the mug. Cool right?! You can add as much or as little as you want.

Thanks for your time! Hope this helps some of you out there!

Tips are appreciated greatly! They help keep my photography projects going so I can bring more advice, experience, how-tos, and more to you all!

how to

Sara Aulds

I am a photographer and videographer from Cincinnati, Ohio. I write as a hobby and capture reality as a profession.

Read next: The Big Picture

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