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FuelBooks Holiday Tip: Time for a Post-Holiday Purge? Sell Your Stuff on eBay by Creating Effective Photos with Simple Backgrounds

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Alan Hess, author of Shooting for eBay: Creating Simple and Effective Product Shots for Online Auctions and Sales, shows you how to create his favorite clean background for eBay photos.

Fuel Books

From the book

Clean, simple backgrounds work best for product shots. My favorite clean background is created from three pieces of white foam board. I use one piece as the base and two others as walls to create an area for the item and a surface for the light to bounce off.

Here you can see the white foam board box photographed against a red rug to show the construction. I taped the back together so the seams are as tight as possible.

What’s great about using white foam board is that it is easy to get, comes in a variety of sizes, and is relatively inexpensive. The box shown here was made with three pieces of 16x20-inch foam board that cost $2 each. The white bottoms and sides act as reflectors that allow the light to bounce all around whatever you place inside the box.

Specialized products are available for creating an image with a solid white background. These products are called light tents or igloos and are basically a cloth cube made of white diffusion material. The igloo pops open and the item to be photographed is placed inside; then the whole box is illuminated from the outside. This creates a soft, even light around the product.

  • LiteIgloo from Photoflex ( The LiteIgloo comes in two sizes, medium for around $85 and large for around $100. They can be purchased from many photography stores or online.
  • Light Tent by Alzo ( These light tents come in a small for $50, a medium for $85, and a large for $150.

These products, however, have one problem: They need a lot of light to work properly, usually a light on either side of the box, along with one on top. You also need a something to put the item on, especially when it comes to small items like jewelry. In addition, light boxes only work for items that can actually fit into the light tent. If the item is too big for the tent or too close to the inside edges, there will be too much light spilling over onto the item and the image will look overexposed in places.

A light tent is basically a box made out of a diffusion material that lets in a very soft and diffused light. You can see the two lights, one on either side of the box, used to illuminate the object inside.

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