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In late 2017 I was hit with the photography bug so I invested in a DSLR camera and took a few online photography courses. Up until that point I had been solely using my iPhone camera for my product photos which is Ok for quick snapshots but I realised my photos were just lacking spark and I couldn’t get the depth of field that I wanted. Anything business related is worth the investment of both time and money and this is one thing I can’t believe I didn’t do earlier!
Through taking the courses and researching other photographers I discovered how much I favour natural light photography over studio photography and have decided to use natural light exclusively. It does have its limitations especially in Winter or rainy days but knowing how to work the camera means I can easily make the most of the good light days.
My dining room is being used as my pop up photo studio as it is painted white and contains a large table. The large window (almost full length, I know I’m lucky!) is North facing which offers the most consistent light and early afternoon seems to be the ‘magic hour’ for photography. However, I still find that I can still get harsh shadows on the opposite side of the product I’m photographing so reflector boards are a must!
You can buy fancy reflector boards but all you need is something white and reflective so I purchased some large A1 Foamex boards from Hobbycraft (4 for £10!) and can prop these up around my shoot and even use them as a base.
Whilst doing my research into product photography techniques I discovered PhotoBoards by Lindsey James. These are solid boards with high resolutions backgrounds printed directly onto them and they are so good for ensuring consistent product photos. I’ll admit I have invested in a few so far and I will be ordering a few more as I love them.
However, I think it is Ok to have a few DIY ones in my collection too as sometimes you want to test out a different colour or texture before committing or you might just need a one off design.
How I created my own photo boards.
Remember those white reflector boards I mentioned earlier? I found a way to make them multi-purpose. I paid a visit to a large DIY store and took some samples of wallpaper (I was shopping for other items too!). I carefully picked ones that were quite realistic looking and weren’t too contrasting in texture. You can pick up some amazing textured vinyl style papers including brick effect, tiles and slate etc.
After lots of umming and ahhing I settled on a rustic painted brick, a whitewashed wooden plank and a black stitched leather. Then I simply trimmed them to length using a craft knife and used permanent spray mount (also Hobbycraft) and stuck one onto each of A1 Foamex board.
TOP TIP: Make sure the two edges are lined it up so you can use it as a wall without a gap showing
It’s easy peasy to just switch the boards round when I need either white or background or use two together. The benefit is the boards are white on one side so they still function as reflector boards too when used that way.
This is a really cost effective and quick DIY that means you can switch up your photography backgrounds very quickly. These DIY boards can get tatty quite quickly so if you are intending to do a lot of photo shoots then I would still recommend purchasing the official PhotoBoards as they are so sturdy and hardwearing, Lindsey James also runs PhotoCraft, a photography discussion and education group for creative business which is worth joining for amazing tips for helping you on your photography journey.
What do you think to this DIY? Do you have any ideas of your own for shooting with natural light? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email!