Working in the digital marketing sector, I’ve learned one thing: if your products are badly photographed, no matter what you’re selling, chances are you’re not going to be selling much of it.

Given this literally universal truth (go see Ebay), I set out on a quest; a quest to create photos of my handmade jewelry (or photos that simply don’t suck) that I would be proud to sell anywhere online.

Here’s the story behind what I did (and yes, it’s also a DIY light box guide!).

 1. I experimented with Adobe Photoshop

Pros – I got loads more Photoshop experience and I picked up a few good photography tips. Cons – it was incredibly time-consuming.

 2. I played with light

I tried photographing my jewelry on colored paper, on textured paper, against velvet necklace and earring stands, outside with a rocky or grassy background, inside under bright lights, on whitepaper, on wooden tables…you name it. And while it was fun experimenting with textures, the problem was that my photographs were inconsistent. Never mind the different backgrounds, the inconsistency in light was what bothered me most.

 3. I came to terms with the hard truth…

My itty bitty Canon is good for holiday snaps and…well, that’s about it. As much as I would love to own a professional SLR camera (THIS BABY PLEASE), I can’t see myself getting my hands on one for quite a while. My Canon is a good little pony but it’s not a racehorse. It doesn’t take photos that are worthy of a good-looking ecommerce website and it certainly doesn’t do some of my teeny tiny wire creations justice:

Wire African Jewelry by Candice Landau


 4. So, I turned to Google

And of course, Google answered my prayers.

from god to google comic


Google said: ‘The affordable secret to great products is…the photographer’s light box’.


Professional Photo Light Box


Or this:


pro light box


Or maybe even this…

pro light box

But, when it came time to buying, Google’s minions – Amazon and Ebay – gave me things like this:

DIY light boxes from Hell

  Now I don’t know what the above images look like to you, but to me they look like:

A) a laundry basket

B) a shed and

C) a white cardboard box

Worst of all, the cheapest one (the laundry basket) was $40!

Now I know I was looking for an affordable solution, but…well, these boxes looked like very temporary solutions. And, when I Googled ‘DIY light box’, this is what I got:

DIY photo box

Now there’s honestly not anything wrong with boxes like this – in fact, I applaud the makers – well done for not buying the overpriced crap that the Big Boys sell and, well done for using your hands, but still…couldn’t I go the extra mile? I’m a big believer in making things and I like new challenges, so, I decided to craft a photo box that would stand the test of time and, in the case of my house, four box-loving cats.

A day later I returned from the hardware with 3 wooden planks, a saw and a box of screws. With my father’s help, we set out to make a DIY light box I could be proud to call my own.

Together we measured out twelve 20 inch segments of wood, drilled holes in the wood and then screwed the pieces together.

Here’s us making the DIY light box:

making a wooden light box

It took a couple of hours but it was definitely looking to be something I could work with. To complete it: a staple gun, a pair of scissors, an A1 sheet of white card and a nice cheap Walmart bed sheet.

The end product?

Something even Bug wanted a piece of!

bug in a box


AND Pip…(and then a fight for the box ensued):

bug and pip fight for the box


But Bug had staked her claim and so….

bug and pip sort it out


Pip was put in his place. But he stayed cool…so long as he could be near the box:

bug and pip sleep it off


There was barely a moment the box wasn’t in use and it wasn’t just thanks to Bug and Pip. Even Tango and Grey Thing (our other two cats) had a go. I had to wait until they were all eating dinner before I could trial run it.

Here’s the full functioning picture (though it definitely needs some nice strong Halogen lamps):

first use of wood light box

And, here are the first two product pictures (not my own creations!):

first photos in wood light box


Along with…yesterday’s indulgent purchase:

Metal Jewelry Tools


My beautiful new metal jewelry tools:

  •  One steel bench block
  • 2 metal files
  • 1 dapping hammer
  • 1 hand drill
  • 1 pair of metal shears
  • Weighted steel stand and tweezers


These were the things I photographed last and don’t they just look ready for Rio Grande?

Already they have fashioned a tiny aluminum ‘book’ and a set of charms, as well as a miscellany of battered wires, beaten washers and … my poor fingers. Delicate, soft, feminine hands…goodbye my dears.

So, for now, that’s it. I’m off to do some more experimenting! If you enjoyed Bug & Pip, don’t forget to take a take a look at their escapades on Tumblr. They’re a right pair.