Product photography tips for anybody, anywhere

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Professional product photography is challenging and requires advanced skills. Not everybody will get a change to work in a professional studio and experience the actual process of both taking and editing pictures. Many of you will probably decide to play with product photography at home, which might be an interesting experience. In fact, it is possible to arrange a small low-budget studio and take pretty decent photographs. Here are some tips for those who have the courage to experiment with product photography – start this exciting adventure today!

Text by Joanna Wróblewska
Illustration based on a product photograph by one of the SAE Amsterdam students

Even beginners know the basics for good product photography: using a stable tripod, paying attention to the white balance setting, using a white background or setting the camera to the widest aperture. Of course, there are many other things that a starting photographer should be aware of in order to get satisfying results. If you really want to take product photographs at home, feel free to try these tips.

1. Know your camera
Before you start shooting, take some time to learn about the features of your camera: What options does it offer? How to control it efficiently? Where to find all the necessary functions? If it has a fixed lens, what parameters does it have? Will it work for product photography? If you have a choice of lenses, which one would work best for shooting product pictures?

2. Find the right place
It is important to find a right place for shooting. Remember not to mix natural and artificial light. They have different temperatures and will confuse the camera. It would be the best to arrange a small studio in a dark place with no other sources of light than lamps provided by the photographer. You may want to shoot on a table placed close to the wall, which can provide support for backgrounds and other required gear. Consider working in a room painted white, so you do not get unnecessary reflections from the walls.

3. Use diverse backgrounds
White backdrop is a must, but there are also other backgrounds that could serve you well. Personally, I like to use a black and a gray-gradient backgrounds. The last one works well for photographing jewelry, vases and artworks. Black background is elegant and will probably serve well for photographing small shiny items like watches. If you cannot order professional backdrops, just purchase big sheets of bristol or good quality fabric.

4. Light the backdrop
In simple product photography we often want to achieve an effect of an object floating in space. For that you need to direct one of the lights directly to the backdrop. Lighting the background will make the post-production much easier, not even mentioning an overall better quality of your photographs.

5. Diffuse the light
Product photography often requires a soft, diffused light, so using a tent or soft boxes is recommended. Many stores sell amateur white tents that are perfect for a home studio. Online you can find plenty of tutorials explaining how to make a tent or simple soft boxes.

6. Use reflectors
Simple, small reflectors are reasonably cheep, but you do not need to buy professional ones. Play with pieces of styrofoam and aluminum foil. They should serve you well. Reflecting light and creating interesting lighting situations is essential for product photography.

7. Hang products
To get rid of unnecessary shadows and achieve interesting effects hang your products. By doing so, you will achieve stunning effects and make your pictures look more appealing. Using thin transparent wires might be helpful.

8. Shoot from strange angles
Sometime you just have to shoot from the eye level and there is no choice. But what if you could play and change the perspective? Shoot from strange angles and seek for unique result. Just pay some attention to the look of your product – does the photograph show any distortion? If so, let it go.

9. Simplify the composition
You probably already know, that simple compositions are the best ones. Get rid of all the unnecessary elements: pieces of paper, dust, fingerprints, fragments of cloth being visible here and there. Make the shoot strong and clear, showing only what is truly important.

10. Edit your photographs
Finally, do not be afraid to edit your pictures. As an amateur, it is important to master your photography skills, but some things will be hard to do without professional gear. Software is available out there to help you dealing with smaller and bigger mistakes, so use it well.

Arranging a small product photography studio might be very helpful. If you are a blogger, a digital journalist or a web designer you may consider taking pictures yourself and enjoying the process of editing them and using for your own purposes. Go for it, if you feel like trying – Leonardo da Vinci would do it for sure!

Learn more:
The Ultimate DIY Guide to Beautiful Product Photography
10 Product Photography Tips – video
10 Amazing Photography DIY’s to Help you Cut Costs

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44 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I thought it was interesting that you suggested to shoot from strange angles. As you say, when you shoot from strange angles, you will get a unique result, which will give you a more unique look for your product. Overall, when you are able to pay attention to details and bring out the best sides to your product by thinking outside the box while you’re shooting, personally, I think you’ll get much better results and higher success with your photography.. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Avatar

    I am a beginner in product photography. I was also doing a lot of research in this topic to make my shoots perfect. I know how it is when you already give a lot of effort for your product photography and still that doesn’t come out perfect. These tips are itself helpful and going to try it also.

  3. Avatar

    Basically, product photography is a challenging sector. It seems easy but actually hard to get the job done. It take a lot of effort and practice to get the perfect photos. Moreover, the photographer must be in sync with the contractor and has to know what the consumers want to see. Some of the best tips for photographers. Nicely described article.

  4. Avatar

    Excellent. I became very involved with work. I love photography and I’m starting my photography business and subjects like this are inspiring. Congratulations on the job.

    Claude Willian

  5. Avatar

    Alot of blogs I see these days don’t really provide anything that I’m interested in, but I’m most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know. Nice! thank you so much! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Avatar

    Hey! After a long time found this article very interesting.

    Yeah, you have to find the right place to shoot very well. No doubt that, garages work great for shooting for it’s plenty of space and light. If you couldn’t manage a garage still you could shoot by considering any room in your house as a temporary studio.

  7. Avatar

    The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lot of great information about product photography which can be helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more blog tips. I will learn through this and implement in own photography
    All the best

  8. Avatar

    I am very amazed by the information of this blog and I am glad I had a look over the blog. Thank you so much for sharing such great information and get a chance to learn something useful about photography.

  9. Avatar

    It’s so helpful that you said not to mix natural and artificial light when you’re taking pictures. How does the camera get confused by the two different types? I’m trying to learn more about photography before I go on vacation. I want the pictures to look good!

  10. Avatar

    This post is truly very helpful. Photography is really nice. Such posts actually help us a lot. Thanks for sharing. How is the photography profession? What could be my futures better when I get into this profession.

  11. Avatar

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  12. Avatar

    It’s a wonderful post. It’s very conducive for us. Types of posts have been searching by me.An article about post had been red by me some days ago. But article is better than post.

  13. Avatar

    It’s a wonderful post. It’s very conducive for us. Types of posts have been searching by me. An article about post had been red by me some days ago. But article is better than post.

  14. Avatar

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways,
    just wanted to say great blog!

  15. Avatar

    I think this tips will definitely useful for those who are in photography field or who learn professional product photography. Keep sharing. Regards, Lauren.

  16. Avatar

    Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through your posts.

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