7 Product Photography Tips
Written 7 years ago by Mark Evans
You probably see products in magazines and advertising everyday without even thinking about where these images actually came from; well someone in a studio probably shot them, and you can too. Shooting products can be a challenging and rewarding experience, whether it’s food to clothes or handbags to jewellery, each scenario requires a slightly different a approach, so how can you get similar results to the pros? Read on.
Depending on what you’re going to shoot, you’ll need the right gear. To start with, use a good lens, possibly a mid zoom, as these tend to be more flexible, allowing you to set up in one spot and zoom in, rather than moving all the time. A fast lens (around f/3.5 or less) will help throw your background out of focus more easily, and helps if your lighting isn’t up to scratch. Also a tripod can be handy for setting up and taking lots of shots, but sometimes, hand-held is the only way to go – I’ve found my image stabilized lens definitely helps in these situations.
Get some whiteness
The first thing you’re going to need is a white background to shoot the products against, you’ll notice that the majority of products are shot against white backgrounds as this takes any distractions away, so the only thing to look at is the product! Shooting against a white background also means the product is easier to ‘cut out’ in Photoshop if needed. Try using a white sheet, or pieces of white cardboard to create a mini studio, alternatively try a black background.
Lighting is pretty important in shooting products, the idea most of the time is to get the product fairly evenly lit, avoiding harsh shadows, so make sure you set up in a room with bright lights, or has bright ambient light coming through the windows. And when taking your shots use a flash as well to fill in the shadows.
Simple compositions tend to work better with products, so try to get on the same level, and zoom in to get as much in as possible. Avoid shooting from strange angles as well, for example if shooting clothes, then shoot from front-on to the item so that there’s no distortion due to perspective.
When shooting against a background, you don’t actually want it to be in focus, so to start with, place the product a bit in front of the background, then set your camera to the widest aperture, (or 1 to 2 stops above widest) this way, if all goes well, you’ll have your product in sharp focus, with a white, out of focus background. You may have to experiment a bit to get it right.
Make it your own
When you’re done with all the technicalities, its time to put your own stamp on the images you take; play around with product placement and focus, and take as many images as you think is necessary; its always best to get a good selection and choose the one you want, rather than not getting the shot and having to re-shoot.
Processing your images afterwards can be almost as important as taking the images; if the light wasn’t quite right, then it can be fixed to a certain extent at the end, so with most of my images there is always at least a small degree of processing, be it tweaking the white balance, boosting colours, or cropping. My work-flow usually goes something like this: Import images, erase dust spots, remove noise, increase exposure if necessary, tweak white balance, colour boost/change contrast if necessary/fill light (my most used function), and sharpen. You’ll probably find you may spend as much time processing as you do taking the pictures themselves. (At least I do – I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to photography!)
If you enjoy this sort of photography then there’s scope to sell these sorts of images for retail websites etc, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned if you want to sell your images, and that is know your market, and know how to market.Ã‚ Its all well and good having mastered taking these sort of photos, but selling them is definitely another story!