2 Easy Approaches Toward Better Product Photography

by June Jiang | July 13, 2013

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It is a good thing that more and more people crave handmade products with quality design in mind. With Etsy and other sites like it becoming popular, sellers seek better product photography in order to stand out from the crowd. Stores and businesses also want high quality product photography for their brochure printing, card printing, and other promotional materials. Any photographer new to shooting products can try out the following approaches.

Approach #1: Traditional

This approach emphasizes the details of the product itself. To do this, we would showcase the product with nothing but a white background.  You certainly can invest in a sophisticated macro lighting kit, but why pay more if you can get things done with the equipment you may already have? I used a DIY home product studio and you certainly can try, too. Here’s what you need:

  1. A white table or a table covered with a piece of large white paper.
  2. A tri-fold display board, which is about $5 at a drug store. I used a tri-fold shipping box that I saved from a previous shipment of extra large prints. One side of the box is white, so it was perfect as a backdrop.
  3. Your strobe light with white umbrella setup on a light stand.

sample photo 1This is how I shot the sample hat photo. The hat was placed on a white marble coffee table by the window in my living room. I opened the tri-fold board and had it stand on the table securing it with some furniture from the back. The hat was then surrounded by this white board in a 180-degree fashion. I placed my strobe light setup in front of the hat at about a 45-degree angle and used a mid-range zoom lens to shoot. The final image will probably show details of the tri-fold and the table as in my case, patterns of the marble stone. To get rid of these details, I used the Level tool in Photoshop to blow up the highlight, and then used the brush tool to recover the edges of the hat to its original exposure. There it is, a photo of sharp details of the product with a white background.

Approach #2: Artsy

The first approach might be good for eBay products and magazine ads, but consumers with sophisticated taste might be looking for something presented in a very artsy, eye-catching way. They also want to get inspirations from the photos, which can suggest the function of the product. When an Etsy seller asked me to photograph a set of handmade crochet items, I immediately realized a simple white background was not going to work. I searched the house and found some interesting items to use as props, such as a vintage toy size baby carriage, a colorful quilt, some acrylic ice cubes, and a modern wood bench. I carefully arranged them to make a striking composition. Lighting can be easy or a little more complex. For example, in the sample photo with the baby carriage, I used window light alone to create a very calm mood. In the sample photo with the ice cubes, I used window light as side light, and then setup my tri-fold board and strobe light as described above. The ice cubes really added an interesting aspect to the overall picture because of its translucent quality.

product photography tips

Great photos of products will definitely generate great interest in purchasing. No matter which approach you choose to use, take lots of photos from different angles of your setup, rearrange your props and shoot more, and zoom in to shoot some close-up details. With some practice, you will be taking professional-looking product photos in no time.

Hope you’ve learned a few tips from me. Before my next write-up, have fun shooting product photos that generate great interests and sales.

Check out more photography tips and tricks as well as other photography resources at Smartpress.com.

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