Beginner's Guide to a Product Photography Setup
October 09, 2018
Beginner's Guide to a Product Photography Setup
Ever wondered how the pros make your products looks so good? Here we discuss the basics to creating a professional product photography setup.
The photographs of your products will be the major selling point for your website. No matter what nice things you've written about them, no one is going to make a purchase without a clear photo.
Even if your business is on a tight budget, you'll need a way to create stunning shots. You may think this is impossible, but with a little bit of know-how, anyone can create a beautiful product photography setup.
Read this article for some tips on how to feature your products on the cheap. Don't be afraid to get creative with your set up and experiment with different ways to make your products stand out.
1. Product Photography Setup: The Camera
Your camera is your most crucial item when it comes to photography set up. This is the item that will capture your products, and ultimately sell them to the public.
You may think you need an expensive camera in order to create a beautiful product set up. However, you don't need anything incredibly expensive or complicated to take a gorgeous photo.
If you have a DSLR camera or can afford one on a budget, it would be your best bet. But as many of them start in the $1000 range and can go upward, this is a purchase you can hold off on. You should also remember that buying a fancy camera won't make you an expert photographer overnight, so there will still be a learning curve.
You can buy rather sophisticated point and shoot cameras that can do the job for you. You can buy cameras for as little as $200 that can pack a big punch.
If you're wedded to your phone, there's some good news here as well. You can use your phone, particularly newer smartphone models, to create amazing product photography. The secret is in the rest of the setup!
This is a must, though it won't put a dent in your budget. Whether you're using an expensive DSLR or your iPhone, you'll need a tripod. This will help steady the camera and make your shots more even.
You can purchase a tripod almost anywhere, often for less than $20. You can even buy tripods specifically made for smartphones to eliminate shakiness and up your professionalism.
Lighting is the key to taking a good photo. Whether you take a picture with a DSLR camera or a smartphone, it won't turn out well without good quality lighting.
Good quality lighting is imperative for your product, and there are many, many choices. It can seem even overwhelming at first.
Many beginners, instead of opting for serious studio lighting, go for cheaper lighting. You can purchase softbox or umbrella kits relatively cheaply. This will give you an air of professional lighting, which will allow you to create a better product photo.
Umbrella kits are professional lighting kits with a bright light. The umbrella forces the light toward the product.
If you're just starting out, and doing small to medium products, you'll only really need a couple of softboxes.
If you're photographing people in the products, for example for jewelry, make-up or clothing, you can use a Diva light. These ringed lights are often used by social media stars to give their face a more professional glow. This way, your model will look lively and your product will look excellent.
You can also forego a lighting kit, depending on the product. You can showcase some items using only natural light. You can do this in a bright room or conservatory which brings in a lot of natural light. The late afternoon, often called "The Golden Hour" has the best lighting for these types of shots.
Shooting products outside in natural lighting is also a good budget-friendly alternative.
Play with the lights and lighting to get the look you're ultimately going for!
You don't need an expensive background to create a professional looking environment. Products often stand out well on white surfaces, and you can typically buy large photography backdrops for under $30.
You can hang these backdrops on the wall behind you to create a neutral space.
If you're photographing jewelry or something that lays flat, you can get incredibly creative on a budget. Purchase a piece of white poster board. You can then use the linings meant for drawers to create all kinds of effects. Easily create the look of a marble or granite table by sticking the lining on top of the poster board.
To jazz up your background, consider adding a few things like faux flowers, tableware, a brush or anything that would go with your product. Keep your product in focus with the other items slightly out of focus to highlight your product.
You can also experiment by putting your products in natural environments, such as in the grass or by flowers.
For smaller products, you can purchase fold out boxes online. These boxes are perfect for small products, as you simply place it inside of your folded box and you have an instant studio. Some of them come with interchangeable backgrounds you can decide which goes best with your products.
You can also purchase a Foldio, which comes with a lighting kit built in. This way, you simply unfold the kit, place your product inside and you have an instant photography studio.
What Kind of Setup is Right for My Business?
When you're just starting out, you can work on a shoestring budget to create an amazing product photography setup. You don't need to be a seasoned pro to create amazing photographs. Instead, all you need is a camera, a good setup and a willingness to experiment.
To read more about prepping for great photoshoots, or deciding when to hire a professional, read our blog.