Growing a business can be tough and realistically, at the beginning most don’t have the spare cash to splurge on professional product photography. Even though at some point as your business grows it will be a necessary next step, we’re here today to give you our best product photography tips to help you on your way. That means we are sharing our secrets with you so that you can create successful shots in house! Product photography utilises specific set ups and techniques to showcase a business’s product in the best possible light. This means that good product photography will be creative and entice customers, but it will also be of true likeness to your product. Although it is not the camera, but the photographer that makes a successful image, professional equipment does show your product off in the best way and helps to ensure that the images themselves are optimised for purpose. When we have professional equipment it also means that we have more control over the settings. No professional photographer will shoot on auto settings, and that is because they are trained in getting the best out of their equipment. These are all fantastic reasons as to why eventually getting a professional photographer is important. Luckily for now, auto-settings built into smart phones will do a good enough job at capturing your product and if you do happen to have access to a DSLR we will include some tips for you too!
Use a 50mm lens! If you are lucky enough to have access to a DSLR camera, then use a 50mm lens. Using a 50mm lens or any ‘standard’ lens tends to be the best for product photography since they are closest in perspective to the human eye. This means that the product will appear in the image as it does in real life, no distortion!
Create a backdrop! You can easily create a professional looking backdrop at home using cheap and accessible materials. The easiest way to create a backdrop for still life product photography is to create a shooting table. You can fashion a shooting table using a chair and a roll of craft paper or ` bed sheet. Roll the paper or sheet over the chair to create a “backdrop”. You can secure it by pushing it up against a wall. Alternatively, you could buy a light box / tent on places like eBay for a reasonable price. For this style of product photography sticking to white or lighter backgrounds is advised as it is much easier to edit, and it will give you that classic product photography look.
Fool Proof Lighting! If you are shooting with artificial lighting and a background here is a standard lighting set up that won’t let you down. Point 2 lights (one each side) at the background itself, place the product in front of the background leaving some space, light the product from the front and if possible, from the top too! This will ensure that your product doesn’t disappear into the background, and that both your background and product are evenly lit! Simple.
No lights, no problem! If you do not have access to a background or any lights then this is not a problem. In this case I would advise utilising the background and light that is accessible to us all and step outside! Find a wall, a patch of grass or whatever you need that you can use as a background. The best times of day for lighting are early morning and late afternoon! The worst time to shoot outside is midday, this is when the light is at its harshest! Alternatively, you can use day light in a different way by setting up a shooting space near a window indoors. The window acts as a diffuser and covers your product beautifully with natural light, no lamps required!
It IS a time for experimentation! Product photography provides a great opportunity for creative play and freedom. There are no witnesses so you can try anything you want, and if it doesn’t work out, who cares! Perhaps you can try putting coloured lens’ over your camera to tint the photograph (quality street wrappers work a treat!) or play around with different surfaces to photograph on, for example, Perfume bottles photograph great on top of a lightbox.
Remember your intent! It is so easy to get carried away in your creativity when you are taking photographs, so remember to stay focussed on the job. This is especially true for lifestyle type images but applies across the board, if you are taking product photography, make sure the focus remains on the product!
Limit your creativity! This may sound funny at first but hear me out! It is great that photography is such an expressive and creative means of advertising your product but be mindful of your creative play. It can be so easy to get lost in your creativity and then realise after that you can’t use any of the photographers because the colour or another product specification isn’t of true likeness in your images! This is why we recommend mixing together a selection of studio shots with lifestyle images. The studio shots help you to advertise the specifications of your product whilst the lifestyle helps you share your brands message and get creative in a way that isn’t detrimental to the selling of your product.
Set yourself a brief! Just because you are doing your photography in house doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t remain professional. In fact, in house photography is a safe space to learn more about visual advertisement. Create a brief for your needs, not only will this keep you on track and help you plan out the logistics of the shoot, but it will help you to think through key areas of your business such as who your audience are and what feelings you want your photographs to evoke! At the end of the day product photographs are so important to your business, and whilst we would always advise working with a professional photographer when you have the means to do so, we also recognise that running a business is tricky and it can take a little while to get there! We hope that you can utilise these in-house starter tips to help to take your small business to the next level!