Want to have beautiful and glossy images at your catalogue or online shop, but don’t know how to take product photos on the cheap? Let’s find out everything can help you make your product photography gorgeous even at home studio.
Main product photography purpose is to quickly grab the client’s attention and make him/her stay as long as they can on your store and buy something. Product photography definition is simple, it’s a kind of commercial photography which deals with taking pictures of goods (jewelry, shoes, clothes) for sale in the most pleasing way.
Professional product photography presupposes two types of shooting: lifestyle and studio photos.
Photos in the Studio. The pictures on a plain, monochromatic background with different props. Such pictures will show your product from different angles and is considered to be universal for all websites like Amazon or eBay.
Lifestyle Product Photography. This type of product photography is used more for the billboards and magazines. They show the product in use and demonstrate how it looks like in real life.
Let’s find out how to set up a home photography studio for shooting products at home and how to get high-quality images right in your house.
Create a seamless background in order to give the impression of an endless empty space behind your product in the photo. Buy a large roll of white paper with a width no less than half a meter. Never take a meter width paper, as it is not convenient to work or even fix it.
When you purchased the roll of paper, you have to fix it. In this case, you do not have to worry about measuring it and cutting a piece of the necessary length from the roll, just fix its one side, and let the roll fall on the floor.
One of the most popular methods of fixing the background is the clips. Don’t fix the paper on the chair or the wall with a tape. Be careful and pay attention to your wallpapers, because if they are not salient, then the tape can ruin them.
If you are interested in product photography DIY ideas, create a light box. You need a cardboard box, where you will have to make holes on top and on the sides. Stick the paper but make sure it is pure white. It is essential to avoid hard diffused light when using very powerful lamps.
If you ask yourself how to take professional product photos at home, buy a lightbox. With its help, you won’t have to worry about lightning, the tape and the paper background. I recommend the Fotodiox or Amazon Basics. The size 20x20 will be enough, if you are not going to shoot large products. Among the main advantages of the lightboxes are built-in lighting, fast adjustment, as it is equipped with velcros and additional backgrounds and the reasonable price about $80.
Want to know how to take product photos clearly without blurriness? Use a tripod. In fact, it is not as necessary as everyone says. If you have a good DSLR camera or great smartphone camera, you do not have to use it, but it is quite convenient for shooting the products of the small size as jewelry.
Actually, you do not need a very powerful camera. Even something on the camera for about $500 will be enough, as the most important are the camera settings and light. You can use the cameras such as Nikon 7100 and 18-55 mm lens . Talking about lenses, there are no special requirements. If you have a 50 mm lens, it will provide you with good shots, but you will have to get far from the product to take a cool picture.
In general, the settings will depend on the lighting you have chosen for your professional product photography. You can use my usual camera setting ISO 100, F 1/125, F20. But you can also opt for the auto settings, as the product photography allows you to do it
The question of how to take product photos includes not only product photography ideas, equipment, and proper camera settings. You should also clean your product as smooth as possible, and depending on the type of product, choose the way of the cleaning. For example, jewelry can be cleaned with the baking soda, the shoes with a brush, and technical equipment with special cleaning substances. You should also use latex gloves not to leave greasy prints on the surface of the products.
One of the product photography techniques is the correct placement of the object against the background. How to take product photos correctly? You need to position your object strictly in the middle. Do not place it too close to the camera, as it can create distortions due to the lens. Do not place the object too far from the back wall too. It will cast shadow on the background.
There are many product photography ideas on how to take product photos creatively. For example, to make your shots more interesting try to purchase special props for product photography. You can buy them on Amazon or use ordinary things like fabric. Check out what jewelry photography props you can use to make your photos awesome.
Lightning is the most important thing in product photography. How to take product photos to make it clear and accurate? My recommendation is to use only powerful artificial lighting.
On the web, people keep saying that you can easily take pictures of your product near the window without artificial lighting. OMG, this is nonsense! In fact, if you try to take photos on a white background using only sunlight, you will see how cheap and terrible it looks. Lifestyle product photography taken with natural light looks great, but we are talking about a photo on a white background. I agree everything can be improved by photo retouching and you can enhance even the worst picture with poor lighting. One more disadvantage of natural light is the time limit. The quality of your photos will depend on the sun position, not on your professional skills, so why limit yourself?
Here you don’t need to purchase product photography equipment. Just buy a box at the nearest store, a couple of desk lamps, two 100W bulbs and adhesive tape. It is enough to have the background with the lamps, but if the light seems too harsh for you, make a paper diffuser.
The best choice regarding lighting is the Lightbox, as it has a light-reflective surface inside, which reflects a powerful built-in LED lighting and gives you a wonderful light for the product. I think Fotodiox is one of the best lightboxes for photography, as its price goes with the quality.
Keep in mind that you need to photograph the product from different angles. Show people the whole product. As an example, I took an old camera that I got from my father. I put its lid under the lens not to fall.
I chose the following shooting angles for professional product photography look to show most of the product.
The front shot is necessary to show the main part of the object. A photograph from above can be even better than a front picture if the product does not stand straight.
I think you probably know that a large number of product photos are made with smartphones. Of course, if you plan to place product photos to glossy magazines, billboards or just earn your living in such a way – it's better to purchase a DSLR to get top-quality pictures in high resolution. Well, if you just want to take a picture of products for your store or website – take a smartphone.
While choosing a phone for professional product photography, the main thing is not to chase a lot of megapixels. In reality, it is not the most important characteristic. A phone with 20 MP but with a bad Aperture and a budget matrix will make your picture of worse quality than a smartphone with 12 MP. You need to choose a smartphone following the same principle – the larger the size of the matrix is, the better result you will get, i.e. the smaller the index after 1/(value) is, the better the camera will be. Choose the aperture in the same way – opt for the smaller index after the fraction.
Apple's first dual camera is not used in iPhone X, but it is the first one in which both matrixes have optical stabilization. In addition, the value of the maximum open aperture has increased from F2.8 to F2.4, which should improve the results of shooting under poor lighting conditions. But in the test lab, the differences in the results, when compared with the performance of the iPhone 8 Plus, turned out to be minimal. In general, the quality of photos has become better. So if you are accustomed to the body of the iPhone 8 Plus, you can safely choose it and learn how to take product photos with iPhone.
The Galaxy S9Plus model has the most innovative solutions concerning the camera. It is very simple in usage and is very easy to learn how to take product photos with it. Developers managed to implement the principle of the human eye’s structure in the camera lens, using a variable diaphragm in the design. The device can automatically switch between the aperture f/1.5 and f/2.4, according to the lighting conditions, allowing the camera to capture up to 28% more light and receive detailed shots with minimal noise even in the dark rooms.
With the digital camera on this mobile phone, you can get wonderful pictures. Having tested the Pixel 2 camera due to its capability to capture such tiny items as hair and eyelashes, we discovered that it is not as powerful as the competitors. But, the quality can still be called excellent while using different product photography techniques.
For phone product photography, tripods are not the most necessary thing as it may seem at the first glance. Actually, you can take great pictures without it, but if you are going to shoot a series of pictures with objects of the same size – this is an irreplaceable thing. A tripod for the phone is definitely a must-have if you want to do a 360 product photography, which is impossible to create without a tripod.
This kind of octopus tripods is one of the most popular types. Its difference is that you cannot increase the length of its legs, but you can bend all its legs as you need, turning them around wherever you want to see your smartphone. It is extremely convenient if you need to implement various product photography ideas while shooting small things.
Another kind of tripod for phones is a traditional metal one. Its main advantage over octopus tripods is the possibility of increasing the length of the legs. It seems to be more reliable and firm than the previous one, but it limits your freedom of action.
If you’ve already known how to take product photos using tripods, another important step is choosing the proper lenses. In fact, you do not really need extra ones for the smartphone if you have excellent characteristics of the built-in camera.
This is a set of 10 excellent quality lenses. Generally, you will need only a couple of them, but the rest will not be superfluous. You can use them in the everyday shooting. For product photography choose macro and telephoto for different types of product photos. About the peculiarities of each type, you can learn in the tutorials on how to take high-quality product photos.
This kit of lenses has a slightly lower price and number of lenses, but their quality is high. You will only need a macro lens to shoot small objects.
What you really need is a photographer app. No doubt, the built-in app is not so bad, but it has a very narrow range of settings. Usually it’s difficult to adjust the aperture, ISO, precise focus, white balance, so you have to purchase or download applications for shooting. Let’s find out what are the best apps to help you understand how to take product photos.
Manual Camera for Android
There is a huge variety of apps for shooting with Android smartphone, among them is Manual Camera. This application has an interface which is a easy to understand. Nothing useless. the wheel-turning shutter speed is admirable.
Camera + 2
The most popular application for taking pictures with the iPhone has been received updated. There are a lot of functions and shooting modes. You can customize your camera for any type of shooting thanks to the new features of this application. Download this app and discover how to take great product photos.
Lightroom CC for Mobile
This free application will be very useful for those who don’t want to spend lots of money and try to shoot the product photography with the phone without buying anything extra. There are also camera settings for the phone, but they are not as detailed as in the previous applications. But if you are only studying how to take good product photos, it will be enough for you.
Start Lightroom on your smartphone. You may need to register in order to synchronize your Lightroom CC in the computer with your smartphone. Click on the camera sign at the bottom right corner and start setting up the camera.
Place the phone on a white background and start the adjustment:
STEP 1. Press the Pro setting button to activate the manual control.
STEP 2. Adjust the ISO to the minimum rate. The image may “freeze” for a couple of seconds, so set ISO 200.
STEP 3. Set Shutter Speed to the lowest value at which you will have the clearest picture. Mainly, it is 1/160.
STEP 4. The exposure is set to 0 or slightly larger.
STEP 5. Click on the white balance icon and point to a perfectly white surface (in your opinion).
After these adjustments, you can get professional product photography. Still, you will need to retouch them.
The built-in photo editor will be enough for color correction. In instructions how to take product photos, it is advised to increase exposures, contrast, saturation, and crop the photo. If you are not satisfied with the results, you need a professional image retouching.
You have two ways of retouching product photos – outsourcing or retouching photos yourself.
If you want to upload your photo to a sales website like Etsy, this will be the best choice. The site does not have any specific requests for this kind of photos, so you just have to adjust color correction.
If you need to upload photos to a more demanding website or you shoot for sale, you need to treat it seriously. You should find the information on how to take product photos for the website and follow the steps. Read about Amazon product photography guidelines not to make mistakes posting product photos.
Then go to Photoshop and do clipping path, cut your object out on a white background, remove all small motes, fingerprints, and glares. Mind, if you have dozens of photos or need to change the product color, it will take more than several hours.
Outsource Retouching Services. It is definitely more expensive than doing everything yourself, but time is money, and you will be able to save a lot of hours. The average price for such photo retouching is about $2. It will be done by experienced photo retouchers, qualitatively and quickly, so you will only have to shoot the products and simply upload the images to the service.
Give the customers the idea of its actual size in comparison to surrounding objects. For example, you can take a picture holding a telephone to show how big it is compared to a hand.
It’s very helpful for potential customers to visualize the products in the context they were intended for. Depending on what the object is, capture it in use or worn by a person. If it’s plus size clothes – photograph plus-size models wearing them, if it’s a blender - photograph somebody making a smoothie with it.
All product photography tips state that you need to showcase the object from multiple angles to give the potential client the full experience. If the product has some interesting features or the details, give close-ups.
Come up with creative product photography ideas to evoking positive emotions that will make a person more willing to buy the product. Let’s say it’s a family car – then try to capture a happy family preparing for a road trip.
All the e-commerce photography services are well-aware of this simple trick – to achieve a stylish look on your website, the images should have the same backgrounds. All the pictures should preferably have the same photo editing style.
If you really want to stand out from the competition – go an extra mile and take 360 product photography guide. This is especially helpful for complex products that have many details.
A vital part of photography for e-commerce products is sizing of the images. All the photos should be of the same size so that they align nicely on your website. The picture quality needs to be good enough to provide a sharp close-up view. Don’t forget that every product should have a thumbnail.
If you found these product photography tips helpful, please, leave your feedback or share your thoughts/experience about this question in comments.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.