Update: This post was originally posted on 1st November 2020 but after changing my website this post had to be re-published due to technical issues.
When you run your own business where you sell a physical product one of the things you'll need to master is product photography. And it's one of the things that few entrepreneurs enjoy, and I include myself in that group. That might sound weird given I am a photographer but the skills needed for product photography is different than landscapes. But that said the technical skills with the camera is the same.
With myself being a photographer I'm sure it does not surprise you to know I have been asked for advice on product photography or end up in conversation about it. When I inform others that I actually hate doing product photography it is often met with surprise and then laughter.
But whether I like it or not selling art means I need to do it. So, I thought I would show how I get product photos like this one.
Now I don't claim to be the best at product photography and I know there are others who can do a lot better than me. But I can take in my opinion reasonable product photographs and want to help others see how it can be done.
What I use is an studio set up that was my partners, who as I have mentioned before is also a photographer. He dabbled in portrait photography before and so got a small studio but it ended up gathering dust behind his sofa. So I decided to borrow it to try my hand at portrait photography which I wrote about a few months ago. And although I've not really kept up with portrait photography the studio has come in handy for product photography.
This is the full set up, there is actually two umbrella lights with the studio but I find for product photography it is best to only use one and set up the reflector opposite. The wood effect backdrop is something I bought myself as I find it makes my products pop that little bit more than the plain white backdrop that came with the studio.
And for those wondering what I am going on about when I say umbrella light this is what I am talking about. The very large bulb faces into the umbrella and that disperses the light. However, you could use a soft box or even a desk lamp with tissue paper in front of it.
Basically what you want is to have the light dissipated gently onto your product. If you shine a light directly onto your product you will have very harsh light that can wash out the beauty of your product.
And here is the reflector, now I'm sure there are easier ways to use this but being on my own I had to get creative with how to get it set up. If you've never heard of a reflector it basically does what it says on the tin it reflects. In this case it reflects some of the light back to my greeting, this helps again with softening the light.
Without using this the shadows can be very sharp and can although that may be a good look for some products. For my greeting card it's not the look I was going for.
However, you don't need a professional reflector like this, even some cardboard with tin foil attached to it can do the same job. Though that is not something I have tried myself so cannot vouch how well it works.
After you've set up the studio it's time to get on with the actually product photography.
In my experience I have found that a patterned background works better than a plain white background as it makes it stand out for attracting customers attention. Although you don't want it so busy it distracts from your product.
My other piece of advice is to have props to help sell your product, like in this photo for my greeting card where I show the pen and stamps. Without any words I have been able to communicate with my potential customers that this is a greeting card to send in the post.
As I say I am far from an expert in product photography but I hope my own experience will help other entrepreneurs.