What Goes Into A Great Product Photo?
Small businesses around the world have long struggled with product photography. Browsing around the web, it’s quite easy to tell a company’s size based on the type of shots they have, with some doing far better than others. Of course, though, for a bigger company, this is nice and easy; they can afford to pay an expert to do it for them. As an enthusiast photographer yourself, you will have many of the skills which are required for product shots, but may need a little bit of help to achieve your goals. To give you this support, this post will be exploring the elements which go into this sort of photography.
Before taking any photos or even setting the camera up, you will need to prepare the product which is being photographed. The way that you do this will depend very much on the type of product your snapping, with some requiring much more care and attention than others, and some even requiring other skills. You can find a couple of examples of different products and the approaches you should take below.
Food: Taking good pictures of food can be a challenge, as meals often don’t look like a piece of artwork. For this reason, food photographers often choose to create a fake version of the meal they’re showing off. Meat can be heated with a blowtorch to take on the right shade, fake vegetables can be used to keep the food looking fresh for the whole shoot, and fake sauces will be used to avoid having colors run. This is how companies like McDonalds are able to achieve such perfect product shots.
Furniture: Taking a photo of a piece of furniture will be trickier than a small item, like food. To learn about this, it could be worth reading a guide to taking photos of your antiques on a budget, as this will teach you how to set up and prepare all sorts of furniture to be captured. Props will usually be used for this sort of photo, with cushions, throws, and ornaments setting the scene which the buyer will see themselves in.
Good photography is all about lighting, with the way your camera performs and the way your pictures look being directly influenced by this. Camera lighting isn’t cheap, though, and most people can’t afford a full setup when they are first getting started. Thankfully, this is easier than you might think to solve. Normal lamps can be defused with a piece of tracing paper in a picture frame, providing a soft light which won’t create shiny areas or harsh shadows. You can’t get rid of shadows completely, but you can hide them behind the product if your lights are positioned correctly.
While lighting is important to photographers, the camera and lens combination you decide to use will also make a difference. Sony are the industry leaders when it comes to budget professional cameras, with options like their A6500 providing excellent results for those without much to spend. When paired with a 50mm prime, 28mm wide angle, or even a 24mm tilt-shift lens, this camera will be able to take some stunning product photos. Of course, though, some people will be restricted to their phone for this work, and this means that they will have to work very hard.
When you browse around on camera retailer websites, you will find countless support options for your camera. Monopods, sliders, and much more can be found for your camera, though you’ll probably be fine with a simple tripod. These can be found across the web, with sites like Amazon and eBay being laced with affordable options. If you’d like to get any other support gear, having more tripods will be useful for holding your lights.
A lot of people will think that they can get by without something like this when they are taking product shots. If you’re taking snaps of a single product, you’ll probably be able to get away without any sort of support, instead holding the camera with your hands. For long shoots with loads of different products, though, maintaining the same angles in each shot will only be possible if you have a tripod to help you out.
Good products photos are able to do more than simply show off the product you’re selling. Along with this, these shots should make a customer think about themselves using your products, inspiring excitement and desire. To achieve a goal like this, you need to be able to set the scene. In the case of a piece of antique furniture, it would make a lot more sense for this item to be surrounded by similar pieces. A picture of a meal, though, will be much better alongside a knife, fork, and refreshing-looking beverage. You can use websites like Instagram to inspire yourself with this.
The Extra Tricks
Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about the extra tricks you’ll be using to make your product photos better. Perspective can play a large role in product photography, with a camera positioned low and pointing upwards making items look far larger and more imposing than they are in reality. There are loads of different ways to manipulate the pictures you capture, and a lot of this work can be done before you start using Photoshop. Challenging yourself with things like this can be an excellent way to make your photography more fun.
With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge taking great product photos. A lot of people struggle with this sort of work, finding it hard to know what needs to be done when they’re going through this process. In reality, though, once you have the tools and the resources, you should be able to start making headway with your products in no time. Of course, it can always be helpful to read online guides and use websites like Instagram for inspiration.