Whichever way you look at it, product photography is about business, it's about selling and making a profit. E Commerce is a very competitive business field, and being successful requires a number of things to be top notch. A good website or online shop is crucial in any ecommerce business, and a bit part of that is product photography. Statistically, people are more likely to buy products that are featured in high quality photos.
You might be the direct seller, or you could be a hired photographer with an assignment to photograph a bunch of products. The idea is to know what you're doing. Product photography is a pretty repetitive process and what I found works best in this case , is a successful "recipe", a fail-safe working method that doesn't require you to change settings every time you switch the product.
I want to focus on such a strategy, and I'd like to start off by revealing that it has lower budgets in mind. Product photography can be done very elaborately with thousands of dollars’ worth of gear. But if you know what you're doing , you can get similar results and spend very little money.
Let's start with gear.
You're obviously going to need a camera and lens, but don't make the same mistake as many photographers and believe that you can only get top-quality results with gear worth over $1,500. The job can be done any beginner DSLR or an older, used one, and even with some compact cameras. I would say the most important feature to have on the camera you're going to use for product photography is Manual shooting mode, but I'll get to that later.
You will need a tripod to set your camera on. As part of the successful strategy, the camera's position has to remain exactly the same. When you go shopping for a tripod, have the camera's weight and size in mind and make sure it can fully support it. If it's a lighter camera, you won't have any problems finding something affordable.
The setup for placing and photographing your product plays a crucial role in the process. With this strategy, we want to focus on photographing products on a white background .Why white? Because it's universal. It will make any product (with the obvious exception of white products) look good and it will highlight their features. It also reflects light and allows it to wrap around the subject, whereas black or darker colors absorb it.
The complexity of a product photography setup can have different levels. It can go from covering your coffee table with a white sheet and placing it next to a window, to seven foot tall white tents for photographing large products.
Many photographers shoot their first attempts on their coffee table with natural light. In all fairness, this is a usable solution and it will help you get the job done. But there are obvious limitations including little control over light and the fragility of the setup. It's more a temporary solution and I don't recommend it for extensive use. I also don't want you to go out and spend thousands of dollars on studio equipment because that would make the whole idea of making a profit from product photography unrealistic.
I'm a bit of bargain hunter, and over the years I've trained my eye to find budget friendly products that give me premium quality and results. As you can imagine, there aren't too many of those, no matter what category you look in. But for product photography solutions, I might have found just the right thing.
At less than $250, the MS20 Table Top Studio Kit will give you pretty much everything you need for shooting products on a white background. You'll get a seamless white background made of high impact ABC plastic, an aluminum light stand, a 5000k daylight balanced continuous fluorescent light source and two bounce card reflectors. It'll basically prepare you to shoot any small to medium size product. Because the light source is continuous, you'll have a lot easier time positioning and experimenting with it.
It's easy to setup and use and it's perfect for developing an efficient technique for photographing large batches of products.
When it comes to settings, there are a few things to look out for. As I've mentioned before, switch the camera to Manual mode and take full control over the settings. Mount the camera on the tripod, frame the shot and lock the tripod to prevent any camera movement. Use the lowest ISO value and leave the white balance on the Auto setting.
Aperture wise, close it down and try to stay in the range of f8 to f16 for a great depth of field and crisp detail. Adjust the shutter speed according to those values until you get a correct exposure. Use the camera's histogram for an accurate reading. Finally, remember to always shoot in RAW format for the best quality.
After you take some good looking shots, it's time to retouch them. This is a necessary part of the process that could take a while to learn, but it's nothing to be scared of. I recommend using Lightroom, especially if you have to work with large batches. When editing your white background product shots, there are a few things to look out for. It's nice if you have a few highlights on the product . They'll give it a more commercial look. Just make sure that other areas of the picture don't have highlights or overexposed portions. Make some brightness and contrast adjustments if you have to, but I recommend leaving the saturation natural. You don't want your clients complaining the products look different than the photos.
Remove dust particles if there are any. Finally, deliver the images to your client or resize them to upload dimensions and start selling. It might seem like an elaborate process after reading this, but after you get the necessary tools and start using them , you'll see for yourself that it's an easy, foolproof method that you can use for an incredible variety of product shots. Good luck !
Learn more about the My Studio MS20 Table Top studio Kit here