There is a large demand for product photographers in the industry. When consumers are browsing online stores/sites, magazines, or other types of ads, the first thing they see is an image of the products they are seeking out.
The more visually appealing the image is, the better chance of them being interested in the product. First impression is key, so as a product photographer it is up to you to take photos that leave the client wanting more.
There are no subjects to pose and no landscapes that require perfect timing. Product photography requires you to set-up and shoot objects in a creative way and they need to be well lit.
What you need:
You really don’t need a ton of fancy equipment to shoot products. You need a camera and lens capable of getting sharp images, a sturdy surface to place the product on, and a white or very light backdrop. White works best because it helps the product to stand out.
The size of your backdrop will depend on the size of the product. The goal is to have the backdrop both under and behind your product. And whatever you use needs to be clean and seamless so that there isn’t a crease where the back meets the bottom.
A tripod is a great cheap investment also. When shooting products, you may have to shoot from lower angles depending on the height of the surface they are displayed on. A tripod allows you to easily adjust the height without you having to get in awkward positions. It also helps to ensure your images are as sharp as possible.
If you are on a budget and don’t have the funds for lighting equipment, you can use natural window light for product photography. Just make sure you have ample light coming in to ensure the product is well lit.
If the light is too bright you can place a sheer curtain over the window to diffuse the light. If it creates harsh shadows on the backdrop, you can put a white piece of cardboard on either side of the product to help spread the light and even it out.
Artificial lighting works best because it allows you to have more control of the light and you have the option of shooting any time during the day with no window lighting needed.
You will need at least two softbox set-ups. One will be used as your key light and the other will be used for your fill or back-lighting, depending on the desired look you are going for.
The key light will need to be placed in front of (usually off to the side just a little) the product. The fill light needs to be placed above, behind, or off to the other side of the product. This will depend on what you are shooting and what effect you are attempting to achieve.
You will need to move the lights around and adjust the distance of them from the product until you get evenly disbursed lighting with soft shadows.
It is best to shoot your product at smaller f/stops (higher aperture numbers) to give you a larger depth of field. You want to have all of the product in focus, this isn’t the time for shooting wide open and working with a shallow depth of field. The sharper the product appears, the better.
Avoid using wide angle lenses to prevent distortion in your images. Also make sure that your white balance is set to match the lighting.
Just like any other type of photography, taking well executed images of products requires practice and patience.
The angle of the lighting, background, camera settings, etc. all play a key role in product photography. Do your research and practice shooting different products of things lying around your home to get an idea of how to avoid harsh shadows. Also keep in mind that post processing can allow you to fix minor mishaps and make adjustments to give you crisp flawless images.