Product Photography Setup
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Presentation is important when selling products and services online. Taking high-quality images is one of the simplest methods to enhance your presentation and placement. This calls for having premium, Perfect Product Photography, which may significantly boost the appeal of your online business.

However, not every online retailer can afford to make the first investment in a professional photographic studio. DIY product photography is a fantastic option, and as long as you have the right equipment and know how to take amazing product shots, you can do it.

Items you need for product photography

High-quality ecommerce photography may make the difference between a conversion and no sale at all by showcasing your items in your online store.

This guide has been created especially for small business owners on a budget by a professional product photographer. It has been created to be straightforward and provide top-notch, effective product photography.

Let’s look at each of the components you’ll need for your product photography setup to get you started taking high-quality pictures.

1. Camera

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body
Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body

A crazy full-frame DSLR camera setup is not necessary. While using a 105-mm f/1.4 lens ($740) with a Nikon D810 ($2,000) to take pictures is amazing, it is also completely unneeded.

I still advise reading a post I did on Quora that advises on how to choose a good camera for product photography if you’re feeling enthusiastic and have the money to spare for a new camera system for this endeavor. Check out this useful guide to smartphone product photography if all you have is a smartphone.

I began taking the test photos for this using my older (2008), severely damaged Canon G10 point-and-shoot. Because they can shoot in full manual and produce beautiful raw files, I adore the Canon G family of point-and-shoot cameras. I chose this camera because, while no longer top-of-the-line, it nevertheless allows me to show that good results can be obtained with very basic tools.

What then is the ideal camera for photographing products? I would just get started with whatever you happen to have on hand and see what happens. It’s a popular misconception that cameras are what capture images. The camera is just one component of the entire. Lighting, exposure, style, and post-processing choices are all part of the decision-making process that goes into creating an image.

2. Tripod

KINGJOY 75 Camera Tripod for Canon Nikon Lightweight Aluminum DSLR Camera Stand with Carry Bag Universal Phone Mount and Wireless Remote Max Load 5kg
KINGJOY 75″ Camera Tripod for Canon Nikon

Not to sound too scientific, but you’ll set your camera to the smallest aperture it can handle to acquire the most depth of field possible.

The region of crisp focus is defined by the depth of the field’s breadth, and to achieve that, your camera needs the highest possible f-stop setting. A greater f-stop value, such as f/8, allows less light to enter the camera, thus you must compensate by choosing a shorter shutter speed to let in more light.

A tripod is a solution when a camera’s slow shutter prevents you from hand-holding it without risking fuzzy images of the subject. Check out this video I made with Harrington College of Design if you want to learn more about the basics of photography. I am aware that most point-and-shoot cameras might not let you select your f-stop. That’s okay; we’ll cover how to work around that in the step-by-step guide.

At this stage in your voyage, you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money on a tripod, and there is a tonne of solutions available for around $30. I ran a short search on Amazon and discovered a $20 solution.

3. White background

Kate 8ft×10ft Solid White Backdrop Portrait Photography Background for Photography Studio Children and Headshots Backdrop for Photoshoot Background Screen Video Recording Parties Curtain
Kate 8ft×10ft Solid White Backdrop Portrait Photography Background

There are many choices for a white background, so if you want to shoot a lot, you might wish to order a white sweep from Amazon. Because you can clip off the filthy section of a paper sweep and roll a fresh one down as it becomes dirty, I like using paper sweeps.

Purchase some poster board at your neighborhood pharmacy or art supply store for a relatively affordable alternative. For ten sheets, I’ve seen prices as low as $7. Keep in mind to search for pure white because it will be more challenging to create pure white from off-white or cream.

4. White bounce cards made of foam board

When using window lighting, the product will have a bright side where the light is hitting it and a shadow side. We use something white to reflect the light into the shadows and brighten them since this shadow side will often be excessively dark. The Foam board is firm and white, making it a fantastic material for bounce cards.

To create darker shadows, you may also use a black foam board. If you’re photographing a white object against a white background, this is useful. To give the white goods a dark edge, add black foam board to the edges, well beyond the photo’s frame, behind the item. For a more sophisticated lighting setup, combine black bounce cards behind the object with white bounce cards on the front.

Foam boards are available at your neighborhood pharmacy or on Amazon. Remember that this is only a white card, so you might be able to use a piece of poster board or simply balance a sheet of white printer paper.

5. Table

The recommended width is between 24 and 27 inches for a standard foldable table.

6. Tape

You may secure your board down so that it sweeps correctly using tape or clamps, depending on the final table you choose.

7. The right room

The ideal space has windows adjacent to a wall, and the larger the window, the more light there will be. The light will be softer and the shadows will be deeper and softer the closer you are to the window. The light will be more uniform from a distance, but the shadows will be more defined and lighter.

How to take professional product photos on a white background

For 93% of buyers, how a product looks is a major determining factor. Customers will feel more comfortable giving you money if they can comprehend and see the products you sell. Even though picture editing is crucial, the process begins with the shot. Let’s walk through the process of taking your product images step by step.

Step 1: Set up your table

Set up your table - Product Photography

It’s time to set up your shooting location after gathering your equipment. To avoid having your table cross the shadow cast by the windowsill, position it as near to the window as you can. The window should initially be positioned 90 degrees to the right or left of your setup. The light will be softer the closer you are to the window and the bigger the window.

As other lights will contaminate the set, keep in mind to switch off all other lights in the room you’re filming in. This is both the most crucial and typical error.

For a different type of natural lighting, try moving the set so the window is at a 45-degree angle to the set, or try it with the window directly onto the stage. For a more dramatic impact, food photography frequently uses a window behind the setup and the camera shooting into the window. Setting up in a garage with the door open is another option; the light will be similar to that of a window but without the glass.

Avoid having direct sunlight shine on your set. Because it is harsh, direct sunlight is not good for most individuals or products.

Step 2: Set your sweep

The final objective is to have your mat board sweep from being flat on your table to being upright. There are several ways to do this. To assist the board takes on that form, you might need to roll it up.

In my arrangement, we taped the sweep to the wall and the table while leaning the table against it. You will need to create something to fasten the rear of the sweep to if you don’t have a wall. It would be best to use some bricks or a wooden block.

Give yourself enough area to smuggle your white reflector card in after you place your merchandise in the middle of the sweep’s flat portion. Specifically, our offering is a fun Skyrim and Doom toy that can be purchased at Symbiote Studios. Thank you, guys!

Step 3: Adjust your camera

Each camera has some little variations. Some cameras can be adjusted, while others are automatic. The great thing about this Window Light configuration is that, if necessary, you can leave all camera settings on auto and it will still function.

Adjust your camera - Product Photography
  1. Set Your white balance (WB) to Auto.
  2. Turn your flash setting Off.
  3. Set the highest quality level for your images. If your point-and-shoot camera has a raw mode, use it because the majority of them don’t. The biggest file that a camera can capture, known as raw, makes use of the whole bit depth of the device. However, you’ll need to edit using a program that can read raw pictures, such as Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, or Aperture.

Set it to the biggest JPG setting if you don’t have a raw setting. There are two settings on my Canon to watch out for:

  • Size. Now and again, L (Large), M (Medium), or S (Small). Select largely. The file size is determined by this choice, and for the best image quality, you nearly always want to shoot it at the biggest size. An image may always be reduced in size after it has been captured, but not increased.
  • Quality. S (Superfine), F (Fine), N (Normal). Superfine is the setting you should always use. The amount of pixels used on the camera sensor is determined by this parameter. The quality of the image will be decreased if all the pixels are not used.

Your ISO should be 100. The sensitivity of the sensor is managed by the ISO. There is more noise the higher the ISO. If you can, set your camera to ISO 100 as that is often the lowest ISO you can use.

Exposure settings

Exposure settings - Product Photography

Option A: Set your camera to Manual (M)

Since nothing will be moving or changing while you take your pictures, this is the ideal environment for this kind of work. Change your f-stop in the manual to the maximum value to get the deepest field possible.

Liveview allows you to get a preview of the image on the camera’s rear. It’s okay that everything is probably somewhat gloomy. Now change your shutter speed and turn the dial to a bright enough setting so that the picture is exposed appropriately. Your shutter count ought to be increasing. Your number could change from 1/60th to 14, for instance. Your shutter will be open for a fraction of a second during this time, and as the number decreases, more light will enter. Once the image preview is accurate, adjust this value.

Option B: Use Aperture Priority (AV)

Even though your camera might not have this feature, if it does, set the f-stop to the maximum value. The shutter should be automatically adjusted to match the camera’s perception of what is appropriate. This could be incorrect, and you might need to adjust the exposure to provide more light.

Option C: Auto Exposure

There might not be much you can do if you’re trapped in an all-auto world. It’s not a huge deal, so relax. To obtain the right exposure, you will probably need to add +1 or +112 if your camera has an exposure compensation slider. If your only option is one of the running guy photos, consider selecting Sunset. Simply tap the area you want adequately revealed on the iPhone.

Utilize the histogram on the camera’s rear. As seen in the figure above, you want the slope to be closer to the right side.

💡Exposure Tip: The camera’s rear picture should not be trusted. Instead, focus on the histogram to see whether your exposure is appropriate. The left is black, while the far right side is white. There is a little gap on the right side of the sample picture, indicating that there is no pure white. The exposure should be adjusted such that the portion of the curve that represents the white backdrop just touches the right edge without crossing it. For greater light in this scenario, you would likely need to add one click or a third of a stop.

Auto Exposure - Product Photography

Zoom In

The camera’s rear picture should not be trusted. Instead, focus on the histogram to see whether your exposure is appropriate. The left is black, while the far right side is white. There is a little gap on the right side of the sample picture, indicating that there is no pure white. The exposure should be adjusted such that the portion of the curve that represents the white backdrop just touches the right edge without crossing it. For greater light in this scenario, you would likely need to add one click or a third of a stop.

Step 4: Set up your product

One of the tasks that appear straightforward but yet require time to position properly is setting up your products. Be sure to keep the label type centered if it’s a bottle. It frequently takes a lot of little adjustments to get everything exactly aligned.

Step 5: Set up the reflector card

The most crucial light modulator we have in our picture studio is this plain white card, which we utilize for everything. All the shadows will be filled up by the light that reflects off the card. This card may be placed in a variety of ways relative to the product; experiment to find your preferred placement.

Step 6: Take the picture and evaluate

After taking the photo, give it some thought and carefully examine what you’ve produced. Experience and knowledge are important in this situation since they can help you determine what is working, what isn’t, and how to improve things. Try out several image-improving techniques, and over time your abilities will develop on their own.

To get a better sense of how your photographs will look, upload them to your computer. Your camera’s back is seldom particularly accurate. To manage all of your photographs, I advise utilizing Adobe Lightroom. Except for particularly complex operations, it can be utilized for practically any editing task. You’ll likely need to edit the photographs a bit to make them seem appropriate.

We don’t have time to dive into the specifics of using post-production tools like Adobe Lightroom since it is so complex.

Take the picture - Product Photography
Take the picture - after
Un-Retouched - Product Photography
Retouched Final - Product Photography

Step 7: Retouch your pictures

It’s time to get the photograph edited after you have a final image that you are satisfied with. If you shot your goods properly, the backdrop should be a light grey and the product should be appropriately illuminated. If you compare it to the retouched version, you can see how crucial this process step truly is. It should resemble the unretouched image above.

For most people seeking to shoot products themselves, the retouching activities involved with on-white photography tend to be the weakest link because they can be challenging for someone without much experience. I’ll thus demonstrate how to outsource Photoshop rather than trying to teach you how to use it at a high level.

How reasonably priced something maybe will surprise you. You may hire a professional retouching business to enhance your photographs for you for about $3 to $5 for each image.

Finding a good company might be challenging, but in my opinion, Pixelz serves customers effectively. You may upload and control your retouching using its program from beginning to end. You receive three free test pictures along with a starting price of $1.45 per image and a $25 minimum.

Pixelz - Product Photography
source: Pixelz

Step 8: Optimize images for your website

For all online retailers, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. Your e-commerce website’s load time is one crucial thing, and heavy graphics can significantly slow it down. Image quality and optimization must be balanced carefully since if you over-optimize an image, it will be ruined. As a general guideline, I strive to keep my photographs around 200 kilobytes in size, although I always aim for the smallest image I can.

Resize your image for the container

The initial step in picture optimization is to change the image’s height and width. You are viewing an HTML container with an image that has been dynamically resized to fit inside it when you view an image on a website. The picture it is referring to will still load at 1500 pixels even if the container on my page is only 648 pixels square and the real image is 1500 pixels square. That adds a significant amount of load time, particularly if you have several photos.

1. Figure out the HTML container size
Figure out the HTML container size

Before uploading the image to your website, you should adjust the original image to suit the container. To make my photographs seem decent on a retina screen, which in this case would be 972 pixels square, I normally adjust them to be 1.5 times larger than the container.

You must access the Developer tools in your web browser to determine the size of the image container. Select Inspect Element by right-clicking on the picture. The container’s pixel size will be shown on the sidebar.

2. Resize the image

You may resize your image with the aid of a variety of free tools. Both Mac Preview and Microsoft Picture are excellent choices since they are integrated and simple to use.

Resize the image 1
Resize the image 2

After resizing the image, export it and save it as a 100% jpeg to your desktop.

3. Compress the image

When you save the image in preview at 100% resolution, you’ll see that the file size is rather huge. Because we can’t see the effects of using the JPEG Compression slider in Preview, we don’t want Preview to compress the picture. When we compress a picture, we eliminate data that isn’t needed; if we compress an image too much, it starts to degrade and becomes blotchy.

Instead, we wish to intelligently compress the picture. Previously, I would advise using Adobe Photoshop’s Save For Web feature because as you move the slider down, a preview appears. A program called JPEGmini that I recently came about utilizes an algorithm to choose the optimal compression for your image. I’ve put a few thousand photographs through it and am astonished at how quick and simple it is.

Summary Recommendations

  • Image size: ~1 to 1.5x the HTML container the image is in
  • Format: jpeg
  • Colorspace: srgb
  • Compression: compressed using JPEGmini after export.

Product photography tips

Did you know that 22% of returns are made because a product doesn’t seem exactly like it does in the pictures? High-quality photos may help you save money on returns while also increasing sales. Let’s examine some pointers for photographing products.

Use window light vs. lightbox

Should I acquire a lightbox? is the most frequent query I receive. Window light is simple since it only requires one light source, and it is also inexpensive and simple to implement. When using a light tent, you enter a multi-light configuration, which adds complexity and typically necessitates learning beyond what can be learned in a short essay.

Multi-light setups introduce the following issues:

  • You must purchase a tonne of additional equipment, which might be costly. The price of the lightbox and lights may end up being more expensive than employing a pro.
  • Understanding how to correctly position them and balance the exposure of the various lights is necessary. It might be difficult to understand how f-stops and shutter speeds relate to lighting.
  • As each light source has a unique hue, known as color temperature, color-balancing lights become a problem. Extreme color might negatively impact how you seem.
  • Be ready for a struggle beyond simple exposure if you choose to employ flash rather than continuous light. Only f-stop determines flash exposure, the sync speed is constrained, and specific trigger equipment is needed.
  • A light tent produces exceptionally uniform, frequently shadowless light. Shadows are significant because they define a product’s form and provide a feeling of a place. In my perspective, a light tent produces a less dynamic and fascinating image than one illuminated by a window.

If you still feel the need to buy or construct a light tent, be ready to learn how to adjust the camera’s f-stops, shutter speeds, ISO, and color balance.

Limitations with this setup

Limitations with this setup
DIY window light setup vs. professional studio.

People complain that this configuration causes imperfections in their images. For instance, some users of this technique have had difficulty with reflecting products since it reflects the backdrop of the camera, as seen in the pictures below.

Limitations with this setup 2
Only a professional with an advanced set can achieve perfect results.

DIY has its limitations if you don’t take it seriously by studying hard and buying expensive tools, just like everything else. The majority of individuals are capable of taking excellent pictures while using only one light source, such as the natural window light techniques mentioned above. However, a multi-light studio setup and an in-depth technical understanding of photography are required to perfectly capture challenging products like transparent and reflecting products.

Learn basic photo editing techniques

It is sensible to study photo editing once you’ve mastered creating stunning product photos so you can enhance your photographs. You’ll save money by not having to pay for a service or a qualified editor. Additionally, it provides you with total control over the appearance and design of your finished image.

Adobe Photoshop tutorials might be a fantastic place to start. Although there is a focus on utilizing Adobe products, the lectures are straightforward and have applications outside of just Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop Tutorials

Select a photo editing software for photo retouching after learning the fundamentals. You can better get them ready for publication on your website by doing this. You may also use a program like Taler to create social media posts and advertisements using the images of your products. To produce branded photos for your marketing campaigns, it provides a tonne of filters, overlays, and other editing tools.

Shoot multiple angles

The purpose of taking photos from various viewpoints is to provide customers a chance to view products from various views. Some customers might favor close-up pictures. Others might want to view objects directly. Your product may be used in a variety of ways by everyone, which may increase sales.

Some camera angles to try are:

  • High angle, which shows your product as if you’re looking down as it
  • Low angle, which shows your product as if you’re looking up at it
  • Bird’s eye, which shows your product as if you’re standing above it
  • Eye level, which shows your product as you’d see it straight on
Shoot multiple angles

Throughout your shot, be careful to maintain the same positions for your tripod and camera. If you wish to alter angles, turn the item. Only rotating the merchandise will result in the same frame effect in your final photographs. By doing this, you can maintain consistency and cut down on post-photoshoot picture modification.

Try other types of product photography

You might wish to experiment with product photographs without a white backdrop. When you feel at ease in front of the camera, you have a lot of alternatives. We’ll examine a few now.

Lifestyle. Lifestyle photographs aid in narrating the history of your product. They are effective for website content, but you can also utilize them to draw in new clients via social media, blogs, emails, and other platforms.

Take note of the lifestyle photographs and white backgrounds that Allbirds employs on its product pages.

types of product photography

This explains to customers where and how customers use the company’s products. If you offer hiking boots, you may display a picture of someone wearing them while enjoying a scenic hike. Depending on the type of clothes you offer, you may display them to a passerby or at a formal event if you sell garments.

Shoppers may have a closer look at particular product attributes thanks to detailed photographs. Hardgraft, a leather store, displays handles, zippers, and other distinctive elements of its products in in-depth photographs on its product pages.

hardgraft

Group. These images demonstrate a collection of products. When offering kits, this is the approach you should use. It’s a typical strategy used by companies like Beardbrand to highlight the diversity of products included in their bundles.

Beardbrand

Hire help

If you’ve exhausted your options, you might want to think about working with a professional photographer. There are several possibilities online, with prices ranging from $30 to $40 on average for excellent white backdrop photos. Better images help products sell more online, so this could be an investment worth making. Start by searching Google for nearby product photography services.

Write great product descriptions

Finally, remember to create excellent product descriptions. Together, product descriptions and images aid shoppers in understanding your products. They also assist in influencing purchase choices to boost revenue for your ecommerce store.

Giving as much information as you can help you convince individuals to make a purchase. Product descriptions are frequently ignored by new business owners. They do, however, form the foundation of a high-converting products page, coupled with attractive images, of course.

Using your product photos

Beautiful product photos are a defining characteristic of the finest ecommerce websites. Getting your product photographs taken when you’re just starting might be a daunting notion because high-quality ecommerce photography can be pricey. But if you want to do it yourself, there are several tools available for product photography. You may create stunning photographs for your website by following this DIY product photography instruction. You can explore other forms of photography as you get more at ease in front of the lens. You are free to be as inventive as you like!

What’s best? You’ll have complete control over the online brand-building and product-showcasing products. If done correctly, you’ll boost website sales and conversions and develop a prosperous online business. Maybe one day you’ll start a side business selling your images online!

Product photography FAQ

What is product photography?

Product photography is the process of taking accurate and appealing pictures of your products using certain photographic techniques. Shopping decisions are influenced by your product photographs, which may improve conversion rates and revenue for your company.

How do you shoot product photos?

1. Set up your table
2. Build your sweep
3. Adjust your camera
4. Set up your product
5. Set up the reflector card
6. Take the picture and evaluate
7. Retouch your pictures
8. Optimize images for your website

What do you need for a product photography setup?

1. A camera
2. A tripod
3. A white background
4. White bounce cards
5. A table
6. Tape
7. The right room with window lighting

How can I shoot product photography at home?

1. Invest in gear and equipment
2. Set up your product photography studio
3. Take your product shots
4. White bounce cards
5. Edit your photos online
6. Add them to your website

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