Tips for product photography
Photography is probably one of my favorite categories here on Thirteen Thoughts, for two reasons. I really enjoy working on these posts and you guys seem to really like to read them, since it’s the most popular category on my blog.
Today I’ll talk about a few tips for sprucing up your product shots. I’m sharing a few things that have worked for me, but that doesn’t necessarily that they will work for you, so keep that in mind. Everyone has their original style when it comes to product photography and I am absolutely not saying that my way is the right way, but I constantly get questions about my photography, so I’m just giving the people what they want :) .
If you want to learn about Photography and DSLR basics (such as how to work with manual settings and how they can improve your photography) make sure to check out this post.
USE SMALL PROPS
Ever since I’ve started blogging, my “hoarding” went to a whole other level. I love collecting all sorts of trays, trinket and jewelry dishes, pretty candle jars, magazines, fashion books, fabrics, etc. I love using all those things to “style” or “dress up” my product shots. One of my favorite places to shop for all sorts of knick-knacks has got to be Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Michael’s Arts & Crafts stores. You can really find some cute stuff there and it won’t cost you a fortune. “Styling” your photos may be a little more time consuming, but it can be really fun and it can also help your photos stand out.
“Styled” product; here I used a magazine, a candle, some jewelry and a trinket dish to “dress up” my image.
TRY DIFFERENT ANGLES
I usually like to take my photos from “above” in “flatlay” style, but I also like to mix it up a bit and try shooting from different angles. That way, I can play around with depth of field and make my images look more interesting.
UTILIZE DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS
Changing up your background from time to time can also add some original style to your photography. Of course, I don’t think that this is something that everyone should do- it’s just something that I think has worked really well for me. When it comes to your blog and your photos, I think the most important thing is to make sure that you like them; whether it’s taking your pictures on plain, or colorful and “texturized” surfaces. You can find more ideas for backgrounds right here.
Another cool way to add some texture to your photos is mixing some fabrics (here I used a rug and colorful shirt :) ).
Marble and a rug used to create texture.
Using a colorful magazine page as a background.
Using a black-and-white catalog as a background.
KEEP IN MIND THAT WHITE IS DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH
When I first started learning about photography, I was OBSESSED with getting that perfect, shadow-free white background. I can’t tell you how many tutorials I’ve watched, how many articles I’ve read, how many hours I’ve spend editing my pictures and how much money I’ve invested in all sort of equipment, before I finally realized that white is just freaking difficult to work with (especially when you don’t have a well-lit area to work with). When editing your images in order to try make white look as bright as possible, you can sometimes mess up true colors of products you’re shooting and that is far from an ideal scenario- especially when it comes to beauty blogging when you want to show your readers colored products like makeup, etc. I still like incorporating white into my images, since it helps to make them look brighter and softer, but I find that using different colors and/or backgrounds can work even better. Another thing that I’ve discovered during last couple of months, is that material such as cotton, photographs a lot better than white paper or card board; it’s much softer and it bounces off the light really nicely. In these photos I used a plain, white T-shirt as my “background”:
Here are examples of white, blue and marble:
Colored paper (I used blue here, but I think light pink works much better)
White: doesn’t work that well, throws off White Balance and creates different background tones throughout the image. White marble– works a lot better, looks more even and minimizes shadows.
USE MANUAL FOCUS
Don’t assume that your camera will always get it right when using Auto Focus. Of course, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to using auto and manual focus, but in certain situations, using manual focus will work a lot better. Using manual focus works great when shooting macro photography or in low-light situations. I noticed that it also comes in handy when taking pictures of really small objects (like eyeliners or mascara wands). Sometimes AF mode can get confused and not know what to focus on- that’s when I always switch to manual focus.
Top: Auto Focus, bottom: Manual Focus.
I don’t know where I’d be without my reflector. There is only one area in my house that is bright enough for taking photos, but even there, my only source of light is huge glass door that leads to my backyard. Since my light source is coming only from one side, I use a reflector and/or big white card board to bounce off the light and make it more even so that the shadows are minimized.
This is taken on white paper, without the reflector.
White paper with a reflector.
My products are facing the glass door (my only light source) and my silver reflector is placed on the side to bounce off the light and minimize any shadows.
AVOID CAMERA SHAKE
In order to avoid camera shake, I try to use a tripod and a shutter release cable as often as I can, but sometimes, using a bulky tripod is out of the question. This can be a problem especially when you’re working in a small space. When I hand-held my DSLR while taking pictures, first thing I always make sure to do is to set my shutter speed accordingly to avoid blurry images. One simple rule to follow when doing this is to set your shutter speed to 1 over your focal length. So, for example, when using my 50mm lens, I make sure that my shutter speed is at least 1/50th of a second, when using a 40mm lens, I never go lower than 1/40th of a second and so forth. Second thing I make sure I do when not using a tripod, is to hold my camera as stable as possible (resting my elbows on flat surface, wrapping my neck strap very tightly around my wrist, etc). This article demonstrates a few great techniques for doing this.
1/40th of a second1/100th of a second (notice that the image is more sharp and crisp)
1/160th of a second
This is it for today, hope you found some of these tips useful. Do you have any ideas or tricks that you’d like to share?