Product photography is one of the most important parts of direct-to-consumer marketing but is often overlooked or done cheaply. Direct-to-consumer brands need high-quality image assets that depict their products in the best way. Without the benefit of actually being able to feel products in person, online shoppers rely heavily on product images to make their decision.
We recommend using a professional photographer with experience, proper equipment and a proper shooting environment. However, it is possible to get quality product shots on your own. Here’s how to set up a simple product photography shoot:
Product Photography Setup
1 – Camera
The device that captures the image. Make sure your camera is a DSLR or mirrorless body.
The sensor of your camera should be full-frame to ensure the highest resolution. Your ISO should be set at the lowest possible setting, and your F-stop should never be at its widest. Shutter speed should accommodate the sync speed of the camera body.
2 – Tripod
One of the most important pieces of equipment in any photo studio is the tripod. Its purpose is to keep the camera steady. This seems obvious enough, but its especially critical if you’re photographing multiple products. If your products are at various heights or distances in their product photos, it will create a bad user experience on your website.
With product shots, uniformity is key. Be sure the tripod is leveled by using a bubble level and that the product is centered in the camera. When it’s time to photograph the next product, put it in exactly the same position as the last.
3 – Lighting (Strobe & Softbox)
While your strobe will provide the light, your softbox will (as its name suggests) soften the light. The larger the light source is, the softer the light should be. Soft light is typically preferable to the hard light of a bare strobe.
4 – Reflector
Also known as a bounce or fill, your reflector complements the strobe and softbox by bouncing light back into dark areas that the strobe doesn’t face, and therefore should be positioned opposite the light source.
5 – Table
Any table with a smooth and level surface will work. Don’t worry too much about the texture of the table’s surface, since it won’t show up in the photos.
6 – Backdrop
Most often, the backdrop is a large piece of paper manufactured to create a clean, blank background, but you can use other items such as linens. Feel free to get a bit more creative with your backdrops, as long as it doesn’t draw attention away from the star of the show – the products.
Make sure your backdrop is long enough to fill the entire background of the shot and drape over the table to create a consistent look.
7 – Product
A simple product shot is no the time to get artsy – make sure your product is centered in the shot and fills the frame as much as possible. Minimize lens distortion by keeping the product as far from the camera as possible through the use of a long focal distance. Striking a balance between filling the frame and keeping a fair distance from the product is key in producing high-quality product imagery.
8 – Tether Cord
This item syncs your camera to a display and/or hard drive so you can view images on a display that is larger than the small viewing screen of a camera.
Make sure to keep the sync cord out of the way, as it can be a tripping hazard – you’ll be moving around quite a bit during your shoot. This is especially important being that its attached to important and expensive aspects of your studio (camera and laptop).
9 – Laptop
This will serve as your central hub to make edits, create selects and determine adjustments. Utilizing the laptop in this way will smooth out a workflow that is often partitioned without it.
While product photography may seem simple, some of this equipment is expensive and the process is more painstaking and time-consuming than you think. It’s not as simple as point and shoot – it requires a keen eye for detail and lots (and lots) of patience.