7 Tips for Clean Product Photography

 
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This isn't my normal line of work, but I kinda weaseled my way into it with Red Aspen. They had some product photos and flat lays that they were trying to do themselves, and you could tell it was pretty amateurish, and I just thought, "I can do better."

So I did. I pulled out my Nikon DSLR 3300 (a graduation gift that was intended for figure drawing reference graphic design projects) and started snapping some photos of their faux lashes and accessories. My client loved it, and I have been doing photography for Red Aspen ever since. 

1. A Camera

This clearly the most obvious one, but I wanted to let you know that you don't have to break the bank with a fancy DSLR whiz-bang camera. I use my iPad Pro a LOT and occasionally my iPhone SE (It's not my favorite, I'm trying to stretch out its buggy-barely-hanging-in-there AI life). So use what you've got. 

2. Natural Light

This is your BFF when it comes to clean product photography. Your people (buyers, followers, readers, etc), can tell if it's in crummy yellow bedroom lighting. Natural light gives a fresh vibe that people are attracted to. So get cozy near the closest window or even a sliding glass door and place your product next to it. 

3. Lightcase Pro or DIY light box

This is a really useful tool to diffuse light. If you're not near a natural light source or have too many light sources, this is a good go-to. I use a Lightcase Pro, it's a nifty light box that is a collapsible, "Frosted polypropylene, 100% recyclable," and extremely convenient for photography. They are a little pricey, but worth every penny if you do a lot of simple, clear product photography. 

 
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For my more frugal friends try these (I just found them on Pinterest):

Flax and Twine (Blog)

Quirky Oak (Blog)

4. Simple background

This really depends on the purpose of your photos shoot, but typically if you are doing product photography or a lifestyle flat lay, use a solid colored matted background that doesn't distract the viewer from the subject (the one thing you want your viewers to get from the photo). 

The number one background I keep on hand it white paper or white poster board from Walmart or the Dollar Tree (both card stock and foam core).

to shake things up a bit I like to go to Hobby Lobby and peruse their 12x12 scrapbook paper and posters with different textures like wood, canvas, simple light stripes, etc. I have used my own laminate faux wood flooring in my apartment too, and the cement on my patio. 

5. Reflected Light

Another reason why I invest in a handful of white poster board is because it can help you create natural reflected light. Reflected light is the light that bounces off of another surface and hits your subject, usually from the opposite side from the light, or it comes from the surface it is resting on. 


Examples:

This is a very handy diagram for ALL artists. I think every artist should know these distinctions of shading or at least the main 5.

This is a very handy diagram for ALL artists. I think every artist should know these distinctions of shading or at least the main 5.

A little more obvious with the shiny surfaces, The light source is coming from left. Reflected light is being created on from the bottom and right surfaces.

A little more obvious with the shiny surfaces, The light source is coming from left. Reflected light is being created on from the bottom and right surfaces.


How other photographers create reflected light:

www.homemadeinterest.com

www.homemadeinterest.com

handmadeology.com

handmadeology.com


6. Good Composition

Composition goes back to the principles of design. Some easy tips, photograph in threes. What do I mean by that? Well here are three easy tips to create a great composition:

  1. Have three items in your photograph, use tip number 2 to get an idea of placement.

  2. Use the rule of thirds. That grid that keeps popping up on your camera. Use it. It's giving you a clue to use the rule of thirds. Align your subjects or horizons on the middle lines.

  3. Use small-medium-large hierarchy or depth of field (what is in or out of focus) hierarchy.
    And by this I mean your largest item in the photo should be the most important or where you want your viewers to look. Another way, put the thing you want your viewers to look at in clear focus.

7. Have Fun!

This one is REALLY important. And like number one it is a little obvious and cliché, but when you're having fun and your creative juices are flowing, you'll create some amazing photos. If you're not really diggin' it, then find your power song or go for a walk or do whatever it takes to get you in a creative and explorative mood. 

What are some of your favorite hacks for product photography? How do you have fun with it?