How to Guide: Product Photography

Here at Fovitec we have a wide range of customers, from wedding cake designers to bespoke jewellery makers. No matter how diverse these customers are they have the same thing in common, they are selling or advertising a products online and need great images. We understand that for a lot of these businesses photography may be something that they are potentially new to or might not have a huge amount of experience in.   


We often get asked "What is the best way to photograph my product for use on my website, Amazon and eBay?" etc. So, we are going to show you three simple setups that you can do at home or in the office, that can hopefully help get you started.



I’m going to be using the Fovitec 5 bulb head, as part of the three head kit that includes the boom arm. This is a fantastic system that is super simple to use and works with any camera, even your mobile phone!


Fovitec 2500w Kit

However there are some other product options such as: 

Lighting: 

Product Photography Table:

The great advantage of using continuous light is that you have a live view of what the light is doing and where the shadows are. Unlike flash there is no need for syncing or meter readings. I'm going to be using a canon 5D MKIII with 85mm prime a Sony A7II and also i'm going to take an image of each set up with my iPhone so you can see the difference. 

During these setups, I will be using three lights:

  1. Main light:- This is the most powerful of the three lights 
  2. Fill light:- This is to fill in shadows 
  3. Catch light or Hair light:- This is the lowest powered light and can be used to add a shine/highlights or fill in a small area


The first setup we are going to look at is the top down setup. This is really popular with food photographers and looks good on your social media. 


Background:- This style of photography works really well with a textured or patterned background, wooden panels, floorboards and coloured paper etc, can all work well depending on the product you are shooting.


I have chosen a white background so it’s easier to see what the shadows are doing. 

Frame your product:- Get your product into position, set up your camera and frame up the shot. Once you are happy with the position of your product in the frame, try and fix the camera. I would advise using a tripod as this will make life a lot easier .

Main light:- This normally goes on the left of the camera, keep checking the viewfinder to see what the light is doing. All the lights on this set up are using just the outer diffusers, which create a large area of soft light. 


As you can see we have a large shadow as the light falls off towards the right-hand side of the frame. 

Fill light: Adding this light diagonally opposite the main light has softened the shadow and created an interesting shine on the guitar.


Catch light:- Placing this directly above our product, has helped to further soften the shadow and fill the dark area between the main light and fill light.


Reflections are not always wanted,  what if I want to get rid of the shine?  Feathering the light is a simple technique where you use the edge of the light so it never hits the subject straight on. This creates a flat light with no reflections.  



However, I like the shine as it adds some depth to the product. So I’m going to add it back in, but in a slightly different place

So, it’s that easy and if you are shooting it on a white background you can cut it out and add whatever texture you like! 

The next setup we are going to look at is a must for all Ecommerce product photography, the cutout on white using an infinity cove.

 


This Sounds really technical, don’t worry it really isn't. It is just a curve from the background to the floor with no hard join line. I will be using a Fovitec product table, a relatively inexpensive piece of kit and super easy to use. 


Fovitec Ecommerce Table


You don’t have to use a product table,  anything you have that can create the curve can work. I’ve even done this using the inside of an old roll of wallpaper! 

When doing this style of photography consistency is key. If you have a range of similar products and each one has a different camera angle or lighting it can be really distracting and feel unprofessional. So fixing you camera position with a tripod or a mount, will make all the difference 

Background:- Set up your cove and make sure it’s solid and can take the weight of the products you’re shooting. 

Frame your product: Setup your first product and frame it how you want to, making sure to use a tripod or camera mount for consistency. 


Main Light: Like in the first set up I will be placing my main light to the left of the camera, using just the outer diffuser. Keep checking back to the camera so you can keep an eye on what's going on. 

Fovitec Photo UK

Fovitec Ecommerce Table

Fill light:- This is placed to the right of the camera, side on and flat to the product, it’s also much lower down. This time I'm only using the inner diffusers as I want a harder light to pick up some of the highlights and help remove the shadow a bit easier. 


Catch light:- Again I add this above the product to help add a hint of light towards the back of the image, and keep shadows nice and soft. Still only using the outer diffuser. 

Whenever a product is in contact with the floor shadows are going to happen. If you do want to remove the shadow you could try investing in a 4th light. This can fit under the table will, all but remove the shadow completely making cut outs really simple. 


So when creating this style of image you can struggle to get the exact product position you want, and this can be frustrating. But once you're happy leave everything as it is and only move the part of the product you have too!

The third set will be a bit more stylised, this style image is great for web banners homepages social ads that sort of thing. I will be using props and other objects that fit with this product to create a lifestyle image.


Background:- I’m using the product table again but this time I’m covering it in so black material, nothing fancy just a black sheet. This is to stop any white coming through on my setup.

Frame your product:- Time to build my set, this is quite a random sort of setup so I’m just going to get everything on to the table, add the product and then move things around to see what works. Once I’m happy with the final camera angle product and set position I will fix the camera on a tripod.

 

Main Light: Like the other setups, it is to the left of the camera but this time it’s lower down and completely undiffused as I want to create hard shadows and contours. However I need to feather in the light so not to create a reflection on the watch face. 

Fill light: Is in a similar position as the last set up, low and to the right of the camera. I’m using just the outer diffusers again but feathering the light so not to completely remove the hard shadows. 

Catch light:- Is placed directly above the product using the just the outer diffuser. It adds just enough light to bring out the top of the watch. 


So, there they are, three simple product setups that will hopefully give you enough information to get you up and running. 

Key points

  1. Fixed camera:- Try to use tripod or camera mount this will help with consistency.
  2. Work back to the camera:- Check through the camera view finder after adding, moving or changing the light to make sure it’s as you want it.
  3. What you see is what you get:- Continuous light gives you ability to see the light and shadows as you build your setup. This allows you to experiment with lighting ideas with out the need for sync cables, light meters and test shots  

Here are all the final edited images that were taken using the Sony and the Canon.



These are the equivalent images taken on my iPhone, which shows you don't necessarily need a DSLR to create great online images.  



Blog Written By Joe Swift