Posted by Mike Lao on July 24, 2015
Quality product photography can really make or break a design.
When it comes to showcasing your product within an advertisement, sell sheet, or online, you always want to have professional looking photos. However the project, budget and timelines may not always allow for scheduling and booking out a studio with expensive equipment and a team of people managing the shoot.
With camera equipment being readily available, some companies are tempted to do photography in-house by anyone that knows how to hit the shutter. It's quick and it’s cheap, but without the proper training and knowledge of lighting and composition, the results may suffer. With a talented photographer, one that has a creative eye and a good sense of balance, it is possible to achieve studio quality results with a surprisingly simplified set-up.
In recent years, we have been able to achieve some amazing results with what we call a “pop-up studio”. Here’s what a basic set-up would look like.
For most basic product shots, 2 light sources are needed to get a good result. Additional light sources are considered to fill dark areas of the product or to achieve other desired lighting effects.
Although having a top of the line camera will always give you the best photo quality, any professional camera does a sufficient job in capturing the image of the product needed. What matters most is the lens that is used for the product shoot. Understanding different lenses, and selecting the appropriate one is an important part of getting the best product shot.
What size is your product? Are the surfaces reflective?
Every product shoot will demand a slightly different lighting setup. Trying to reduce the amount of post-processing (photoshopping) using correct lighting techniques is key and saves time in the long run. When building the lighting set-up we consider:
Most images shouldn’t have areas that are reflecting pure white light. These areas are often called washout or burn areas as this part of the image has lost all of its detail and appears as 100% white.
While we need our photos to show the dimension of the product, we use light to ensure that the overall product is well lit without overly dark ares where detail may be lost.
After all the photos have been imported and we’ve done our best to have a clean, well-lit image, we will select our best shot in terms of composition, lighting and overall image quality.
With the best shot selected, we then clean up the image details such us removing any dust, dirt, and product imperfections. At this point, we will also be adjusting colour, contrast, levels, and sharpness if necessary.
The following examples were shot either in our office, or in locations other than a full-service photo studio. These show that even with limited equiptment and resources, great results can be achieved.