Shooting Great Product Photography the DIY Way
- 8 August 2016
- ByNate Hanson
- 2 min read
Beautiful product photography is one of the best ways to make your shop to stand out. And it can be the difference in making a sale.
If you need some help capturing or creating images, try breaking it up into smaller, more manageable tasks like I did for the images in our Foundry demo store.
Start with inspiration
Finding a photography style that fits your products is a great starting point. I looked at Pinterest and some of my favorite shops to see how their products were displayed, then I selected one image to reference.
Pay attention to these ideas to inform your own shoot:
Lighting - You can use strong light to illuminate your product from behind, giving it a dark and moody feel with harsh shadows. Or make your image light and bright with soft shadows created by a diffused light source.
Perspective - Does your product display best when shot from directly overhead, close up showing details with a shallow depth of focus, or straight on with space around it?
Styling - Surround your product with props or stage it in a natural environment, or isolate it on a solid background so the details pop.
Since I had a variety of items, keeping the focus on the products by displaying them alone with a good amount of white space was important to me. I was digging a super simple style that shows the product in an empty environment with strong lighting and harsh, deep shadows.
I don't have access to a studio or lighting equipment, so I shot my images outside, using the sun as my light source. It was hot. My light source kept moving. Sometimes clouds got in the way. But it was worth it because ultimately it gave me the desired effect. And all for free!
I used white sheets of paper as my background to keep things simple - this made it easy to isolate my products from the background later. I set my FujiFilm x20 to automatic mode and mounted it on a simple tripod to keep the shots consistent and sharp. Even if you're using your phone's camera, I suggest grabbing a tripod. Trust me, it will make your life so much easier.
My products were organized so I could quickly shoot them one after another. I recommend shooting the first image of each product in your shop from the same angle for consistency. This will keep your shop looking all-pro. After that, I would move my camera and tripod and shoot them all again from a different angle. I even zoomed in and got some close ups to show off interesting details.
Shooting products from different perspectives is a great way to tell a better story. Since your customers can’t physically interact with your product, try to show them as much detail as you can through your photography.
In the editing process I wanted to remove the products from their background, resize them so they were all uniform, and color correct them for consistency.
Removing the product from the background gave me more control over the image. This allowed me to use the same gray color for every image, so the products would stand out on the white background of the Foundry demo store. The color I used was #F5F5F5 if you're curious, but you can choose a subtle color with a color picker to match your store's design. I edited with Photoshop, but there are several ways to remove the background from your images - some services even do it automatically.
By moving all of the cut out products into one image template, I could keep them a consistent size and be sure the base of each product was aligned.
Next, I compared each product's color to make sure that the images were all similar and that they matched the actual product color. Don't be afraid to mess with image correcting features. You can always save a duplicate file to experiment with. Photoshop and Pixelmator are great to use for photo editing on your computer and the VSCO app works really well on your phone.
Throughout the editing process, remember to reference your inspiration image! This will help you achieve the look you want. Even if it’s not exactly right, keep working at it until you get it close.
You can do it!
Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. I often find that I get stuck when I’m about to try something new. I want to do it the right way - the first time. Don’t worry about making things perfect. Just get started already!