Packshot Product Photography

Speed and efficiency are key when it comes to shooting packshots, which is why it’s important that you have a lighting setup that’s both suitable and simple. In this live photography class, Karl shows you exactly how to set up and photograph effective packshot product photography.

Working through multiple products, Karl demonstrates just how important perfecting your lighting setup is. Starting with a simple two-light setup, he shows you how you can work in a small studio using just basic modifiers to achieve a professional result quickly.

In this product photography workshop, you’ll learn how to achieve a clean white background, photograph reflective surfaces and control unwanted reflections and shadows on your products. Working through each step, Karl explains everything you need to know to ensure a great result each time.

In this live photography workshop we cover the following:

  • Product photography: Packshots
  • How to photograph packshots
  • Studio lighting setups for packshots
  • How to get a pure white background
  • How to photograph in a small studio
  • How to control shadows
  • Controlling reflections on shiny objects

For more on how to photograph packshots, watch our white background product photography class.

If you have any questions about the show, please use the comments box below.

Comments

  1. what was the purpose of having the overhead sheet of acrylic ? was it for extra bounce?
    reason I ask is I’m working a small work space with low ceilings
    if I’m shooting say black on black the white ceiling would be an issue?

    1. Hi Mdoza, yes the overhead sheet was a fill reflector to bounce a little more general soft light into the area. And yes white ceilings can be great for this but they can also be a problem in other scenarios where you don’t want light bounce, I recommend using velcro and black foam board panels and sticking them to the ceiling when necessary.

  2. Hi Karl,

    Great content as always. I was reading through the comments and saw your advice of using matt acrylic to create a shadow rather than a reflection. I have been asked to do shadowless pack shots. Do you have any advice for creating this in camera or is it a matter of cutting them out in Photoshop after the fact?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Squiggle, it depends on the angle you are shooting the pack shot. You get a better white off of the gloss acrylic if you are shooting a standing product because the gloss is reflecting the background white, then just photoshop the reflection of the product out too white too. You’ll see in the live show listing I’ve got another technique for shadowless shots coming soon but this only applies if you can shoot down on the subject.

  3. Hi Karl, I’m currently shooting food items in clear plastic bags/packaging (crips packet shape). I’m using a polariser filter which helps but I’m sill finding it difficult to get the results I want especially within a timely manner.

    The solution Im using is placing a scrim closely in front of the product, then shooting 120 x 80 soft box at a 70° angle placed against that top of the scrim and shooting a P70 through a small thick scrim as the background.

    I want to portray that the item is glossy whilst eliminating unwanted wrinkles and creases. I feel what I have is close but not quite up to scratch.

    Have you got any ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi Jack, yes it’s a tricky one and I don’t like photographing products in those sort of wrappers because the angle of reflections can be so different every time. As you probably know the key problem is the angle of reflection, so your light source is bouncing off the clear plastic and creating unwanted highlights. If you think about that for a moment there are three possible solutions, 1. No wrapper 2. Polarising filters 3. The angle of incidence of the light. All of these have their own problems but let me give you a couple of ideas. First if all the packets are the same size and position you can cut the tops off of the wrappers and then create a photoshop version of the top of a wrapper and paste it onto every pack. Changing the angle of incidence of the light is great for a given wrapper but unfortunately they will never have the same angle of reflection on every packet and you may not then get the lighting angle suited to the product inside the wrapper, however by changing the focal length to a much longer lens you will change the angle of reflections and have a little more versatility. Finally polarisers are great but consider using them on the lights as well or instead, see this live show – https://karltayloreducation.com/class/live-workshop-polarising-studio-light-and-why/

  4. Great courses. Love them.

    Can a large softbox be used overhead for top shots instead of bouncing light into the ceiling?

  5. hi Karl and team,
    thanks for the work you are doing, keep it up!

    general question: can a packshot be also on black background or if so it gets off that concept?

    1. Hi Kareas, A packshot could be on any background. The term packshot usually refers to a relatively easy product shot to set up, light and shoot and that you could use the same set up for a series of 50 or 100 similar products. This is why packshot services offer low prices because they are usually working in bulk. It becomes a proper product shoot as soon as more creative lighting or a set is required.

  6. Hi Karl,
    Oliver from Germany. I am new to your courses and enjoy and learn a lot.
    One question regarding the boxes you use to put the products on. What size are they?

    1. Hi Oliver, thanks for joining us. If you mean the big blocks that I regularly use to make a low or high table, I have two of them and they are 40x40x70cm.

  7. Hello Karl,
    I really love your videos and learnt tons in this one.
    I am new to photography still though. How does Ash control the amount of stops on the light sources? When you mention to her she should turn it up by half a stop, how does this work?

    1. Hi Sonny, it of course is best practise to flag everything to avoid flare but sometimes I’m a bit lazy and if I don’t see a problem then I don’t fix it! 🙂

  8. Hey Karl,

    Great episode!

    Are you able to get that same pure white surface the product is on (when only illuminating the background) with a non reflective surface, say a matte paper surface?

    Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah, no not with this technique unfortunately, instead you have to light from above and behind directly onto the white but this can create problems of lighting on the product so you have to control it carefully.

  9. You mentioned in this video that you cannot use a polariser on metal surfaces. This confused me as I use polarisers very often with automotive photography as they have a huge benefit on car body work, which are very often metal. Why is this?

    Much Appreciated

    1. Hi Thomas, because the surface you are photographing is not metal, it’s 3 layers of paint and a 2 layers of laquer.

  10. What is the White Balance you use for all your photography shoot?
    What is the Metering Mode you use for all your shoot?
    Suggest the learning topic to refer for all the Camera Settings?

    1. Hi,
      White balance: Flash (as i’m mostly shooting flash, or daylight 5600K which is the same)
      Metering Mode: I don’t use a metering mode as I don’t meter. I set my aperture based on the depth of field I require and then the shutter speed until the ambient light is at my desired exposure.
      All of this sort of stuff is covered in our Introduction to Photography course in the Essentials section.

  11. This was a great video. What kind of surface would you recommend putting the product on if I wanted a bit of a shadow but no reflection? I have found with my shots that shooting on perspex gives a brilliant white, but a strong reflection,; paper works but its harder to get pure white without a lot of photoshop work after.

    1. Hi Matt White, plexiglass (perspex/acrylic) here in the UK you can buy it in gloss or matt and the matt is a very good solid brilliant white.

  12. hi Karl ,Anish from India l love your way to explaining shoots
    how can we achieve white background in jewellery shoot for E-commerce
    without cutout background

    1. Hi Anish, the same as our Jewellery rings class but also add a small softbox from underneath on a very low power through the acrylic.

  13. Hey karl.
    I love your lessons, they are very much mohaned. I would love if you help me understand the rgb matter I can’t get to 255 but only to 93 and I do everything as you please. Thank you.

    1. Hi Adidia, in Photoshop and many other camera raw programs like Capture One or Phocus, the values are measured from RGB 0 (R0 G0 B0 = Black) to RGB 255 (R255 G255 B255 = white) In some programs (I think Lightroom) it is measured as a percentage. 100% would = 255 – 93% would only = 238

  14. I am using speed lights small room with poster board paper, Can I use 1 or 2 speed light to practice? Should I use bounce card on it. Retired now but like o learn new things. Last question when in larging or crop. Is it best to get in tight if using an old 18mp camera to crop?

  15. Hi Karl. I really enjoying your courses in the website and learning a lot from it.
    Thanks a lot!
    A question regarding the focal length you were using for shooting those products, in addition what is the recommended focal length for product photography in general?

    1. Hi and thankyou. I use 80-100mm focal length in medium format which is about 60-80mm in 35mm full frame format. I’ve also used a Sony 90mm Macro lens which has been very good too.

    1. Hi Gregory, if used carefully yes but it is difficult as it can be quite close to your subject and then ends up lighting your subject if you are not careful with your exposure level.

  16. Karl,

    On some of the glossy bottle surfaces I noticed the mono stand reflection was reflecting in the bottle. Would black card around stand or camera cut those reflections out or would you just take it out in post?

      1. Hi Karl,

        I think Kyle refers to the black vertical line inside the reflection created by the mirror on the left side of the purple drinking bottle, that goes from the bottom of the bottle and up to half the way through the letter “C” of the big Cadbury logo, seen at 32:43 of the tutorial.

        I signed up only a few days ago, and find your tutorials very clear and informative.
        For me many great tips in this video, including an important one: not all products can be shot as simple packshots, and they must be charged accordingly. Thank you sir! 🙏🙂

        Michael.

  17. The best techniques in shooting at off-white background. Simple tips can make you go further and give you high-end photography results. Doing the hard thing in a simple way and that what you Karl offering us. The best education platform I ever discovered! Please keep up the great work. Proud to be a member in this community.

  18. Karl,

    Using your techniques, I was able to complete a pack shoot from a new client and get a much hire rate. Because my samples were much better than others, the client agreed to my rate of 1200.00 usd. You ROCK!!!

  19. Hi Karl,

    Thank you for the videos and all the tips. Quick question. In regards to the LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Drive. When compared yours to the version on Amazon (US), for example, your box is uneven ( I know you are just demoing. I am not criticizing). Naturally this will be an issue with some boxes, therefore some photoshopping will be needed. (Not to mention that the box was shot from above so the horizon line was probably photoshopped out.) When you come across something like this, how do you adjust pricing? Clearly work goes into it to fix the box and take care of horizon and making the base white while the box shot is not even the hero shot. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Marty, if your customer is not going to supply you good boxes then yes you need to let them know there will be a charge to cut and glue.

  20. Hello Karl! a very useful lesson, I just want to ask if this same scheme can work for another type of product, hats for example, always for an ecomerce.
    thank you

    1. Hi Luis, yes generally speaking this will work for most product pack shots where you need a white background.

  21. Hi Karl, i’ve a question about how to create a pure white flloor in a total body shot.
    I’m struggling to create a 100% white at the feet of the person at the floor in one shot. No problem with a white backgroud at the back, but at the floor i’ve to use photoshop to compensate. I think i’d use a shiny surface piece of sheet under the model but i’m interested in a way where the floor is pure white whitout nothing except the white floor.
    Thanks in advance,
    JAK

    1. Hi, this is often a tricky one as you generally need more space to do it correctly but it involves a light high behind your model pointing at the floor towards camera but you have to be careful about the light hitting the model too.

  22. Hi Karl,
    Just joined you education program and this tutorial has really helped and made some coins drop.

    Thanks for a really comprehensive video!

  23. Hi Karl

    What does MDF stand for as I like those blocks.
    Currently I use milk crates which are also useful as you can vary the height with ease.

    1. Hi Elizabbeth, I think it stands for Medium Density Fibreboard. It’s basically a type of wood made from other bits of wood and sawdust.

          1. Sorry, another question please. Did you paint them gloss or matte?
            bob

          2. Hi Bob, the base surface is gloss acrylic (perspex, plexiglass, makralon) it also comes in matt. Some suppliers do gloss one side and matt the other.

  24. Always love watching your very informative videos. I have learned a LOT on them. I find myself many times fascinated by the gear and equipment that I see on your videos! Granted I know not all of it is NEEDED, but some is very interesting. I was curious the brand, and if possible the product number of the camera “stand” you used in this video for the Hasselblad camera. It is enormous and I am almost affraid to find out how much one of those things costs. However it seems to be so much easier to set up minor changes in height and camera angle, and I am thinking that a series of Pack Shots that it would be invaluable.

  25. Amazing as usual!

    One thing, I would LOVE, if possible, to get links with where I can buy the materials you are using in your tutorial (and not only this tutorial, but in general) here in US. I find it so hard to find them…

    Thanks!!

  26. Hi Karl, Thank you so much for the great effort you are exerting here, really appreciated. one question please, can we reach the same result with a different type of white material other than the reflective one (i am talking about the table on which you place the packs). thanks

    1. Hi Yassin, a white gloss table would be needed or you wouldn’t get a good white. There are alternative ways with a matt white but then you have to also light the table from behind with another light.

  27. Hello Karl… i have a customer that he want to shooting some prodacts, but the problem is he has glass cup for shooting and that is transparent… he want to fix menu, also he want with white backround… that is little bit difficult…. because the glass disappeared… i need some help…. thanks…

  28. Hi Karl

    While doing the Clinique shot you put a foam board with a hole for lens in front to illuminate the “C”. You mentioned that if one wants the “C” to be more brighter then one would bounce light of the board, but to be careful with flare.

    1. How can one know if flare is present in the shot, and
    2. How would you prevent flare? the only thing that I can think of is to bring the light source as close to the board as possible and to use a reflector (P7 or snoot) to limit the ball of light to a specific area on the board, will that work? any other way to control flare?

    Thanks a lot for your advice.

    Amit

  29. Good evening Karl. I tried to shoot a sculpture which was one of the hardest I ever had. It was a sculpture of 2 people sitting on a ball, the whole item is made from inox, it’s like shooting a mirror. I spent 3 hours trying to adjust the light and camera angle. In the end I was left with one black whole in the centre and some small areas to retouch. How, woud you light it. I can email you a photo of the sculpture if you wish to see it.
    Many many thanks for all your hard work.

    1. Hi Aby, I’m afraid we can’t give individual advice on a particular shot or set up. From what you are saying though it sounds like you were along the right lines and shooting through the hole like I did in this live show. At the end of the day you just have to think about the physics. We have a new jewellery and rings tutorial coming soon and I think you will find the lighting setup used for the rings useful, look out for that one soon.

  30. Hi, what if I use photography table and use bottom strobe and 2 for the background? Could you advise the best way how to set up lighting?

    1. Hi Martynas you could use a photography table with the acrylic rise at the back and then light through this but I fear that you could easily end up lighting the product by mistake in this smaller working space. Personally I don’t like the photography table option.

  31. Karl,

    You ARE the best Photography education channel in the World. There is no comparison. Others do not have the passion to teach nor do they know or can explain basics like you do. No one even have the courage to do live shows.

    Your live courses and tutorials are well planned and you break complex scenarios in digestible bites. The best thing I like is how you use everyday objects as tools to assist.

    If you do take request, then please do tutorials on shooting Jewelry with Diamonds/Gemstones, it is quite challenging and no one has a clue how to get it done and explain the steps logically.

    Amit

  32. Un saludo desde Colombia …
    No hablo el Ingles, pero he tratado de comprender paso a paso … muy valioso tu trabajo

    Thankyou

    1. Hola Carlos! te recomiendo ampliamente que busques cursos de inglés y lo practiques, te lo digo como fotógrafo, el mejor contenido en educación está en inglés y los tutoriales de Karl son de lo mejor que he encontrado en 13 años de estar en esto.

      Saludos!!

  33. Hi Karl, greetings from Germany.
    Please can you tell me the size of your mdf standing block.

    Best wishes Martin

  34. I like all your videos, I find them so valuable, but…I like the live shows the most because your in the thick of it. It can go wrong and we see you become more human and then the way you answer live questions can be hilarious!

      1. Hi Karl i followed this video with so much intention and try all your tips and i have to admit that it changed my life lol sometimes we stay focus on different things and forgot let say the basics …. Thank you for this video (Michael)

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