Learn product photography
Learn product photography
Get creative with your product photography
How to get started in product photography in 6 simple steps
From pack shots to high-end advertising style shoots, these six steps will help you achieve professional looking results simply and easily.
1.Identify key features
Products, like people, look better from certain angles and suit particular lighting styles more than others. Take the time to look at the product before shooting. Really look at it. Because, as photographers, our job is to choose the shooting angle, composition and lighting that really bring out the best in the product.
2.Build a concept
Key to any successful shoot is a strong concept — what idea and message are you trying to convey and who are you trying to reach with your image? The same way a road map would guide you to your final destination, let your concept guide you when it comes to background choice, prop selection and lighting style. If you pre visualised what it is you intend to achieve in the shoot, the planning and preparation will be much easier.
3.Styling your product
Sometimes product photography requires minimal styling and other times it requires additional elements such as different backgrounds or props. Regardless of how simple or elaborate the styling of a shot is, this stage of any shoot requires careful consideration and attention to detail. Do not forget to closely refer to your pre visual plan at this stage, as you arrange and style all of the elements.
Need a bright white background for pack shots? Or perhaps a more muted, moody lighting for a men’s cologne? Knowing how to create the best lighting for your product is key to getting the best shot. For this, you’ll need to understand concepts such as lighting theory, what different modifiers do and how to control light. Take the time to experiment; test one light at a time and figure out how to balance and bring everything together.
5.Selecting your hero image
At the end of the shoot immediately download your photographs from your camera to your computer to ensure they are backed up and can be reviewed clearly. Keep in mind, it is not always the last captured image that is necessarily the best one. Spend some time sieving through the shoot and pick out the strongest images. It may be good to revisit those you shortlisted with fresh eyes before making the final decision on your hero shot. The final stage would be to add any polishing touches in post production.
The final stage would be to add any polishing touches in post production. Learn the useful Photoshop tools and techniques for editing product images and identify areas that need retouching. Regardless of whether you're shooting for commercial purposes, to build your own portfolio, or simply to challenge yourself, there’s a great demand for high-quality product imagery. There is also a lot of competition too. Following these six steps will help you create images that stand out.
Product photography tips
These top three product photography tips are key things to keep in mind when photographing any product. It's these little details that will really help make a difference in your photography.
Compliment the brand
When planning your shot, it’s important to think about whether your concept compliments the brand. For example, what suits a high-end, elegant women’s handbag might not necessarily work for a men’s football boot. To help with this, look at past advertising images used by the brand. Do they prefer fresh, clean lighting or dark, moody images? What type of background works best? What type of styling does the brand typically use? Do they have a particular colour palette? All of these points will help you create your concept and can be put together in a mood board to guide you throughout the shoot.
This is perhaps one of the most valuable skills any product photographer can learn. In some cases, this technique simply elevates a shot, taking it from good to great, but in other cases, it’s absolutely essential. For products with highly reflective gloss surfaces, gradient lighting is a must. However, many photographers fall into the trap of believing they can get away with using softboxes. Although the soft, homogenous light from these popular modifiers can suffice, gradient lighting is often a far better choice. The good news is that creating gradient lighting isn’t difficult and can be easily achieved by using simple diffusion material or acrylic.
As with any genre of photography, your choice of lense can have a big impact on how the image looks. There’s a wide variety of lens options available, each with different characteristics. Things like your camera sensor type, the focal length of the lens, maximum aperture and quality will all have an impact. However, unlike portrait or fashion photography (where you can use almost any lens) product photography is somewhat limited in terms of which lenses work best. Generally focal ranges of between 60mm and 80mm (on 35mm format cameras) are most commonly used for product photography.
Recommended classes for every level
Whether you’re new to product photography or already working for a number of clients, use only speedlites or have multiple studio lights, we have just the class for you.
Speedlite product shoots
If you only own speedlites or aren’t quite confident yet with studio lights, these classes will show you how to get amazing results using speedlites. Learn how to make use of fast flash duration to capture fast-moving objects and how to use multiple lights to get truly creative results.
One light product shoots
These simple product lighting setups are just the thing to get you started if you’re new to studio lighting. Using only one light with basic modifiers, you’ll see how you can produce professional results by making use of simple accessories such as reflective cards, mirrors or flags to easily control your light.
Advanced studio lighting
Aimed at photographers already familiar with studio lighting, these classes demonstrate more advanced lighting techniques for product photography. Karl shows you how to use professional modifiers and valuable lighting techniques to create truly amazing results.
Meet your tutor
Our product photography classes cover everything from basic to advanced, teaching you the steps required to achieve top results. You can also watch our live guest interviews with top photographers including Tim Flach and Barry Makariou, as well as a live workshop with product photographer David Lund.
Karl Taylor is a professional photographer with over 20 years experience. Known for his precise attention to detail and exquisite control of light, he specialises in commercial photography and, over the years, has worked with a number of international brands and global campaigns. Throughout these classes Karl shares his wealth of knowledge to help you achieve the very best results possible.
Take a look at Karl's portfolio.
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Enjoy some of the highlights from our most popular product photography classes.