3 Tips For Better Product Photos

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Hi, I'm Pam

When I figured out how to use natural light to shape my photos, it was an aha moment, but my goodness was the setup SO. JANKY.

I had the luxury of time when I first started photography because I was 16 and there were fewer responsibilities on my shoulders at that point — I could experiment my heart away and the nice thing about that time in my life was that I was truly doing photography for myself and that was it. Also, the internet was a different place at that time, so the pressure of perfect curation didn’t exist.

So back to this set up, I had figured out, what was it like? WELL. 

I was photographing a sour cherry tart in a ramekin and I didn’t have a good backdrop so I used an old sheet pan (which actually had the perfect texture), and an old blue tea towel. 

My light source? The backdoor of my parent’s house had a window with diffuse light, but I needed to get my subject higher, the fix? A kitchen stool.

So there I was with a sheet pan precariously balanced on a stool, taking photos of my cherry tart, and my adolescent brain was shocked at how nice the photo turned out! Why did it turn out great? 

Not that I knew what I was doing at the time, but the composition was good: the contrasting colours between the brown sheet pan, blue dishcloth, and bright red tart was eye-catching, and the lighting was even and soft, unlike the harsh kitchen lights I had used previously — it changed the mood of the image drastically!

The point of this whole story is you don’t need fancy to get started taking good photos. Some of my favourite images I’ve taken are on my phone, and what made them great is the composition and how I used the available light to shape it. You don’t need to wait to have all the right things to take great photos, you could start today. Here are some tips to help you get going.

1. A Clean Backdrop

  • A clean backdrop: when you’re starting out, clean backdrops are the way to go. The less visual clutter, the better. Working with less visual clutter when you start out allows for you to focus on the product or object you’re working with and allows you to play with composition without distractions.
    • Clean backdrop to try: a white wall, a neutral coloured bed sheet, foam board, poster paper, seamless paper

2. Light Source

  • Light source: when you’re starting out, I recommend you use natural light. It’s the most true to life light source you can use, and the closer you can get to your light source (ie, besides a bright window instead of 10 feet from it), the better. If the light is too harsh for your liking, you can always close the blinds if they’re sheer, or use a sheer piece of cloth to cover the window.

3. Learn about basic colour theory

  • Opposites attract, and it’s no different when it comes to colour. While I’m not fully getting into colour theory here, how you utilize colours whether it’s from your backdrop or props can drastically change the mood of the product or object you’re photographing. Let’s say you had a product with white packaging: if you photograph it on a neutral backdrop with neutral props, it may look calming, clean, or minimalist. Take that same product and photograph it on a colourful backdrop with bright props, and you might be viewed as fun, whimsical, and a product that’s here to make a splash. Playing with the colour wheel and using complementary colours (like red and green, blue and orange, green and magenta) can really make things pop.

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