As a photographer on the go, finding a place to store my reflectors for product photography is always easier said than done. I’ve always tried to pack as light as possible, but it proves tough when you have 5 different cameras, 45 rolls of film, and all the accessories you need to get the job done: flashes, a tripod, etc etc.
To be honest, the one thing I never bring with me is a reflector and about half of the time I end up cursing myself because I didn’t pack it. But unless I have checked luggage, it can be awkward and cumbersome to lug around. So what have I done in a pinch? I look to my surroundings.
Common Household Items Turned Into Reflectors For Product Photography
- A white pillow
- A light coloured wall
- A white shirt
- An envelope
- A sheet of paper
- Foam board
- A bedsheet
And it’s always turned out just fine! I’m sharing this with you because as nice as big reflectors are for product photography, it doesn’t always need to be fancy to get the job done.
Have you ever heard of V-Flats? They are essentially giant 8-9 foot tall boards on a hinge (giving that “V” shape), that are painted white or black. How are these boards used you may ask? Imagine you have a model standing on a backdrop and a light source coming from the left side. A V-Flat may be placed on the opposite side (right in this case) to either reflect or absorb the light and decrease or increase the amount of shadow and contrast bounced back on the subject, respectively.
My Go-To Cheap Reflectors For Product Photography
So how do we recreate this on a smaller scale? Turns out the cheapest methods are my favourite ones not only because they are inexpensive but also because they work so dang well.
My top 2 go-tos? A sheet of paper and foam board.
The sheet of paper you probably already have around your house and to use it to reflect light when taking photos of your product, all you have to do to recreate the shape of the V-flat above is to fold it in half!
But I recommend you take it a step further: fold the piece of paper into thirds like a letter and voila, your piece of paper has a more stable base to stand on its own.
The foam board is essentially the same thing on a larger scale, and I recommend grabbing a “presentation” tri-fold foam board from the dollar store so like the paper, it stands on it’s own.
So how does this look in action? I took these on my phone to show you the difference it makes
As you can see, there’s a difference in the shadows on the left hand side and truthfully, one is not better than the other, it’s just two different looks! But I recommend that if you’re photographing multiple products together at once on a flat lay, use a reflector of some sort to make sure everything is evenly lit so we can see your beautiful wares you’re selling!
So to sum it up:
- Almost any light neutral surface can be used as a reflector in a pinch
- Light coloured reflectors can bounce light back onto your subject and dark coloured reflectors absorb light which can create deeper shadows
- My top go to reflectors at home are a sheet of paper and foam board
If you’ve taken my 11 Ways To Elevate Your Photos Now where I teach you to take better photos in 20 minutes or less, I encourage you to try this new technique with my composition techniques to bring your photos to the next level!
Let me know if you found this helpful and if you end up trying it out, share your results with me!