I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated with photography. From product photography to portraits and landscapes and everything in between. I was never extraordinarily good at it, but the more I learned, the more I loved it.
You may not be attracted to the technical side of it and I still have a lot to discover myself, but I am continuously curious about how you can take an object, a person or a place and show it to the world from your point of view.
As a blogger and owner a of small Etsy shop (that you can find here), I was somehow forced to develop both my product photography and my post production editing skills. And I’m hoping to inspire you to do the same. Because the truth is that you only need a few tools and a pinch of creativity.
Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. This means I will be credited a part of the commission of the sale you make through it for no extra cost for you. But I actually use the products mentioned here, and I honestly recommend them.
What do you need to take product photography?
💎 A CAMERA
First off , to take some more than decent product photography, you will need a good camera or an excellent phone camera. When I say a good camera, I don’t mean the latest Nikon or most expensive Olympus. You don’t need an expensive camera to take great pictures. You just need a great vision.
I personally use a Canon Eos M and I am so happy with it. It’s great for beginners and once you start figuring out manual mode you will never look at it the same.
💎 WHITE SURFACE
I find that most products stand out when you use a simple white background. You can opt for other solid colors, such as soft pink or beige, as long as your product remains the focus of the picture. For more creative pictures you can even venture to shoot objects on interesting wooden tables, marble design or colorful patterns. But I usually like to stick with a white background and add some props.
My white background is usually my desk . Chances are that you already have a white table around the house, so put that to good use. If not white backdrops are easy to find online or in shops. PVC papers are another great option and they come in so many colors.
A blogger’s first choice and a personal favorite is the simple foam board because they are easy to carry around and adjust when needed. They are also extremely cheap. I got mine of this lovely DIY and art supplies online shop called Hobbycraft.
💎 GOOD LIGHTING
Every photographer out there will mention that having good lighting is crucial for great photos. I tested this out myself and I can confirm that it is true. Shooting in daylight, near to a window or open space has tremendously improved the quality and feel of my pictures and it made the products stand out so much more.
Even when I have the optimum lighting conditions, I like to have extra accessories to direct where the light is going and how it falls on the products. A couple of must-have photography accessories are:
- A small LED studio light – I have this set and the adjustable height, angle and intensity make it so easy for me to get just the right amount of light in the perfect spot. A ring light is another great option to consider, although slightly more expensive.
- A light reflector. I own this 5 in 1 set of disc reflectors and I can’t believe how cheap and useful these are in redirecting the light.
- An extra light is always useful even when you have the daylight on your side because the sun can’t shine from every direction. I am in love with this daylight lamp for example.
- White light is always good, sometimes the intensity is too much for some products and the shine that it creates can ruin your pictures. This is why you need a light diffuser to “tame” the light and make it look softer. A simple white sheet might do, as long as it still allows the light to go through.
💎 INTERESTING PROPS
When it comes to photo props you want little objects that will not take away focus from the main object, but would rather compliment it and complete the composition. Odds are that you already have all you need lying around the house. Here are a few examples of what I like to use:
- Candles are a great prop (either the simple or more intricate decor ones). I often crop a part of the candle out of the picture to bring the focus back on the product.
- Flowers are my favorite props. You will see them often especially in my Etsy pictures. When you use depth of field (the background is blurry and only one object is in focus), it’s best to have something soft and subtle in the back. If you don’t wish to rebuy them every few weeks, artificial flowers are a great option. Hobbycraft has an entire selection of fake flowers that are made for flat-lays and other blogging style type pictures.
- Any type of stationary (from cute notebooks, to simple sticky notes and pens) can really elevate your photos and make it look more natural. Both Aliexpress and Amazon have a large selection of amazing accessories to choose from and I’ve used both in the past. But my favorite remains Paperchase with its super adorable stationary, organizers and desk accessories. (It’s like blogger’s heaven!)
Any other interesting frames, bowls or random objects that you have around the house. Once you start actively looking you would be amazed at the amount of possible props that were right in front of you this whole time.
(Hobbycraft’s art supplies are a must check if you can’t find inspiration around your house. I am particularly in love with their copper wire letters that you might’ve seen on my Instagram and their paper pads.)
💎 AN EDITING SOFTWARE
Editing the picture is just as important as taking them and any photographer saves a bit of magic for the post-production changes.
I use Photoshop or Pixlr Editor to tweak my photos and make the products stand out. All I do is crop it so the composition is pleasing, increase brightness and/or contrast and sometimes the vibrance and mess a bit with the curves and saturation. A good software can make a huge difference even if you don’t know how to master it yet.
For editing photos on my phone I use an app called PicsArt which offers all the settings I need and it’s free.
If you want to go pro, a software I suggest is either Photoshop or Lightroom. Both come with a super affordable Adobe subscription and they make such a difference in your photos (even with limited skills) that you are better off paying for this rather than a super fancy camera that you don’t quite understand.
Product photography is not rocket science and once you start experimenting with different cameras, props and editing software, the process will become easier and more enjoyable.
A few final pieces of advice and tips that I use when I shoot are:
- Get to know your camera. You would be amazed at what it can do once you get out of using Auto mode.
- Shoot and edit in raw if possible. This gives you so much more flexibility and better quality of photos.
- Use macro mode for small objects.
- Don’t overexpose. Learn how bright it’s too bright.
- Practice, practice, practice! That’s the only way to master this!
In the end, the equipment and props you need to shoot a few great photos are well worth the money and a bit of creativity and innovation will get you further than any expensive camera would.
Do you dabble in product photography? I would love to hear some of your tips on how to take great photos and what props do you use. Feel free to comment down below!