Easy Peasy Product Pics: Putting It All Together

This is the last in a series of articles on how to shoot beginner product photography. In previous articles, I discussed how to set up a simple and low-cost photo studio, how to make a diffuser and reflector to minimize shadows, recommended a camera for this simple beginner setup, gave some tips on composition and how to set up a more interesting shot, and pointed out some free photo editing software for the minimal editing that will be needed. In this last article, I will describe how everything fits together so you can take your first product photos for your website or for display on webstores like Etsy or eBay.

Prep Your Subject

Let’s say you have a very cool fountain pen you want to show on your website as a part of a review of that pen. Your first step is, of course, grabbing that pen and cleaning it so you can’t see any flaws such as finger prints or dust.

Set up the Studio

Next, set up your simple photo studio. Assuming you have all the equipment handy or stored at a convenient place, this should only take about five minutes. Set up your table against a wall or a large vertical piece of furniture such as a bookcase. Then, prop one end of the vinyl backdrop against the wall or furniture and clamp the other end to the edge of the table. Your setup should now look something like what is to the right.

Now, stand your diffuser in front of the light, placing it as close as possible to the light while being careful that the fabric doesn’t get too hot and cause a fire hazard. Place your reflector on the opposite side of the diffuser, and place the fountain pen between the diffuser and the reflector. You will have to prop the reflector up against something to stand it up. I used books.

Your setup should now look something like this.

Compose and Take the Photo

Now, pose the fountain pen a little following the composition tips in my earlier article. Note that the nib of the fountain pen is a bit off center and I have two imaginary lines that cross to provide a focal point. The long body of the pen balances the nib.

You will very likely have to move the reflector very close to the fountain pen to get the benefit of the reflected light. I suspect if you are using a two or three light setup, you would have less issues.

Now take your phone camera, get fairly close to the fountain pen, adjust the exposure of the shot (let the camera automatically deal with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed), and take the photo. Take several shots, each at a slightly different angle and some higher up and others from bottom looking up.

Edit the Photo

Import the photos to your computer and open up the file with the photo editor of your choice. Look at all the photos and see which one you like best. Crop if necessary and play with the light and color settings. The photo below is the one I liked best, before and after minor editing with the Windows Photo Editor software.

Before
After

Once you are done with your adjustments, save the file and upload it to your website. You now have a fairly descent looking photo of something customized to your needs. Easy peasy. Even if you are a novice photographer, your end product should look fairly nice.

Keep practicing and you will get better. You might even one day find it worthwhile to invest in better lighting, a commercial diffuser/reflector, a nice camera that gives you more control (because now you understand what the dials and buttons and numbers mean), and a subscription to a photo editing software like Photoshop.

Meanwhile, happy shooting!

Laziness Scale

This beginner set up and method of shooting product photography is Lazy Worthy. It does not require too many materials, takes just a little time to set up (and put away), and it produced photos of fairly good quality. It satisfies all the Laziness criteria, so it is Lazy Worthy.


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