Marketing is one of the most important and challenging aspects of any profitable business. For the marketing of a product, photographing that product plays a key role in the profits. The way you are presenting the product will gives a significant impact on sales. The customer will not buy the product directly, in fact customers gain trust on the product by seeing the marketing values and how nicely the presentation in the product photos.
Therefore, I just want to share my ideas on how to capture the products and edit them through this article.
The following steps are useful to shoot with low budget product photography and doing it in a simple way.
| Equipment – The Weapon
It is not always important to have a high-end camera. The important thing is to use a camera that listens to you. What I mean to say is to use a camera that allows you to control the manual settings like Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO. Nowadays we are getting a good quality DSLR camera for a very good mid-range price. Make sure that the selected camera is able to record the videos too and invest in a good lens. Although it is necessary to take photos with DSLR for quality photographs, these smartphones came into the field and took charge of the game. You can also take some good product photographs using a good mobile that I have also discussed in this article.
| Source – The Lights
Lights are one of the most important factors for the photograph. An important thing is arranging these lights in a proper way that it gives a good effect to the image. Most of the photographers prefer multiples lights around the product. While you are not having any artificial light do not forget that you are also having a free gift i.e. Natural Light. Make use of free things and it is much more forgiving to work with than artificial lighting. While you are shooting in the indoor set up a studio by placing a white background at the side of the window either left or right. Some photographers also use a white reflector in the opposite direction to light the product evenly and without shadows.
However, here I like to show the shadows of products and most importantly, I am not having a reflector setup. While using the natural light try to use a light diffuser. As I said shoot beside the window make sure that the window is having a glass that acts as a light diffuser. If the light source is not having a diffuser the light falling on the product will be harsh and the image gets automatically harsh and also results in dark shadows.
This is the example of the setup I have made in my room and its result.
| Support – The Tripod
Though you can hold the camera by hand and click the shutter, try to use a tripod. I personally prefer to use a tripod while shooting the products. Some of the benefits are you can place the camera in a particular standard position and shoot the product in different directions by rotating the product instead of the camera. By this way, the lighting will also be equal to the product in every direction. The other useful thing is you will not get blur or shake in image while using slow shutter speed. I strongly prefer mobile as a remote or a camera remote to release the shutter button of the camera.
With the combination of tripod and the slow shutter speed you can take amazing photos of products in the really low light which I explained in this article.
This is the image of the product taken in the low light in a dark room with a slow shutter and by placing the camera on the ground level.
| Setting Up
As I already mentioned to use a white background, it is better to shoot the products in front of a continuous background. Most of the photographers use a continuous background for product photography, which gives a professional and simple look. Make sure that the background works with the product for your target customer and try to avoid distractions.
If not having a big roll of white background, Set up the table as close to the window as possible without intersecting the shadow from the windowsill. Arrange the table that gives a softer light on the product. Make sure that table close to the wall for support to the background. I placed the table against the wall and taped the white paper background to the wall. If you are not having a wall place some supporting boxes or wooden blocks and place your product in the center of your comfort zone.
The way you are setting your camera will also result in the output of the photo. Avoid using the camera in auto mode, it is better to use the DSLR in Aperture mode or Shutter mode or Fully Manual mode. Set the White Balance to Auto. Turn off the flash particularly when using the reflective products. However, I have used the flash while I was using some color background on the product. This given me some different look to the so I continued that. It is always better to set up the image resolution too high quality (I prefer RAW all the time). If you are not having RAW format then use the highest resolution that you are having like image size as LARGE and quality with SUPER FINE or FINE.
An exposure setting is important while you are using the camera in manual mode. Make sure that you have enabled the histogram or the light meter display on the camera screen which helps you to set the manual settings. As you are shooting in a good light condition besides the window, it is better to use ISO at 100 or in between 100-320. Because if you are going to increase the ISO the phot will get more noise. In addition, set shutter speed to 1/50 – 1/150 and Aperture at 7.1 – 11 and Exposure in auto mode. These are all my settings you can set up your own settings.
This is an image that I shot with some different exposure levels.
Make sure that the shooting area is clean. While you are using reflective objects or black objects as your products clean the surface of the product. Crosscheck whether the product is clean or not because sometime while post-processing and retouching you will observe the fingerprints on the product which will increase the workflow in retouch. However, we can remove the fingerprints in the retouching process it will take much time. Same as this keep dust-free around the product. Finally, clean up the product and the camera lens to make the photo dust free. It is better to use a microfiber rag and wipe everything down carefully before shooting.
This is the image which I had shot the product without cleaning. You can observe the fingerprints on the product here.
| Multiple Angles
Shoot the product in multiple angles. The customer wishes to see as much as they can before they make a commitment. For example, the product is having a high cost but it is showing only one or two photos of the product. Then the customer will not show much interest to buy the product. As you have shot the product in different angle and showing each side and each specification in detail then automatically the customer mind will change and decides to buy the product. So, try to cover the product from all sides. It is better to shoot with zoom for each detail like the texture on the product and everything that the product is having.
This is the image of the product I am using, the Noise Play 2. Which I had shot from every side of the product and the detail texture that the product having.
| Mobile Photography
You always do not need a super high-end DSLR for shooting the products. If you are having a smartphone that you can adjust the ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture then you are in. If you are not having them also is a smartphone camera is enough to take product photos easily.
First thing set up you studio, clean the lens and the subject. Place the subject in the middle. Attach the phone to a tripod and the frame the product in the middle. Then touch the screen where the product is. Giving a long press on the screen will autofocus and lock the focus in some phones and the increase or decrease the exposure level as your requirement. Then click the shutter button with some delay timer ON.
If you are having an exposure adjustable smartphone camera then adjust the ISO to the required level like 100-250 based on the light condition you are having. Select the shutter speed as you required. In addition, Aperture at the low number that gives a depth of field based on the distance between the subject and the background.
Keep Clicking, these are some of the images that I have shot through a Smartphone (Redmi – my Friend’s phone)
| Favourite – Light Painting
Light painting is a photographic technique of moving light source while taking a long exposure photograph. You are getting a thought that what can light painting technique do in this product photography. This can make things look in a different way and with a simple process let us see how.
- Choose a dark room or dark area, it is better to shoot in the night so you can get a good result.
- It is always better to you a tripod if you are having it please use the tripod or else the image will get very shaky.
- If you are not having a tripod, place the tripod on the ground level or on any table as based on your requirement.
- Place the product straight to the camera lens.
- Now ON the live view of the camera that means you can see the shooting image on the camera screen.
- Though you are shooting in artificial light you cannot see the image on the screen, for this, increase the ISO to HIGH (will decrease it later).
- Now you can see the image on the screen. Then you can make focus on the product by using the Autofocus mode or you can use the Manual ring to make the focus.
- After finishing the focus confirm that the image was properly focused or not by pressing the + button on the camera and confirm it.
- If the focus is not perfect use the focus ring and makes the subject look perfectly focused.
- Now press – button to get into normal mode.
- After perfectly getting the focus on the subject switch the focus mode from auto to manual. ( This is because when you do not switch the focus mode to manual the camera automatically searches for the focus in the dark and finally as you press the shutter button also camera cannot shutter because it cannot find anything in the dark.)
- Arrange the aperture to 7.1-11. Why this because I have read somewhere that for some lenses at this range we can get a sharp image.
- Now the Shutter, I have used 25” seconds of shutter speed in all my light painting photos. It is totally based on you that how many seconds you want to keep the shutter open so that you can paint on the subject.
- Finally, use a remote for shutter, I have used my mobile which is having remote access. I can operate the shutter button through my mobile. This can be done in the camera settings where you can also find the delayed shutter that means the shutter will open after some delay when you pressed the shutter button. (Why this is because generally while you are trying to press the shutter button manually the camera automatically shakes which results in a bit shake of the image.)
- Now switch OFF all kinds of light sources in the room.
- Now release the shutter button this means to press the shutter button or use the remote access.
- Now take a small light source like a mobile screen (I used a mobile screen) with full bright picture in the mobile. Now start painting the light on the subject for 5 sec. Like, at a particular place face the mobile screen towards the subject for 5 sec then change the area and repeat the same. It is better to cover the subject from all the directions within the shutter time.
- After the shutter closes, the image will be processed and showed on the display.
- Sometimes painting the light on the whole subject in a single shot may not give you good or required output. For this take different shots, for example in the first shot pain the object from the right side and the second shot paint the subject from the left.
- This is because sometimes the light reflections cannot be seen properly in a single shot. Therefore, we can shot from two different sides and merge the lighting in the photo editing software. So that we can place the lighting where ever we want or even we can minimize the opacity of the light.
This is the image of my subject that I have shot the subject from two different sides and merged it using Lightroom and Photoshop software. Though it is a minimal lighting this given me a good look after the edit.
This is the final image that I have merged the above both images into one.
| Makeup – Editing, Post-processing, Manipulation
Editing the photo is another important thing in product photography. Generally, no one post the RAW photo directly into the website or in the online. For a photographer, editing is like how he wants to show his photo to the world. Just like this, while marketing the product it is your wish how you want to show the product. However, keep in mind it should attract customers to buy the product.
| Basic – Retouching
The basic things are like minimal things as if spots that appear on the image. That we cannot remove normally. For example small dust particles on the image sensor. Though we can clean the image sensor manually we won’t dare to do that because if we do that definitely we will make it dirtier. So after taking the photography and while doing the post-processing keep in mind to check the hole image properly for these kinds of small black dots. These types of spots can be removed using the Photoshop tool “Spot Healing Tool”.
Content-Aware tool is also a great tool to remove the unwanted things in a decent manner. Though it works well, you have to check the image twice after the content-aware tool work.
When you shot the same product with two different lighting arrangements and you wanted to place the two different lightings in one image it can be done in many mays like placing the two images on different layers and changing one the image’s blend mode to light. However, it will not look great. For this, you can use the clone stamp tool. I have used the masking process. Like applying the mask on one of the images and removing the unwanted areas from the image.
| Popup – Adding More Colour
As I prefer to shooting in a RAW format it is helpful to edit the image somewhat more extent. Like playing with auto white balance and with the exposure values and the other basic things.
Play with the curves adjustment tool for making the brighter areas brighter and the darker areas more darker. For this add two curves adjustment layers, one for brightness and the other for dark things. Now apply the mask on both of them and make visible bright things in the bright curves and dark things in the dark curve.
Play with Hue levels. For example, if you shot three products with the same background color (not white or black) it will look boring. Here comes the hue effect where you can change the color of the original image. Not you are having three product shots on the same background but the photos are in different colors.
| Mixup – Merge Two Images
As we cannot show or explain all about the product in a single image we can take two different photos from different angles and merge them into a single image as it also gives a new look while advertising the product.
Mix up two images as one represents the product and the other represents how it effects the other product.
Manipulate the photo if you can. Add some things that are not present in the scene while you are shooting the product. Download some minimal things from the internet and add them in your photo or simply add the things in your image that you captured by your won. This will give a good look when the manipulation works well. Make sure whether you can make it realistic then only add these kinds of extra things into the image, if it will not work out then do not do it. Practice it more and then publish the photo.
This is my way, if I said anything wrong enlighten me.
Love what you do if you cannot then, do what you Love …
There is no need to be a professional to do product photography or no need for a very high-end professional camera to do product photography. The biggest obstacle is fear so get the fear out from you. Do experimenting new things. Keep clicking and be creative. Everyone makes mistakes on their way to gaining a deeper understanding of the process. If you want better images for the store, it is easy now, grab your smartphone set up your studio, and start clicking.
Click as much as you can and keep editing them.
Some of the photos that are related to this article.