"A home studio set up is useful for photographing products"
Lighting is key in all genres of photography, not least when taking photos of products. If you want to get the best photos possible below are some quick and easy lighting techniques for product photography that will take your product photos to the next level.
You may be wondering if it is worth learning and practicing the lighting techniques for product photography…………. only you can answer that one. All I can say is that product photography can be very lucrative, and even if you don’t get paid for providing product photography services to a third party being able to take decent photos of your own unwanted products will help you not only sell them but also maximise the amount of money you get for them, so you may find the following lighting techniques for product photography pretty damn useful:-
Lighting techniques for product photography – Use continuous lighting
When taking photos of products there really is no point if faffing around with speed lights, studio strobes or other flash lights, when all you need are a few continuous lamps, i.e. lamps that are either off or on and are not triggered when the shutter button is pressed.
When you use continuous lights it is possible to see areas of the subject that are correctly lit, areas of the product in darkness and shadows, areas of the product that are reflecting the light and areas of the product where that are hotspots all before pressing the shutter button.
When you use continuous lights you can move the photography lamps around the product and make sure the lighting is perfect before taking the final photo, which is something you can’t do when you use flash or studio strobes for product photography.
"Continuous lamps are perfect for product photography"
Lighting techniques for product photography - Use daylight balanced bulbs
You can use any type of lights bulbs in your continuous lights to take photos of products, however I have found that daylight balanced bulbs give the best results. My camera does have tungsten and fluorescent white balance settings, and I can also change the white balance in the RAW editor of my Photoshop Elements editing software but daylight balanced bulbs always seem to give a nicer and more natural color.
Compared to tungsten bulbs and fluorescent tubes daylight balanced bulbs are damn expensive, but compared to other photography bits and pieces daylight balanced bulbs are cheap. When buying light bulbs for continuous lights it is best not to compare the cost of daylight balanced bulbs to tungsten/fluorescent bulbs and just spend the extra on the daylight balanced bulbs. You’ll have to trust me when I say the additional cost is well worth it, and if it means getting the best price for your unwanted products it is well worth it, and they will pay for themselves in no time at all.
Lighting techniques for product photography – Use a scrim
When you use continuous lamps you have control over the direction of the light but you have no control over the intensity of it. By their very nature light bulbs emit softer light than that emitted by flash lights, speed lights and studio strobes but there are situations when the light emitted by the continuous lamps are still a little harsh.
When taking photos of shiny and reflective subjects, for example, even the softer light emitted by the continuous lamps is likely to be a little too much and will need softening to get the best photos. The light from speed lights, flashes and studio strobes is softened using shoot through brollies, soft boxes, stofen style caps etc. but these light modifiers cannot be used with continuous lamps.
When using continuous lamps the only way to sufficiently soften the light is to place a scrim between the light source and the subject. Scrims require no specialist equipment to use them, scrims are quick and easy to set up and scrims are cheap so there are no excuses not to have one when taking photos of products that require the use of a scrim.
Lighting techniques for product photography - Don’t get creative
If there’s one situation when creative lighting is a total waste of time it is when taking photos of products. When taking photos of products you want to show the product at its best, and correct lighting will achieve this. Rather than being creative with the lamps and positioning them around the product to create shape and form, and intentionally leaving some parts of the product shadow you need to evenly and uniformly light the product. Some photographers call this type of lighting “flat” however it is all you need to take photos of products.
Uniformly and fully lighting the product will allow the potential purchasers to see what they are buying, which will give them the confidence to place a bid and purchase the product. At the end of the day any potential buyers aren’t going to care about seeing an artistic photo of the product, and would much prefer to see the product in its entirety – warts and all.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.