Tips for Beautiful and Professional Product Images
For those who are constantly creating handmade and DIY art — the idea of professional-looking product photography can often feel daunting or intimidating.
In fact, many times, getting your products to appear exactly the way you want them to can be frustrating –– why doesn’t the teal hue of the earring look the same in the image or why does the ring’s stone appear smaller in the photo than it does in real life?
Luckily, with some simple and quick tips, you can be a product photography professional in no time. Read on for some tidbits of inspiration and advice that you can start applying to your product photography today.
1. Adjust your settings
When you’re just getting started in the world of product photography, first things first. Adjust your settings. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a DSLR camera, you’ll want to make sure your subject is in focus. Once it is, get close — or go macro — to capture the fine details of your jewelry, clothing or other products. Try shooting on auto mode first until you become more familiar with the settings of your camera. Then, branch out and fine-tune your creative skills with manual mode. With the right settings and close-up details, products like these fabrics from artist Deborah O’Toole can become engaging images that tell a story of colors, textures, and style.
2. Choose a background
Before you dive into taking a series of images, think about your background. Products often do well on all-white backgrounds, as it allows them to stand out and truly shine. You can also experiment with things like pieces of wood, fabrics, different colored cardboards, plates and cutting boards to give your products a particular lifestyle feel. Chances are you have a lot of “props” around you in your everyday life that can be used for styling and photographing. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box – check out the textures of these uniquely styled backgrounds in featured artist Phyllis Cahill’s images.
3. Stage your product
Similar to thinking about your background, consider staging your product. Are you selling handmade vintage rings? Beautiful! Hire one of your friends as a hand model and place their hands on top of your favorite countertop. Maybe you pair the vintage yellow stones with the retro pale yellow and seafoam green tile at your parent’s home. Perhaps you place her hands, and that lovely turquoise ring, next to a rustic, wood-paneled wall at your favorite coffee shop (maybe, you even add in the coffee mugs for a lifestyle vibe). Having fun and getting creative while staging your product can make the difference between an ordinary product photo and an extraordinary product photo. See how artist Katalin Wiesner stages her beautiful sewn handmade toys in a subtle, simple, but engaging way.
4. Pay attention to lighting
In photography, lighting is everything. It serves to cast an ethereal brightness to images or give shots a dark and gloomy feel. In product photography, lighting ensures that your product is seen in the most positive and engaging way possible. Typically, you’ll want to use bright light for product images so that their fine details can be seen. Although simple studio lights can be used, it’s easiest (and most affordable) to shoot during the daylight using natural window lighting. Set up your product and camera near a large window and allow for light to fill your frame. See how incredible your well-lit objects look, like these embroidered jewelry pieces from featured artist Velanch.
5. Shoot different angles
With product photography, you’ll want to show all sides of your product. What does its look like when shot from above, below, or from the side? Images appear radically different when photographers are willing to shoot from different angles. Consider artist Ruth Blauert’s dresses for example, which she portrays from a variety of different angles (behind, in front, to the side) so that viewers can see all the different aspects of what make them unique.
6. Keep it steady
It’s crucial that your products aren’t blurry — which means you’ll want to keep your camera steady. If you have trouble doing this, place your camera or phone on a solid surface (like a table or counter top) and shoot from there. You can also opt for the route of a simple tripod to help you shoot. Tabletop tripods are an excellent choice for products like rings and bracelets –– and when images are clear, it helps viewers to connect with the product. Plus, if artist Peini Yang of KK Children’s Designs can keep her tiny twin girl subjects still for these amazing product shots — we’re certain you can keep it steady, too!
7. Editing is key
Sometimes, new photographers or hobby photographers get intimidated by the idea of editing. And that’s okay! Lots of programs out there can be complex and require in-depth studying of the user’s manual. However, editing can make a world of difference in your end result and it truly is a crucial part of photography. Simple things like cropping, retouching, and color correction can have a huge impact. Try starting with a program like Photoshop Elements or Luminar, which makes complex edits easy and fast (regardless of your skill level). As you progress with your edits, you’ll become confident and more creative — and your options for editing experimentation will be endless. These images from artist Rosalinda McKenzie, for example, are vibrant and well-saturated, which allows the colors and products to pop. If you find your images look slightly dull, a quick edit to increase saturation or vibrance will do the trick.
8. Say farewell to filters
Filters are great for social media and artistic image creation. They’re not, however, the best for product photography. When filters are used, they alter the look and feel of your products. Your potential customers will most likely notice the filter, and it may make them question the quality and authenticity of your product. Let your product be what it is — and be appreciated for that. If artist Paula Schiau, for example, had used filters on her images, it would have altered the unbelievable hues of the colors she chooses to create her hand-pigmented jewelry.
Whether you’re taking snapshots of homemade necklaces, elaborately embroidered clothing, or beautiful hand-sewn dolls, we hope these 8 tips have given you inspiration to get out there, style, and shoot!
The most important tip of all, of course, is to have fun, get creative, and be willing to experiment.
About the author
Max Therry is an architecture student who is fond of photography and wants to become a professional photographer. He is also working on his photography blog about photo editing, modern photo trends, and inspiration. Feel free to reach him by email.