How to take professional product photos

Since the advent of mail-order catalogs, engaging images have been a key sales driver. Customers should be able view the product from many angles and compare colors and sizes. This will allow them to see the product in real life contexts.

Your photos should be well lit and composed in order to show the product clearly and accurately. They should also reflect your brand’s style. A professional photographer is the best option for some businesses. If you have a limited budget and don’t have the equipment or knowledge to take professional-quality photos of your products, you can still get high-quality photos.

You’ll need the equipment

  • Digital single lens reflex (DSLR), or a smartphone with at least 12 megapixel resolution
  • White Paper sweep
  • Tripod
  • You can use any surface to place your product (table, table, mannequins, etc.).
  • Natural light source
  • You can designate a specific area or room in your home for shooting
  • Masking, duct or gaffer tape
  • Card stock or white foam core
  • Software for photo editing or smartphone apps

Get to know your camera

Learn about the settings and features of your camera. You’ll need to be able to use your smartphone, digital SLR camera or both to get the most out of your camera’s capabilities.

Learn about exposure and focus. Learn color balancing. You can manually adjust these settings if you are using a smartphone. You will be able to produce better images by becoming familiar with the features of your camera and learning how you can use the settings that are appropriate for your photos. This will allow you to work faster and more efficiently.

The right lens is for your job

For detail shots, you will need a minimum of a 35mm and 100mm standard lens for a DSLR camera. Third-party manufacturers also make lenses add-ons to smartphones. To improve the quality of your photos, you can add macro and telephoto lenses to your smartphone, depending on your needs.


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Take the largest possible file

Although you can reduce the size of your photos, it won’t make them more clear or better quality. Your photographs may be used in printed marketing materials and as the hero images for your website. To display well in these contexts, images need to be of higher resolution. It’s best to start with the largest file size possible and then create smaller versions as necessary.

Use a digital SLR camera to shoot RAW images and save the edited versions as jpgs. Use your smartphone’s rear-facing camera to capture high-quality images. Make sure you have the maximum file size.

Use a tripod

A blurry image is not something anyone likes. A tripod will hold your camera still, so that your image is clearer and more focused. For each angle you shoot, place your tripod in the same position. You can mark your tripod positions so you can keep it in the same place each time. Consistent angles and distances between your products will allow your customers to compare them and create a seamless experience when they browse your website.

Learn more:

Take a white paper sweep

A sweep is a seamless background that creates a consistent backdrop for product photography. A product placed on a background that has a hard corner (where horizontal and vertical planes intersect) will create a distracting line or shadow. This problem is eliminated by a sweep. You can make a sweep using a variety materials but a large sheet or roll of white card stock would be the best.

You can tape one side of the paper to the wall, and the other to the table or floor for small products. Make sure the paper curves in the middle. Make sure your paper is big enough to frame the product in the white space. If you have to crop out any background, such as large furniture pieces, but it will be easier later to edit your photos.

Although sweeps come in a range of colors, most product photos are shot on white backgrounds.

  • They keep your focus on the product. A white background keeps customers’ eyes focused on the product and eliminates visual distractions.
  • You can easily copy and paste. These allow you to cut the object from the background more easily and move it around or combine it with other images.
  • They keep color consistency. Your colors will stay consistent if you use the same white sweep on all your products. The colors of colored sweeps will be cast onto your products and can cause inaccurate representations.
  • They reduce file size While optimizing all of your photos is a good idea, a white background can also be helpful in keeping file sizes down.
Photo © /

Remember that a white background will not produce a true white result if you are photographing it. Your background will often render light to medium gray depending on how you expose it and your lighting. There will also be shadow fall-off towards the edges of your images. You can choose to remove the background using image editing software.

Avoid mixing lighting

You can use either natural or artificial lighting, but you need to choose one and stay consistent. Different color temperatures can produce different colors on your subject. You can get inconsistent color results if you use a cool LED lamp on one side and warm incandescent bulbs on the other. This can make it difficult to correct. reflectorcard is a good option if you need extra light to shine on your object.

Your flash should be turned off

When used properly, on-camera flash can be a great tool for certain types photography. If you are new to photography, you should turn off the flash and use other light sources that are easier to control. There are many problems that can be caused by using your on-camera flash.

  • Unwanted reflections and glare
  • Hard shadows
  • Working from a long distance is difficult
  • Mixed lighting issues
  • Battery life is shorter

Instead of using your flash on-camera, you can adjust your aperture and ISO and shutter speeds manually. You can also use auto focus, exposure, and white balance. Although automatic settings are not as consistent or accurate as manual adjustments, they can be a good alternative if you don’t feel comfortable using manual settings.

Use natural light and reflector cards indoors to shoot

Natural light and a reflector are the best and most cost-effective options for lighting products. They can be made from white foam core, or stock card stock. A folding reflector is available for a bit more. These reflectors are portable and easy to store. Some, such as the 5-in-1 reflectors have multiple covers that can diffuse or reflect light differently.

Natural light can be used indoors through a glass window, which has many advantages over shooting outdoors. Although overcast days can produce better lighting, indoors allows you to control the intensity and direction of light. To diffuse harsher light, adjust the distance between your product and the window. Also, use a sheer curtain to reduce glare. You don’t need to worry about it being windy or rainy.

This type of lighting is single-direction so it’s important that you note that the shadows cast by your object on the opposite side will not be visible. You may see heavier shadows on your subject depending on how well you filter the light.

Here is where the reflector steps in. Your reflector should be placed on the opposite side to your product so that it faces the light source. This will reflect light back onto the product, creating more even lighting. To achieve the desired effect, you can adjust the position of your reflector. Once you have marked the card’s location, you can place the reflector on each product.

Buy a low-cost lighting kit

An inexpensive lighting kit can be purchased if natural lighting is not an option or doesn’t fit your brand’s style. There are many tabletop light boxes that can be used for product photography. They range from $20 to $150. You might consider investing in a basic studio lighting set for larger products. This includes light stands with continuous lights and soft boxes as well as background stands and sweeps. The basic setup costs between $150 and $200.

Examine your images for sharpness and color.

Before you take hundreds of photos and save them to your computer for later, make sure you check the sharpness of your images. Take a close look at the images on your camera to ensure that they are sharp and clear. To ensure your images aren’t too or too dark, check your white balance and exposure.

Photos from multiple angles from

Photograph from many angles

Customers will be able to see your product from different angles. You can examine an item in a physical shop by looking at it from all angles. You should offer the same experience in your online shop.

For detail shots, move closer or use a macro lens

Do not rely on cropping photos to show details about your product. It will likely be a little out of focus. You’ll end up with fuzzy images if you zoom in on very small details like fabric weave.

You can focus sharply with a smartphone that doesn’t have additional lenses. Simply move as close as possible to the product while keeping your phone as light as possible. Although you might not be able achieve the same detail as a macro lens, it will still be better than taking a photo further away and zooming in with your editing software.

A macro lens is best for clear images with high detail.

Photo taken with room for text from

Take into account your composition

Take care of your composition for both lifestyle and isolated product shots. Make sure that your subject is in the center of the frame when taking white sweep product photos. This will ensure that the entire product is visible. If you need detail photos that show the product in its entirety, take a mixture of photos to the right, left, and center of the frame. If you want to place text on your images, you have many options.

A photo editing app or software is available.

You will almost always need to edit your photos, no matter how good they are. Even if you are just looking to fix a small dusty spot on a product or make a white background for a model, editing is still a must.

Many photo editing programs are available, ranging from free to paid. Adobe Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Photoshop Elements are the most popular photo editing programs. They can be purchased on a monthly basis through Adobe Creative Cloud. GIMP, an open-source and free image editor, is widely used. Pixlr is another great option. It is browser-based, and supports both Android and iPhone apps.

Consider taking lifestyle photos

White background photos are best for information and clarity. Lifestyle photos can be used to sell your product. These photos demonstrate the product’s functionality and allow consumers to imagine how they would use it in their daily lives. Lifestyle photos tell the brand’s story and create an emotional connection.

Photo showing product in context from

Before you set up your shoot, think about how your images will be used. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Avoid busy backgrounds. Backgrounds that are too busy or have complex patterns and visual clutter can detract from the product.
  • Take multiple orientations. You can capture your lifestyle images in landscape and also the product on the left, center and right. This will give you more photos to choose from for different situations.
  • Create environments that give context. Make sure props and environments are scaled to show your brand’s feel.

Keep a record of your entire process

After you have decided on your lighting style, camera position, product angles, and overall feel for your photography, take some time to document the details. For each type of shot, mark where your reflector cards, light sources, tables and tripod are located. You can use colored duct tape or masking tape to mark the positions if you don’t have many setups. You can create lighting diagrams on graphpaper if you have more than four sets ups.

These diagrams, along with other details about each setup, can be used to create a process manual that will help you work more efficiently and achieve consistent results. You can also delegate product photography tasks to other employees. Take photos of your setups if you can to provide a visual reference for your process guide.

Research and practice

You can achieve professional-quality product photography by using the right equipment and researching tips. Also, you should practice, practice and practice. You can find YouTube tutorials (B&H offers a free series beginner tutorial videos to help you get started with product photography) or enroll in an online course from reputable e-learning providers.

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