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As a content creator apprentice, you know that the quality of your images is essential to the success of your work. Product photography is a specialised type of photography that is used to capture images of products for marketing purposes. If you want to create high-quality product images, there are a few key things you need to know.
In this blog post, I will discuss the basics of product photography, including:
- The different types of product photography
- The equipment you need
- The principles of composition
- The post-production process
I will also provide some tips for creating product images that are both visually appealing and effective for marketing purposes.
Types of Product Photography
There are many different types of product photography, each with its own unique purpose. Some of the most common types of product photography include:
- E-commerce product photography: This type of photography is used to create images of products that will be sold online. E-commerce product photography typically features well-lit, high-resolution images that accurately depict the product.
- Catalog product photography: This type of photography is used to create images of products that will be featured in catalogs or other print materials. Catalog product photography typically features images that are more stylised and creative than e-commerce product photography.
- Advertising product photography: This type of photography is used to create images of products that will be used in advertising campaigns. Advertising product photography typically features images that are visually appealing and attention-grabbing.
The equipment you need for product photography will vary depending on the type of photography you are doing. However, there are some basic pieces of equipment that you will need for most types of product photography. These include:
- A camera: A DSLR or mirrorless camera is ideal for product photography.
- A tripod: A tripod will help you to keep your camera steady and prevent camera shake.
- A lighting kit: A lighting kit will help you to create professional-looking images.
- A backdrop: A backdrop will help to create a clean and consistent background for your images.
Choosing the Right Camera and Lens
You don’t need the most expensive DSLR camera and lenses to get great results. Many beginner photographers practice DIY product photography and use their smartphone cameras or a point-and-shoot camera to photograph products. However, investing in a starter DSLR and lens will give you more advanced controls and improved image quality.
Affordable options to consider:
- Camera: Canon Rebel T7i or Nikon D3500
- Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm or Nikon 18-55mm
- Tripod: Joby GorillaPod or Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod
A tripod is essential for stabilising the camera and framing consistent shots. For product photography, wider angle lenses in the 18-55mm range allow you to showcase the entire product cleanly.
Perfecting the Product Photography Set-Up
Creating an ideal set-up with proper lighting is crucial for product shots. Here are some key steps for setting up:
- Choose a clean, simple background – white, black, gray work well. Poster boards or fabric backdrops are affordable options.
- Use artificial lighting – continuous studio lights or flashes/speedlights. This allows you to control shadows and highlights. Position lights at 45 degree angles. Diffusers soften harsh lights.
- Style a clean surface for the product – acrylic platforms, shelves, stands etc. Raise the product slightly.
- Use props if relevant – show products in context, with accessories or in use. Keep it minimal.
- Trigger the shutter with a remote or timer to avoid blurring from touching the camera.
- Take raw photos in manual mode for full control in editing exposure, contrast etc.
Pay close attention to unwanted shadows, glare, reflections etc. Adjust the setup and lighting as needed to minimise these issues. Taking some test shots and inspecting them closely will help you identify and resolve any problems.
Shooting for eCommerce – Style, Angles, and More
For eCommerce websites, you need photography that clearly showcases the product from all angles. Follow these tips:
- Shoot 2-3 photos of the entire product, front/back/side view. Raw on-white backgrounds work best.
- Take detail shots highlighting features, textures, materials etc. Zoom in on logos, buttons, stitching, tags etc.
- Include contextual lifestyle images if relevant – someone using/wearing the product.
- Minimise background distractions, shadows, glue, price tags etc. that cover the product.
- For clothes, neatly style on a mannequin, hanger or flat lay. Photograph back views, embroidery etc.
- Ensure product images are consistent in framing, lighting, angles and style.
It takes some trial and error to find angles that best display each product. Browse competitor product listings for ideas on styling.
Create Eye-Catching Listings with Great Product Photos
Compelling product photography grabs attention on eCommerce sites, social media and ads. With these fundamentals, you can style professional-looking product photos.
- Use optimal lighting, angles and framing
- Show the full product clearly and consistently
- Style clean, distraction-free shots
- Zoom in on interesting textures and details
- Edit to enhance lighting, colours and clarity
Keep practicing and developing your product photography skills. Mastering this crucial ecommerce imagery will give you a big competitive advantage with your online business or clients. Let me know if you have any other questions
The composition of your product images is essential to their overall success. When composing your product images, there are a few key principles you should keep in mind:
- The rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that divides an image into nine equal parts, using two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines. The idea is to place the subject of your photo along one of these lines or at one of the intersections.
- Leading lines: Leading lines are lines that appear in a photograph that have been framed and positioned by the photographer to draw the viewer’s eye towards a specific point of interest. Leading lines can be natural, such as roads, rivers, or trees, or they can be man-made, such as buildings or bridges.
- Symmetry: Symmetry is the arrangement of elements in a balanced and orderly way. This can be achieved by arranging objects in a mirror image, or by using geometric shapes to create a sense of balance. Symmetry can help to create a sense of order and calmness in a photograph, and it can also be used to create a more abstract or artistic image.
Once you have taken your product images, you will need to edit them in post-production. Post-production is the process of adjusting the brightness, contrast, color, and other aspects of your images to make them look their best. There are many different software programs that you can use for post-production, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
Editing can elevate good product photos into great ones. Invest time in post-processing for polished results.
Here are some editing tips:
- Adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks etc.
- Boost vibrance slightly to make colours pop.
- Sharpen images to accentuate edges and details.
- Remove distractions, dust, glue, logos etc. using the clone stamp or healing tools.
- Carefully edit out (with Photoshop or else) creases, wrinkles, tags, background objects.
- Save images optimised for web in sRGB colour space and compressed JPG format.
- Use Taxonomy for your images (more on taxonomy with Adobe Bridge https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/bridge/using/metadata-adobe-bridge.html)
Advanced editing may include removing the background completely or adding illustrations, text, graphics etc. Know when to keep it simple vs. getting creative with composites.
Product photography ideas apprentice content creators can try at home
Here are some product photography ideas apprentice content creators can try at home using just their mobile phones:
- Food Photography – Grab ingredients from your kitchen to style appetizing food shots. Use natural light near a window. Play with overhead and angled shots.
- Jewelry Photography – Photograph rings, necklaces, earrings laid out on a solid colored background or bust form. Use props like flowers to add visual interest.
- Apparel Photography – Lay clothing flat or hang on a wall for full view. Use a mannequin or have a friend model. Capture details like embroidery.
- Accessories Photography – Photograph watches, bags, shoes, hats, or tech gadgets on a desk or stand. Create interesting arrangements and angles.
- Crafts/DIY Projects – Make a simple craft like an origami animal, friendship bracelet, or drawing. Photograph each step of the process.
- Household Items – Gather colorful bowls, vases, coffee mugs to arrange in an interesting composition. Experiment with lighting.
- Flat Lay Photography – Collect and artfully arrange small items like stationery, cosmetics, flowers, shells, spices etc. Keep compositions clean.
- Minimalist Photography – Focus on shape, texture, color by isolating objects against simple backgrounds. Try black & white editing.
- Product Details – Practice “hero” shots by cropping tight on logos, buttons, stitching, ingredients etc. Keep camera steady.
The key is playing with different angles, natural lighting, props, and arrangements. Get creative with common objects around your home to build product photography skills!
Other types of photography that could be useful for apprentice
some other types of photography that could be useful for apprentice content creators to learn about:
- Portrait photography – Photographing people, often for branding/marketing materials. Key skills include posing, lighting, directing.
- Food photography – Making food look appealing, like for cookbooks, food blogs, restaurant menus. Styling, lighting, and editing are critical.
- Landscape photography – Capturing wide scenic spaces, nature, and architecture. Requires strong composition skills and use of lighting.
- Still life photography – Arranging inanimate objects like flowers or fruits artfully. Allows control over lighting and composition.
- Macro photography – Extreme close-up photography revealing fine details and textures. Requires macro lenses and lighting knowledge.
- Event photography – Photographing conferences, parties, weddings. Need skills to handle action in low light. Wide lenses capture scenes.
- Architectural photography – Photographing building exteriors and interiors. Wide angle lenses show scale. Lighting enhances drama.
- Travel photography – Capturing a location’s scenery, culture, people. Conveying a sense of place through compositions.
- Abstract photography – Creating artistic, interpretive images with colors, shapes, textures. Achieved through camera angles, editing.
- Conceptual photography – Conveying ideas through symbolic, thought-provoking images. Staging and creativity is key.
- Drone photography – Using drones to photograph landscapes and architecture from above. Provides unique aerial perspectives.
Developing expertise in different styles expands a content creator’s visual storytelling skills. Don’t forget that the most important foundation in photography is understanding exposure, lighting, and composition.
Keep practicing and developing your product photography skills. Mastering this crucial skill will give you a big competitive advantage with career and development. Let me know if you have any other questions!