how to shoot your own product
Shooting your own product is a great way to save some cash and improve your photography skills. Because you’re doing everything yourself, there’s less pressure on time restrictions and you can shoot at your own pace. Here are some tips for you if you’re considering dabbling in product photography for your business.
Note: If you consider yourself a whiz behind the lens, no need to read on, this post is for all you photography novices out there who are ready to step up your game.
01. Know Your Skills
Make sure you are using equipment that you are comfortable with. Ask around and see what your friends and fellow business owners use when it comes to photography, everyone’s skill level and eagerness to learn is different so make sure you buy or borrow a camera that suits your skills. There’s no point investing thousands into the latest technology when you know deep down that you’ll never get around to learning what button does what. It’s always a great idea to start with a second hand camera off eBay, then upgrade as your skill level improves.
02. Read It
If you’ve just purchased a camera or have borrowed one for your shoot, take the time to read the manual. There are also some handy tutorial videos on YouTube that can help with certain functionalities. When searching for any info online, be sure to type in your model number correctly as things vary from make to make. This should help you work out the best settings for you and what you want to achieve.
03. Natural Light
Because we want to keep things pretty simple, the best thing to do in terms of lighting is to use natural, available light. Unless you’re super confident with studio lighting, leave that to the professionals. Using a nice, bright room in the middle of the day is your best bet. You’ll want brightness, but not direct sunlight. If you’re battling with direct sunlight and it’s showing no signs of dulling, a thin, light coloured cloth or curtain over your window should soften its harshness.
04. The Tripod is Your Friend
When shooting product, consistency is key. You’ll want all your shots to be framed up nicely without having to adjust your camera each time, enter the tripod. Tripods mean you can set up your camera just how you like it and not have to touch it again except to release the shutter and take the photo. This means no wonky horizon lines, no blurred shots and no sore arms. Win! This will also allow you to spend more time concentrating on styling and placing all your product perfectly and making sure that you get all the shots you need. You can find tripods on eBay or hire them from your local camera gear shop.
05. Focus + Test
Auto focus is great, but when you’re shooting flat product (think stationery, paper goods, clothing etc) on a flat or light coloured background it become a bit of a hindrance, not knowing what to focus on when there is little depth in a set up. Your best bet is to manually focus each shot so that your product looks as sharp as possible and you can pick and choose which areas of product you want to highlight. Besides focus, the three things that you will need to set up on your camera once you’ve secured it in position with your tripod are the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO. We don’t reckon shooting on automatic is a good idea, fiddling with these three settings will give you much more control. The best way to get your settings right are to take loads of test shots, once you’re happy with how a shot looks, you’ll have your settings right and can smash out all your product shots.
Take into consideration the backgrounds you use, if you’re shooting on the floor, make sure your floorboards are clean, invest in some cardboard if you want a crisp background and plan all these things in advance. Also be willing to change things up once you start doing your test shots, what looks amazing in real life, might not translate through the camera lens and that’s ok.
07. Fire Them Off!
Because you’ve put so much time into your great setup and test shots, in theory, you should be able to just swap in all your product as you shoot and click away each time. Have fun, but do keep in mind how the natural light might change throughout the day and keep checking each shot to make sure they’re still looking ace as the day goes on.
08. The Edit
Once you download all your photos onto your computer, the best thing to do is quickly choose all your favourites and delete the duds (and the test shots). Start an-easy-to-follow filing system that works for you and open up all your image files to take a closer look. If you’ve got Photoshop or Lightbox, you might like to make a few tweaks, brightening where you need to. If you don’t have or use these programs, it’s just the more reason to try and get your lighting perfect when you’re taking the photos. It’s a great idea to mark your most remarkable shots and note down all the settings you used and the time of day you took the photo, this will make your next product shoot even better!