Getting the right equipment.
For strict product shots, “I almost always use my 50 mm lens with my DSLR camera,” notes product and food photographer Sarah Aagesen. “I’ll also bring a 20 mm for wider-angle shots and a macro lens in case there are small details I need to capture.” Having a variety of lenses on hand ensures you can adapt to the challenges of a shoot.
With stationary product photos, never use the autofocus function on your camera. “If your subject’s not moving, there’s no reason to use autofocus. Place your camera on a tripod and use manual focus,” explains professional photographer Jason Deymonaz. Also, make sure that you use a shutter release cable, so you don’t unintentionally move the camera while taking a photo. If you’re taking multiple exposures from the same angle to composite later, this step can save you time.
Styling your product.
As a product photographer, it’s your responsibility to make the product look the best it possibly can. Deymonaz says, “I always have my cleaning kit with some glass cleaner, scissors and Goof Off to remove labels, fingerprints and dust. I make the product look as beautiful as possible in camera, which saves me a lot of time in post-production.” If a speck of dust gets on the product and it’s visible in every photo, that translates into a significant amount of time editing every image. If you’re photographing clothing or fabrics, make sure that you iron unwanted wrinkles.
Setting up your shot.
After your product is looking pristine, set up the rest of your shot. Create high-quality images by shooting on a solid background, like white or black fabric or paper. The product needs to shine in these photos, so keep the background simple and clean to limit distractions.
Consider using a softbox for product photography lighting. These light modifiers create soft, diffused light that reduces harsh shadows. Since you want viewers to be able to read the labels and take in the details, your lighting set up for product-only photos should be straightforward with everything well lit. Consider using light tents and artificial light too. Light tents are wireframe cubes covered in thin white fabric. They create a soft, diffused atmosphere inside that’s perfect for evenly lighting small objects.