How about a nice little treat for a little Sunday photo experimentation? DIY Product photography, despite sounding a bit revolting for its rather clear intentions, is actually a viciously interesting photo sub-genre to operate with. Not only setting up the composition itself with all of its intricate details but also taking photos that highlight only the best about the object before the lens are both a challenge and a legitimately fun thing to do. Especially when embracing a head-on DIY photo approach! After all, 67% of consumers consider image quality a very important part of the online product appeal. Keep this in mind the next time you’re up to selling your creations! My-Picture is here to shed some DIY light on the basics of product photography.
Yes, we will begin with something one might consider a second league player, yet its right with product photography where the way you set up your DIY lighting tent prior to actually shooting anything is crucial to the resulting imagery. And, of course, the way you position the ingredients of your lighting kit. Here’s a more detailed insight regarding the items you’ll need.
DIY Light Tent
To call it useful would be an underestimation. A light tent is basically a must for any macro or DIY product photography that’s taken in a home environment. To create one, first off, you need a regular shipping box, preferably one that’s at least 40 cm deep. Then, you cut out the sides and the top and cover these square holes with tissue paper (one that’s not too thick with its layers).
After the main construction is ready, insert a solid white (or any other solid colour, depending on your purpose) poster paper which will serve as the background. Try to insert it carefully without ruffling it. It has to be just as wide as the box, yet it can be longer (you’ll be able to cut the spare part later). It has to cover the floor and the deep end of the box with a gentle curve* between both. Look up some traditional product photography sets and you’ll get the point. There, you’re done with the tent. It may seem primitive but trust us, this construction will do its job.
*that’s the so-called infinity curve. It’s used specifically to create an illusion of a non-existent horizon, thus shifting all the focus solely on the product.
This is one of the most important aspects of DIY product photography. Correct disposition of lighting objects will either make the product appear to be high-quality or something rather untrustworthy. Here, you can either go with a pair of consumer quality lights from Amazon (around £13.95) or a ready-made product photography lighting kit for around £43.23. Another option is to use your own lighting equipment (your regular table lamp). However, there are some specifics to take into account in such cases.
Lighting the Picture with Regular Lamps
If you have a pair of equally powerful lamps, you’re free to use them as your lighting elements. To do that, you simply have to position them on both sides of the box so that the light will penetrate the napkins. However, most regular lights (or the bulbs to be more precise) are designed to create a warm interior lighting. As good as it is, this will come off as a yellowish and rather amateurishly looking tone in the resulting photos. Compact fluorescent bulbs can differ in their light temperature (indicated on the packaging), but there is another, probably more effective, way to get rid of the yellowish hue. Shoot in RAW mode and you’ll be able to adjust the white balance in the post-production process with no visible signs of editing whatsoever.
The Process Itself
When taking snaps of your product, make sure to try it out from as many different angles as possible. If any of the angles provide some kind of a narrative, don’t hesitate to explore this position. However, you should never forget that a correct representation of your product’s actual size, quality and color are the fundaments of a successful DIY product photography. It’s worth noting here that you should avoid using any filters. Despite them providing an interesting aesthetic, this might again initiate a subconscious doubt from the consumer’s side.
If the table top in use does not allow for any more space to place your camera on, you’ll probably find the tripod to be a serious necessity. You can, of course, use another table, a pile of books or whatever makes the camera steady. However, tripods these days, there are many, and the Amazon price range is rather flexible (from 14£ to around 80£). It’s safe to say that the perfect price/quality ratio is somewhere in between.
Not only do additional decor elements such as an appealingly worn-out book by a coffee mug or a trendy indie magazine next to a set of colorful pencils serve as a nice eye-catcher, the utilization of additional composition elements sometimes is simply necessary to reveal the true scale of the product. The other objects you include in the composition allow the potential customer to easily imagine the product in a natural setting. It is also here where you can set a target for the audience you have chosen. Add a set of hand-crafted pencils next to glasses and a refined draft and you have sophistication for adulthood. Replace the draft with a quirky yet original artwork sketch and you have unorthodoxy for the millennials in their late 20’s.
More often than not, you’ll have to use the small button with a tulip symbol beside it as product photography, depending on the item’s size and characteristics, sometimes require using the extreme close-up technique. There’s nothing bad about it. In fact, the narrow depth of field may actually help you to hide the DIY nature of your lighting tent. Use this mode to highlight and embellish the best about your product.
If the setting is a top notch one, you won’t need a thousand dollar device to perpetuate your product. However, a distinctively bad camera can really make the whole prep process rather pointless. A reasonably good camera for a reasonable price is what you need, and as a good golden mean in this case, we can recommend Canon Powershot SX510 HS. This is a bridge camera that offers a flabbergasting variety of options and boasts some A-class-worthy quality stats. All of this for roughly a tiny £162. Before, though, try out the photo setting with your smartphone. For a simple, representative imagery, an iPhone camera and a sheet of regular A4 paper for the “infinity curve” might be all that’s needed.
Different products require different modes of shooting. For some, an intentionally defective, Instamatic aesthetic might be exactly what’s necessary while others will have to go with a classic, clean cut catalog look. Regardless, DIY product photography definitely can have its undeniable artistic qualities. If the macro shot of your home-made rustic necklace turns out to be a real eye-catcher (besides its commercial potential), print it as tastefully looking wall art decor for your office. Being proud of your product is a sign of a truly successful salesman.