The Hustler’s Guide to Product Photography

Product photography is the make or break moment for a brand. Even if you’re selling “the best thing since sliced bread”, if your photos aren’t up to scratch then your brand isn’t getting the limelight it deserves and you’re likely to lose potential sales.

It’s never been more important for product photography to be bang on with lockdowns and social distancing accelerating the way we shop and sell online. Reports uncovered that online shopping in Australia was at an all-time high in 2020 with online purchases growing 57% year-on-year, this aligning with the number of brick and mortar stores that have pivoted to ecommerce during the pandemic.

However, hiring a professional to update your photography isn’t exactly an expense that everyone can afford right now, so we’ve gathered some handy tips from the experts at One76 and Kate from Aesthetic Socials Media so you to nail your product shots – without needing to dip into the savings.

7 Tips to Nailing Your Product Photography  

Product Photography Tip 1:

Don’t be scared to use your iPhone 

There’s a lot of controversy around using an iPhone to shoot for your brand. But for us it all comes down to intent. If it’s just some quick snaps to keep your socials on-point, then we’re here for it. If you’re doing a re-brand where you need to update your entire website then we recommend using a professional camera and a professional photographer. 

There’s a lot of hidden features within the iPhone camera that’ll help you get the perfect shot. 

Product Photography Tip 2:

Use a tripod 

Having a steady camera is crucial when it comes to creating first-class content. There’s nothing more disappointing than “nailing” the shot only to realise your camera was shaky and your last few photos were blurry and off centered. Now, this isn’t a necessity, but having a tripod will improve the quality of your shots and help to create consistency.  

Don’t be fooled into thinking buying a tripod needs to set you back next week’s rent. If you’re just using it on the fly then you can bag a bargain. Check out our recommendations below for affordable tripods for both a camera and iPhone. 

Where to buy a tripod:

Affordable Tripod for camera $59 

  • 3 Way Swivel Head
  • Bubble Level
  • Gear Elevator Handle

Best tripod for iPhones $29.99

  • Lightweight Aluminum Tripod
  • Includes Carry Bag
  • Universal Smartphone Mount

Product Photography Tip 3:

Create a mood board 

Where words fall short, visuals take the reins. A moodboard is the perfect starting point for any creative project. Not only does it help you to visualise your concept and prepare for a shoot but it’s also a very effective way to communicate your vision to anyone else that’s involved e.g. photographer or model. Again, this isn’t going to cost you a penny, there are heaps of great free sites to create your moodboard. 

Where to create a FREE moodboard: 

  1. Canva 
  1. Milanote 
  1. Pinterest 

Not sure how to create one? Check out this guide on how to create a moodboard in 10 steps

Product Photography Tip 4:

Utilise your products as props 

When there are no props to work with, use your product as the prop (depending on the product). If it’s skincare, food or anything with ingredients, using the actual ingredients as props is a great way to add texture to your photos and show your audience what’s in the product without having to read the description. Win-Win.  

For larger objects that work best with less, stacking the products or placing them on different angles is also effective. This adds a creative flair to the photo as well as showing the audience a different perspective of your product.  

Edje Concrete stacked for using products as props for photography

Product Photography Tip 5:

Everything looks better with a flat lay

A good flat lay can make a product go from zero to hero, but if done incorrectly it can be all sorts of wrong. So we’ve listed some of our simple tips to create the perfect flat lay for your products. 

  1. Use a simple background – Keep it clean and basic to create the most impact. Too much clutter creates distraction from the hero product
  2. Stick to a colour pallet – It’s important not to have too many colours or it’ll become a sensory overload 
  3. Hero your product – Make sure you highlight your hero product and don’t crowd the flat lay with too many props  
  4. Lighting is key – Whether it’s natural light or studio light a well lit flat lay is going to elevate your content 10 fold 
  5. Make sure it’s always taken from a bird’s eye view – This one’s pretty self explanatory but you never know 
Flat lay product photography using jewellery

Note: If you don’t have access to studio lighting, window lighting is a great source of soft, natural light.

Product Photography Tip 6:

Scale your content with supporting components

Adding props or coloured backdrops are the perfect way to jazz up your content, set the mood and add dimension to your product photos. Different textures and props make it easier to articulate your story and create consistency with your brand colours and social feed. 

Backdrops

The backdrop sets the overall look and feel of the photo so it’s important to be strategic when it comes to this part of the planning. If you want to create something high-energy and vibrant then using a bright colour is going to help you reach your end goal. But, for something clean and uninterrupted, using a white or very light background is the way to go. 

Props

Props on the other hand are a bit more difficult to gauge. You should be selective with your props and choose something that compliments your hero product, without becoming a distraction. Your props should reinforce your brand story and elevate the product.

Magick Mists product photography using props

Where to buy product photography props 

  1. Moodelier for product photography props & resources
  2. Everyday Co. for backdrops and props 
  3. Hypop for foam props

Need a hand with some creative inspo? We offer creative concept sessions before a booking to help brainstorm ideas and create the perfect shoot for your products. Contact us to lock in a creative session pre booking.

Product Photography Tip 7:

Lighting is key

The right light can be the difference between a killer piece of content that sells, and something your mum took on her 7 year old Samsung Galaxy. So we’ve been lucky enough to get insights from the real deal herself, Kate McLellan from Aesthetic Socials Media.

Creating the lighting for a perfect product shot, by Aesthetic Socials Media

Lighting is one of the most important elements of a photo. The type of lighting used may differ depending on the style of photo you are wanting to achieve (e.g. soft, no shadows vs hard, shaper shadows). However there are a few lighting techniques that should always come into play. 

Techniques by Aesthetic Socials Media:

  1. Ensure the product is well lit, the label should be easy to read, with no shadows over any text. 
  2. Backlight any clear/liquid products. This is achieved by placing a light source behind the product. The technique is often used for liquor and skincare photography.
  3. Be aware of your shadows. This is particularly important when taking photos in direct sunlight. It’s preferable to have the shadow behind, and slightly to one side of the product. It is rare that you will ever want a shadow to be in front of the product. It is also important to check that your shadows are not covering up any important details in the photos e.g. product labels or important props
  4. Use white and black boards. Often placed opposite the light source these boards can be used to modify the effect of the light. A white board will bounce more light back onto the scene, reducing shadows and adding a more even lighting. A black board will absorb incoming light, this is great if you want harsh shadows. 
  5. There’s no need for expensive equipment to create fun lighting effects. To change the light colour you can use coloured cellophane taped to the light source. To create custom shadows, cut out the desired shape from black cardboard. 

Kate says, “Lighting is the number #1 thing that can make or break a photo. It’s important to understand the basic concepts of lighting and shadows”.

If studio lights are like a second language, then check out our lighting guide for photography.

Post Production tips

Adobe Lightroom:

If you’re unfamiliar with Photoshop or any editing software, Adobe Lightroom is going to be the perfect starting point on your post production journey. Lightroom is basically a one stop shop for photo editing, from photo management to the final touch ups. 

After your product shots have been taken you can simply upload them to Lightroom on your mobile or desktop app. Then you can edit each photo individually or for consistency apply a preset across them all within the app. 

Don’t have the time? Then you can always use presets. Presets are custom filters that you can apply using Adobe Lightroom to keep your photos looking schmick, without the hassle of having to actually edit the photos yourself. 

Our Top Picks for Paid Preset Picks:

Ready to get shooting? 

Get our free beginners guide to light modifiers or jump straight in and book a session in our photo studio. 

If you’re a newbie who’s never set foot in a studio and you’re not sure where to start, never fear … We offer pre-shoot creative consults and a shoot assistant on the day to get you through your booking with ease. 

Come and check us out. 

Drop in:

Unit 12

76 Township Drive, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast.

Give us a buzz:

0401 725 323

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