Is good product photography possible with a no-frills one-light setup? Of course! Here are some tips for creating good, consistent product shots for your online shop or marketplace listing.
Whether it’s for ebay, FB Marketplace, Craigslist, Etsy or Shopify, these tips will help you produce quality product photos with minimal gear and fuss.
Product Photography Goals
An effective approach to your product photography should include these goals:
- Good product representation, showing clear details of your products
- Consistency across one and all products (in a store, sales page/listing, or line of products)
- Simplicity and easy execution (simple lighting setup and camera placement)
That last point is important because the easier your setup is to use, the more likely you’ll get good, consistent results.
I recommend using a reliable constant light source for a simple setup like this. This can be especially useful if you’re not very experienced with flash. Constant light allows you to see, in real-time, what’s happening with your product shot in terms of light and shadow.
Some other tutorials recommend using natural light, and I think that’s a good way to go. But relying on natural light has its drawbacks. You are at the mercy of the time of day and changing weather conditions. Using a light source that YOU control affords you consistency and the freedom to shoot your photos any time of day.
Follow along in the video to see how this setup works. Here are the basic steps and some gear/material suggestions to get you started:
- Place three foam core panels. Surface, background, and side/fill reflector. The size I use is approximately 20″ x 30″.
- Setup light and modifier (umbrella). The light I use in this video is the Godox SL-60W along with a shoot through umbrella.
- Setup camera on a tripod. I’m using a Sony A7III and a Slik tripod.
- Place product and assess light and shadow pattern. Strive for consistency.
- Frame up shot in camera. Be cautious when using a wide angle lens too close to the product; it can distort the details. Try a normal or telephoto lens. Get all/most of the grounding shadow in frame. You might have to adjust light or clean up in post.
- Place a gray card or color target for color and contrast adjustments. Batch correct in LR.
- Use appropriate DOF. Shallow is fine for effect but for most product photography, use more DOF to capture all the important detail.
- Get multiple angles and details/parts to accurately represent your product.
- Bring images into LR and/or PS to finish up and prepare the photos for display.
Forget the multi-light setups, natural light tips, and expensive product photo light tent solutions. Two or three foam core boards, a poster board, and a reliable constant light source are all you need. Watch the video.
More tips on general photographic lighting here.