The Basics of Product Photography.

Photography title card

Good Morning, Creators.

My names Joseph Davis and I’m the product photographer and promotions assistant for the Soap Kitchen.

My role is to photograph, edit and produce images not only for the website and social media but for magazines such as Mollie Makes, Natural Health, Reloved and Craft’s Beautiful.

Today I will run through the tools and techniques I used to achieve the photo below, As well as some tips for the budding photographers who are looking to take pictures of their own creations.

 

 

Why we do product photography

So why do we as a company take pride in our images and advertisement pieces you may ask?
We want to create transparency with our customers, demonstrating that every image taken has not been altered or the product made just for show.

These pieces are made by us in our kitchen, following our own recipes with our own ingredients, so if a fellow soaper wanted to achieve what we do than all they have to do is log onto our website and follow the recipe.

My task is to make them as appealing as possible (Not that hard, have you seen these amazing creations?!) so that hobbyists or hardcore soap makers alike can look at the image and go “Wow, I want to create that!”

So now that I’ve briefed you on why we need product photography, I will now give you a rough idea on how to take the best picture possible.

Hardware and Software

When It comes to taking product pictures you don’t need all the bells and whistles to take a nice photo. An expensive camera doesn’t automatically mean better photos, you can achieve great quality pictures with the phone in your pocket!

 

Sure, an expensive camera will take a better photo however it does take some practice and training to achieve that.

You do have more choice creatively as most expensive cameras have interchangeable lenses, allowing you to change lens depending on the product you’re shooting, lighting conditions etc. So, there are pro’s and con’s.

One thing I would recommend highly is having good lighting, ask any photographer and they would declare that having a good light source is key to making your product shine (Sorry for the pun).
Whether it’s natural light or artificial light making sure your product is well lit and displayed correctly is an absolute must, so place your product near a natural light source or under a pair of studio lights and avoiding any unnecessary shadows.

 

Taking the picture

So, you have your camera, a good light source and your product to hand, the next task is displaying it correctly.

Think about how you want to represent your product or the theme of your brand. If you’re all bright colours with fruity flavours than shooting in a dark environment on a dark surface such as slate would not suit your style at all. So have a think, if you are stuck for inspiration then I would recommend creating a collage of inspirational pictures or use sites such as Pintrest to get those creative thoughts flowing.

 

Now that we have our camera, lighting and a theme sorted its picture time.

Straight away you should make sure your product is ready for photos, this means making sure there are no imperfections on it.

Whether it be finger prints or even a hair or two (You’ll be surprised how often this happens) so now is the time to have a quick check.

Next, you’ll want to situate your product within its setting along with any backdrops or photoboards you’re using, making sure it’s not over or under exposed by your light source. Use your camera to take a few test shots making any adjustments needed.

Don’t just take one picture, take LOADS. Personally, when I shoot I will take 5 – 10 pictures of each product making slight adjustment to light or product placement. This allows some variety in the edit; the first picture is never the one you’ll use.

If you want to keep your photos even more consistent then I would recommend using a tripod, if you don’t have tripod then use something simple like a stack of magazines or books!

Editing

When your photo is taken you will want to do some post-processing, this means loading the photo onto a computer or an app on your phone to tweak the image and make final adjustment. This can be a app like Afterlight or using Adobe products such a Photoshop or Lightroom. Make sure you don’t over filter or adjust your image too much from the source as you won’t be representing your product true to source.

And that’s it. hopefully by following these basic steps you’ll have an understanding of what goes into creating a good product picture. If you’re considering looking into photography even further I would recommend reading “Read this if you want take great photographs” by Henry Carroll as it’s fantastic!

Now go and take some photos!

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