The 6 Things About Product Photography Only A Handful Of People Know.
Updated: May 4
1.Dust Is Unavoidable
Professional cameras pick up a lot more detail than we see with our eyes. This can be perfect for showing off the intricate details of your product. In some circumstances however it can and will work against you on shoot. No matter how much preparation we do for our products and how brand new the samples we use are, dust is always visible to some degree.
To make our lives easier on shoot, we always clean and wipe down our products with a microfibre cloth to prepare for this inevitability the best we can. This will help to cut down on retouching time.
Removing dust is the first step we take in our Photoshop retouching. In this stage it is crucial to keep an eye on product texture, ensuring that important details are not smoothed out too much. Photoshops spot removal or patch tool work best here. Any texture lost can often be added back in using a texture only layer on a high pass filter.
2.When Picking Props - Consider Colour and Mood
When setting up a product photography set, we have to make sure everything in our image is working for us. Each prop should add something to the image and make the final photograph look better. The process of a product photography shoot can be a constant adding and removal or props to get just the right balance of space and just the right colour scheme to compliment the main product. It is usually best to stick to a colour scheme of 3 complimentary colours as in the example above.
3.Lighting Can Be Everything
When lighting a product photography set - sometimes less is more, and other times, we need as many lights as we can get. Above we have 2 different shoots - in the 2 light shot our lighting is soft and natural, giving the end result a relatable lifestyle aesthetic. This shoot was made using 2 strobes, a large soft box lighting the set from the front, and a strobe fitted with a gridded modifier bouncing off the ceiling. The success of images like this usually rely on the set being well curated and the lighting being well executed.
The shot on the right however is a product photography packaging shot. These shoots require the product to look as perfect as possible and usually require a lot more complicated lighting set up and a lot more retouching. This shot specifically was using a 6 light set up.
4.How to Deal With Creases
When it comes to photographing bags and clothing, creases do come with the territory. A good iron or steamer is essential on shoot to help with this problem. At times however, it can be just the nature of the fabric and how it hangs that shows off unsightly creases. In this case we have to do our best to make these creases look more forgivable in the end result. In retouching we use photoshop to carefully lessen these marks whilst preserving the garments texture and keeping the product looking realistic. This is done using a high pass layer and a combination of the stamp tool and colour only layers.
5.An Essential Tool for Reflections
A piece of white card - or even at times a single sheet of white paper, can make an enormous difference to the reflections that we see in shiny products. Above shows an image before and after adding in a piece of paper to the shots reflection. These shots are usually merged together in photoshop to create a more appealing image.
6.Some things can only been done in retouching
The nature of product photography is promotion. For this reason, sometimes assets are created before the final product is ready for the general public. In the case below, this pre production sample has the label facing the wrong way. This is just one of those things that can only be fixed in post production and it is all part of our job to deliver the best photography possible for a brand. For this shot, the label was switched within photoshop with a correct sample.
This article explains some of the professional solutions we use to make our clients products look as good as they possibly can. We are a top photography studios working in the Northwest of England and regularly shoot in Manchester, Greater Manchester, Salford and Wilmslow. We also work remotely so do check out the rest of our site and if you're interested in our work and visit our contact page to book a shoot with us today.