Simply plopping products in front of a white background and clicking digital pictures, does not quite do the trick. The importance of the visual lies in its aesthetic sensibilities. Beginners should never undermine the importance of adhering to these essentials. Simple application of ground rules can make an ordinary picture emerge as a masterpiece!
The three L’s are the way to go! Lighting, Lensing and Location… let’s get into all of these aspect and understand the best way to combine craftsmanship and creativity for producing picture perfect product shots!
When it comes to lighting, the major thing is to create neat, soft lighting that will boost the look of the product, thereby making it bright and resplendent. One can use a set of umbrella lights or softies with good diffusion for key and fill. One can even plug in a spotlight or top-light if desired. The idea is for a day-balanced feel for clarity and not a warm yellow light. Also with soft light one can avoid hard shadows, which can mar the beauty of the product. Beautiful drop shadows or inverse mirror images in lesser transparencies can be created in post. A solid single colored background can be lit up or one can even use a light tent. If you don’t have softies or elinchroms or the budget to hire then you should go for daylight itself. A cloudy English day is perfect for a tabletop shoot! Or you can place the subject on a textured table informant of an open window light source. Just make sure to clamp some butter paper on it or even a sheer white curtain will do!
Lensing is an important aspect in Product shots as texture and detailing are important. Products look much better from afar then if you stand close to the image and click. Get hold of a decent long lens and step back to click decent pictures. If you have a Nikon then a 105mm macro or 70-180 mm should suffice. For a Canon DSLR a 100 mm macro is a cool choice. Whether you are shooting tiles, beer can, or cellular phones, these would be more than suitable.
Location is the third principal feature in a product shoot. Based on the type of campaign, the medium and the budget this is fixed. You will have to do your preproduction, referencing, recce etc. accordingly. If it’s a studio based shoot, you have to create a light map, plan the backdrop or set, or sometimes run a test shoot to see if all is proper. If it is outdoor shoots then check the locations, figure out backdrops and elements with the art director. The size of the locations will also affect the dimensions of your backdrop and the possibilities. If there are models involved in the shoot, again the planning will change accordingly. The photographer has to have a good sense of where he is shooting and utilize the space effectively in displaying the product.
Creative application of these basics 3 L’s for shooting product photography will result in magnificent visuals.