Are you a professional photographer trying to break into the niche of product photography? Or perhaps a business owner wanting to cut costs by taking their own product photos? Whatever the case may be, the quality of your results heavily depends on the gear you have. However, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to take great product photos. In most types of product photography (food, clothing, jewelry, etc.), simple gadgets can make a big difference.
Aside from your camera, here are some useful gadgets for e-commerce product photography:
1. Plain white backdrop
Product photos with a plain white background is a standard in e-commerce. It allows customers to see the product in its purest form, without any embellishments or distractions.
A plain white backdrop is a must-have tool for product photographers. Backdrops range from small (for small products like jewelry, cosmetics, shoes) to large (for clothing, furniture, appliances), so you can choose a backdrop depending on what you plan to shoot. In addition to making it easier to focus on the subject, using a backdrop for product photography will also make it easier for experienced e-commerce photo editing services to spruce up your photos in post.
2. Clamps and clips
These little tools serve many different purposes in product photography, from securing fabrics to holding reflectors, and from standing up mirrors to keep the backdrop still. Clamps and clips come in different sizes, but you should start with the standard 2″ size.
Mirrors are extremely useful for reflecting light into small areas. They can also be used as a surface to shoot products on, which gives a sleek and polished vibe to the photo. This technique is usually used for cosmetics, but it can be applied to almost any type of product if you can make it work.
For reflecting light, a small desk mirror should do the trick. If you want to try the mirror technique to shoot creative photos, use a surface mirror with no frame.
4. Foam board
A foam board is inexpensive yet makes a big difference in your photos. Use a foam board to flag light and use it as a fill. Buy two in black and white so that you can take more versatile product photos.
5. Tether cable
If you don’t have one yet, a tether cable is a very useful gadget to have, and not just for product photography. Since your subject is not moving around, a tether cable will allow you to look at your photos on your computer so that you can make your photoshoot more efficient.
6. Foldable table
This will give you a workspace that can be easily put away when not in use. Also, you won’t have to use your kitchen table or desk, eliminating the need to move your personal stuff around when you have to use the table to shoot.
7. Studio lighting and umbrellas
Unless you want to be limited to shooting only during the daytime when there is natural light, invest in-studio lights and umbrellas to produce professional-looking product photos easily. Umbrellas are also essential. If you want to keep costs low, all-in-one umbrellas are a good option (umbrellas that you can use to bounce or diffuse lighting).
It’s also a great idea to add a lightbox to your arsenal. Lightboxes are covered with fabric, serving both as a backdrop and a lining that softens your studio lights. They are very useful for shooting small products like jewelry, cosmetics, and small electronics. The best part is that they are generally inexpensive and you can buy them at almost any major online store.
You can’t shoot products in front of a plain white backdrop forever. Gather different backgrounds to increase the diversity of your photos. Great examples include seamless paper, wallpaper, wooden boards, vinyl tiles, and fabric. Play around with different textures and colors to see what works best for each type of product you shoot.
Creative product photos often make use of decorations to highlight the product and make the photo more interesting. The decorations you need depend on the type of product you’re shooting. For instance, if you’re shooting beauty products, decorations like flowers, mirrors, and representations of ingredients (e.g. watermelon for a watermelon-scented lipstick). If you’re shooting food, on the other hand, your decorations could be the ingredients in that food (e.g. lemon and sugar for a bottled lemonade drink).
These are the essentials in product photography, but the list of useful gadgets for this niche certainly doesn’t stop here. If you are just starting out in product photography, however, these are the first few things you should start with.