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How to get a cheap but professional product photography set up

Product photography is key when it comes to selling online. Especially when competing against larger retailers with bigger budgets. In this blog, we’re going to talk through a few different setups you can do to get the most professional-looking product photography that fits within your budget.

The Basic Setup

For this setup you’re going to need:

  • A camera
  • A tripod
  • White card
  • A table
  • A window with lots of natural lighting

This setup can be done quite cheaply and with only a few items. Firstly, you’re going to want to dedicate enough time to be able to take all your product images at once. You’re then going to want to find a location that offers enough room for a table for you to set up all your equipment and that has a nice big window nearby to allow some natural light to come in.

Place the table, preferably white coloured to get the best results, against a wall. This will act as your stage for your products. Then you’ll want to take your white card and tape one side of it against the wall, leaving enough of the card to cover the edge of the table where it meets the wall – this is known as a sweep and it is where you’ll place your product.

You can then set up your tripod and camera. We would recommend that you take pictures of each product from different angles. But to keep the images consistent you’re going to want to take all the shots of your products from one angle, then move onto the next angle and so on. This means that your images will be consistent across all your products on every angle.

One drawback to using a setup like this is you are at the mercy of the lighting. Using natural light can produce some really great results, however if the lighting changes, i.e. the sun goes behind some clouds and make it really dull, or it’s really bright outside and your shot is overexposed, you’ll need to adjust the aperture on your camera’s settings.

Quick Tip: You can imagine that your camera’s aperture is like the pupil of your eye. When it’s really bright outside, the pupil becomes smaller and therefore lets less light in. When it’s really dark, your pupil dilates as wide as it can, to let as much light in as possible. The aperture on your camera works the same way.

P.S If your product is lower down like mine, you can always set up your camera straight on top of the table, rather than on a tripod as front on with products is best.

The Intermediate Setup

For this setup you’re going to need:

  • A camera
  • A tripod
  • A lightbox

While this setup is similar to the previous one, instead of using a sweep and a table, you’re going to be using a lightbox. They can range in size, so depending on the size of your products you may want to get a slightly larger lightbox so that your shots don’t have any lines from the corner of the lightbox.

Using this setup makes controlling the lighting much easier so can be done whatever the weather. You will still want to take the angles of your shots in one go to keep up the consistency. You can find a good and affordable lightbox online.

The Semi Pro Setup

For this set up you’re going to need:

  • A camera
  • A tripod
  • A backdrop kit
  • Two – Three softbox studio lights
  • A trigger remote (optional)

This setup whilst isn’t the cheapest option, but still cheaper than hiring a photographer; if you do you research and teach yourself a little bit more about product photography, you can produce very professional pictures.

The backdrop kits again can vary in price but can also be quite affordable. They usually include some metal stands and a pole that connects them. This is what you’ll want to hang your backdrop from. This option is great if you sell clothing or larger items like furniture.

You will need a larger space for this setup as your backdrop kit will likely take up quite a bit of room, and don’t forget the space you’ll need for your camera, tripod and lights.

Softbox studio lights can also be bought online and vary in price, but they will make a great addition. You’ll need to have at least two to counteract the shadows from the others lighting source.

Quick Tip: Having just one light on your subject will create a shadow, and this can look a little unfinished. However, having at least two (three if possible to backlight your subject) is the best option with this setup and will create even lighting across your subject – much like the example below (but perhaps not as elaborate).

If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own online shop, you can speak to our ecommerce experts on 0333 004 0333 or request a callback here.

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