May 26, 2010

How to take a product photo, made easy.


The adage, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is never more appropriate when talking about online commerce.

The best thing you can do for your product (after making it of course ;)) is to take a professional looking, well produced photo.

I know, I hear you, “I can’t afford to get professional shots of my stock” “I don’t have a expensive DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera like the pro’s use.” “I don’t have room or the money for a professional product lighting/studio set up.”

Well guess what? You don’t need to!

By using items from around your home or inexpensive items you can find at stationary or craft stores and a simple point and shoot digital camera you can create professional looking photo’s of your products.

The basics you will need to take a professional product photo.

  • Digital Camera
  • Tripod
  • Black and white card
  • Desk Lamps with high watt globes.
  • Access to natural light (if possible)
  • Light box/tent or similar set up
  • A computer and image editing program.

Digital Camera

Any digital point and shoot camera is fine, the mega pixels amount doesn’t really matter as the images don’t need to be print quality as they will only be used on the internet. A handy thing to have on your camera, (most already do) is a tripod jack, this is located on the underside of the camera.

camera Tripod socket 2a imaging-resource



Locate your flash and turn it off, the best light you can use for taking photo’s would be natural light, but even if you are using lamp light your flash still needs to be turned of as to not cause cast shadows or dark spots.

The best way to know if your flash is off look for this symbol    Flash-Off-Icon  . If you do not see this symbol refer to your camera instructions for how to turn it off.

Now locate your macro option. Macro means close up. Look for this symbol Macro-icon .

Ensure your lens is clean, smudge and lint free.


You don’t need an expensive tripod for taking product shots. There are a few different types of tripods that would be perfect for this.

table top tripod

Tabletop Tripod


camera on a tripod - wiki

              Telescopic Tripod


Joby-GP1-E1EN-Gorillapod-Flexible-Tripod Gorillapod 300

              Flexible tripod

Some of the different ways to pose the flexible tripod


Light box/tent or similar set up

Professional light boxes can be expensive but you can by them cheaper on eBay, but the alternative is making your own light box or light set up.

Here are some link to easy DIY Light Boxes.

How to make an inexpensive light tent -

Homemade light box for product photography  -

DIY light box tutorial -

Easy white box light for product photography -

IMG_7504_light_box IMG_7508_light_box jasontomczak

To find more tutorial simply Google ‘DIY  light box/tent’.

Background/Back drop

Any colour can be used but white looks the most professional and can be easily worked with later in the editing process. It also depends on what your photographing. The background is there to make the item being photographed stand out, it is plain as to not distract from the product. A large sheet of card stock is perfect for a back ground, it can be curved to give a seamless backdrop.

Desk lamps/lighting.

Lighting is very important when it comes to shooting a professional looking product photo. Any desk lamp is fine but you will need a high watt light bulb. The more light the better. Play around with what amount of light is best for what your shooting.

If you are able to get good natural light where your shooting that can look great too, but the good thing with setting up your own lighting is that you can have control (you don’t have to worry about any pesky clouds).

Computer and Image editing software.

Some of you may be familiar with Adobe Photoshop which is a great way to spruce up your images before posting, but it can be VERY expensive.

Did you know there are free and easy ways to edit your photo’s?

There are programs like Gimp with is a downloadable image editing program based on Photoshop or if you were wanting to try out Photoshop before buying, you can download a 30 day trial from the Adobe website. Picasa is also an easy program to not only help organise your photo’s but also do basic photo editing (all you will need for editing your product photo’s.

An alternative to downloading is using a photo editing website such Picnik, there is no registration required, while you can pay a inexpensive yearly fee to have access to the premium version it isn’t necessary for what we are doing.

The best thing to do to bring out the best out of your photo’s is to play around with the light and contrast. These can made a dull photo pop. Its best to play around and see what looks good.

In conclusion…

The beauty of a digital camera is that you can take heaps of pictures and if you don’t like any of them just press the delete and take some more. Take lots of pictures of your products from all different angels, you might find it presents better looking at it from a different way. Make sure your product is clean and looks presentable, remove any stray threads or fluff/lint and display the item attractively.

Make sure the background is appropriate to the item (If you have a light product a darker background would look better and vice-a-versa with a darker product.)

Use your tripod! The tripod can be an invaluable tool, especially if you get hand shake etc. To make sure there is no chance of camera shake utilise your self timer or if you have one a camera remote. If you don’t have a tripod or don’t want to invest in one there are many simple and creative ways to create your own tripod, Google ‘DIY tripod’ or ‘Make your own tripod’.

Spend time getting the best out of your products, think of product photo’s this way, customers are ‘feeling with their eyes’ so you have to get as much of the product across in a single photo. It might sounds impossible but I can assure you it isn’t if you follow the above tips.

I hope this post has been useful to you. If you have any other helpful tips for taking your product photo’s at home feel free to leave a comment and I will add them to future blog posts.

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