Product and object photography

Shooting product photography is both easy and hard at the same time. The easy part is setting up the lighting. In this case, unlike portrait photography, you are not aiming for any complex schemes, dramatic effects or mood.

The goal here is to have very good illumination of the objects from all sides. Most often this type of photography will feature on the internet sites of the stores or in advertising brochures and leaflets. In most cases designers prefer to have the objects against a white background because it is easy to include in the pages.

That is why we usually use a product photography table or a light box tent.

The table is made from semi-transparent acrylic glass. You place a flash behind the table and its light will penetrate though the acrylic glass making the background pure white. You need two flashes with umbrellas or soft boxes at the front directed at an angle of 45 degrees towards the object.

The tent is used for smooth surfaces which could otherwise reflect the entire interior of the studio. The tent is made from white sheets on all sides with a small opening at the front for the lens. The light from the flashes passes through the sheet but the reflections do not. There is only a small black dot from the first lens of the assembly which can be easily removed with the help of an editing programme.

It is advisable to shoot transparent materials using only backlight without any front lighting. A front light would result in highlights.
In some cases we could use two backlight flashes where one has a colour filter for effect. Like in the next photos. What you will have is a very gentle gradient in the background.

Shooting clothes, I believe, also falls in the product photography category, although you shoot clothes not on a table but on a model.

In this case you need four flashes. The two at the front are equipped with umbrellas or softboxes and are directed at an angle of 45 degrees towards the model. The other two are directed towards the white background, one on the left and one on the right. The aim is to make the background 100% white. If you rely only on the front flashes, it will simply not work as the background will always be further away from the model. If you set the flash so as to make the background white, the strong light will overexpose the model. If you set the flash to the model, the light reaching the background will be weaker and it will be greyish and ugly.

The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.
Ernst Haas