Great product photography is important, especially in the world of ecommerce. It increases the perceived value of your products and makes your website appear more trustworthy. Fortunately, you don’t need a multithousand-dollar DSLR camera or an expensive product photographer to begin reaping the benefits.
That’s why we put together the ultimate DIY guide to beautiful product photography, so you can learn to shoot and produce high-quality pictures that sell.
Now this list of tools and resources will help you take your own compelling product photos.
Product photography equipment required for a shoot
Most of the product photography equipment on this list is available on a relatively low budget, so you can start shooting your products.
First and foremost, you need a camera. While technically speaking, you can use a smartphone for product photos, it’s best to invest in a DSLR or mirrorless camera to get high-quality shots.
Some of the best cameras for product photography include:
- Nikon D5200: For a camera at a somewhat lower price range (around $650), you might consider the Nikon D5200. Both PC Mag and CNET call this a mid-range DSLR of excellent quality.
- Nikon D610: At a price point of around $1,900, this is the Cadillac model of cameras. Jeff Delacruz, professional product photographer and CEO/founder of Products On White Photography, uses this camera because it’s “affordable but high-quality” and “second only to the Nikon D800.” He also likes its small file size, at 24.3 MP.
- Canon EOS T3: This camera has excellent quality and a nice price point of $450.
Perhaps more important than the camera itself is the lens you use. There are a variety of camera lenses tailored to specific types of photography. It’s important to choose a lens with features that lend themselves to product images. Your lens also needs to be compatible with your camera.
Look for a macro lens to capture product details. Jeff likes the Tamron 90mm 1:1 lenses for the Nikon D610 camera. His favorite features are its depth of field, 1:1 focus, and affordability. Other quality lenses include the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM and Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 Art DG HSM Zoom Lens.
You need a tripod for a steady image. And luckily, it doesn’t need to be expensive. The Ravelli APLT2 tripod, for example, is about $20. It’s light and extendable so you can bring it with you to different locations and adjust for different shots. The JOBY GorillaPod has flexible legs, which means you can wrap them along a variety of surfaces.
4. Remote trigger
Using a remote trigger will minimize camera shake and motion blur in images. This is especially important for white background shots that need to be super crisp and clear, down to the last pixel. Pluto Trigger and PocketWizard both make options for photographers of all skill levels, and you can also find remote triggers on Amazon.
A computer is necessary for file management—this includes storing, viewing, culling, editing, and distributing your product photos. Because high-quality product photos contain so much data, they often result in large file sizes. Make sure you get a computer with a lot of memory storage or plan to invest in an external hard drive. Cloud storage options, both paid and free, are also available. It’s a good idea to keep files backed up in a second location in case anything goes wrong with the original working files.
In addition to lots of memory, you’ll need a fair amount of processing power. Photo editing programs like Photoshop are large in size and use a lot of power, so your computer will need to be able to handle that level of activity.
While natural lighting is always best for product photography, it’s not always available. That’s where artificial light tools come into play.
A flashgun—called a Speedlite by Canon and a Speedlight by Nikon—is an artificial light source that’s necessary when shooting in a dedicated photo studio. You can attach the off-camera light on top of your camera or set it up elsewhere to provide lighting from different angles.
Check out Canon’s range of Speedlites and Nikon’s speedlights to find one that works with your setup.
7. Light stands
Similar to your tripod for your camera, your light stands act as extra sets of hands to hold light sources steady. This gives you complete control over the lighting in a studio setting, as well as some input on lighting if you’re shooting outdoors.
There are tons of options for light stands. You’ll find a variety of heights, sizes, weights, durability, and mounting options. Consider accessories for your light stands as well, such as a carrying case or strap, sandbags and weights, wheel sets, and mounting bases.
A softbox, or light box, is an alternative to light umbrellas but serves the same purpose. It also allows you to have complete control of the lighting of your photos. Generally you’ll want to position it so it’s above your product and shining light down on it at about a 45-degree angle.
You might also purchase or build a light tent to soften the light and remove reflections when shooting reflective objects.
Light reflectors are arguably one of the best “bang for your buck” items on this list.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a professional photographer, you’ll be amazed at what a few light reflectors can do to the quality of your photos. In just a few minutes, you can completely transform your product shots. One of the best options to reflect light is the Neewer 43 Inch/110 Centimeter Light Reflector 5-in-1.
Setting the scene
10. Air blaster
Product photos need to be perfect down to the last pixel—you can’t afford to distract potential buyers with a speck of dust or dirt. This is especially true for close-up shots. An air blaster sounds crazy, but it helps get rid of dust by way of “blasting” it with air. The handheld tool is simple in design but super effective—it’s basically compressed air. This will ensure you have minimal editing during post production.
While lifestyle photos have more flexibility, white background product shots require more setup when it comes to the backdrop. A sheer white curtain, poster board, or foam board will all work, you’ll just need a way to mount them. You can also invest in a stand-mounted sweep, which could be a good starting point if you plan to build out your own studio.
If you’re shooting product photos for your own website, you don’t have to worry about using a pure white background that suits Amazon. You can get more creative with color and texture to find a style that compliments your brand. Paper or cloth backdrops can add visual interest.
If you’re shooting contextual or lifestyle shots, you’ll want to account for additional accessories and items for props.
Tools to edit product photos
Taking the photo is only the first part of producing great photography. Editing it to make it the best it can be is nearly as important. Here are some options for paid and free photo editing software and services to streamline your product photography workflow:
Photo editing software
Photoshop is the photo editing software that can do all you can ask for and then some. It’s pricey, but there’s a lightweight version called Photoshop Elements 12 that costs just $80. A free trial is also available. And if you want to use Photoshop on your phone, you can download Photoshop Express for free.
Lightroom, also by Adobe, is a tool for editing and organizing photos. It’s especially useful for managing large quantities of photos. As an addition to Photoshop, it can organize and process large numbers of images. It’s an excellent tool to use for color correction, which can help reduce returns.
The GNU Image Manipulation Program can’t do all that Photoshop can, but it’s free. Download GIMP and you’ll get most of the photo editing features you need.
Pixlr is another online tool, and can also be downloaded to your phone as an app. If you’re shooting people, you can use Pixlr to remove red eye and whiten teeth.
Clipping Magic is an online tool that lets you remove the background from your photos. If you dislike, say, the lighting and the colors behind your product, you can remove them to create a uniform background. You can also use it to refine edges and reduce blur.
Photo editing services
Remove the Background
Remove the Background is a service that strips out the background of your images (like Clipping Magic, above) for an affordable price. It uses proprietary software and promises 24-hour turnaround, at $1.45 per image. If you have a lot of bulk images that need a white background, Remove the Background can be a great service to consider.
If you need more than just background removal, you might consider a photo editing company that can provide a range of Photoshop and editing services. Path is one such example. Available 24/7, you can submit your product photos for background removal, in addition to edits such as color changes for additional variants, or for retouching to fix smudges or glares. You can get images back in six hours if you’re in a rush.
Shopify Photography Experts
There are, of course, hundreds of Shopify experts who are able to help you with not just photography, but also design. Many are experienced with helping Shopify merchants.
Elevate your store with these product photography tools
Product photography is important, and we want you to do it right. It can be tricky, but good photos are crucial to generating sales and putting your best foot forward.
Don’t have a poorly designed site with badly lit photos. Move past reading the endless lists of product photography tips and start becoming great at product photography today.
Product photography tools FAQ
What tools do you need for product photography?
- Remote trigger
- Light stands
- Air blaster
What techniques are used in product photography?
- Filling the frame
- Continuous light
- Zoom photography
How do I prepare for a product photo shoot?
- Start with a shot list.
- Acquire a camera and lens.
- Set up your location.
- Prep your product.
- Do some test shots first.
How do professionals edit product photos?
Professionals edit product photos themselves with tools like Photoshop or by using third-party service providers.