Good photos are the key to selling products. Don’t let expensive photography gear hold back your product photography business any longer! It’s unnecessary if you know a few DIY tricks.
These clever DIY product photography tips will make your life much easier.
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1. A White Card is Your Secret Weapon
A sheet of white card is an indispensable tool for your DIY photo studio. For one, it will provide a clean, white background to your product shoot. If the sheet is big enough, you can use it as a DIY infinity curve.
Do you lack a fill light? Try using the white card to reflect light back onto the product.
What about bounce cards? A sheet of white card is the main ingredient for a DIY version. It will also provide a perfect base if you decide to shoot from a top-down perspective.
This is a great piece of equipment to keep with you. Just remember to keep it clean!
3. Use Glass for a Cheap Backdrop
Are you looking for a creative product background? Use glass! It offers a reflective surface, adding more detail to your shot.
Glass is also very versatile. It works with almost any product photography shoot.
It will work with any coloured card, reflecting what is in its surroundings.
You probably have sheets of glass you can use that you do not even know. Picture frames or old mirrors can work great for DIY product photos. Experiment with the different glass items you find around the house. You do not need to spend any more money and can get quite creative results!
2. Use a Lazy Susan for 360 Product Shots
A 360 product image allows the viewer to see the product from every angle possible.
You can buy a commercial turntable that turns at precise intervals. But, these devices can be expensive. You can create your own for DIY product photography.
A lazy Susan is a turntable used for distributing food. It’s also an amazing piece of DIY product photography equipment you can pick up on Amazon.
For example, add a cloth tape measure to the bottom of the lazy Susan. Place the white card on the surface. Start with zero facing the camera. Take a photograph and spin it 0.5cm for every shot. You photograph the product from all angles and turn it into a 360° video.
This will give you a smooth-turning product people cannot take their eyes off. Read our full 360 product photography article for a step-by-step guide!
4. Use a Shower Curtain for DIY Lighting
A shower curtain is a low-cost item that can be used in many ways for DIY photography projects.
Do you need a lightbox for your product photos? Turn a medium to small-sized table upside down. Now drape the PVC shower curtain over the top of the upturned legs.
The PVC acts as a diffuser and creates a soft, even light when used with a softbox or daylight balanced light source. For diffusing natural light, drape the shower curtain in front of a window. You can use it as an infinity curve too.
Patterns and dirt can affect the light, giving you patterned shadows. For perfect product images, make sure the shower curtain is white and clean. Something like the Heavy Duty PEVA Shower Curtain Liner works very well.
5. Use Window Lighting for Different Effects
Natural light is abundant and free. It’s also the best lighting source to use for product photography.
Photographing products at different times of the day will produce distinct effects. For a warm glow, take photos towards the evening. For a cool tone, take pictures early in the morning.
Try using a window with frosted glass. The texture will add a diffused, softer light to your product photography. If you do not have textured glass, go for the draped shower curtain to provide that diffused look.
If you want a clean look, set up your product shoot on a white background sweep (a large sheet of paper will do!) next to a large window. Use the light coming through the window with the homemade DIY reflectors. This will bounce the light back into the scene, eliminating any harsh shadows.
6. Go Outside for Natural Shots
Not all product photography needs a studio to take high-quality photographs. Sometimes, a natural environment is vital for lifestyle product images.
There are many types of product photography that work best with a more nature-inspired aesthetic. Health care products, outdoor items, and food products are a few.
The best thing is, the outside world is free. You have a range of different product photography backgrounds (you may need to scout a little beforehand). You have plenty of free, natural light, and you can take as much time as you need.
Finding the perfect location may need some time and energy, but it will do your product images a world of good.
7. Fake a Marble Backdrop for Food Products
For food product images, a white background is less important. It’s more about setting up a realistic atmosphere.
A marble backdrop is popular for food products as it gives you the feeling of a kitchen worktop. You will probably have seen many images like this on social media or eCommerce store photos.
There are a few different ways to create a faux marble photo background. If you are a creative or DIY person, you may have old tins or tubes of paint in the attic. Try mixing different shades of grey paint and marble them together on a wooden chopping board.
There is also the option of a marble vinyl stickable sheet. These are generally cheap and work wonders.
8. Use GIMP for Free Product Photo Editing
GIMP is free, open-source photo editing software. It offers many features to assist a budding product photographer.
There are so many things this software allows you to do. Regular updates help you keep your images high quality. You can even find plug-ins that other users have created and add them for a fast and smooth post-process.
9. Use Gels For Speedlites
If you own Speedlites (rather than softboxes), we have a great trick for you!
Colour gels change the colour of the lighting so you can use the same setup for many different photo effects. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to add more interest to your images.
Instead of buying huge sheets and cutting them down to size, order some sample packs!
The Rosco Lux Small Swatchbook gives you almost 100 different shades. Perfect for you to experiment with creative product photos.
It is cheap and allows you to add colour to your scene easily. By using a stacking process, you can even create images with several colours.
10. Use Fishing Wire to Lift Small Products
Fishing wire is a product photographer’s best friend.
It’s made from transparent nylon or fluorocarbon, meaning it will not ruin your image. It is strong, durable and you can find it in any fishing or DIY store very cheap.
Use it to lift objects from the base of your infinity curve, the plastic container you are using as a lightbox. You can even use it in natural surroundings. Get creative and suspend the products from unusual angles and places!
There may be a little visibility to the wire, so use GIMP to edit it out.
11. Make Reflectors for Perfect Lighting
Whether you are using natural lighting or a studio softbox, reflectors are a great tool to keep with you.
If you are photographing a scene with one light, it can create harsh shadows. These are usually unwanted in a product photo. Reflectors are used to bounce light back into the scene.
You can use a white card or make a reflector from something you can find at home, such as tin foil.
12. Use The Camera You Already Own
You do not need to spend a fortune on a professional camera to get started. You might not think it, but the camera you already own is good enough.
Do not have a camera? Your smartphone camera will do fine. Yes, your smartphone. It will capture an image good enough for social media, your blog, or your website. Most images are compressed when added to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets.
If you can shoot in RAW setting, do so, and use GIMP to edit the photographs for that professional look.
Start with the 12 tips above, and you will be shooting professional product shots in no time.
We hope you have been inspired by our tips and saved some cash too!
Try out our Products in Focus course to capture attention-grabbing product photos that stand out and sell.