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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

Good product photography is the key to marketing, advertising, and selling. Not to mention getting your shots into editorial spreads.

But taking your products to a professional photographer can be expensive. It’s also absolutely unnecessary if you know what you are doing (and a few DIY photography tricks!).

Read our article on the 12 best tools and tips for DIY product photography

A potted cactus plant in front of a frame with the words 'you're looking sharp' - diy product photography

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12. GIMP

GIMP is a free photographic editing software. You don’t need a monthly subscription fee to edit your images like you do with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

This tool can help correct your white balance, clean up your background and make other changes, as you see fit.

You can even use this editing software to add text if your image calls for it. There is so much you can do with GIMP. Regular updates help you keep your images as high-quality as possible.

You can even find plug-ins that other users have created, and add them for a fast and smooth post-process.

A screenshot of GIMP free photo editing software for diy product photography

11. Get Outside!

Not all product photography comes from a studio or lightbox environment. You may find that the item or product you are photographing demands a natural setting, such as a forest or beach location.

The best thing about this is, the outside world is free. You have a perfect backdrop (you may need to scout a little beforehand), an abundance of free, natural light and you can take as much time as you need.

Getting there may need some time and energy, but it will do you a world of good.

You will find as you photograph more and more than your product photography will benefit from different locations. Be creative and try out different things.

If your product and client allows it, even a comical and humorous spin can have a huge impact.

A product photo of sunglasses and case resting on a wooden table

10. Shower Curtain

A shower curtain is an inexpensive item and it can be used in multiple ways. By turning a medium to small sized table upside down, and draping the PVC shower curtain over the top of the upturned legs, you have made a lightbox.

The PVC acts as a diffuser and creates a soft, even light when used with a softbox or daylight balanced light source.

The shower curtain can drape in front of a window, to diffuse the natural light. Use it as an infinity curve too.

Make sure the shower curtain is white and clean as patterns and dirt can affect the light, giving you patterned shadows. Something like the Heavy Duty PEVA Shower Curtain Liner works perfectly. 

A DIY product photography studio shoot setup

Kevin D. Hendricks – https://ithemes.com/2014/08/18/ecommerce-product-photography/

9. Lazy Susan + Tape Measure

A lazy Susan is an amazing device sold by Amazon, and it is invaluable for product photography. It is a turntable. But it offers you a world of possibilities in capturing amazing product photography shots.

Many products nowadays are photographed in a 360° setting. The viewer can look at the product from every conceivable angle.

The way to do this is to photograph the product from all angles and turn it into a 360° video.

Here, a cloth tape measure is stuck to the bottom of the lazy Susan, with the white card placed on the surface. You start with zero facing the camera, take a photograph and spin it 0.5cm for every shot.

This will give you a smooth turning product people can’t take their eyes off.

A DSLR camera set up in front of an ornament of an elephant on a lazy susan - diy photography shoot

Jordan Carrasquillo – https://petapixel.com/2017/02/23/build-diy-turntable-360-product-photography/

8. Glass

If you are having trouble thinking of the best backdrop to use, why not use glass? It offers a reflective surface, adding more detail to your shot.

It is also very versatile. It works with almost any product that you throw at it. But don’t literally throw anything at it. We can’t guarantee it’ll bounce off.

It will work with any coloured card, reflecting exactly what is in its surroundings. The best thing is, you probably have sheets of glass that you can use, that you don’t even know about.

Picture frames or an old mirror can work, and if you already have them, then you don’t need to spend any more money.

Close up product shoot of a watch on a glass surface, black background

7. Window / Natural Light

Natural light is by far the best light source to use for product photography. It is abundant and free. It even provides a slightly warm glow towards the evenings, and a cool muted feel in the mornings.

Use a window with frosted glass. The texture will add a diffused, softer light on your product photography.

If you don’t have the textured glass, go for the draped shower curtain to provide that diffused look.

Use the light coming through the window in connection with the homemade DIY reflectors. This will bounce the light back into the scene, eliminating any harsh shadows.

A red flower in a vase on a white windowsill, the window half opened. DIY product photo shoot.

6. Faux Marble Backdrop

Product photography does include food photography. Here, the settings are less white-space and more about setting up a realistic atmosphere.

A marble backdrop here works wonders as it gives you the feeling of a kitchen worktop.

There are a few different ways to create a faux marble top. you can play around with three 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, which would work wonders.

An overhead product photo of a small trowel filled with lentils

5. Gels For Speedlites

If you own Speedlites rather than softboxes, we have an inexpensive trick to adding interest to your images. We are thinking of colour instead of a plain, usual colour setup.

The great thing here is that there are sample packs of gels you can buy, without having to buy huge sheets and cut them down to size.

The Rosco Lux Small Swatchbook will give you almost 100 different colours and shades, perfect for you to experiment with. 

It is super cheap and allows you to add colour to your light, and therefore your scene. By using a stacking process, you can even create images with multiple colours.

Blurry multicolored photo of a laptop in low light

4. Fishing Wire

Fishing wire is a product photographers best friend. It is strong, durable and made from transparent nylon or fluorocarbon, meaning it won’t ruin your image.

This is a great way to lift objects from the base of your infinity curve, the plastic container you are using as a lightbox or even in natural surroundings. You can find the nylon thread here.

There may be a little visibility to the wire, so use GIMP to edit it out. Seriously, this should be in every product photographers’ toolkit.

A product photography shot of gold earrings on white background

3. White Card

A white card is also indispensable for product photographers everywhere. A good piece of card is versatile and can be used in many ways, for many different setups. For one, it will provide a clean, white background to your product shoot.

It can be used as an infinity curve if the sheet is big enough. If you feel that your scene is lacking in a fill light, you can use the white card to reflect light back onto the product.

It will also provide a base if you decide to shoot from a top-down perspective.

This is a great piece of kit to keep with you. Just make sure it stays clean.

Bright and airy photo of a pink flower - DIY product photography tips

2. Reflectors

Reflectors are a great piece of kit to keep with you. Whether you are using natural light or a studio soft box, a reflector is used to bounce light back into the scene.

If you are photographing a scene with one light, it can create harsh shadows. These are not attractive to a product photography shoot unless you are using the shadows from the item itself.

You can use a white card, or make a reflector from something you can find at home, such as tin foil. Nice and easy.

A pair of DIY light reflectors on a wooden floor

Tamia – http://thestylesample.com/2010/08/25/my-diy-photography-lightbox/

1. The Camera You Already Own

The best tip we can give you in creating a budget, DIY product photography shoot is to use the camera you already have.

You might not think it but the camera you already own is good enough. This could be a 10-year-old DSLR with a 12Megapixel sensor, a point-and-shoot or even your iPhone.

Yes, your iPhone. It will capture an image good enough for social media, your blog or website. Most images are compressed when added to Facebook, Instagram and even your other social media outlets.

If you can shoot in RAW, do so, and use GIMP to edit the photographs for that professional look.

A canon DSLR camera on a bright orange surface

There you go. Twelve tools and tips on how to create DIY product photography that emanate class and professionalism.

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

CLICK HERE if you want to capture breathtaking images, without the frustration of a complicated camera.

It's my training video that will walk you how to use your camera's functions in just 10 minutes - for free!

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You could be just a few days away from finally understanding how to use your camera to take great photos!

Thanks again for reading our articles!

Craig Hull

Craig is a photographer currently based in Budapest. His favourite photographic areas are street and documentary photography. Show him a darkroom and he'll be happy there for days. As long as there are music and snacks. Find him at craighullphotography.co.uk and Instagram/craighullphoto

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