Product photography

Taking good photos for this blog has been a challenge for me since day one. There just isn’t enough space to set up big elaborate backdrops and we don’t receive adequate natural light in our condo.   I set out to investigate my options for a mini photo studio and came across some DIY lightboxes like this:

Image courtesy of photojojo

My main issue with this type of set up is that the box isn’t collapsible so it would occupy precious space in the condo.  Also, I didn’t want to be restricted by the dimension of a box if I wanted to spread out the products for a photo.

I was looking for an inexpensive solution that could be easily put away.  First up, the light source.  I decided a clamp style desk lamp would work, and I hit jackpot at the first place I checked, Staples – I bought the Tensor Vision Max lamp:

$40. The main selling feature for me was that it provides balanced daylight. It even has a built-in magnifying glass.

Second, I hit up the fabric store and found a length of white broadcloth on clearance for $2.  Score.  I played around with the set-up and came up with this:

How did I take this picture if my camera was in the shot? (Answer: cellphone)

It’s just 2 chairs facing each other, one with the white cloth draped over the chair back, and the lamp is clamped onto the chair seat.  The other chair holds the camera (just a simple point and shoot Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS) which is on a  timer.  The camera is sitting on a little bendy “tripod” that I’ve owned for ages – I bought it off ebay for no more than $5. This set up is still being finessed, because I learned that when taking photos of products with highly reflective surfaces, it was effectively mirroring the background which was really distracting:

Oh hello chair, hello camera, hello tripod, I didn’t see you there.

Whereas this is more like what I was hoping for:

This is a lie!

I read up on how to photograph reflective objects but the recommendations seem really complicated for the casual “photographer” like me – hopefully I don’t own a lot of cosmetics with shiny packaging!  I think I may investigate with getting a 2nd white drop cloth to hide the other chair, and maybe a couple of foamcore boards to provide more structure. Hopefully with a better set up, I’ll be able to start doing more product photos and makeup swatches.  Now I’m also looking into how to ensure accurate and consistent representation of the product and swatch colours… (secretly, I enjoy doing these types of nerdy things).  I hope this set up will produce better photos!

4 thoughts on “Product photography

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