We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: lighting can make or break your product photography. Good lighting can instantly elevate and make your products look 100 times better, while bad lighting will make even the most expensive, high-quality ones look cheap and tacky.
Today we’ll be teaching you three different ways to set-up your product photography lighting: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
- Beginner lighting
Reality is, lighting equipment is expensive and not everybody can afford it. The good news is you don’t need professional lighting equipment for your product photography. You can get by with using lots of natural light.
The easiest way to do this is by using a large window and natural sunlight to illuminate your products – whether its apparel, jewelry, or food. Make sure you give yourself enough space for your products as well as for your equipment. Working in a cramped space is not only difficult but can also be dangerous, as you can easily knock things over in the process of shooting.
Find a large window that gives you plenty of sunlight, preferably early morning or late afternoon sun. If the sunlight that streams through the windows is a bit harsh (i.e. noontime sun), you can diffuse it using a white sheet.
Create a simple, white backdrop for your products using either a plain white sheet, canvas, wall, or even a long white sheet of paper.
Finally, don’t forget to use a tripod. A tripod helps keep your images crystal clear and sharp. This also helps you achieve consistency in all of your shots, even when you move your product around.
- Intermediate lighting
Intermediate lighting involves a little more money. If you have the means, rent or buy a lighting kit that’s meant for product photography. Having artificial lighting equipment at your disposal means your lighting is consistent all throughout the day, and you won’t have to worry about the sun setting.
Place your single light and the umbrella at a 45-degree angle to the product so that the lighting on the product is soft and even. Stand directly in front of the product when shooting. You’ll find that if your product is too close to the background, you may get some shadowing. Just move the product farther away from the backdrop or have it fixed in post using ecommerce photo editing services.
Start by setting your mono strobe light’s power source to about half. For instance, if your light source goes from 1 to 5, set it to around 3 and adjust accordingly from there.
- Advanced lighting
This is for when you have big bucks to spend. The best kind of lighting set-up usually comes from two mono lights. On top of this, it is also a good idea to invest in flash for those low light situations.
Keep in mind that setting up two mono light will be slightly different from how you set-up one. In the previous set-up (single mono light), we started with the light situated at a 45-degree angle relative to your product. Now place your second light slightly closer to your product on the opposite side, also at a 45-degree angle. This second light is what we call your “fill light”.
Since your first light is set at half power, your second light i.e. your fill light should be set even lower than that. So if your first light is set to 3 out of 5, then your fill light should be set to 2 out of 5. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Play around with your lighting and find a style that you like. The important thing is to keep your lighting consistent throughout all your shots to establish a certain look and aesthetic in all of your photos. This makes your brand instantly recognizable.
Remember to sync both of your lights so that they go off at the same time.
Some photographers opt to switch out the second mono light for a reflector instead, and this works perfectly fine! Just place the reflector board (which you can make out of a foam board or you can buy) at a 90-degree close to the product. This will cause the light from your light source to bounce back into the space, filling up the dark side. However, if you have the means (and the budget) for two mono lights, the effect and difference is worth it!