Photography Spotlight: 3 Tips For Product Photos

Photography Spotlight: 3 Tips For Product Photos

Warning: if you read this post, you will most likely get sick of seeing my lettering. Prepare yourself. πŸ˜‰

As you know, I love hand lettering, and, evidently, taking photographs of my hand lettering. I have had humble beginnings in both hand lettering and photography, but through those beginnings I’ve learned a little bit about both. πŸ˜‰ For anyone looking to take a semi-good product photo, I’ve compiled a bunch of lessons learned and photos that will hopefully inspire you . . . just a little.

Lesson #1: lighting makes all the difference.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Lighting is so important in product photography. Especially in the kind of photos where you need a lot of detail and not a lot of ISO grain. Some things to keep in mind in order to get good lighting:

Never shoot under fluorescent lighting. Unless, of course, you’re a pro photographer and have nifty flashes, lights, reflectors, etc. πŸ™‚ But in my scenario, shooting inside when it’s dark outside gives me basically the worst results. If your white balance isn’t right, things turn out yellow, and don’t get me started about the ISO grain. If you must shoot in this light, try using a tripod to steady the camera with a slow shutter speed.

Watch your shadows. Don’t stand in front of the light source. I sometimes shoot upside down and rotate the photos later so my shadow isn’t across the lighting. Also, if you take the picture from the wrong angle, you’ll get the product making shadows across itself, like this:withopenhands-sketch-roughcopy

So yeah. Definitely avoid it.

Shoot in natural light. I take the majority of my photos at noon or in the afternoon, by my big picture windows in my dining room. If you have issues (like me!) with harsh sunlight streaming in on your photos, try a tip I found over at tape white tissue paper over your windows. I used unfolded napkins, as tissue paper was not on hand, for this shoot:

IMG_8473-wmThe tissue paper/napkins block the sunlight so it doesn’t make things harsh, but it makes things a lot brighter than working in normal shade.

Lesson #2: backgrounds make all the difference.

In any photo, the background is often as important as the subject. I’ve learned this the hard way in any kind of photography, but for lettering/product photography, I keep these things in mind:

Use wood. As you can see from a lot of my photos, I make good use of our dining room table:

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

IMG_64732It’s a normal wood background, but with a little editing it turns out quite lovely. Watercolors against the wood stand out, too, so I like using it. Occasionally, I’ll also use our gorgeous hickory floor:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

If you’re looking for a standard background, wood is a good way to go.

Use white. White is a very standard, but very professional looking, background to use. I don’t have a white table in my house, or any kind of white tablecloth. But I do have white card stock, which I use to get pictures like this:


salvation-belongsMy work space will often look like this:

photo-shootThe key to taking pictures on card stock to get a white background is this: using your camera’s zoom and positioning it in such a way that you get a seamless, perfectly white background.

Lesson #3: props make all the difference.

If you’ve looked at any of my photos, you know I love including my trusty Pilot pen in all the photos. I actually have three Pilot pens, so the pen is never the same one πŸ˜‰ But I have used other props such as . . .

. . . a dried-out fountain pen, a vase of flowers, and a paintbrush:

IMG_5983. . . paint palettes:

IMG_52073. . . my sketchbook (which often is the product, but still):

IMG_5490watermarkedAmong other things. A prop can “spice up” a picture and make it a little more than just some letters on a page/product on a screen.

There’s three tips for ya to enjoy. πŸ˜‰ I hope you come up with lovely results!