Thursday, May 15, 2014

Product Photography Tips- Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in creating beautiful photos of your products. Today I'm comparing various lighting techniques. All of these photos are straight from the camera with no editing. (its recommended to edit photos as necessary, but that is for another post)

camera mounted flash
The least attractive option for lighting is the camera-mounted flash. It creates harsh shadows and often blows out the details of the subject.

overhead household CFL lights
Household lights can be useful when there is not enough sun, however an overhead light with standard incandescent or CFL bulbs cause odd colored shadows. If you are using a household light, a daylight bulb is best.

outdoor in full sun
Outdoor lighting in full sun creates several issues that distract from your product. Full sunlight creates harsh shadows, distracting reflections, and can blow out the details. It is difficult for most camera meters to expose correctly for this harsh light.

outdoor in open shade
Shooting outside in open shade is a good option that often produces nice results with minimal shadows, especially when using a reflector. The downside is open shade will often give a blue-ish cast to your photos (depending on your camera's settings) which you may need to edit.

indoor with low window light, no reflectors
Placing your product indoors near a window is a good option for product photography, and the directional light gives a good depth to your item. However, without enough light and not using reflectors, the image will often appear too dark.

indoor with window light and reflectors
My personal choice for product photography is indoors with bright, indirect window light and reflectors. You can see a diagram of my setup here.The light is more even, the color more neutral, and using a reflector can erase shadows make the background even as well. If you don't have enough light coming in from the window, consider using a tripod with a longer exposure to avoid using flash.

Keep in mind that none of these photos have been color corrected or adjusted for brightness and contrast. The majority of photos will need to have slight adjustments, especially if your camera is set to auto-exposure. It is important that you experiment what works best for your products.


  1. Another thing I've found that helps is if you can't get sunlight and absolutely have to use indoor light, take the glass out of a picture frame and tape a paper towel (with no decorations) inside of it, then put it in front of a lamp with no lampshade. It will create a nice soft light for you!

    1. that's a great idea! plain white tissue paper works well too

  2. Thank you for sharing this very detailed, informative article. I know how important it is to maintain the balance of sunlight in a photograph. If this balance isn’t properly maintained, the photo will be spoiled. Anyone can

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  3. Product Photography Tips- Lighting had lots of very useful information for me.
    Now I can do better Lighting photographs. I feel this is the most important coponent of photography and should always be the main focus.
    You might see more images you like about LA product photography

  4. Reflection Shadow is very essential for a Product photo looks nice

  5. I have been always working on customers' experience enrichment for digital contents. Surprisingly, this article demonstrates the same philosophy that I believe. Feeling like, I am going in right direction.
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