Everyone needs to photograph products once in a while.
In this article, I will show you a super easy, low cost, product photography setup that anyone can use to create very high-end looking DIY product photography.
What You Need for DIY Product Photography
- A window.
- A cloudy day or outdoor shade.
- Barn board or other good looking table top surface.
- Any camera – mobile phone, mirrorless or DSLR.
For this setup I am using natural window light. While this is by far the easiest solution for lighting the product you want to photography, it does present some challenges.
First, you need diffused light, which means either waiting for an overcast day, or at least waiting until the area of your house outside the window is in the shade. Second, you are dependent on daylight hours.
Once you have a good window, all you need is a suitable table top and a camera.
For my setup, I custom built a bench out of barn board that sits just under the windowsill of a large group of windows.
The top is a vintage 15″ wide barn board that I purchased from a local reclaimed lumber supplier. Normally this bench serves as a place for my cats to sleep and look out the window – but all I have to do to convert it to a quick and simple product photography studio is move the cat beds – and maybe vacuum up the cat hair.
This bench works particularly well because it is low and I can shoot straight down without having to climb up over a full height table. (I did build it specifically for this purpose in mind).
Product Photography Camera Settings
Honestly, for a setup this simple, your camera settings don’t really matter. You can get great results with a mobile phone, mirrorless or DSLR in full automatic.
However, if you really want to know, I use a Sony mirrorless with the kit lens zoomed in as much as possible, auto ISO, auto white-balance, aperture priority at either f/5.6 or f/8 (depending on the light) and exposure compensation set to -0.5 to -1.0 (the highlights tend to be just a bit too hot on the Sony I’m using).
Most photos end up being around f/5.6, 1/80th, ISO 400-800.
The real trick is to wait for a day when you have nice even overcast light outdoors – the soft, directional window light and natural textures make pretty much anything look great.
Most of the time I shoot straight down or on a slight angle. If you want to photograph your product face-on, all you have to do is add a white sheer curtain to provide a nice even white background.
Sample Product Photos
Here are a few sample product photos that you can capture with this setup with next to zero effort:
You can get great results right out of camera with this setup, but there are a few things you can do to make your results even better.
First, some light post processing is always good. I use Adobe Lightroom, but even a mobile photo editor like Snapseed can help to add a little pop.
Second, if your window light isn’t quite right you can use pieces of both white and black foam core to act as either a reflector (to add light to dark shadows) or a flag (to make shadows darker and more defined).
What Do You Think?
What do you use product photography for?
What setup do you use?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!