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A Photographer’s Field-Day: List of The Best Tools for Product Photography

This news story was published on March 29, 2021.
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Whether you seek to make your own product photos for your vintage Etsy shop or decide what basic equipment to buy for your photo studio, the list will be essentially the same. You may splurge on the top class stuff or make do with the things available in your craft box and closet – with some amount of skills and patience you will make it work this way or that. So, before you google the most expensive camera or lightbox, let’s identify what equipment you need, why you need it, and how to choose it wisely. In our product photography studio in LA, we have basically the same set of tools – with some tweaks and extensions, of course, and we can attest that these tools are our staples in every photoshoot.

A camera

Surprise! You cannot shoot without a camera. Here, you have a choice. If you work on a small scale and resell vintage goods or perfumes on Etsy or eBay, you can well use your smartphone (phone cameras today are really good). If you want to operate on a bigger scale (or plan to expand), or your sales turnover on Etsy is big, you’ll need a real camera. Nikon or Canon is your go-to, their inexpensive DSLR models (somewhere around $700) being the ideal combination of price, reliability, and basic and advanced features. With DSLR cameras, you will have to learn about ISO, focus, or balance of white, but it will pay off quickly (take our word of the professional product photography studio in LA for it).

Stable support – tripod

Yes, in movies and at fashion shows famous camera people shoot on the go, holding the cameras in their hands. Product photography is less romantic and more structured. The object is not moving or escaping, but it needs to be shot without distortions and blurs. Here, a tripod is your best assistant. Small flexible tripods are perfect for smartphone cameras, and high-stand tripods work well with digital cameras, especially if you shoot various products on different visual levels.

Secrets of lighting from our product photography studio in LA:

Lighting: make-it-or-break-it factor. Sunlight is the best light you can get, but it is not always readily available. To make the most of the sunlight, you need to use a room with a big window and place a table or a pedestal right near it. If the sun is not available often, you will need sources of light. The photography lighting kits are sold widely; they usually include 2, sometimes three sources of light and are affordable. For most of your photography, it will be enough but avoid buying cheap lighting.

Reflectors and a background

A lighting kit is fine, but it needs to be completed with reflecting boards (or mirrors) and a backdrop. Today, the most typical background is a pure white sweep (a hanging sheet of white PVC or thick paper). It is sold in rolls and can vary in width. If you have enough of it, you can cut away a meter or so and make a simple lightbox of it. But that’s another level of expertise already (yes, we have it at our product photography studio in LA, both a lightbox and the expertise, we mean).  

A table or pedestal

You can place the product directly on the floor if a) it is a piece of clothing on a mannequin, and b) if it is a piece of furniture. For the rest, you need a table or a pedestal. Any big enough and properly disguised box will do to shoot some smaller objects, especially when you put this makeshift pedestal on the table. But for a trendy flat lay picture, you will need a table big enough to place every piece of your composition.

This is the brief outline of the useful photography tools, but it is a good starting point to base your professionalism on. Wishing you all the best!


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