Six Tips for DIY Product Shots
By Stacy Strunk
If you've ever taken pictures
of products to place on your Web
site or brochure, you'll know how
daunting taking good product shots
can be. Still, it's so hard to
relinquish $30 an hour for someone
to take pictures of a candle or a
tie-die, woolen bath mat.
While only a true professional can
capture the subtle differences in
the hues contained in your bath
mat, with some care, you can create
professional looking shots.
1. Invest in a good digital camera
or, at least, borrow one. The 3.0
megapixel cameras produce really,
high quality photos. Team one up
with a photo printer and you would
never know those prints didn't come
from a traditional 35 mm camera.
There are higher resolution cameras
available, but they are still very
pricey for the casual user.
2. Buy a light blue or black flat
sheet for the background. A uniform
background adds a touch of
professionalism to a shot. Don't
assume you can remove the
background later using editing
software -- it's harder than it
looks. And, let's face it, cutouts
only look good when they're done by
professional graphic artists.
3. Get on the same level as your
product to take your picture. If
you set it on the floor, get on
your hands and knees. If it's on a
table, get your tripod out and aim
it at the center of your product.
Also, while we're on the topic,
tripods are a good idea. They
eliminate shaking and other
problems that arise from nervous
4. Try to avoid straight-on shots,
they look too "forced." This is
something you'll get a feel for as
you take more product shots, but
I've discovered angles over 15
degrees but less than 40 degrees
seems to work best. If you can,
take candid shots of someone using
your product. But take traditional
product shots, too.
5. Finally, take lots of pictures.
Take a few shots, move around a
little bit and take some more. Move
closer to the product, then further
away. Professional photographers
sometimes shoot 30 to 40 pictures
to find just one really good shot.
Try to keep all the pictures, even
the ones you don't want to use now.
They may be useful later.
6. Go to your favorite software
store or camera store and ask for
help picking out good editing
software. You'll want something
with an easy interface. And one
that automatically adjusts
brightness and contrast will save
you valuable time later.
The bottom line, when it comes to
product shots, is to take your time
and to experiment. With digital
cameras, you never have to pay for
processing. So the prospect of
making a mistake shouldn't be
daunting -- or expensive.
And, if the task still seems too
daunting, you can try to find a
photography student at the local
community college who might be
willing to lend a hand ... for a