Professional Product Photography on a Budget

In eCommerce, Product Photography is the point of demarcation between success and failure. When a visitor lands on your product page, the first thing he/she will notice are the images. No matter how informative your product descriptions are, people will still look for information in the photos. Photos give the customer an idea of specifications, product quality, and how it would feel to use the product. This way the customer can make a confident purchase decision. Product photography should not be a complicated and expensive process. It can be quite simple when you maintain perfect lighting and background. Below we are describing how you can achieve professional product photography on a budget.

Low Budget Product Photography Setup

If you are tight on budget, you should try making the product photography setup as simple as possible. Here we provide a list of the things you will need for product photography:

  • White background placed on a table
  • Create an ‘L Frame’. Place the background vertically.
  • Clamps to affix backgrounds 
  • Tripod
  • Camera with a narrow lens
  • Lighting

The best camera on a budget

Compact camera for product photography on a budget

You may not always need a professional DSLR camera to capture high-quality product photos. Instead, you can also take amazing product photos using a simple point-and-shoot camera. This way you will be able to save thousands of dollars. Canon G Series is a great compact camera that we recommend using in product photography for better outcomes.

Most cameras these days provide large megapixels capacity which can help you in taking high-resolution images. But you will need to grasp the process of taking photos in manual mode. You can also take product photos using your smartphone. Over the last few years, smartphone technology has advanced tremendously allowing great quality images under perfect lighting and background. So you must consider investing in your phone as you start taking product photos.

Use a tripod

The most important aspects of product photography are lighting and adjustment to the subjects.  You should use a tripod to capture the photos from the best angle, to display the best dimensions of the products, and most importantly to free your hands to use them for other things.

Placing the camera on a tripod, it is possible to make slight adjustments to the product to exhibit the best features. It is easier and quicker to make those small adjustments when your hands are free.  Moreover, you can use the same angle for a series of products. It is really helpful when you shoot the same products with varying colors, for example shooting a number of t-shirts with different colors. With this type of product photography, the customer can swipe through the images and choose the desired colors.

tripod for product photography

Photo by Karol D from Pexels

Choosing the perfect lens

The main target of product photography is to capture a sharp photo with the right aspect ratio, so you do not have to worry much about selecting the perfect lens. To take product photos without any distractions, you should use a narrow-angle or normal lens.  Generally, these two focal lengths will create more professional photos for your products. An example of a narrow focal length would 50 mm lens. In the case of a point-and-shoot camera, you will have the options to choose from a range of focal lengths in the zoom lens. You can zoom in to any focal length between 85-100 mm.

White Background is perfect for products

The white background is the best option for most products, and it seamlessly integrates with any website. You can make DIY product photography background and lighting for your products, or you can buy a readymade one from the market. The letter one has built-in lighting systems associated with them. 

Some simple materials that can be used for the white background are as follows:

  • Clean pure white sheet or fabric.
  • Large white, thick paper.
  • White foam board.
  • Plastic white tabletops.

It is also possible to use a white wall as a white background. But you must be careful that the white is pure white. Using an off-white background in product photos can have a devastating effect.

Matte materials for white background

You can use any kind of material for white background. But if you use a matte material, there will be unwanted highlights, shine, and reflections in your image. For this reason, it is best to avoid shiny materials like plastic and white tables, etc. These reflections can be removed in post-production, but this will require working for extra hours which is not desirable for you.

Correct white balance

To get professional-looking photos, it is important that you do the white balance correctly. The white in your photos should be perfectly white. There are a few tools in Lightroom for you to apply the white balance effectively. You can use the eyedropper tool to select an area that is middle grey or you can use presets for the white balance effect. You may also use the white balance slider to apply any quick and final changes. 

Shoot in even light

even lighting- product photography on a budget

Even lighting is extremely important for product photography. For professional photos, products must be well lit and the lighting should be even across the product. If the light is not even, there are chances of highlights and shadows, and it is hard to show off the actual colors to the customers when highlights and shadows are present.

Natural light can be used to create even light across products, however with some challenges. Natural light keeps changing all the time across the day, so you must be in constant search for perfect lighting throughout the day. But it is one of the most cost-effective methods to provide lighting for product photography. 

You can also choose to use artificial lighting which allows you to showcase the best features of the product. This lighting does not change over time, so you can shoot a range of products over a week or a month or whatsoever.

Find the best angles and choose only 3-5 angles maximum

Besat angles for product photography

There are certain angles for every product that best showcase its features. Showing the product in that angle will make the photos more professional. To find out the best angle, you will need to raise the camera from the tripod and explore different shooting angles. You can try angles such as straight-on, 45-degrees, and overhead.

For bringing out the best in product photography, you should shoot from three to five angles maximum. Taking more angles than this will be unnecessary. The main idea is to capture the photo from each angle that shows a key feature of the product.

Post Processing

Once you finish shooting all your products, it is time to do some post-processing. Sometimes little adjustments in editing software can change the whole perspective and make more professional photos. There are two ways you can introduce editing in your photos- outsource to some professionals or do it yourself.

There are several online photo editing and manipulation companies available. All you have to do is just upload/ send the photos to the providers, and they will take care of the rest. The average price for such works is in the range of $2 to $4. This is slightly expensive than that of doing yourself, but this will save you an immense amount of time which you can spend on more productive works that you like.

Before editing photos yourself, you need a decent amount of skills in photo editing software like Photoshop, Lightroom, Fotor, Canva, etc. First, you need to remove the products from the background, put them into a white background, and also remove fingerprints, glares, motes, etc. This is a time-consuming process that you would have to go through if you do it yourself. 

Wrapping Up

Product photography is a crucial factor with respect to the eCommerce business. Product photos represent the actual products to the customers and also create a brand image for the business.  So if there is no shortage of budgets, you may opt for professional product photographers to shoot for you. But if you can not afford that at this stage, it is still possible to capture great quality photos yourself by following some basic principles. In this article, we shared the basics of how to approach product photography on a budget. Just remember to create a perfect background and maintain optimum lighting to obtain great results. Once the photos are taken, do some post-processing for even a better result.

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