Want to learn some simple product photography?


Hey there, aspiring product photographer!

Ever wondered why your photographed products aren’t flying off the virtual shelves?

Spoiler alert: it might be your photos.

In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, “simple product photography” isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity.

Stick around, and I’ll show you how to elevate your product photos from “eh” to a “really creative WOW!”

The Importance of Product Photography


Product photos are essentially the window display of your online store.

Back in the early ’90s, I used to sell handmade craft wood carvings online.

This was during the days of dial-up modems and painfully slow internet.

My images had to be so small they looked like thumbnails, and not the good kind.

Guess what? My website didn’t do well.

Most of my sales happened at craft shows because my online photos didn’t do justice to my work.

Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of a good photo.

Baltimore Beverage Photographer - an example of simple product photography - Duclaw brewing crawler in front of blue surface.


The DIY Approach to Simple Product Photography


So, you’re on a budget. Join the club!

My early DIY attempts were with a 2-megapixel camera and zero special lighting.

I thought, “Hey, these look fine!”

Spoiler: looking back I realized they didn’t.

I was too intimidated by the cost of professional photography to even consider it.

Big mistake, my friends. But hey, we all start somewhere, right?


Essential Tools and Equipment


When I finally decided to up my game, I started with a Canon T7i. Not the Rolls Royce of cameras, but it got the job done.

The manual settings? Let’s just say it was a pretty steep learning curve.

It was like giving a teenager the keys to a Ferrari—exciting but potentially disastrous.

After months of daily practice, I finally got the hang of it.

So, what do you need to avoid the pitfalls and get straight to the good stuff?

A simple product photo using two sheets of purple construction paper, a table mat and the product.



First things first, you’ll need a camera. Now, you don’t need to break the bank here.

A decent DSLR or mirrorless camera will do the trick.

If you’re just starting, something like a Canon Rebel series or a Sony Alpha series would be a good pick.

But don’t let anyone fool you, you can start with a smart phone if you want.

They have pretty good cameras and there are a lot of starting photographers who work with them.




The lens is just as important as the camera itself.

A 50mm lens is a good starting point for product photography.

It provides a nice, natural look without distorting the image.

Plus Canon has a really inexpensive 50mm that is excellent quality, it is known as the Nifty Fifty.

My bet is Sony does too.

If you’re shooting smaller items like jewelry, you might want to invest in a macro lens.




A tripod is non-negotiable. Unless you have hands steadier than a surgeon, you’ll need one.

It ensures that your camera stays in the same position, allowing for consistent shots.

Plus, it frees up your hands to adjust the product or lighting.




Lighting is a make-or-break element of any good photograph.

A lot of photographers shoot with natural light, which saves you money!

Natural light is great, but it’s not always available or consistent.

That’s where artificial lighting kits come in.

Softboxes or umbrella lights can help you achieve that soft, diffused lighting that makes your product pop.

Some photographers prefer to use constant lighting, so consider LED panels as a possibility.

But again, you don’t need this to start, but you’ll likely want something as you progress.

Do your homework and get something that will last you and do what you need.




You’ll need a clean, non-distracting background for your product.

White is often the go-to color, but you can get creative depending on your product and brand.

Besides that, white will often look gray if not lit and edited properly.

You can use anything from a roll of paper to a fabric backdrop. Just make sure it’s wrinkle-free!


Reflectors and Diffusers


These are your secret weapons for manipulating light.

A simple white card can act as a reflector, filling in shadows and reducing contrast.

Light diffusers, on the other hand, can soften harsh lights and eliminate hotspots on your product.




Sometimes, a product needs a little context. That’s where props come in.

Whether it’s a plate or cutting board for your food item or a hand model for your jewelry, the right prop can add that extra oomph to your photo.


Editing Software


Last but not least, you’ll need software to edit your photos.

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the industry standards, but there are plenty of other options out there.

The key is to find one that you’re comfortable with and that offers the features you need.


So there you have it—a comprehensive list of the tools and equipment you’ll need to kickstart your product photography journey.

It might seem like a lot, but remember, it took me months of daily practice to get decent shots. But if I can do it, so can you!

pocket watch sitting on a counter


Step-by-Step Guide to Simple Product Photography


So you’ve got your gear all set up, and you’re itching to start shooting.

Hold your horses, cowboy! Before you go all Ansel Adams on your products, let’s talk planning and execution.

Trust me, a little prep work goes a long way.


Conceptualize and Plan


Create a Mood Board

Before you even touch your camera, you should have a clear idea of what you want your photos to look like.

A mood board can help you visualize your end goal.

This is a collection of images, colors, and text that capture the essence of your brand and the mood you want to convey.

There are plenty of online tools like Pinterest to help you create a digital mood board.


Make a Shot List

Ever gone grocery shopping without a list? You wander aimlessly and end up with a cart full of junk food.

A shot list is your grocery list for your shoot.

It outlines every shot you need to take, so you don’t miss anything important.

Think about different angles, close-ups, and lifestyle shots – then write them down on your list.


In the “Studio”


Setting and Composition

First, set up your backdrop and place your table or shooting surface in front of it.

Make sure it’s clean and wrinkle-free.

Your composition is how your product and any props are arranged.

Play around with different layouts, but keep it simple.

You want the focus to be on the product.


Clean Your Products

This might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people skip this step.

A smudge or a speck of dust can ruin an otherwise perfect shot.

So give your products a good wipe down before you start shooting.


Place the Product

Now, place your product on the shooting surface. Use your shot list as a guide for how to position it.

If your product has a label or logo, make sure it’s visible and in focus.


Light the Scene

Lighting will make or break your photo.

If you’re using natural light, position your table near a large window.

If you’re using artificial light, set up your softboxes, umbrella or LED lights.

Remember, you’re aiming for soft, diffused lighting to avoid harsh shadows.


Clean Your Lens

I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is.

Before you shoot anything, clean your camera lens with a microfiber lens cleaning cloth.

A speck of dust or a smear on your lens could cause a missed shot.

Even worse, you may not realize it until you are in editing.

There is nothing worse than starting all over because you neglected this simple but important step.


Take the Shots


Shoot In Raw

If possible, shoot your images in RAW format.

Lightroom and Photoshop can read those files and you will have more data to work with when correcting your photos.


Check the Focus

Before you start snapping away, double-check your focus.

The product—and especially any labels or logos—should be crystal clear.

Most cameras have a “live view” mode that allows you to zoom in and check the focus in real-time.


Snap Away

Now comes the fun part—taking the photos!

Use your shot list as a guide and start snapping away.

Don’t be afraid to take multiple shots of the same setup; it’s better to have options when you’re editing.



After each set of shots, take a moment to review them on your camera.

Make sure everything is in focus and the lighting looks good.

If something’s off, it’s much easier to fix it now than to discover it later when you’re editing.


And there you have it—a step-by-step guide to simple product photography.

It might seem like a lot, but each step is crucial for achieving those drool-worthy shots that will make consumers want to buy.

And if you’re thinking, “This is too much work, I’ll just wing it,” – remember my early days of 2-megapixel disasters.

Learn from my mistakes, people!

A simple photography image of 3 bottles of beer in the snow.


Limitations of DIY Product Photography


The DIY route is kind of like the Wild West of product photography.

It’s adventurous, it’s exciting, and it’s fraught with pitfalls that can make people want to hang up their spurs.

Let’s talk about some of those limitations, shall we?


Diffusion Difficulties with Reflective Objects


Ever tried to photograph a glass object?

If you have, you probably know it’s like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.

Glass reflects everything—your lights, your camera, even you.

So, how do you deal with it? Diffusion is key.

Diffusion softens the light, reducing glare and those pesky “hot spots” that make your product look like it’s about to be beamed up by aliens.

But here’s the kicker: you can’t just slap on a diffuser and call it a day.

You’ll need to move your lights around, adjust the angles, and take test shots until you eliminate those hot spots.

It’s a time-consuming process that requires a lot of patience and a keen eye for detail.

But it gets easier as you go.


The Learning Curve


Product photography isn’t just point and shoot; there’s a whole lot of technique involved.

You’ll need to learn about f-stops, ISO, white balance, and a bunch of other terms that might as well be a foreign language when you’re starting out.

And each product type has its own set of challenges.

Clear products, reflective products, products with intricate details—they all require different setups and techniques.


Time and Effort


Good product photography takes time.

You’ll need to set up, shoot, review, adjust, and then do it all over again until you get it right.

And that’s not even counting the time you’ll spend in post-production, editing your photos to make them look their best.


So, there’s more to this product photography thing than you thought, huh?

And this is an easy product photography guide!

Imagine diving into the complexities of a multi-light setup or trying to balance the color temperature of different light sources.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.


Editing and Retouching: More Than Just Slapping on a Filter


So, you’ve taken your photos, and you’re ready to make them look like they belong in a glossy magazine.

Editing and retouching are more than just slapping a filter on your image and calling it a day—especially in product photography, where accurate colors are crucial.

Let’s break down the steps:


White Balance

First things first, adjust the white balance. This ensures that the whites in your photo are actually white and not tinged with color.

A “cool” image will have a blueish tint, while a “hot” image will look too yellow.

Getting the white balance right sets the stage for all the other edits you’ll make.



Didn’t nail the exposure in-camera? No worries, you can adjust it in post-production.

Just be careful not to overexpose or underexpose too much, as this can lead to loss of detail.


Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks

Next, let’s add some drama. Adjusting the contrast will make the darks darker and the lights lighter.

You can also fine-tune this by adjusting the highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks individually.


Texture, Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation

Texture and clarity might sound like the same thing, but they’re not.

While clarity adjusts the contrast of mid-tones, texture enhances or softens finer details.

Vibrance and saturation deal with color intensity, but vibrance is more subtle and doesn’t affect skin tones as much.


Tone Curves and HSL

Tone curves allow you to adjust the tones in your image manually, giving you more control over the contrast.

HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance, allowing you to adjust these parameters for individual colors.

Want to make the blue sky pop? This is where you do it.


Color Grading

This is where you can get really creative.

Color grading allows you to set the mood of your image by adjusting the colors in the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights.



Sharpening enhances the edges in your image, making everything look more defined.

But be careful, it’s not the same as clarity. Over-sharpening can make your image look unnatural.


Leveling and Effects

Ensure your image is level to avoid any tilted product shots.

You can also add effects like lighting enhancements or vignettes to draw attention to the product.



Be sure to use healing brushes to remove any blemishes, dust, or unwanted particles.

This is also where you can cut out your product to place it on a different background.


Phew! That’s a lot, isn’t it? But trust me, once you get the hang of it, editing will become second nature.

And the difference it makes is like night and day. So, ready to turn your good photos into great ones?


SEO and Image Optimization


You don’t want your website to move at a snail’s pace because of large images.

So don’t forget to optimize your images before you upload them onto the web.


For a quick rundown on how to keep your images web-friendly, check out my article, “How to Optimize Your Product Photography for Search Engine Success“.


When to Hire Professional Help


If you’ve hit a wall with DIY, maybe it’s time to consider professional help.

I know, there are still those of you who say, I’ll just use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to create a photo for me. But AI creates an image, not a photo. And if you want to build consumer trust, real photography is the way to go.

As someone who’s been on both sides of the lens, I can tell you that the difference between DIY, Artificial Intelligence and professional product photography is night and day.

Interested? I’d love to help you out. Just click here to get started.


Writing Product Descriptions That Sell


Great photos need great descriptions.

Want to master the art of writing product descriptions that convert?

Check out my article, “How to Write Product Descriptions in 12 Easy Steps“.

Gummi Bear product photography for social media


FAQ Section


What is simple product photography?

It’s the art of taking product photos that are both attractive and accurate, without requiring a Hollywood budget or a team of experts.


How can I shoot product photography at home?

With the right tools and a bit of practice, you can set up your own mini-studio. Remember, it’s all about the lighting, your creativity and practice!


How do you optimize images for your website?

Keep the file size small but the quality high. For a deep dive, check out my article on image optimization.


So Now You Know … 


There you have it, folks—a crash course in simple product photography.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or considering going pro, there’s a path for you.



If you’re a photographer, let’s connect! Follow me on Instagram @tcproductphotos.

And if you’re a business owner, I’d love to discuss how we can elevate your product photography.

Just fill out the form below to get started.


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