Choosing a Background for On-Location Product Photography

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When setting up a photoshoot on-location, one of the most important factors to consider is the background you will be using. This is particularly vital for product photography as you need to ensure the background doesn’t take away from the product you’re trying to shoot.

Simple rules

Starting off with some simple yet effective rules, aim to have a brighter background for darker products, such as a dark coloured dress. Conversely, if you’re photographing a light dress, think about having a darker background. These very simple contrasts instantly help emphasise the focus on your images, without having to worry that the background will take over and draw the focus of the viewer.

 

Further to that, if you have a product that has a busy pattern or design, then simple, clean and neutral backgrounds are perfect for these. That doesn’t mean you can’t go for something more complex or busy for a background on-location and often the location will have more going on that a simple in-studio backdrop. No matter what you choose, think about these simple rules first and then expand on them to create your perfect on-location background.

Complex combinations

Let’s think about a scenario that many professionals in product photography will have come across, particularly if you’re dealing with clothing photography. You have a model wearing bright coloured clothing and has dark hair or vice versa.

 

In an ideal world, you want a background that works for all combinations, so that on a clothing photography shoot, you can mix models and clothing. With this, you want to think about a location or background that will allow you to place the product or model so that the darker colours contrast with lighter parts of the background. You can also think about using additional lighting to manually change the lighting on parts of the background.

Lighting makes the difference

With on-location backgrounds, you will almost always end up using a combination of natural light and other lighting methods, such as strobe. In light of how difficult it is for a photographer to plan around natural light, this can really make the difference between a successful shoot and a frustrating one that doesn’t deliver on your expectations.

 

In product photography and in particular clothing photography, it is all about getting out into the field, testing locations and backgrounds and thinking about how they fit into your vision. Often, you will discover that your ideas and designs may not work exactly as planned, or they may help you discover an alternative that is even better.

Find inspiration

A common theme throughout our blog posts is finding inspiration and working out what inspires you on a particular product photography project or in general as a professional photographer. With on-location shoots, this is even more important because you need to get out there, search for locations that work for you, look at the kinds of things others have done and see what designs you can come up with.

 

You never know when the dream location for a shoot is right around the next corner!