This article may seem to go against a lot of the advice out there for a product photographer, or any other type of commercial photographer. That is because softboxes are a fantastic source of lighting and we stand by that statement but we do believe there are situations where you can look beyond a softbox and get creative as a product photographer.
Before we talk about when not to use a softbox, there are some clear benefits that every product photographer and commercial photographer should remember.
Put simply, a softbox is a highly effective way to achieve a good lighting set-up in a quick and efficient manner. It is so widely used that it delivers simple, soft-lit images that clients will like and you don’t need significant experience or expertise to get them set up.
As a product photographer, having equipment that is easily accessible and easy to use is key. You want to invest in the most cost-effective options and a softbox is certainly one of them. Furthermore, if you’re a commercial photographer that rents a packshot studio or other locations then they will often have a softbox ready to use.
Now we can delve into some interesting reasons why not using a softbox can allow you to get creative and deliver engaging product photographs for your clients.
In an increasingly competitive world, every product photographer or commercial photographer wants to stand out. They want to deliver those product images that not only meet standard requirements but go above and beyond to connect with the potential customers of the product via multiple channels.
By mixing up your lighting options, you can get different results that in some scenarios will add to the client’s portfolio of product images. For example, some alternative styles may suit social media content and more traditional product images will work better on e-commerce websites.
We write about light quite often on our website and that is simply because it is a crucial aspect of every product photographers process. Using a softbox is an efficient and effective way to approach many product shots, but it does mean you play it safe and perhaps fail to develop a greater understanding of light in all its forms.
By developing your understanding of light in its raw form, you can then begin to work more effectively with modifiers, editing software etc, to deliver high-level images.
Ultimately, this article isn’t an attempt to stop commercial photographers from using softboxes. The aim of this piece is to get each reader to think about other options and how they can combine with softboxes to create a bigger, better box of lighting tricks. If you want to craft different aesthetics, deliver standout images or work on unique brands and products then having these extra skills will make a big difference.