Anyone who is serious about product photography needs to take the time to understand the role of light in the process. While there is a mistaken belief that product photography is more limited compared to images taken with live models, playing around with lighting is an exciting way to enhance the process and make for some very beautiful and creative images.
Natural or Artificial?
First you must decide the style and type of final image that you would like in order to ascertain whether natural or artificial light is the best choice. The nature of your products and your brand style will usually dictate this, as will the details and components of your products as certain types of light will flatter them better than others. You may find yourself experimenting with different lighting setups but it’s usually best to choose one main light source to provide that all-important consistency with your final shots.
Studio or artificial light, also known as “hard light”, is often the best option for website product photography as it highlights the finer details and unique selling points of products that consumers need to see before deciding whether to make a purchase.
Sometimes natural light can be best for your product photography. This might be if you’re using live models, if the lifestyle aspect of your brand needs to be emphasised, if your product is one that is usually used outdoors or if it has a reflective surface, e.g. glass, that may result in overly-harsh results. Studio light has a professional, slick appearance as opposed to the more relaxed style of natural lighting that works better for social media images.
If you haven’t invested in a professional product photography kit or hired an expert, the DIY route means you need to place lights at the background on either side of the product, pointing them at the background in front and above the product for full illumination and to avoid shadows. You may also want to use a diffuser for an even spread of light.
Good quality lighting will also make sure that your colours reflect their true appearance and tone in your final images. This is absolutely fundamental for product photography because any distortion in colour can risk customers losing trust in your brand. Use white photography bulbs to make sure that your lighting is not tinted and dedicate a lot of time to achieving your white balance.
You should also consider the size and position of the light, the former as it will create a harder or softer fall of shadow across the images and the latter because it works to inform texture and contrast for tailored results. Just remember, the closer the light is to your product, the softer the appearance.
You can also employ the use of lighting modifiers such as softboxes or a standard reflector, depending on the results you want to achieve and the mood of the photographs that will be most in keeping with your brand. If this all sounds a bit too much like hard work and you’d like to hand your product photography services over to an expert, we’d love to hear from you! Give us a call today to find out more about how our services and experience can help boost you and your brand.