Having clear, crisp, stimulating product photography will set you apart from your competitors. Properly showcasing your product allows it to sell itself. However, photography can be a daunting task, especially when you are anything but a photographer. Like any other skill set, product photography takes patience, time, trials, and errors. So, let me share with you 9 idiot-proof ways to improve product photography. rough men stand ready
Read the manual
Reading the manual is the most basic, simple, obvious thing that 99.9% of camera owners do NOT do. Yeah, yeah, you are that.01% of owners that have read yours. I’m shaking my head in agreement but not believing you at all. This may be the best initial investment you can make as a photographer. Knowing which button is responsible for what function is priceless. Make the time. The manual is there to help and reading it will make you feel like less of an idiot in the long run. Don’t have your manual? The manufacturer probably has the PDF on its website. Drop it into your Kindle.
Push the button halfway to focus, then all the way to take the shot.
You may think this is a no-brainer, but I assure you it is not. So many people complain about unfocused images after purchasing a fancy new camera and this is almost always the reason why. Regardless of the type of image you are capturing, properly focusing is the key. While I specialize in product photography, understanding this simple focusing function will serve you Friday night at your son’s football game too. Pushing the button halfway to focus, then taking the shot with a steady hand, increases the chance of a focused, clear result every time. By the way, you would know this if you had read the manual, ha!
Get Under the Hood
Investing $10-$30 on a hood for your camera lens will up your game tremendously – and it doesn’t even have an on/off switch, easy! Putting a hood around the end of your lens decreases glares and increases color saturation of photos. If you invested in just one extra accessory for your camera, even with its stock lens, this would be it. The difference between images taken with and without a lens hood are obvious.
Hold Your Camera Properly
Left hand cupped under your lens like you are about to eat a foot-long sub sandwich, right hand on the trigger, bend your elbows and pull the camera back to your face – doesn’t get easier than this! Or cheaper!
Use the Camera’s Self-timer
The more you can separate yourself and your body movements from the camera, the better the result. While we may use the self-timer in our personal lives for the best family photo or selfie, the self-timer is also great for product photography and beyond. A self-timer allows you to capture the product imagery with less chance for camera shake since you are not physically pushing the button. A self-timer pairs well with a tripod for your photographs, which is my next suggestion!
Use a Tripod
A tripod is the third arm you wished you had. Utilizing a tripod separates you from the camera even more. It also provides you the freedom to make last minute adjustments while the camera is set up. The third arm provides additional angles and stances of shots. Use it as an extension of your vision for the product, as well as the means for accurately using the self-timer.
With tripods you pay for what you get. I have three tripods. One came in a camera bundle package (those pictures of the nice camera with all of the junk surrounding it that you may never use but feel really good about getting) that was considered a free bonus. Another that I bought for $25 at Best Buy when I was just getting started. And, a third that I paid good money for. They all work, but the one I paid good money for is really sexy.
I prefer the Manfrotto line of tripods (often considered the industry leader) because there are tons of head options and materials available. I specifically purchased a Manfrotto Befree carbon fiber tripod because I needed high versatility in a lightweight package. It comes in pretty colors too, I bought the grey one. All of that being said, it took me a couple years to invest in a really nice tripod because my business called for it. If you are just getting started, or, pointing and shooting at your family and pretty flowers, the free bonus tripod would work just fine.
Incorporate Wireless Shutter Release
The third and final way to remove yourself and your body movements from the resulting image. This is how the pros do it, but triggers are cheap and not very difficult to operate. Wireless shutter release triggers allow you the freedom to walk away from your camera, direct and re-position subjects, and fully manipulate the scene without ruining the shot. Let the product stand for itself, let the camera do its job, and you get the heck out of the way!