product photography | part two

Taking the Picture

When I first started taking product photos, I left my point-and-shoot digital camera on auto mode. While I had a sense of how I wanted to style my photos I had no idea that my lack of basic photography knowledge was holding me back.
I used less than five percent of the pictures I took during that first session. To satisfy your curiosity, I took more than 300 photos over a six-hour period! It was a redundant, frustrating and amateur experience.

I set out to learned the fundamentals of photography and found this resource very helpful. It does a great job of explaining, verbally and visually, the different factors that contribute to a great photo.

I also did something that was long overdue - I read my owner's manual. If your manual isn't on hand, visit the manufacturer's website for the on-line version.

Armed with a better understanding of photo styling and camera fundamentals, I created a product photography light box using materials I had or was able to purchase inexpensively. This blog is one of many resources with instructions on how to create one for yourself.

Here is a photo of the light box I made.

The light box was very easy to make and helped yield photos that were a bit better, but the complete set up including lights was more involved than I wanted to manage given several important criteria, one of which is to get things out of Nicholas' reach quickly.
I had an Ah-ha moment when I realized I could take photos in the master bathroom! It has a sky light and large counter space.

Here are pictures of my make-shift studio set up that I took with my cell phone.

When I want to take product photos, these are the steps I follow:

  • Clean and dry countertop
  • Gather items to be photographed
  • Set up photo backdrop (white poster board or patterned paper)
  • Set camera to ISO mode
  • Adjust white balance as needed
  • Select macro mode
  • Set up tri-pod
  • Select two-second timer mode
I was able to take 37 hero shots in about 30 minutes and I'm going to upload more than 75% of these photos on my website. Now that is what I call successful amateur product photography.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of the product photography series, which will discuss my experience with photo editing.

Here's a comparison of a raw image and an edited one.

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