Keep in mind that as a professional photographer, the aim is to ensure that the image tells a story. Remember that the intention of the client is to ensure that a single well shot product will increase the number of visits to the website or foot traffic through the door. Today, product photography is key to most businesses, as it has proved to be the trend moving forward for the seller or manufacturer to reach their target market though online platforms. To date, this has surpassed the traditional methods of sales and marketing.

Note that it is not just a click and a simple image that the client requires, the end result must ensure the product stands out, hence the need for editing and post production, something a photographer should learn or make sure that images are only handed over on completion of this service. Colour correction, lighting and sometimes a basic clean – up of the product is required, along with a knowledge of how to resize and optimize the product without losing quality so it will load quickly when posted online. Note that clients require that their websites load fast to avoid bounce back as this will lose business and the time spent on the site if the lading time is too long.

Using a Smartphone as your main camera

Note this is possible, depending on what you are required to shoot, the expectations and the budget of the client and finally, where the image is being used or placed for advertising.

There are many smart phones on the market that will take amazing pictures, however, a smart phone shoots in auto, or offers some priority settings, meaning that you, the photographer will have very little control of the quality of the image in the end. The image size is also small, which limits where the image may be used, even after editing and post adjustments. Again, depending on the variables of the job, it may work for simple online placement shots, as images will already be optimized and will appear small when viewed in a mobile phone or smaller screen, meaning that the poor quality will not be evident. I suggest that you invest in a small portable tripod and a mobile grip to support your smartphone for stability and compose your shots to ensure uniformity and scale.

Understand lighting

Lighting is key to every photograph as it will affect the look, feel and the outcome. I am not only referring to an over or under exposed image, but more the shadows and the assurance that the product is correctly lit. You cannot do this in post, remember that the more you edit an image, the worse the quality becomes. Ensure that your set up is tested first time around to get the shot right, otherwise you will have a problem. There are 2 types of light to consider.

Natural lighting/daylight

This is where you set your shoot up either outside in a diffused area with no harsh shadows, just even soft light, or inside a space with great natural light that is not directed on your product. Should you encounter shadows or challenges, you will need to ensure that you have a sheet of tracing paper or a scrim of some form to act as your diffuser. My advice is that you plan the time of day and the location simultaneously, as they work together in order to make your job easier.

Artificial or flash light

Should you be starting out with a limited budget and intention to deliver professional images, you need to consider the following.

Again, make sure you locate a space that is evenly lit or has no natural light at all. The space needs to be large enough for you to compose and set up, as you might be using a table, or be making use of various props. The distance between the camera and the product setup is also crucial as it will affect the scale and composition in your framing.

You can make use of light fill from natural sources like the windows, so long as there is no direct light that courses shadows, alternatively, make use of speedlights and the set ups that work for the shoot. Either option will work, but note you will require reflectors or diffusers to bounce the light to achieve a soft washed light or hard result. No need to spend fortunes, just invest in a speedlight diffuser that you attached to the flash when you bounce the light. Reflectors are not expensive and sometimes necessary for bouncing light, especially when the walls or the ceilings are not white, or when space is an issue. You will also need to consider smaller reflectors or flags to bounce the light that might need to be positioned close to the product to emphasize contours, shapes and impact. One can just cut card templates that are required for the job to shape the light accordingly.


The type of background will depend on the type of photoshoot, again the location used outdoors, or the studio indoor space. Generally, a background should not be busy, nor overpower the subject or product you are capturing. For most product photography, a white background is best for lighting and grading and does not compete with the subject, unless the subject is white, then you will need to focus on your lighting setup to prevent the product disappearing into the background. The likes of food photography and outdoor catalogue photography as well as certain events like weddings, backgrounds play a major part in creating the mood and the atmosphere of the shot. Make sure that you take depth of field (DOP), and your point of focus to mind when planning the shot. The last thing you want is for the background to be the focal point and the eye loses the main subject.

I trust you enjoyed this simple article and that I have cleared up a few things, which will help in the planning process for your next photoshoot. Remember, you do not need the most expensive gear to set up a shoot, just a good lens and the understanding of lighting for the client brief. Lastly, when in doubt, use google and the likes of free set up tutorials for guidance, they are always useful and save lots of time and frustration.


All the best and keep shooting