Lighting Tips for In-Home Product Photography

Have you ever wished that you could bring the power of the studio to your home in a matter of minutes? You may be surprised by just how easy it can be. Cinematographer Tom Watts shows exactly how it’s done in this brief tutorial:

Setting the scene was simple enough. A glass table with black material attached beneath the glass works perfectly to create a clean, professional looking reflective surface. However, this simple DIY hack plays a small role in the overall success of the image. As Watts explains, the root of all good product photography instead lies in the light.

First, you’ll want to block out any clashing overhead lights or lamps that might disrupt the look of your image.

From there, a great start is to employ an encompassing soft light source that provides shape and definition (regardless of what your subject happens to be).

banana with soft light

However, one light is not enough to make an image truly shine. Even though the soft light technically illuminates the banana shown above, it looks a bit dull without strong highlights or shadows in play. Most of the time, bringing in a supplementary light source will make a drastic difference for the better. If you’re using a continuous light with barn doors, as Watts does in his setup, it’s possible to replicate the look and feel provided by a rim light.

banana with rim light

Last but not least, you’ll want to bounce light into the shadows of your subject with a reflector. You don’t need anything fancy to accomplish this. In fact, Watts uses a repurposed sheet of cardboard destined for the recycling bin. If you’re working with small objects you may want to consider using a small reflector. You’ll be able to more accurately “dial in” on where the fill light hits.

banana with reflective fill light

And that’s all there is to it!

Of course, seeing a professional get the job done makes lighting seem like an incredibly simple task. In reality, even a straightforward setup like this may take a bit of time to perfect. One way for beginners to navigate just how their lights are playing into a scene? Turn on each light separately. This way, it’s possible to build an understanding of just what each piece is adding.

Some photographers function under the idea that elaborate studios and state of the art technology are necessities in making eye-catching images. However, this simply isn’t true; as this tutorial proves, all that goes into a worthwhile image is a bit of creativity and ingenuity.

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One response to “Lighting Tips for In-Home Product Photography”

  1. Zubida says:

    Great learning tips. Thanks for sharing.

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