Simple Lighting Tips for Product Photography

If you’re shooting small products in a studio environment, it pays for your lighting to be simple. A beauty dish, for example, is an ideal lighting tool. When lighting a face, a beauty dish is generally considered to be a source of hard light, but when lighting a product, the light is relatively soft. Daniel Norton elaborates:

Choice of Light

The photo shoot featured in the video was a studio beauty product shoot. Norton needed something simple. He likes the light to be a bit punchier, especially with products, and he likes to see the reflections and the textures of products like makeup.

how to light product photography

Thus the choice of light—a beauty dish with a reflector.


As a choice of background, Norton used a textured board as the countertop and places the products on it.


Norton used a macro lens to produce results that jump out at you.

Shooting Style

The shot was set up a bit wider than was needed. In other words, Norton left a bit of negative space around the products. This was going to be a part of a store display and some room was necessary for the copy that would ultimately go along with the images.

The Unexpected

dealing with unexpected lighting situations

While he had his Profoto trigger on, Norton didn’t realize that his other light, also paired with the Profoto trigger, was turned on. When he fired the first shot to test the exposure, the other light fired too and it created an interesting reflection off the mirror on the blush kit.

simple product photography lighting tips

This was totally unexpected, but the result gave Norton the idea to use the reflection in a creative way. The other light was set on low to create a sort of sliding light across the products. The light was reflected off the mirror and created a beam of light.

The blush brush was then placed at such an angle that it appeared as if the light from the mirror was actually giving it the highlight. In reality the light was coming from the other light set up low across the table.

how to photograph cosmetics

Extra Shots

With everything set up and going for you, why not take some extra shots?

product photography lighting

Norton made this image of the blush brush. With some extra blush on the brush, the textures came off really well in the image. There are a million creative uses for shots like these. The thing is to remember taking a few of them when the main shoot is over.

What other tips do you have for product photography?

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