It is difficult to communicate in short web landing pages all of the things that go into making our services, and the techniques and skills that are behind them. That is why I'm beginning a new series I'm calling the 'Techniques In Photography series', or 'T.I.P.s' (see what I did there? ha ha). The point of these is simply to share our experience, based on what we've found works over the years. We hope you find them interesting and informative!
For our inaugural two posts, I'm going to talk about what, to us, is necessary for e-commerce product photography, as well as what we still want to do to make our shoots better. It will be divided into two posts: first the equipment needed, and second the techniques and what to watch for.
So without further ado, here is:
Product Photography as we see it!
Part 1: The Equipment
One of the things that we think helps us stand out among the crowd of many photographers, is the equipment that we have, and the space we have to use it in. When Connor and Dustin from Local Laundry mentioned that local manufacturers were having to send their wares far away to get great e-commerce photography, at great expense, we immediately knew that it was a gap in the local market that we could help all those people by filling.
We are totally aware that there are things that we still need to make our service even better (if anyone has any leads on inexpensive used mannequins, we’re all ears!). But here is a list of what we use so far, to help us carry out our Product Photography Day, and product photography more generally.
Strobe lights and modifiers
To get the right light for each setup takes high quality studio lighting. We use a hodgepodge of lights acquired over the years:
Main – can be a large softbox, high and far, or a smaller one, closer in
Fill (optional) – a large softbox, close-ish – in a pinch replace with a large reflector
Edge/Kicker – gives a nice definition to the model and garment, separating it from the background and defining its edges
Background – keep the background white
Flatlay: 2 or 3 strobes
Main: small umbrella top right or left of item
Fill: large umbrella opposite from main
Light tent: 2, 3, or 4 strobes
Bare bulbs with metal reflectors, to focus on the light tent. The tent itself is the light modifier. You can adjust the brightness of each light depending on how you want to shape the light around the object.
One camera per setup
High resolution, professional grade cameras, which can shoot in raw
RAW is the format that provides the highest level of visual information, and gives us maximum control in post-production
2x Canon 5D Mark III
1x Canon 5D Mark IV
Professional grade lenses, which reduce flaws and distortion, and are very sharp.
For models, we tend to shoot with lenses longer than 50mm, like an 85 mm
For overhead, around 35 mm
For light tent, whatever works for the subject, but doesn't have too much distortion
Seamless backdrop - can be paper or infinity wall/cyclorama, and mounts for those
Large surface for flatlays - we use a 4'x8' white laminated MDF board, purchased at Home Depot.
Sturdy tripods for consistency between photos
A strong boom for overhead flatlay shots, and an associated sturdy stand
Light stands for all lights
Remote controls for the strobes
We can operate 3 stations independently, so that we require 3 independent remotes for each set of lights
We have 3 tetherable computers, one for each setup
Mannequins and supports for various kinds of products
Our studio! :-D Our studio has enough space to house all 3 of the setups described above simultaneously.
If you have any questions at all about any of these things, drop us a line in the comments below, or send us an email!