Do you really need a product photography studio, or can you get away with photographing your products in house? If you look at the average sort of price charged by a commercial advertising photographer you’ll almost certainly be tempted to consider avoiding having to rely on a fully equipped product photography studio, instead using lower grade equipment, and hoping that a few key techniques will get you by.
It’s understandable since at the moment almost all small and medium sized businesses are looking to make cuts wherever possible. Sadly many photographic studios seem unwilling to help smaller businesses keep up with the big businesses, pricing themselves out of the market in many cases. It should be noted though that this isn’t always the case, and if you’re prepared to look about there are a few photography studios offering lower priced deals for small and medium sized businesses.
But is even that expensive fully justified, if it really is possible instead to take your product photographs in house? Certainly it’s relatively easy these days to pick up a pretty decent digital camera in any high street store. With even mobile phones now able to take the same sort of quality image of a decent digital camera a few years ago, the quality of the image is likely to be very good if you’re prepared to spend over 300 at least. But you shouldn’t just be budgeting for the camera, because there are many other camera equipment items besides the camera itself which will be necessary.
Thinking small and simple to begin with, you’ll certainly need a tripod in order to make sure the camera is stable and lined up correctly. But if you hook a camera to a tripod, no matter how careful you are there is often a slight bit of movement once you press the shutter button. This is why it’s often a good idea to have a remote shutter button on a lead, so that you can trigger the camera without nudging it, even slightly.
Then of course there’s the lighting. Don’t think for one moment that the built in flash on even a good camera will be good enough. In fact you needn’t even consider the flash as usable on most digital cameras. You’ll need to look at an external flash or lighting system, and this will of course need to be hooked in to the remote trigger. Different products will require different lighting solutions. A fully equipped product photography studio will have a whole range of lighting solutions, including soft lighting, hard lighting, coloured lighting and even LED lighting.
But then again, lighting is not just about lights, because sometimes it will be necessary to diffuse the light, or even have it reflect in different ways for a clearer result. This is where reflector boards, panels and umbrellas will be helpful, creating the sort of diffused lighting which allows products to be seen clearly, as they would in optimum daylight, without lights creating or exacerbating shadows and contrast. Another issue you’ll find with taking product photographs in house is that you’ll be unable to remove the backgrounds very easily. You can tell at a glance when a product photograph has been taken in house, ‘on the cheap’, because you can see the background – often just a sheet hung over something.
A professional product photography studio will usually have what is called an infinity cove, which is a specially designed room or space which has no corners or edges, and therefore nothing to suggest that there is any background at all. Products can be photographed in front of this, and will stand out clearly, and can even be cut out from the backgrounds and superimposed on alternative backgrounds. This is just the starting point for creating decent photographic images, although there’s a great deal more besides these first few tips. If you’re looking to save money, you really are best off looking for a product photography studio which specialises in offering service which are affordable for small and medium sized businesses.