Taking Good Product Shots

I basically started off my photography journey doing product shots for some hobby websites I had. I was competing against big print magazines so I always strived to come up with product shots that were as good or better than what the big guys were doing. The big difference was I didn’t have nearly the budget (and still don’t) that a print magazine has for a studio, so I learned to improvise. As I work on different projects I will share some tips on how to improve on a basic product photo to get much better results.

We will start with a very basic photo of some oranges on a white muslin background. It doesn’t get much easier than this right?

The oranges are sitting on white muslin and the only light is from a north window. While the lighting on the oranges may be acceptable, if you want to use this picture for much of anything, you will be spending a huge amount of time on Photoshop to remove all the wrinkles in the fabric. Yes, it could have been ironed first to remove the worst of it, but I chose not to in order to illustrate the point better.

In the second image, we used only the Lowel Omni light set off to an angle (studio photo included later), by using this bright studio light, we ended up blowing out a lot of the muslin making post-production much easier. There is still a bit of post production to be done using just the one light.

In this third variation, we still had the Omni light on but added a flash that was shot straight up into a 42” silver reflector and bounced back down onto the subject. This washed out much more of the muslin and really cut down on the stray shadows as well. Had the muslin been ironed beforehand, it would have completely disappeared from the shot.

In this final image, you will notice that not only is all of muslin pretty much gone but there is now a deep reflection from the oranges. To accomplish this, the only thing that was changed from the above setups was that instead of the oranges sitting directly on the muslin, they are now sitting on a sheet of plexiglass that was placed on top of the muslin. This makes sure the muslin on the bottom lays perfectly flat and gives you that interesting reflection.

Just for reference, I have included a shot of the setup I used for this so you could see the position of the main light and the backdrop setup. The backdrop stand was purchased on eBay from Adorama for $39, the muslin was bought at Joann’s Fabrics for about $10 and the plexiglass was bought from Home Depot for about $5.


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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