Are you considering outsourcing product photos to someone? Then consider that you may also be able to do it yourself. When you take your own product photos, you are in control and so you have full control over the result and the process. Below is a discussion of when do-it-yourself product photography is right for your business. We also look at the supplies you need to take beautiful and professional product photos.
Is DIY product photography right for me?
Not every company is ideally suited to do-it-yourself product photography. A number of handles and starting points from which you can deduce whether you should take the photos yourself or outsource it:
- Is there enough space for do-it-yourself product photography? If you don't have enough space, taking care of your own product photography becomes a difficult and often frustrating story. When you approach it professionally, a lot of equipment is involved. It is often easier if you can leave the equipment more or less in the same place. The regular set-up and breakdown may take more time than it's worth.
- Do you often have enough new products to justify having your own 'photo studio' for product photography? Below you can read that investing in equipment and attributes for professional product photography is not cheap. If you have relatively few new or different products, it may not be worth the investment. Outsourcing the product photography offers more convenience and is in that case also more financially advantageous.
- Do you have an (experienced) product photographer at home? Even with professional equipment, it ultimately comes down to the photographer. An experienced product photographer efficiently captures the best angles of a product. He is also proficient with the camera and other equipment. Without a good product photographer, it generally becomes a difficult story.
What do I need for product photography?
First, it is important to realize that it is practically impossible to make a perfect list of supplies that will suit everyone. Each type of product photography requires specific requirements. For example, the requirements for photographing cars or washing machines will differ from those of luxury watches. Some things you will most likely need:
- A good camera ($600+): Professional product photography starts with a professional camera. Nowadays, this does not necessarily have to be an SLR camera, professional system cameras also usually perform very well, for example, look at the Canon EOS R5 or M6. If you are looking for an SLR camera (also known as: DSLR), you could consider a Nikon D5600 or a Canon EOS 5D Mark 4. In any case, you are looking for a camera that produces sharp images and that offers the option of changing the lens. The brand makes little difference here. What is certain is that there are more lenses available for larger brands.
- Suitable lenses (€500 to €3000): A good lens can make or break a photo. Depending on the type of products you sell, you will need multiple lenses. For large products, a 12-24mm lens is often used. If you're looking for a lens that's a bit more versatile, you can look at an 18-200mm lens, because it has a large zoom range. If you're looking for a lens suitable for close-ups, look for a lens with a wide aperture, such as a 50mm or a 105mm.
- A sturdy tripod with a suitable tripod head (€500+): the prices here again vary greatly depending on the type of product photography you are going to perform. In general, you'll be fine with a sturdy tripod that can easily support the weight of your camera including lens. It is recommended to look for a 'geared' tripod head, because you can adjust it very precisely. A ball head is almost always not recommended, because it is difficult to be accurate with it. Product photos should not be skewed and consistency is important.
- A table suitable for photography (€0 to €1000): this will act as a surface for the products. Preferably, the table is height-adjustable and a white canvas is placed on it, intended for photography. It doesn't really matter what kind of table you use, you can in principle use any table you have if you stretch a white canvas suitable for photography on it.
- A photo box (€50 to €300): this is like a mini photo studio. Place the product in this, so the photo box must be large enough. A photo box removes unwanted shadows and gives a professional look to a photo quite easily. Some variants come with a lamp and different colored surfaces.
- Background cloth (€100 to €400): if you don't use a photo box, you need a 'backdrop'. This is a background cloth that hangs from a construction. The canvas is available in different colors and sizes.
- A laptop ($900 to $2500+): It plays a vital role throughout the entire product photography process. All photos will be stored on this and the camera will often be directly connected to the laptop during a photo shoot. In addition, the photos can be post-processed here. It is recommended that you use programs that make it easier to process large amounts of photos. A good screen with a realistic and fair color reproduction is recommended.
- Other attributes (€50 to €500): this concerns, for example, extra batteries for the camera, SD cards, lights, etc. These attributes are usually optional, but they promote convenience.
Taking care of your own product photography is a fun challenge that can benefit you and your company. However, you should take a number of practical matters into consideration. You must have enough space and it is important that you have enough (new) products. Otherwise it is not worth the investment. The investment is especially significant because you need a lot of different equipment and materials to take good product photos.