Ep 310: A complete guide to product photography


Product photography is even more popular and in-demand than ever thanks to the exponential growth in online shopping and marketing. In this episode, you’ll discover a comprehensive introduction into the world of product photography, how you can get started and what you need to know about the different styles of shooting.

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Show Notes

There are different styles of product photography:

  • Catalogue
  • Advertising
  • Lifestyle


  • Simple photography that shows exactly what the product looks like
  • Products should be sharp all the way through so consumers can zoom in and look at stitching etc
  • Colour also needs to be accurate.
  • Products are cleanly lit, often on a white background

Advertising photography

  • This is where things get creative. You’re selling a dream not the product.
  • Aspirational
  • High end
  • High production
  • 1-3 days to create a shot


A lifestyle brand tries to sell an image and identity, rather than a product. They want people to associate their brand to a certain lifestyle. When lifestyle brands advertise, they tend to focus on what kind of person would buy the product, rather than the product itself.


Cyclorama: large curtain, wall, paper, plexiglass formed into a concave sweep
The advantage is there are no edges where wall meets floor, these can be distracting

Getting started

Camera Gear

  • DSLR/Mirrorless/smartphone
  • Tripod
  • Reflector
  • Continuous lights
  • Macro lens 100mm


  • Roll paper or plexiglass/perspex or light tent for smaller products
  • Blu Tack
  • clamps/pegs
  • Glue Gun
  • Blocks
  • Black and white card
  • Makeup mirrors
  • Fishing line
  • Steamer or iron
  • Mannequin
  • Cleaning alcohol

80% prep 20% execution

  • Spend the time getting the lighting right in camera
  • Get rid of labels
  • Line everything up so it’s square
  • Work the shot
  • Watch out for dust etc
  • Clean this in pre-production not post.

Props and styling

  • Keep props simple or invest in a good stylist. This is the difference between meh and amazing
  • Collect props/timber//wall paper/ textures that help tell your story

Product photography background suggestions

  • White Background
  • Black Background
  • Bokeh
  • Textures-timber
  • Wallpaper
  • Fabric

Focus Stacking

Final merged image

  1. Use a tripod
  2. Compose and expose image using manual mode
  3. Focus on front object
  4. Take the first exposure.
  5. Without moving the camera or changing any settings, move the focus point to focus on a different part of the image
  6. Repeat this focus and shoot process until you’ve covered all focus points across the image
  7. Open Photoshop
  8. File>Scripts >Load files into stack> Browse and select all the images.
  9. images will open into new layers in Photoshop.
  10. select All Layers.
  11. Edit>Auto align layers
  12. EDIT>Auto Blend layers
  13. Check


Multiple exposures
Nutella Shot

  • Settings
    F16 ISO 100
    SS 1/200th secs Compose your sot
  • Focus and then lock focus by turning AF off
  • Create a base exposure
  • Shoot multiple images of sides, back and top of product
  • Merge images in photoshop using blend mode lighten
  • Mask out unwanted details

Below are some super quick examples.
Light source Godex AD 200 + Large Octa using flash

Final merged image
Above: 1. Backlighting
2. Camera left highlight
3. Camera right highlight
4. Front of product
5. Edge lighting

Open files as layers in photoshop
Blend mode Lighten

Light tents are a great way to get started with product photography. You can buy one or make your own using white paper.

DIY Lighting setup

Image shot with daylight only showing reflections and dull stone

Image combined using DIY light tent, focus stacking and light painting.


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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