DIY Product Photography: A Guide to Natural Lighting for DIY Product Photography

Have you heard of the famous saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, this is true, especially in today’s digital era, where product photography has become an integral part of eCommerce and other marketing activities. When taking a product photo for marketing purposes, ensure that it is the best quality possible. Its quality should be attractive enough attract potential buyers.

Having professional product photoshoots can be quite expensive. If you are not ready to dig deep into your pocket, then we will give you insights on how to produce the perfect product photos for your marketing campaigns. Here are some simple DIY photography tips that use natural lighting to produce pro-like product photos.

6 Simple DIY Product Photography Tips for You

Basically, camera settings and lighting determine the outcome of a photo. Therefore, it is important to understand how to utilise your home’s natural lighting to make it advantageous during your product photoshoot.

Identify the Right Light Conditions

Lighting is the most crucial aspect of photography and the hardest to get right. Different products require different lighting, and as such, there is no quick fix for all your photoshoot solutions. You will have to do some trials and errors to get the right fix.

In most cases, natural light through a window is the to-go light for product photography. The window light focuses on a single direction producing shadows that create a 3D effect on your photos, giving them a ray of life.

Having natural light coming through a window is not all you need. You also need to check the weather to see whether it is in line with your photography needs. For example, depending on the outcome you are looking for, you may prefer a full sunny day over an overcast day and vice versa. The choice is yours!

Harness the Natural Light

After identifying the right source of natural light, the next step is to harness it. Harnessing here is more about controlling the brightness and shadows to produce perfectly shot photos.

Natural light is a product of mother nature, and, as such, it is unpredictable. For example, the sun keeps changing throughout the day, affecting the suitability of a spot for your shoot. However, you can tailor the existing lighting to meet your needs, but first, you need to understand the following terms.
• Front-lit: This is where the indirect light hits your product head-on.
• Side-lit: When the illumination comes from the product’s side.
• Back-lit: When the natural light hits from behind.

Here is a simple outline of how to perfectly harness the natural light.

Place a chair or a table next to a large well-illuminated window. Prop the background using a large white paper to give the right combination of shadows and lighting. If the sun is too strong, shield its effects by holding a diffuser (a thin white sheet) close to the window to soften and diffuse the light. Too much light makes colours appear more saturated.

On the other hand, if the sun disappears and the light intensity drops, use a reflector. A reflector is a white foam board or a white screen that intensifies light to fill shadows. You can move the reflector either close to or far away from the product to achieve your desired results. For example, for back-lit product photos, you can place the reflector in front of the object to allow natural light to bounce back on it.

Set up Your Background

Having found the right light harnessing equipment, be it a reflector or diffuser, you now need to set up an ideal background for your product photoshoot. A white backdrop is recommended as it reflects light on to the object producing evenly lit photos. With a white backdrop, the editing process becomes simpler, as it is easy to remove and edit it to suit your needs.

If you are shooting a small product, you can shoot on a table covered with a white sheet. Additionally, the wall behind it should also be covered in white. In the absence of a table, you can use a chair placed under a large window. Ensure that the white sheets are well clamped on the table, chair, and walls to reduce any movements during photography. Any slight movement can alter the lighting and the shadows, thus interfering with the final output.

Explore Different Angles of Your Camera

In product photography, the photos aim to deliver a certain message to the target audience. Therefore, ensure that the photos pass certain bits of the message not included in the product description. Do not be lazy to capture tens of photos using different camera angles.

Shooting from different angles gives the audience a 360-degree view of the product. Different angled photos depict creativity and also creates a sense of visual imaginations among your potential clients. You can take your photos from an eye-level, high angel, low angel, bird’s eye, or slanted. Your hero photo, which is the primary photo, should be taken from an eye-level. The other angels can cater for at least 12 supporting photos.

When capturing photos from different angles, ensure that your camera and tripod remain in one place while moving around the product. Additionally, you can go for tripod-free photos whereby you rotate the product from the same spot while moving the camera at different angles

Take Advantage of Your Camera's Manual Settings

Cameras, either professional or just mere smartphone cameras, have a setting feature that allows you to control every aspect of your photo. Before adjusting the settings, you need to have your tripod in place. A tripod is essential during product photography as it provides stability. If you don’t have a tripod, then you can stack up books to a considerable height.

To achieve the most from your camera, it is advisable to use the manual mode. Manual mode gives you the power to control settings that interfere with natural lighting such as aperture, white balance, shutter speed and ISO. When using a professional camera, take note of the following:
• Set a high aperture of between f/8 and f/14.
• A lower ISO means that your camera is less sensitive to light and will produce quality images. Adjust it according to the lighting conditions.
• For the white balance, it is advisable to use the automatic white balance setting where your camera will automatically choose the right setting according to the natural lighting.
• Shutter speed determines how long the shutter stays open when taking a photo. Longer shutter speeds produce beautiful, well-lit photos.

Worrying that you do not have a professional camera? Worry no more; here are some smartphone camera tips that you can adopt to produce top-notch photos:
• Avoid using the zoom feature. It lowers the quality of the product.
• Avoid using the selfie camera as it is not as clear as the back camera.
• Using the flash overexposes your product and causes colour distortions.
• Avoid shooting in dark, distorted backgrounds. White backgrounds give better photos.
• A rule of thumb, reduce your editing. Over editing interferes with the quality of the photo.
• Use a tripod to increase the stability of your phone to avoid blurry photos.

Make Your Shoot

With the above DIY tips in place, it is now time to do a professional product shoot. Keep adjusting your product to capture the desired details. Make use of your camera setting and the natural lighting to produce eye-catching product photos.

Shoot as many photos as possible. After the shoot, it is advisable to upload the photos to a computer or a laptop for a closer and personal view. Choose the best photos from the gallery, edit them if need be, and then use them for marketing to boost your sales.

In conclusion, it is possible to use natural lighting at home to produce professionally shot product photos by implementing simple DIY photography tips. If your first attempt is not so successful, keep on practising until you perfect your skills. It is time to unleash the hidden professional photographer in you!