Product Photography; Most important accessory?

posted on 12th of january, 2011

Maybe I am not qualified to be writing about product photography since I have only given it a whirl for two weeks but then again; maybe my lack of experience will also help other newbies

I do not like to think of myself as lazy; I prefer to call myself a conservationist. I conserve my personal energy. If I can take a short-cut and get the same result; good. If I can bypass an important step and still achieve quality; then I have conserved energy. Maybe I can use the conserved energy to do more photography.

Problem is; my desire to conserve my personal energy has resulted in massive amounts of extra work. So; after two weeks of shooting the same objects multiple times; I have learned one area that can not be short-cut.

Unless you are shooting grunge; your objects must be clean. I do not mean "sitting on the shelf for a week without being disturbed" clean; I mean really clean without dust, hairs and fingerprints. Sure, you can clone out some stuff in photoshop or your favorite processor but do you have any idea how much work it is to clean up a dusty product.

Therefore, I have assembled my cleaning kit that consists of the following items:
lint-free cloth, various kinds of cleaning liquids, polishing cloth, q-tips, magnifier and last (but not least), a strong light source so I can inspect my items before I ever take the images.

Your background also needs a shaking to get out all the hair and other room dust. I do not have any animals in my home but somehow, there always seems to be hairs on my backdrop; I must shed hair like a wooly bear.

Next tip; take time to get your lights set correctly. Sure, again, you can cut out the background in photoshop with levels, curves, dodging the highlights, etc. But, is is so much easier to get the lighting even so that all RGB values are at 255 (white).

Anyone wish to share their insights concerning product photograph. My next step is to be a bit creative with my product photography; starting shooting concepts or ideas, not just products. Temperature here in Far East Russia was -46 today, -47 yesterday; I can take a couple hours outside with nature then I am back in the studio to warm up; so I will need some good products or concepts to shoot.

Comments (17)

Posted by Chinchoi on January 16, 2011
Do it like forensic expert, but instead of gathering evidences, get rid all of them, i am talking about your finger prints!! Make sure you hold your product at the area that you won't be photographing it head-on, especially shiny reflective surface.
Posted by Chinchoi on January 16, 2011
Do it like forensic expert, but instead of gathering evidences, get rid all of them, i am talking about your finger prints!! Make sure you hold your product at the area that you won't be photographing it head-on, especially shiny reflective surface.
Posted by Sobek85 on January 14, 2011
Nice article
Posted by Noonie on January 14, 2011
Oh, I'm so spontaneous that the cleaning part is something I have issues with! :( Also need the lights, like you said in your other blog...
Posted by Calyx22 on January 14, 2011
Great article, Visceralimage. I too, have learned lessons about dust and smudges the hard way. Even though perfect in every other way, I have had to scrap some shots because of those dang smudges and dust that I "thought" I had cleaned off. Apparently, not well enough!
Posted by Visceralimage on January 13, 2011
Good Additions Fleyeing, thanks
Posted by Fleyeing on January 13, 2011
I'm amazed you didn't mention a spray can with pressurized air to remove and blow off dust. Those are used by electronics repair people to clean dust on electronic parts that can't be accessed easily. You can also fix a narrow plastic tube on the nozzle to remove dust in narrow spaces, like on a keyboard. It's much faster than wiping dust off.

You can't remove fatty stains with the "dry" method but most is dust anyways. The air in the can is clean so you don't risk adding new dust like with rubbing. You could also use a vacuum cleaner but it's less efficient and powerful than high pressure blowing.

By wiping plastic objects (like keyboards) you also build up static electricity in it that will attract small flying dust particles while you are shooting. Therefore, your setup should be in a reasonable dust-free room without curtains, open wardrobes etc...
Posted by Visceralimage on January 13, 2011

Partly for the educational experience; doing product photography requires a diffferent type of light setup and different techniques; worthy of some time experimenting.
Posted by Brianarbuthnot on January 13, 2011
Dont know how you guys can make yourselves do something so boring no matter how much its worth.
Posted by Diver721 on January 13, 2011
Outstanding blog. Wow it's cold there.
Posted by Themalni on January 13, 2011
Hmm, very useful tips indeed! I've learned this hard way that unless the object I want to shoot is in perfect condition, I shouldn't bother to photograph it - a way too much time is wasted for cleaning it up on computer.
Posted by Heathse on January 13, 2011
So right! And not just and animals as well...and watch those fingernails!
Posted by Omegatransfer on January 13, 2011
You're just totally right, John. I was very upset after I made a photo session with my brand new wireless keyboard/mouse set ascertaining there is a lot of dust appearing. I thought being brand new eliminates the need the objects to be cleaned out. Such a good lesson for me.
Posted by Brookebecker on January 13, 2011
I am glad I am not the only one who shoots white backgrounds to be white and doesn't knock them out in Photoshop later.
Posted by Gmargittai on January 12, 2011
Yes I subscribe to the cleaning part. Once I shot some dolls, very beautiful, but half of them could not be used because they were so full of dust I was not able to clean them even with hours of photoshop.
Posted by Visceralimage on January 12, 2011
Thanks David, seldom trim my beard but that could be the source of some of the short currlies
Posted by Davidwatmough on January 12, 2011
You are right. I had to buy a new computer mouse for some recent images because a 'used' mouse is microscopically filthy and cannot be cleaned. If you have a beard and trim it fragments fall off for days..... the same will apply with a haircut. David.

Comments (17)

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Photo credits: Moose Henderson.

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