Essential Equipment for Product Photography
Product photography can be fun, but challenging. When immersing yourself in product photography, you're often working for a client who considers the product shots the essential element in their advertising campaign. You want to do everything that's possible to make the product look great because it is the focus.
The equipment you use to make the products look fantastic varies by what you're shooting. Your camera and lenses remain the same but you need all different kinds of lights and other accessories. Lighting a car is a lot different from lighting a diamond necklace or a box of medicine.
If You're Shooting a Large Product
The tools that you need for lighting a car are similar to what you would use for people. The reason is because you usually need a wide frame to include the whole product. Large lights are needed to effectively light the car from a distance. Large diffusion frames can also be used to cover the entire object. This is especially true when shooting outdoors and fighting harsh daylight.
A lot of bounce board should also be on hand so you can create nice soft lighting. Soft light looks more glamorous compared to harsh light.
You should have a large selection of flags on hand because product photography can get very complicated. Flags are metal frames covered with a thick black cloth that vary in size. They typically come four feet by four feet, two feet by three feet and eighteen inches by twenty four inches in length. They're used to cut and shape light. After all, product photography is where the tiniest details matter. Companies also pay top dollar to have their products look great. Give them their money's worth.
If You're Shooting a Small Product
The equipment used for lighting small products is basically miniature versions of what you use for the large ones. Small lights with narrow beams, a dot and fingers set (tiny flags), tiny light panels, and tiny cuts of bounce board are what you need for the small stuff.
You should also have plenty of stands and the hardware to put a light anywhere. Lighting small products can get equipment intensive pretty quickly.
What Else Do I Need For Small Products?
Besides lights, stands, bounce cards and flags, you might also want to have a mini stage for product photography. It's basically a tiny white cyclorama; a background without corners so it appears to have infinite space. If you're shooting on video, then a turntable can give your product a spinning effect.
One of the most important items to have is usually the most neglected. You want to have cleaners and gloves on set to make sure the product always looks new and isn't full of finger prints.
The equipment needed for product photography is generally universal for all products: lights, stands, bounce, diffusion, and flags. What you need varies between products. Large products need large lights and small products need small lights.