camera lessons

6 tips for low cost product photography

The internet has seen an explosion of new online businesses selling pretty much everything. And I suspect we have only just seen the beginning of what this means for retail.

Any business selling something needs photography, but this can be expensive if just starting out. However with some clever planning this product shoot I did for a new business earlier this year cost under $2K and involved shots in two different locations over two days. There were over 24 products and a variety of packages and on location shots to be done. CLICK : Check the PDF brochure. to see the PDF.

If you are going to do your own photography then it needs to look great. Here are 6 tips to make it easier for you:

1. Use a tripod. There are some cheap ones on line these days as well as the flexible low cost gorilla type stands. A tripod will give you a consistent look and feel. And if you are using an IPhone then buy a stand for it, don't prop it up! If you only need a couple of shots then sure hand held is OK. But there is nothing worse as your business grows to see inconsistencies across the range.

2. Lighting. Lighting is the key to any great image. Lighting gives depth to your product and shows off its attributes. Unfortunately most people ignore this and their images are flat and uninspiring. It has to look 3D and inviting. Lighting rigs in studios are very expensive, as are good quality speed lights. So, use natural light! Position your product near a window with clean light coming through it. Then go to Bunnings and buy some white foam board card or any white reflective surface. Position this on the opposite side to the window and the light will bounce back onto the other side of your product. Its very effective and arguably a much nicer light than some studio lights.

3. Bounce cards. As above, buy more cards of different reflective values and bounce light around your product to give a softer more enveloping light.


4. Clean white background. Don't get too fussed about a pure white background unless you have use of some good editing software. But use some white card that can flex against the wall. This way there is no corner and the focus is on the image.

5. Shoot the product in its natural surroundings, how it will be used. This means you do not have to worry about the white background etc. You will still need to bounce light around to get a good image, but overall its easier and can help the sales process to see the product benefits in use.

6. Shoot lots of images. Shoot lots of variety and one will naturally feel best for you. Remember its not about what you think, but what your ideal customer will think. Practice makes perfect and try different locations and times of day. 

And if you want a lesson in how to best set something up for your future needs then give me a call and I'd be happy to help. 

Copyright infringement can result in big fines

Here's an example.

An architect appoints a photographer to take some photos of one of their designed and newly built houses. They are extremely happy with the outcome and share, at no fee, the photographs with the builder who then posts them onto his web site.

The architect has paid for the photos and therefore feels they own them.

Unfortunately whilst the architect is trying to be nice and sharing the images with the builder, they are now in breach of copyright. They have no right to pass on the images whether a fee is paid or not.

In Australia the copyright is automatically held by the photographer. There is no requirement to put the copyright symbol on the images, although that can help highlight it in advance.

The photographer provides a license to the architect to use the images for the promotion of their business. They have no right to pass the images onto third parties, alter the images, charge for them or give them away. They do not own them. They have a right through the license to use them for the agreed purpose of promotion of their business.

Even if the photographer does not make this clear when quoting, the law still states that copyright remains with the photographer unless there is a specific agreement to hand copyright over. (Which is highly unlikely, as the photographer can then no longer use the images for the promotion of their business or otherwise). 

In this example the architect should have communicated with the photographer and asked what the procedure would be for the builder to utilise them. In most cases the photographer will be more than happy to have the builder pay a small fee for the use of some or all of the images.

Think of it like this. You can't go an buy a painting and then take a photograph of it, and sell the prints. It works exactly the same.

Photographers have a program to embed code into images and can see where on the web they show up. 

If you are unsure, just ask the photographer and get any agreement in writing.

There is more information at