So you want to photograph products for your business but don’t have thousands to drop on expensive lighting and camera gear? No worries, I’ve got you covered with some simple DIY hacks to get professional product shots on a budget.
Let’s dive in and look at 5 DIY hacks.
Hack #1: Use Natural Lighting From a Window
Natural lighting is the easiest and most budget-friendly way to photograph products. All you need is a large window that lets in plenty of bright light.
Find a spot in your home that gets great natural light for most of the day. Near a large window is ideal, preferably one facing east or west. South-facing windows can work too, but the light may be too harsh during midday.
For the best results, photograph during the golden hours, when the sun is low on the horizon. The soft, warm glow will make your products shine. If golden hour isn’t possible, aim for the brightest time of day when the sun is highest in the sky.
To diffuse the light, tape tracing or parchment paper over the window. This helps soften any harsh shadows and creates an even glow.
You can also bounce the light onto your product using a large white foam board. Place the board opposite the window to reflect the light back onto your subject.
Natural lighting works for most products, but some may need extra illumination. In that case, you can supplement window light with a couple of tables or floor lamps with daylight-balanced bulbs. Place them on either side of your product, angled in at 45 degrees. And Done!
Hack #2: Create a DIY Lightbox From Cardboard
A lightbox allows you to control the lighting for product photos, which is key to getting high-quality images. You don’t need an expensive studio lightbox to get started. With some simple materials, you can make your own DIY lightbox.
All you need is a large cardboard box, tissue or white paper, tape, and some lighting like desk lamps. Start by removing any printing from the cardboard box and seal up any holes or openings with tape. Next, line the inside of the box with white tissue or paper and securely tape it in place. This will act as your backdrop.
Position your box so one of the open sides is facing you. Place your product in the center of the box. Now set up your lighting. Place the desk lamps on either side of the box, angled in to light your product evenly from both sides.
You want bright, diffuse lighting with no harsh shadows. Using the tissue paper backdrop and controlling the angle of your lights will help create an even spread of soft light. You may need to experiment with different angles and intensities to get it just right.
Turn off any overhead room lights that can cause conflicting shadows and color temperatures.
Once you have your lighting positioned, you’re ready to start shooting. Place your camera on a tripod and set it to aperture priority mode. Start with an aperture around f/8 for most products which provides good depth of field. Take some test shots and review the results. Make any final adjustments needed to the product placement, lighting or camera settings.
Now just play with the setting, I am sure you will get your perfect setting.
Hack #3: Use Reflectors and Diffusers for Softer Lighting
To get soft, even lighting without harsh shadows on your products, consider using reflectors and diffusers. These tools help manipulate your light source and are easy to make yourself.
A reflector is simply a surface that bounces light onto your subject. You can purchase folding reflectors, but a cheaper DIY option is using a large piece of white cardboard, foam board, or poster board. Position the reflector on the opposite side of your light source to fill in any shadows on your product. The closer the reflector is to your product, the softer the reflected light will be.
Diffusers, on the other hand, soften harsh light by filtering and scattering it. You can make a simple diffuser by taping pieces of tracing paper, parchment paper or white tissue paper over your light source. The more layers you use, the softer the light will become.
For small product shots, a makeshift light tent created from white fabric or bed sheets also works great as a diffuser.
Using reflectors and diffusers, you can achieve beautifully soft product lighting without expensive equipment. Experiment with different materials and placements to get the perfect softly lit shot.
Your products will shine through without dark shadows or glare, allowing you to create professional-looking images on a budget.
Hack #4: Edit and Enhance Photos With Free Software
Once you’ve taken your product photos, it’s time to edit and enhance them. While expensive photo editing software like Photoshop can produce amazing results, the good news is you don’t need it for basic editing. There are free tools that work great for small businesses on a budget.
One of the best free options is GIMP. This open-source software lets you do things like:
- Crop, resize, and straighten photos
- Adjust brightness, contrast, and color
- Remove blemishes and red-eye
- Add text or watermarks
GIMP has a bit of a learning curve, but there are many tutorials online to help you get started. For simple edits, you can’t beat the price.
Another excellent free tool is Slazzer. This AI-powered background remover software instantly removes and alters image backgrounds. It comes in three formats: API, desktop software, and plugins.
Slazzer is ideal for:
- E-commerce sellers creating product images
- Car dealers editing vehicle photos
- Designers and photographers in need of quick background removal
- Individuals creating images for social media
Using free tools like GIMP and Slazzer, you can professionally edit your product photos without breaking the bank.
And there you have it – five simple DIY hacks to help you photograph products on a budget. With some basic equipment you likely already have, you can create amazing product shots in your own home.