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In product photography, the lighting of a photo plays a significant role in setting the tone and mood you are trying to convey. There are multiple ways to light a product. However, the two main ways are with natural light and artificial light.
What is Natural Light?
Natural light is gifted to us by sunlight. During the day you can create a crisp and bright photograph just by setting up close to a window. Using a white board to bounce light, you can easily create an even lighting palette. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that natural light is less controllable. Natural lighting is affected by different factors, including time of day, weather and location.
What is Artificial Light?
Artificial lighting comes from a manual light source. This style of lighting allows you to have direct control over your light source when it comes to harshness, angles, softness and color. There are many forms of lighting to choose from: speed lights are great for smaller spaces, strobe lights allow you to use regular flashes of light and umbrella lights that help to diffuse the flash, creating a softer light on your product.
Once you’ve decided on a light source, there are a few things to consider before you start snapping photographs.
Your background is very important. You never want your product to get lost in the background of your image. You want it to be the star. Products with reflective packaging look amazing on a white background, which helps to distribute the light by bouncing off the white. Using a black background can create a moody image. Putting a sleek bottle of nail polish up against a black background can convey luxury. While classic neutrals are always great, don’t be afraid to add in the color. Pops of red, blue and orange help create fun and are very aesthetically pleasing the eye.
Reflectors act as a mirror for light that helps to redirect the light. When manipulated it can diffuse a harsh light, bounce light and add extra flare. You can purchase reflectors on Amazon or your local photography shop. You can also create a reflector using simple home products like aluminum on cardboard.
Use a Clean Product
When you photograph your product, you will always want to be sure the product is clean of fingerprints, scratches and dust. If you are shooting a reflective product, have gloves and dusters on hand. Additionally, make sure your label is readable. This makes a major difference when developing your image in post-production.
Interested in learning more about product photography? Click here to learn how to shoot product macro photography.