Engineering a Flat-Item Product Shoot Studio

Nov 27, 2012

Engineering a Flat-Item Product Shoot Studio

One of my favorite areas of photography is product-shots. It takes a special skill to be able to highlight the important aspects of a product in one photo, and further more, to persuade someone to buy that item.

Recently, I was asked to shoot a small set of products for a friend (jewelry, specifically). However, I didn't have an ideal setup for photographing flat products. I couldn't use the usual light tent, but I still had to take the photos on a white background. Luckily, I was able to engineer something together.

Here's the basis of the setup I came up with:

  • A multi-disc reflector setup as the "light table" for the product atop of household-product-supports.
  • B400 strobe underneath the reflector; I don't have a ground-level tripod, so I just tucked it neatly into a box.
  • B800 strobe on light-stand with PLM umbrella for the overhead key light.
  • Canon 7D on the Manfrotto tripod, balancing across three various shelving units.
  • Tethered MacBook for previewing and on-the-spot editing of the shots
  • And of course, whatever product I'm going to photograph, placed on the multi-disc.

And photos of the setup:

As an added bit of insurance that the tripod didn't tip forward, I decided to tie some 30lb fishing line to the back leg:

The final shot turned out decently:

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the near-studio-quality photos out of such a thrown-together setup. Granted, I am using strobes and a decent camera, but it was being able to put them together in a creative way that made the photos turn out as great as they did. I'll update this post with a link to the real shoot as soon as they're able to go public.