How do I do my own product photography?
November 22, 2012 11:12 AM Subscribe
I would like to start doing my own product photography. What do I need to (a) buy and (b) learn?
posted by enn to Technology (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have a small online shop and up until now I have been hiring a professional photographer friend of a friend to take the product shots (mostly clothing, a few smaller accessory-type things). I have been very happy with the results, but I need more flexibility and quicker turnaround—the problem I've been having is that I spend a bunch of money on merchandise and then I have to wait weeks or months to list it in the store and start making my money back because I am waiting on the photographer to have time in her schedule to do the shoot, and then I'm waiting for the post-processing to be done, and sometimes I am waiting for additional merchandise to arrive so that I can schedule one big shoot instead of a bunch of small ones.
I try to buy merchandise in chunks but it's unavoidable that sometimes I'll get one or two new items that need to go up on the website quickly, with no additional new merchandise due to arrive for a month or more, and it seems crazy and not cost-effective to ask a professional photographer to come out for just two items.
So, I'd like to start doing the photography myself. But I have no training or experience, and there are so many options for cameras and lenses and lights, and I have no idea where to start.
Reading the previous AskMe questions, everyone stresses the importance of lighting. But my photographer has only used natural light for all of her photos for me and I have been very happy with the results. I have been placing the products in "realistic" settings, i.e., against normal domestic backgrounds (walls, wood tabletops), not in a lightbox or against a white background. Do I still need a fancy lighting setup or can I get away with natural lighting?
I'm leaning toward a mirrorless camera rather than a DSLR. Am I on the right track here?
I have no idea what kind of lenses I need.
Although these shots are for the web I'd still like to get the colors as accurate as possible. I guess that means a color-corrected workflow. Do I need Lightroom? Photoshop? Both? Something else?
Obviously I have a lot to learn. Are there books I can buy? Should I take a class? Hire a professional to show me the ropes and provide tips on my setup? How realistic is it to think that I could get up to speed pretty quickly? I don't need to be a good photographer in general, I don't need to know how to take action shots or portraits or anything else, I just need to be competent at taking these specific kinds of product shots.
I'd like to spend under/around $1000 for the camera and lenses initially, but I could go higher if it's necessary to get good results, and I don't mind spending more money over time on additional lenses or lights or whatever else I'll need. I've been looking at the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Sony NEX-5R based mostly on The Wirecutter's recommendations, but, again, I'm pretty overwhelmed by all of the available options.