Product photography is a branch of commercial photography which is about accurately but attractively representing a product. The principal application of product photography is in product catalogues and brochures, with a proportion of product images also being used in advertising.
The challenges of product photography are generally:
- To represent the product without distortion
- To represent the product in good lighting, with soft shadows and no identifiable reflections
- To photograph a range of products rapidly, one at a time, so that the shadows and light are consistent
Particularly difficult products to photograph include
- Transparent products
- Chrome and other highly-reflective products
- Products which are white or black
For most types of product, the standard set up is a light tent big enough for the largest product in the range, an infinite cove, a micro lens, a tripod and studio strobe lights. Photo floods can be used instead of strobes, which makes visualising the shadows easier, although this is generally not a huge issue when using a light-tent.
For some types of product, such as jewellery, a textured cloth in a contrasting colour (green, for gold) is preferred. Some products also benefit from a dim reflection, which can be achieved by placing them on a black or white glossy tile, purchased from a building supplies or DIY store. In some cases, the commissioners of a catalogue will want a particular look which distinguishes them from competitors, such as using crumpled and then smoothed aluminium foil as the background.