Natural lighting in product photography
Lighting is essential. Apart from the obvious (photography would be nothing without it), lighting sets the mood for a photograph and its proper use can make you focus on what’s important in the image. Conversely, poor lighting can detract from the image and what’s important about it. In the case of product photography what’s important is showing your product in the best possible way to get potential customers interested in looking closer. If they don’t do that, they may not buy it.
Product photography takes many forms. There’s the in-situ, lifestyle photography that can lend something like furniture a better sense of place – see the image in my short blog about Marc Wood Bespoke Joinery; and there’s the isolated product photography that you’ll commonly see on Amazon or eBay, where the product is shown in detail. This is usually used for smaller items that could get lost in in-situ photography.
Product photographs are most often shot against a white background using a lightbox with carefully controlled lighting to show off the product clearly and sharply with no shadows. But what I’m concentrating on today is natural light product photography.
The images here come from a series I took a few years ago for Mill House Farm of the many spring flowers they had for sale, with a brief for a strongly artistic look. I took advantage of a cloudy day to show them off dramatically.
I set myself up on a counter in the greenhouse with a blackout curtain for a backdrop, using nothing but the natural lighting in the middle of a cloudy day. Without any additional work on my part, the natural light eliminated harsh shadows and provided an even, all-round light that I would have had to work at reproducing in a lightbox.
The second image illustrates the use of light to bring your eye even further into the image – the tulip in this case was at an angle which allowed me, in post-processing, to accentuate the tips of the opening flower for a more artistically inspired look.
Each photographer has their own style and a part of mine is naturalistic, drawn on my fine art photography. Using natural light whenever I can is a part of that.
About the photographer
Paul Ligas is a professional commercial photographer based in Herefordshire, working across Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the UK. Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and connect on LinkedIn.