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7 Key Elements of Product Photography

By on June 6, 2012 — Updated on December 22, 2013

In product photography, your product is the star. Every aspect on this field should focus on how to photograph your product to make sales. In which, the photo alone could cast out “buy me” message. The elements of Product Photography will help you achieve that purpose.

The basic Rules of Composition that are applied in the other fields of Photography are also used in Product Photography though there are few variations depending on the style and the taste of a photographer.

If you hear professional photographers who say, “There is no rules in Photography!” just don’t focus your attention on it.

Take note that you are in this webpage because you want to learn the basics, and because of that, we have these elements and some basic rules in product photography.

The background knowledge about the Elements and Principle of Arts, which is usually referred as Elements and Principles of Composition when comes to Photography, as well as the knowledge about Light and Lighting are also of big help to have great output.


The key elements of Product Photography are Background, Depth of Field, Lighting, Props, Reflection, Shadow and Sharpness.

1. Background

A seamless white background is commonly used when the photo is to be used for online stores. In this case, post processing is highly recommended to get an absolute white by adjusting the right level of whiteness in Photoshop. However, if you really need to use colorful background, make sure that it will complement to your product and will help your product to pop up.

Choosing the right background is also essentially especial in photographing crystals. Since crystals are clear, graduated or colorful backgrounds are preferred than plain white.

2. Depth of Field

This works best when you are working with patterned products like beads bracelet or food.

Set your DSLR (with Telephoto Lens if available) to Aperture priority with lowest possible value of f-stop then aim to focus only a part of your subject and leave the rest of the area blurry. This can add emphasis and interest to your photo. On the other hand, you can focus the whole product and let only the foreground and background blurry when you are having a location shot.

3. Lighting

This is the most important among the Key Elements. Take note that without light, photography is nothing, and Product Photography has meticulous lighting setups.

There are particular products that need bottom lighting; there products that need more than three light source and there are products which only need back light. Generally, soft light is used.

Therefore, if the most commonly used Rembrandt Lighting won’t give you the best product photo, then I devise you to use your own method of lighting. Just experiment.

4. Props

These are the stuffs that will add story your photo or may serve as support of the product. Rather than shooting an empty glass pitcher, fill it with orange juice and ice cubes and put one piece of orange on its side to catch more attention. Adding props can suggest the usability of your product or the lifestyle that it can offer to your customers. You may consider also adding props on your photo during post processing.

5. Reflection

One of the elements to consider for a successful photography in any field is the reflection. The bride and her reflection on the mirror, the blue mountain reflected on the still water and the sky reflected on a building glass are only some ways that reflection is being creatively used in Photography.

Reflection can be good and can bad in Product Photography. The subtle reflection  known as Tiffany Effect and the reflection of a black paper strip on a crystal vase are good but the unwanted reflection such as your reflection (who is taking the photo) on the surface of a highly polished stainless steel ware is bad. Good reflection enhances the beauty of your photo while bad reflection ruins it obviously.

6. Shadow

If there is light, there should be shadow because it complements light. The light produces tints and the shadow give shades and this is important to create good color value.

The cast shadow of your product can also help harmonized the product with its background. If you are not satisfied the natural cast shadow, you can create an artificial shadow with Photoshop.

7. Sharpness

Your product’s photo should as sharp as how you target higher sales. The blurry Circles of Confusion produced by wide-open aperture is different from the blur as result of a camera shake. If you cannot control your hand steady, use tripod and remote shutter release device. If the latter is not available, use the timer of your camera to release shutter.

In addition to these key elements, the different photography techniques and methods which you find at the different corners of the World Wide Web will also give additional points to have stunning product photographs.

You need also to remember that one of the major factors for a successful digital photography is the Advance Technology, aside from Technical Know-how, Light and Composition; so it is important to invest  in an appropriate gears and computer applications if you want to make money out of Product Photography.

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  1. RonLeyba

    June 14, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Product photography jobs are one of the hardest photography task IMHO. Why? it is because you have to capture an image of the product that can tell how that product differs to it’s counterparts.
    I invite you to read: 8 Basic Camera Shots for Photography AmateursMy Profile

  2. tatess

    June 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    We need a good photographer when it comes to product promotion. Good photos catches the eyes of the consumer and they have a tendency to buy it buy the look of the package or box.
    I invite you to read: Featured Blog – Fit and Fashion MomMy Profile

    • RonLeyba

      June 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      To add more at your comment TaTess, first impressions leaves a mark, it last. So it’s better to have a great product photo by known photographer for a bit high price than a not so good photo from a starting photographer with a bit low price.
      I invite you to read: The Best Job For Video GamersMy Profile

  3. carmel

    June 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    “Your product is always the king” and your customer is always right. :-)
    I invite you to read: Exploring GlasgowMy Profile


    December 22, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Great beginner article on product photography, but there are so many tiny nuances it takes years to perfect. One of my favorites: boil water for ice cubes before freezing in order to get clear ice instead of cloudy ice.

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