I get asked frequently about what product photography equipment I like and use for my product photos. So I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite pieces of product photography equipment I’ve collected over the years.
I’ve talked a lot about how important product photos are. Learning how to take a decent picture has been on of the best skills I’ve learned as a handmade business owner selling online. Remember people can’t see your products in person, they only know what they see in the photos you take.
Before I share, I want you to remember:
Don’t compare yourself too much. Everyone starts somewhere and everyone is at a different place in their business with their photos. Don’t compare yourself too much to everyone else. You have no idea how long others have been doing this for or what their background is. They might be a professional for all you know! It’s great to learn from people who are great photographers but don’t get too down on yourself if you’re not there yet.
Work with what you have. A lot of this stuff you can DIY if you want. I’ve DIYed it all but over the years I’ve upgraded a lot of my product photography equipment as I’ve learned more about it and had the money to invest photography equipment.
Fancy equipment isn’t everything. I have seen many terrible photos taken with expensive equipment as well as gorgeous photos taken with relatively inexpensive equipment. The most important component of photography is what’s in your head about how to take a photo. Sure good product photography equipment will definitely enhance that knowledge but it isn’t everything.
My DSLR camera – Canon EOS30D (It’s super old, I know!)
Now this is a pretty old camera. My brother is actually a professional photographer and he had purchased a new camera and gave me this one because was broken at the time. I sent it into Canon who pretty much gutted it and made it work good as new. I’ve now had it ever since I first started selling 6 years ago. It’s a 10 year old camera but for me, it works really well especially with some nicer new lenses. Also I figure why buy something new if I don’t need to. I have my eye on several new cameras but again, I’ll just going to wear this one down until I actually need (and not just want!) a new one.
This is the one I have my eye on. My brother has it, I’ve used it a number of times and love it. Now, it’s spendy but I actually do photography on the side occasionally, mostly for close friends and family. I’ve done newborn shoots, family shoots, seniors, kids, and weddings here and there. I don’t do it all the time but I do paid shoots enough that I would want to invest in a nicer camera whenever the time comes and old Betsy bites the dust.
I recommend this camera for someone who was wanting to get started and move up from a point and shoot or iphone and get a DSLR.
This is a lens I purchased more for lifestyle photos than products because my products are tiny (jewelry). I have my macro lens that helps with that. But I do use this lens for model shoots with jewelry being worn and other photos that I don’t need close ups.
This is a portrait lens and one I didn’t specifically get for my jewelry but I definitely have used a lot. I initially got it for a wedding I photographed and I spent some of the money I earned on it. I have LOVED this lens and have gotten some great jewelry model shots with this (and a bunch of cute shots of my kiddos because I just can’t help myself!)
Why hello there my most expensive and favorite lens! This is a macro lens which takes very close detailed shots. I do jewelry and so I really wanted to get some great close up shots that I couldn’t with standard lenses. This is a spendy lens but I saved up for it and it was well worth the price tag for what I’ve gotten out of it. I feel has definitely paid for itself.
I love this bag and waited until I had a paid photo shoot to get it. I love Jo Totes and all the stylish camera bags that look like beautiful purses while at the same time holding so much and protecting all that expensive photography equipment. This is the style of bag I have though I opted for a simple black.
Pretty much all of my ‘official’ product photos on my website and in my Etsy shop are done with my ‘fancy camera’. For everything else I use my iphone. It is my trusty sidekick and I use it for all of my Instagram photos as well as other quick shots I need. Most newer phones will do a pretty decent job. Digital cameras definitely have come a long way in the past decade!
Why am I showing you my phone case? Because it protects my phone which has my camera. Phones are expensive! I love the Otterbox defender case. I am pretty rough on phones and have three boys who love to wrestle around. Nuff said.
I’ve always had Otterbox defender cases with all my phones and even though they are not the prettiest and are kind of thick, I’ve never broken a phone no matter how many times I’ve dropped it. And that’s a lot of times. Now my husband, who likes a much slimmer case, has broken his phone. Twice. That has stopped him from teasing me about the chunky case!
This is one of my all time favorite products (besides my camera that is!) because I use it all the time for my product photos I use online but also for my more impromptu shots that I take for Instagram and other promotional shots. I use the diffuser to soften direct light which can cause shadows and then use the reflector to reflect light into areas that are dark. This set is collapsible and also can come in different sizes depending on your products. I pretty much keep mine out all the time so I can just grab it when taking some quick photos or photos for social media.
Natural light is always best. I took my photos with natural light for a while but I’m in Oregon so it’s really difficult to get consistently good lighting. Also when I did go outside or try to take photos during the day I had my three little boys crawling over me. So try as I might, I decided I needed to get good at taking photos with a lightbox at night when they were asleep.
When I first started I had a DIY light box I made with a cardboard box and tissue paper. It worked just fine for a few years but eventually the tissue paper tore and I didn’t want to build a new one so just bought one. Also, I really liked the fact that I could fold my new one down and save some room when I wasn’t in photography mode, working on other things in my business and needed some space in my studio.
This is very similar to the ones I have now (I have a smaller and larger light box). Then I had bought a kit similar to these ones so it came with lights, though you can find lights at Goodwill or Ikea that would work.
Whatever lightbox you use, you will want to use daylight bulbs or full spectrum light bulbs to produce a nice natural light instead of the yellow or blue toned lights you might find from other light bulbs. They are a little more spendy but when you are talking about lighting in photography it is crucial to have proper lighting.
Regardless of which bulb you use, I highly recommend using exactly the same bulbs for all of your light sources for your light box (I use three lamps for mine). That way, the color temperature of the light is totally uniform and you can accurately set your white balance on your camera.
A tripod helpse keep everything stable preventing shaking and blurring. It allows you to keep things set at the same position. This can be very helpful when photographing a lot of similar items you want photographed in the same way.
This is the tripod I purchased for my larger more professional camera. I spent a bit on it because I was using it for a wedding and it was highly recommended by my brother (who is a photographer) and so far it has worked out really well.
This iphone tripod is also really handy when I have taken photos or videos with my iphone, which I do mostly for instagram or other quick pictures. This one has worked out pretty well for me so far in the year I’ve had it.
I like this one because the legs are flexible and can bend so it allows for a little more possibilities when setting up for a photo.
I got this book when it first came out and love how it takes you through how to use your ‘fancy camera’ and move away from an auto mode. I bet you can find everything online information wise but I really liked having the physical book and taking it out when I needed reminders about what ISO is, or white balance, or shutter speeds…. It’s a great, easy to understand reference book that I highly recommend to someone wanting to learn how to use their camera.
It helped me to gain confidence in my own skills as a photographer.
Photo Editing Programs
I have to confess, I don’t use photoshop. Don’t judge me. I actually have Lightroom but I’ve never had time to sit down and really figure it out throughly, especially when I’m been in a hurry to edit photos, which is all the time. One day I’ll do it, I promise.
Here are the programs I use frequently:
PicMonkey – This is one of my favorite programs because it is very intuitive. It edits photos as well as allows you to easily make graphic images. It’s my go to program. There is a free version and paid. I have the paid but it is like $3.33 a month which is almost nothing and well worth it in my opinion.
Ipiccy – One my brother showed me this one as a free online photo editor. They are free but it looks like soon they might be coming out with a paid version….
Snapseed – An extremely easy to use photo editing program on your phone, one of my faves and loved by many!
VSCO – Another popular favorite
On all of the programs I use mostly the only things that need adjusting are the exposure, contrast, and temperature. Sometimes there are other things but mostly just tweaking those three things can make a huge difference.
Remember, equipment while it does help and can improve your photos is YOU that make the biggest difference to your photos. Hope you enjoyed looking at my favorite product photography equipment!
Do you have a favorite product photography equipment you like to use or find useful? Please share it with everyone, we’d love to hear what works best for you!