Product Photography Lighting Tips for Absolute Beginners

product photography lighting tips for beginners

Sushi the plush betta fish looks great in natural daylight!

Let’s take better photos! It’s all in the lighting. Follow these four product photography lighting tips and get ready for amazing photos that encourage clicks and beg for Pinterest repins!

Tip 1: Take photos without flash

This is Rule #1 when it comes to taking nice-looking product photos. You’ve probably faced this problem: leaving flash ON makes your products look blown out – but turning the flash OFF makes your photos dark and grainy!

Compare these two photos to see what I mean:

product photography lighting tips no flash

Christmas plushies look rounder, softer in my dining room’s ambient light from the Christmas tree and the chandelier over the table to the right.

So turn that flash off and rely instead on the lighting around you. Read on for easy product photography lighting tips that’ll make you wonder why you ever used the flash in the first place.

Tip 2: Head outdoors, but stay in the shade

Cool mid-day shade is perfect for many products. The shade gives your object soft shadows and smooth highlights. For the background, try a white sheet of posterboard.

I created this posterboard setup on my back deck: so easy, and it looks great in the photo!

product photography lighting tips work in the shade

Watch out for:

  • Uneven or dappled shade
  • Greyish-ness or blue tints (but it’s easy to color-correct in an image editor)
  • Rain!

Read more about taking photos with solid white backgrounds.

Tip 3: Photograph Next to a Window

Can’t go outside? No big deal – set up your crafts and backgrounds on a small table or chair near a window during daylight hours.  Even here in cloudy Seattle, this window offered a nice ambient light perfect for my Rolo bars photo shoot.

product photography lighting tips use a window

You don’t even need direct, summertime light: this rolled-up quilt was photographed about an hour before sunset in the autumn.

taking great photos without flash tip number 2: photograph next to a window

This lovely quilt was a wedding gift and it’s become one of DIYCraft’s unofficial mascots.

Watch out for:

  • Awkward shadows (the kind that give your plushies double chins or extra feet)
  • “Interesting” backgrounds – beware of what’s behind your photo! You probably don’t want your messy kitchen filling the background. 🙂

Tip 4: Set up a small in-home “Photo Studio”

For many folks living in climates where days are short, cold, and rainy, shooting indoors with lightbulbs as your light source can a worthwhile convenience. Below is my DIY photo studio, but if you’re starting from scratch you should consider an all-in-one photo studio tabletop kit.

Watch out for:

Even More Tips

Don’t worry too much about your camera
You can totally get started using what you have, even if it’s a camera phone or a point-and-shoot. Half the photos in this article were taken using a very humble iPhone 4S, the rest a three-year-old Canon point and shoot. I don’t have a fancy DSLR, and if you’re just starting out, you can get by without one.

Use a tripod
I adore my Joby GorillaPod (affiliate link). The Joby tripod is flexible, short enough to be “craft-level”, and easy to manipulate. If you’re shooting indoors or in the early evening, a tripod will help reduce blur.  A tripod is also great for keeping shots consistent, and putting your camera into a position you like means there’s just one less thing to fuss with setting up your shot.

joby_gorilla_pod_canon_power_shot

My Joby GorillaPod and Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot.


Hello there! I'm Mandi, a lifelong crafter with a passion for helping others use technology. DIYCraftPhotography shows artisans how to photograph and publicize their handmade goodies. Thank you for visiting!

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