Product Photogrpahy Notes


What you see below are the raw notes taken straight from evernote for my latest Youtube video.

Enjoy, I guess...

Product shoots for small Etsy sellers

The fundamentals

  • Speed and efficiency 

  • Repeatability and consistency

How are these achieved

  • Creating a workflow that minimises the need for editing individual items

  • Using a tethered solution 

  • Importing directly into Lightroom 

  • Applying presets on import

  • Having a lighting setup that provides consistent illumination.

  • Getting the setting correct in camera so that Lightroom has less work to do.

  • Utilising markers to make sure that items are places consistently

  • Locking down focus but checking it every time

Aspects of the shoot/setup

  • The lighting setup

  • The surface and background

  • The product styling

  • The camera and lens choice

  • The workflow

Lighting setup

  • I’ve used a cross bar to support my light and a soft box to give even lighting across the scene

  • To the left of the product I’ve set up an even bigger piece of diffusion, an amazon shower curtain

  • Behind this is a speed light

  • I have some bounce in the form of a giant sheet of foam core that I can move in on the opposite side if it needs it

  • On the big diffusion I noticed a reflection that needed sorting so I’ve clipped on a small ‘flag’ to block some of the spill from the speed light.

Stop… why am I doing this.

The look that I am going for is a bright airy shot with plenty of detail across the image. It needs some contrast and directionality to the light, thats why I have the light on the left. The bounce on the right can remove the contrast if it becomes too much

Surface and Background

  • The backdrops are two of the ones that I have made on previous episodes, they are really simple bright lightly textures boards, I think they look 1000000 times better than white seamless for these kinds of shots.

  • The board being used as the surface is plain white to show of the product and the background has some more colour to provide a little interest in the distance

Product Styling

  • This is going to vary so much that it is almost not worth talking through, in these shots the items need to stand out almost alone, I’ve added a stack of the coasters in the background to move your eye across the image.

  • Check out my other video on styling food to pick up some other tips on composing an image.

Camera and Lens Choice

  • This is not a particularly difficult one in this case, I’m shooting with my 60mm macro and I get my best results using my Sony a7r, the dynamic range of this sensor is incredible and although the files sizes are stupid big for this use case they scale down to create great sharpness and clarity.

  • The camera support just needs to be solid-ish, why ish. Well if you are shooting with strobes or speed lights you dont really need to worry about camera shake and if you are shooting with a release, in this case the computer is triggering the camera your hands are away from the camera and so you shouldn’t need to worry about camera shake. Adding a solid tripod is just triple baggin’ good but not essential.

  • I like to use an L-bracket because I like the way you can change from landscape to portrait without altering the head of your tripod. It isn’t necessary though.

The workflow

  • So the camera is ‘tethered’ to the computer. Basically it is attached by a USB cable so that the computer is getting the image as you shoot it and you can see it straight away without having to pull out the card every time. It also has some pretty awesome benefits that can speed up your workflow.

  • Firstly the obvious benefit of being able to see your shot on a bigger screen, that helps you nail focus and spot any small errors.

  • You can bring the pictures straight into Lightroom and add a preset which will make for almost no post processing time. 

  • You can trigger and change settings on the camera from your computer, great if you have mounted the camera in an awkward spot.

  • Your images can be exported straight away for delivery.


  • One thing that helps me to feel confident about getting the perfect shot is using a colour checker passport, I really like creating a custom profile and dialing in a custom white balance for the shoot. This is over kill for almost any shoot, but I like to know that my colours are spot on. If I add an edit over that, thats fine but starting from a solid foundation will help you go that little bit 


Sean McCrossanComment