It’s true: a product photographer’s skills and talent matter more than the type of tools and props they use. However, it’s also undeniable that they can achieve higher-quality results if they have access to quality equipment.
So if you’re outsourcing your product photography needs to professionals, you also have to check if they’re using the right equipment.
In this article, I’ll guide you on why product photography props and equipment matter. I’ll talk about the tools your product photographer should have and more.
Why Quality Product Photography Props and Equipment Matter
If you’re using product photography services regularly, you might want to consider hiring one who invests in quality equipment. This is especially true if you also have an internal product photographer.
Investing in quality props and equipment gives you the following benefits:
Quality equipment allows for speedier and more efficient photography sessions. This reduces the time spent on adjusting and re-shooting.
Better equipment also results in higher-quality images that need a shorter time for post-processing. The less time your photographers need to spend on retouching and editing photos, the more time you can spend on promoting your products.
If you’re using professional photography services, you’ll want to get as much value for your money. With quality equipment, the product photographer can capture images more accurately and consistently.
This results in fewer retakes and reduces the need for expensive shoots and corrections. Ultimately, this leads to significant cost savings over time.
High-quality equipment produces sharp and aesthetically pleasing photos, which make your product more appealing to customers.
Moreover, professional-looking product photos give your brand a competitive edge in the market.
It’s a no-brainer: would you buy from a business with subpar photographs or from one that evidently values its image?
Consistency in Branding
Professional product photographers with quality equipment can produce consistent work more easily. This consistency reinforces your brand identity and makes your products more recognizable to customers.
Know the saying, “You get what you pay for”? That’s true in the case of product photography props and equipment.
Look for product photographers who are willing to invest in equipment that is built to last. They won’t need to replace or upgrade equipment continually, although they have to spend more upfront.
Product Photography Props and Equipment
If you’re outsourcing your product photography needs to a photographer or an agency, you should ask about their available props and equipment. The basic equipment every professional product photographer includes:
Cameras and lenses
Product photography props
Backdrops and backgrounds
Below, we’ll discuss the importance of each and how they help photographers do their job well. These equipment pieces work wonders for delivering amazing product photos, ultimately benefiting you as the end client.
Choosing the Right Camera and Lenses
It’s tough to hire a product photographer who doesn’t have his own cameras and lenses. They’re the bare minimum in terms of equipment and props.
The type of camera your product photographer uses affects the quality of their images. For one, cameras with larger sensors produce higher resolution and generally better image quality. Personally, I use Sony cameras.
There are generally two types of cameras your photographer can choose from:
DSLR Cameras: these cameras feature optical viewfinders and are compatible with a wide range of lenses. They’re less portable than mirrorless cameras, but your product photographer can find specialized lenses easily.
Mirrorless Cameras: mirrorless cameras are more compact and lightweight and they use electronic viewfinders. The downside is they can use a smaller selection of lenses and tend to have shorter battery lives than DSLR cameras.
The same goes for lenses. Lenses have differing depths of field, for example, and choosing the right one for the right situation can greatly affect outputs.
Lighting for Great Product Photos
Proper lighting helps highlight details and textures on your product.
Color representation also becomes more accurate with adequate lighting, preventing color distortion. Proper lighting equipment also gives you the following benefits:
Better mood setting
Proper product isolation
If you’re hiring a product photographer, he or she should have at least some of the following lighting props:
Softbox Lighting: great for even, diffused light. This is versatile and great for a wide range of e-commerce products.
Umbrella Lighting: easy to set up and also provides soft, diffused light. This is great for beginners.
Continuous Lighting: great if you want to see the effect of the light on your product and background before taking a shot. It’s a perfect type of lighting for stop-motion and video product demos.
Strobe Lighting: delivers powerful light bursts that work well with shorter exposure times. It’s also more energy-efficient.
Product Photography Props for Presentation
Product photography props enhance the presentation of your product. Your photographer should then have the right props to add more context and character to the images.
I use a lot of these in my shoots since they help me tell the story of the products better. However, not all types of props work well on all products. Here are some guidelines:
For Food Products: your photographer should have props like ingredients (herbs, spices, etc) and table-setting materials (plates, cutlery, etc).
For Fashion Products: props like accessories, scarves, handbags, and jewelry are a must. Nature settings and cityscape-inspired backgrounds are also great.
For Electronics: your photographer should have props that add context to where and how the electronic product is used. If your product is a laptop, it should be surrounded by an organized workspace or complementary items like a mouse or a notebook.
Your product photographer should carefully select and arrange props to enhance the presentation of your products. If used right, props can make your products more appealing, relatable, and engaging.
Backdrops and Backgrounds
A good product photographer can select backdrops and backgrounds that greatly impact the appeal of your product. However, the wrong ones can detract from your product’s appeal.
Some of the backdrops and backgrounds your photographer might consider include:
Seamless Paper Background
You can help your product photographer choose the right background by considering the following:
Your Brand: consider your brand and product. The background should complement and enhance the product while aligning with your brand identity.
Texture and Material: texture can affect the overall mood of your photos. Smooth backgrounds evoke a more polished and modern look, while textured ones add depth and character to the photos.
Contrast and Color: consider colors that provide good contrast with your product. It’s easier to make the product stand out this way. However, it’s also not uncommon for photographers to use background colors that are monochromatic to the product they’re featuring.
It’s wise to collaborate with your photographer when choosing product photography backgrounds. This ensures their outputs align with your branding and expectations.
Editing and Post-Processing Software
Editing and post-processing software are crucial for creating stunning final shots of your products.
When working with product photographers, ensure they have adequate editing skills. They should be able to:
Correct exposure and color balance
Enhance sharpness and clarity
Remove or replace backgrounds
Crop and compose using post-processing software
Add effects and filters
Optimize product photo files
Retouch and enhance photos
Moreover, there should be consistency in their edited outputs. Post-processing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom can give you this kind of consistency. So, your product photographer should be well-versed in using them.
With a skilled product photographer who can also edit spectacularly, you can present your products’ true essence more attractively.
Other Non-Essential but Good-to-Have Equipment
You might also check if your product photographer has the following non-essential but great props and equipment:
Extension grip arms
Geared tripod head
The type and nature of your product photography needs will also dictate what other props your product photographer should have.
Overall, the little implements also matter. Items that help you bounce light, prop up the product, and create precise reflections are the most important ones.
In portrait or lifestyle photography, the challenge is balancing the scene with the subject. But in product photography, it’s being aware of every surface on the product and controlling how they relate to each other.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Having the right product photography props and equipment is only half the job done. Your photographer should also know what to avoid when shooting your products and using equipment.
These mistakes include:
Poor Lighting: insufficient lighting leads to unattractive shadows, uneven highlights, and inaccurate color representation. This can mislead potential customers and reduce the product’s appeal.
Overcomplicated Composition: your photographer shouldn’t overcrowd the frame with too many elements and excessive props. This can overwhelm the viewer and make your product seem lost.
Insufficient Editing: neglecting post-processing or overprocessing product photos can diminish the overall aesthetic of your product photo.
Ignoring Brand Consistency: product photos should align with your brand’s style and values. Inconsistent branding can confuse your audience and dilute your brand. This also reduces customers’ trust.
When hiring product photographers, check if they have access to quality props and equipment. Every good product photographer isn’t afraid to spend money on such tools. You’ll also gain confidence in their output — you know they’ve used the best tools to ensure your products are presented in the best way possible.
As a business owner, should I invest in my own product photography props and equipment?
If you’re using product photography services regularly, it’s often practical to invest in your own photography studio. That includes buying the must-have props and equipment necessary for your shoots. However, it’s also wise to find product photographers who already have access to quality equipment. This is especially true if your product photography needs are for specific campaigns only.
How much do quality product photography props and equipment cost?
The cost of product photography equipment props and equipment depends on their type, brand, and models. Higher-end cameras can easily range between $3,000 and tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, lenses can go well beyond $2,000. Consider your specific needs and budget.
What are some good product photography prop ideas to use?
You can experiment with product photography props by adding unorthodox yet appropriate props to product images. For instance, experiment with light sources. Instead of using the usual lighting setups, consider using other forms of lighting such as twinkle lights and RGB strips. You can also ask your product photographer to use mirrors to show different perspectives. Of course, make sure that your photographer can work with these unusual props and equipment.