Essential Product Photography Equipment for Your ToolboxJune 30, 2015 - Holly Cardew
I’d like to begin this post with a shout-out to my old pal Murphy. Have you met him? A long, long time ago Murphy made a law stating anything that can go wrong, will go wrong… and we’ve been best friends ever since.
No, seriously. I speak for all photographers out there when I say that you can never, and I repeat never, be over-prepared for a shoot. You should have backups for your backups, and backups for those.
So, to save you from Murphy and a whole load of last-minute stress, I’ve compiled a list of product photography equipment you should always have on you going into a shoot. Some items are specific for a certain type of shoot, and others are important for any endeavour you take on.
Tape is arguably the most important item you can have with you on a shoot. Keep as many different kinds of tape as you can. The very least you should have is tape that is strong, tape that is clear and tape that is double-sided. Take a look below for a behind-the-scenes look at our latest product shoot for just one of many ways tape can, and will, come in handy. Tape to the rescue!
2. Pencil and paper
Sure, it may seem a little old-school, but you just can’t always rely on electronics. Plus, time is money, and scribbling a note down on a piece of paper takes less time than opening an app and typing it out. And what if you need to draw a diagram, or remember your setup for your next shoot? Trust me — pencil and paper are a must.
Clamps are another item that just can’t be forgotten. Mostly, you’ll use your clamps to hold up your background — and man, will they hold up that background. But clamps can also be used in other situations, like holding a reflector or even doing the job of a clothespin. Where tape can’t quite do the job, clamps will save the day.
4. Fishing line
Having fishing line in your toolbox is especially important when you’re photographing small jewelry items or other products that can’t stand up on their own.
Attach the fishing line to your product, get it in the right position and remove it in post production. Thin white string, or thread, can be substituted for fishing line if you’re photographing on white (as demonstrated below). It’s always better to stick to clear when you can to make the post-production and photo editing process smoother.
5. Pocket scissors
There’s nothing more frustrating than having the right materials and not being able to use them. You’ll need something sharp to cut your line, so keep a small pair of scissors or something with even more utility, like a pocket knife, in your toolbox at all times.
6. Glue dots
Glue dots are a great addition to tape, specifically when you’re working with small products. They also work great when you’re working with multiple products and want to make sure you’re keeping everything in position. They hold pretty well and remove very easily without damaging your background.
The next five items are more specific to shooting clothing, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have them on you in any case.
Clothespins are especially important for shooting on a model or a mannequin because you want to make sure you’re showing your customers how the garment can be the best fit. The better the clothes fit, the more likely they are to buy it, and because not all bodies or mannequins are identical. You may need to make minor adjustments here and there.
8. Safety pins
Safety pins are for the smaller adjustments that clothespins are too bulky for. They’re easily hidden and can hold creases or folds in place while you shoot. The same way pins are a clothing designer’s best friend, so are they a clothing photographer’s best friend.
Make sure your clothes are properly ironed before you start your shoot, and keep an iron close by for any mistakes. Photoshoots tend to be fast-paced and not everyone is always paying attention to everything. You may easily think you’re done, throw your clothes off to the side and realize you have to shoot again — and you’ll be thankful for the iron when you do.
10. Wooden hangers
Having spare hangers will make accidents like the above scenario less likely to happen. You may also need them for shooting if you decide to take some on-hanger shots like the ones pictured below.
11. Non-damaging hooks
If you do decide to do on-hanger shots, you’ll need some hooks to hang your items from. Decorative hooks are nice, but having some non-damaging hooks allow you to shoot anywhere without worry. They can also make your shoot more organized and will work great if you have a small number of items and no clothes rack.
12. Batteries and chargers
Last but certainly not least, make sure you have spare batteries and chargers for any and all electronic components you may be using. Remember Murphy’s Law — everything will die on you just when you thought you had everything charged. Be prepared and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
Once you’ve got a box of all this stuff, Murphy can’t get you. It’s a small expense to put it all together but I guarantee it’ll come in handy. We love hearing from you, so let us know in the comments what you have in your photographer’s toolbox!