Photographers often buy and sell goods online. No matter whether it’s eBay, Craigslist, or any other type of online auction or sales site you want to have good images to represent the product that you’re selling. I can’t tell you how many times that I have been searching either of the sites I mentioned above and found photographers (amateur or pro isn’t relevant) and the images associated with their item are well… less than what you would expect from a photographer.
It comes down to one of two things: laziness or lack of knowledge. The first one I can’t do anything about.
Getting great product shots in your living room, garage, dining room, bedroom, or wherever isn’t all that hard. You really don’t need anything fancy either.
If you’re shooting something really small, you can use white copy paper if you need to. I recommend that you use white foam core boards that you can pick up from your favorite office supply store. They are sometimes referred to as ‘presentation board’. If you’ve only got one flash or strobe, then you’ll need a minimum of three pieces. One to put your subject on, one to use as a background, and the third to use as a reflector for fill light.
If you’re shooting something that is very reflective, like the perfume bottle above, then you’re going to want to get your lights in nice and close. If you don’t have an umbrella or a softbox, you can use a white bed sheet to give yourself a bigger and softer light source. Remember to take into account the angle of incidence/angle of reflection because you don’t want to reflect light directly into your lens, causing lens flare. It also puts a really nasty specular highlight on your product. In most product shots, side light works really well.
In the shot above, I used two lights. I used an SB800 through a 45″ shoot through umbrella on camera left at 1/4 power and then a Lastolight TriGrip 1-Stop Diffuser on camera right with an SB80DX set to 1/32nd power. Most of the perfume bottle was lit with my umbrella light and the fill came from the Lastolite panel which also provided the pop for the logo.
So for about $20.00 or so you can have a pretty cool product shooting setup. There’s no real need to buy an expensive product table or anything extravagant in order to get professional looking results for products you’re selling online, or even if it’s just for fun.