How to Photograph Small Products Part 2

Yesterday's blog post talked about the two types of images you should be aiming for, changing the editing mindset, and the basic function of lighting. Today, we're going to talk about backgrounds, color, and focusing.

Starting with backgrounds there are 3 key points to remember:

  1. Choose contrasting but complimenting background colors. Complementary colors are two colors that when combined, cancel each other our, but compliment each other when side by side. For example, black and white, when combined make grey, but side by side, they provide the most contrast to the other. This isn't to say all complimentary colors are opposites but generally they work along those lines. I found this online color wheel tool to be extremely helpful with finding the right colors to add to a background.
  2. Your background isn't the focus of the photo. We love to "set the scene" of a photo, and although that's great, it should be set so the item you want people to notice doesn't get lost. See examples A & B below.
  3. It needs to make sense for the product. Seeing a copy machine sitting on a beach tells us nothing about the product. It's almost jarring to see. And unless the ad tells us it enjoys long strolls on the beach, it being there does nothing to sell the item. Same is true here. If you're going to set a background to photograph against, it needs to fit the product even a little. Dice on a rolling mat or table is great. Dice that looks like an ice cream sundae in a ice cream dish, is just as great! Ice cream sundae dice tucked into bed...not so much.

Example A: The product is the wood box & compass. It's complimented by a simple background with dynamic lighting to give it a vintage feel.

Example B: Same style, coloring, and dramatic lighting as Example A but nothing is in the center of the photo or framed as a product so you can't tell what's for sale. This makes a great header image but not a good product image.

Focusing the Photo

One of my favorite items to use on my phone to snap pics of tiny items is my 3-in-1 Camera Lens Kit*.  The kit has a Fish Eye, Wide Angle, and a Micro lens. The Micro lens is what you'll use the most if you want to get pics of itty bitty features.

However, if you don't need something quite that small, a good trick to taking a picture of something small while not being so close that the camera loses focus, is to hold the camera a few inches away, focus on the item, and then use the camera's zoom feature. With this, you can get some pretty great pics. See example C & D below.

Example C: Image of the Rue the Cartographer mini taken with a micro lens. Look how much detail you can see!

Example D: This is a regular camera using the zoom function to focus on the tiny details of a Gaming Geeks' handcrafted map marker! That's a normal size d20 in the pic!