Photo Ideas and Inspiration

In today's rapidly changing world product photography has become extremely important. Business are increasing their online presence and needing to get products in front of their customers, with strong visual branding. Its is not always viable to hire a professional photographer so this is a resource that will often have to be available in-house. This is where a great backdrop will help you to produce clean, professional images that truly represent your company; what you do and what you stand for.

5 Steps to Ace Product Photography with your phone!

1. Use a free camera app such as Lightroom to take the photos in RAW format for more control over editing. The JPEGS typically created by phone cameras do not contain all the visual information available and you may feel limited in your editing.

2. Set your screen brightness in the 50-70% range. Don't use autobrightness for the screen or the screen settings may change during the shoot, giving you inconsistent results.

3. If possible on the app you are using (I can’t go past Lightroom), set the colour balance of the shot using a grey or white card, so the camera can calculate how cool or warm the light is that is shining onto your product. Indoor lights will make products look more yellow than daylight and the camera needs to know the lighting environment to create a true image.

4. Don't zoom in, move closer if necessary, for the highest quality shots.

5. Stay away from presets. Products need to be represented as realistically as possible. If you want to present a particular editing style then do this afterwards in your editing app.

Home studio basics:

Basic set up


Find a position near a large window or door, out of direct sunlight is preferable to stop hard shadows.

Decide which backdrop to use as a table surface and back wall surface. Sometimes you may want to scoop the backdrop up at the back so it forms a continuous background.

Set your items in position. Turn off indoor lights.

Manipulate the light


Reassess the amount of light that coming into you scene and lighting your product. You may want to soften some shadows, which can be done by either putting a diffusing screen in between the light source and the scene (purpose built diffuser or sheer/shower curtain), or bouncing light into the shadows with a reflector on the opposite side of the light source (purpose built or a white foam core board).

Sometimes there is too much light, and black foam core can be really useful at blocking excess light.

Take lots of photos


Take different angles, change the lighting, change the settings, play around and have fun! If taking photos with your phone, turn off auto screen brightness and don't use the zoom (for more consistent and easier editing of your images).

The Keys to Composition for Product Photography:

  • Have an uncluttered scene so it's clear that your product is the intended focus of the shot.
  • Show odd numbers of products in a scene. Even numbers are easily 'arranged' by our subconscious leading quickly to boredom. Odd numbers are therefore more pleasing to our eyes. Three is the magic number because more than that becomes cluttered.
  • If you want to use props, make them relevant to your product, for example lay sprigs of lavender alongside lavender soap bars.
  • Use camera angles that show the best part of the product. A jar of handcream for example can be shown in a few ways: get down low, level with the label to show your brand. Open up the lid and focus on the swirl of cream, highlighting its smooth texture and gleam. Come right over head if the label is on the top.
  • Make the viewer travel on a visual journey to get to your product by strategically laying your props in leading lines. These are best arranged diagonally across the shot in most cases. Backgrounds and foregrounds with lines can work the same way.
  • Blur the background, with your product being in sharp focus.
  • Keep palettes simple. Have a look at the colour wheel to get ideas. Complementary colours are opposite each other on the wheel and are contrasting which adds interest and intensity. Neighbouring colours are similar, often bringing harmony and setting the mood. Red, yellow and blue are dominant colours, demanding more of our attention than the others, so if these are not your brand colours, use them sparingly as accent colours and be aware that they can steal the show.
  • Use negative space (the area of a photo not taken up by your product or props): Blank space gives the viewer room to relax and place all their focus on your product. It de-clutters the scene stops our eyes flitting around.




Learning is all part of the creative journey. If you would like to learn more about composition or other skills required to nail the shot you want, I would highly recommend a hands-on workshop. The Wanderer Photographer based in the Bay of Plenty offers a range of workshops from beginner photography skills to sessions for businesses needing to create their own images. They use a range of teaching resources and are committed to delivering education to all types of learners, so you will walk away with the tools and knowledge you need.

Sometimes the light at home or in the office is not ideal and by nature it is changeable which brings its own challenges. So, there are situations when photographing in a studio is the perfect answer. Luckily if you live in the Bay of Plenty the answer lies in Candid Studios.

Designed for pros and amateurs alike, these photography rental studios are easy to use, bookable by the hour, and are totally private, so you can enjoy the photographic experience, no matter your subject or ability behind (or in front) of the camera.

If you're a BUSINESS looking to get people or products photographed for online sales or promotions but could never afford a professional photographer, this is a great way to overcome that hurdle. They will set you up, get you ready to shoot, and you'll be good to go. 

They also have a selection of CM Backdrops, to help you decide which one would complement your product.

Lightbox on a Budget:

In just 10 minutes and minimal expenditure it is possible to have a small lightbox set up for product photography. Here is a box I made one evening using a cardboard box, two bedside lamps, some sheer material, the White Plastered Gib photo backdrop.

Other cheap kit that I often make use of:

1. White foam core board to bounce more light into a scene.

2. Black foam core board to reduce glaring highlights and give a moody look.

3. Blu-tac and masking tape- something always needs fixing in place!

4. A phone camera (ok so phones are not cheap, but they can take great photos when used properly and are often the cheaper option than buying a camera!)

Image ideas:

Here is a new design called Midnight Blue. It is a lightly ground concrete surface, processed so the natural dark blue are really emphasized. This sensational background lends itself to food photography. Imagine hot, homely stews, meats and breads. The orange and yellow colours of these food contrast well with this blue background.

The Cream Ground Concrete vinyl backdrop provides a light, neutral backdrop with a texture that adds interest without being overwhelming. The beautiful White Plastered Gib vinyl backdrop is taped up in the background for a light and airy feel.

Tomato red works well with this Grey Lightly Ground Concrete vinyl backdrop and adding a pop of yellow lifts it to another level. Grey, yellow and red: a great colour combination guaranteed to capture your customers visual attention.

The warm browns and deep texture of the Rustic Table vinyl bring an earthy, homely feel to these images. Blue, being the complimentary colour to the orange tones (within this type of brown) and looks great displayed on this backdrop. I also brought in a touch of yellow, (a neighbour of orange on a colour wheel), so together this palette works well to showcase a wholesome breakfast at a kitchen table. The White Plastered Gib vinyl backdrop is taped up in the background.

Brown, green and blue is another combination very pleasing to the eye. It brings about a sense of nature, growth and freshness. Just think of the browns and greens of the countryside, complemented by blue sky. So here, the Rustic Table vinyl is a great backdrop to this kitchen scene.  Once again, I used the trusty White Plastered Gib backdrop in the background.

Grey Light Ground Concrete proved to be the perfect backdrop for these wooden toys from Baby Play. Click here to read more.

For e-commerce product display there is a pure white backdrop option. Alternatively use the reverse side of any of the designs.

Clip up your backdrop for a seamless look.